1870 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 467-859. In U.S. House. 41st Congress, 3d Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1870 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 4, Vol. 1). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1870. (Serial Set 1449).


From: No. 56, Annual Report of Colonel De L. Floyd-Jones, United States Army, Superintendent, pp. 645-647.


This is made up of the following tribes or bands, and in numbers may be set down about as follows: . . .



Pend d’Oreilles


Cœur d’Alenes




Nez PercÚs


Boise Shosones and Bruneau Shoshones


Weiser Shoshones


Western Shoshones







This, the most important one in the territory, is located in the northwestern part of it, and embraces an area of about 600,000 acres, which is made up of a limited amount of bottom or valley land, the remainder being rolling prairie covered with a fine description of prairie grass, and well adapted for the grazing of the thousands of ponies of which this tribe is possessed. Within the past year a very considerable amount of money has been spent upon this reservation chiefly under the first clause of the fourth article of the treaty of 1863, which provides for the fencing and plowing the twenty-acre lots, to which each adult and head of family is entitled; about forty-four miles of fencing has been completed, making in all one hundred farms of twenty acres each; to these farms it is proposed to remove those Indians now living outside the reserve, commencing with those members that have subscribed to the treaty; this fencing has been confined to the valley of the L[a]pwai and Clearwater, as they furnish the greater share of the land which is believed to be the most suitable for agricultural purposes.

The survey of the reservation was commenced this spring under the direction of the surveyor general of the Territory, and will doubtless be completed before winter. It is to be regretted that in surveying the twenty-acre tracts the contractor was not directed to follow the lines of fencing, with the view of determining the corners of the various farms and of mapping them out. As now surveyed, which consists in dividing a section of land into plats of twenty acres each, the work is entirely useless, and the expenditures will be for the benefit of the contractor rather than the Indians, Both the agent, Captain D. M. Sells, and myself protested against the survey as now going on, but without avail; it is clearly not within the intent or wording of the treaty.

The steam saw and grist mill at Kamia, provided for by treaty, was commenced last autumn; the saw mill was in running order early last spring, and has cut already a large amount of lumber; the flouring mill will be ready for use in time for the crop of wheat now being gathered. I am glad to be able to report that the Indian crops this year have yielded remarkably well; all the farms, both on and without the reservation, have produced finely; the grains chiefly sown by them were wheat, corn, and barley; they have also a good supply of potatoes.

The school at this agency has been fairly attended during the past year. The Jesuit Fathers are very anxious of getting control of it, and the one that is to be established at Kamia. In my opinion, it would be not only more economical, but I am satisfied the scholars would make better progress, as they propose to take them away from the influence of their parents. . . .

From: No. 57, Annual Report of Captain D. M. Sells, United States Army, Agent for Nez PercÚ Indians, pp. 647-648

. . . There has been some dissatisfaction among the Indians living off the reservation, in consequence of a misunderstanding of the amended treaty of 1863. They seem to be of the opinion that they will not be compelled to leave their present homes and move on the reservation. I have uniformly told them that they must eventually move on; that the government has made provisions for fencing and plowing their farms on the reservation, and they must come and cultivate them.

Quite a number have gone to the buffalo country this fall. I do not anticipate that any trouble will grow out of it, as they are all peaceable and quiet. Their object is to trade with the plains Indians for robes, &c.

Colonel Jones visited the agency about the 1st of July, upon my representation that there was some dissatisfaction with Lawyer (head chief) among the tribes. The chiefs were called together for the purpose of electing a new chief, but very few came to the agency. There not being a sufficient number to justify their making a choice, the election was postponed until fall, in case a change should then be desired. There is no possible objection to the present head chief, (Lawyer.) The reason for the hostility to him by the Indians is in consequence of his alleged misrepresentations of the additional treaty stipulations. I have invariably informed both the treaties and non-treaties that they must inevitably move on the reservation, and, as far as present indication go, quite a large number will come on in the spring, in addition to those already living there. . .

From: No. 58, Annual Report of C. E. Maynard, Superintendent of Nez PercÚ Schools, pp. 649-650.

. . . The average daily attendance during the past fiscal year has been as follows: Number of scholars in attendance during the winter term, commencing September 3, 1896, and ending March 22, 1870, 48; average daily attendance, 29. Number of scholars in attendance during the summer term, commencing April 1 and ending June 30, 1870, 23; average daily attendance, 15. The school was temporarily discontinued on the 30th of June, 1870, on account of the want of sufficient funds to provide for the clothing and subsisting of the children, to which fact your attention is respectfully solicited, in order that representation may be made to the Government to show the inadequacy of the present appropriation for the continuous conducting of the schools. The studies perused have been: Reading, (in which much advancement has been made;) writing, (specialties of which would do credit to many white children;) arithmetic, (in which ordinary ability has been displayed by the scholars;) geography and Mitchell’s outline maps, (in which a greater degree of interest has been manifested than in any other study,) and vocal music. The comparative advancement of these children with those of the whites is most astonishing, and, although hardly credible, I must say that by far a greater degree of acumen of intellect and a desire for the acquirement of knowledge has been exhibited than will be found among white children of the same age.

The course of instruction has been purely elementary, but there are some exceptional cases, where there has been a diligence displayed on the part of the scholars which has far advanced them beyond white children of the same age. With the keen perception of the Indian, they combine some of the more refined influences of the white race; and the task of instructing them has been and will be rendered comparatively easy, provided the Government will co÷perate with, and extend its aid to the Indians for the continuing of the schools. The meager and insufficient amount appropriated will not admit of a session longer than six months, and in case of a large attendance the school must necessarily be discontinued in a shorter time. Could these children be kept permanently at school incalculable results would eventually be obtained from the same; in fact, I believe that in the course of two or three years the schools would be made in part self-supporting; but with the manner heretofore observed in conducting the schools, deleterious rather than beneficial effects have been the resultant. Heretofore the schools during session have been under the charge of the immediate teacher, but there his authority ended; but in order to have the scholars completely under his control it is necessary, as well out of school as in, that he should exercise a supervision over the children; and I would recommend that the boarding and lodging house be placed in the teacher’s charge, with the matrons under his direction, as this is the only means of obtaining a controlling influence over the scholars, as well as to render them perfectly subservient. Breaches of discipline are of rare occurrence, and, generally, there is a strife existing among them to gain the approbation and esteem of their teachers. With the change above suggested, I believe a much greater influence will be exercised, and the results will be of material benefit to the Indians. Parents of the children, which information I have gleaned from conversation, are anxious to have their children remain permanently at school, but have seen (as they supposed) the fallaciousness of the agents heretofore in charge, and they are not, under the present state of things, willing to send their children to school for a month or two; but if a guarantee is offered for its continuance and future permanence, I have no doubt but 100 to 150 scholars would be forthcoming. The conduct of the children while in school is decorous in the extreme. The teachers all evince zeal and ardor in their profession, and they are entitled to great credit for the manner in which they have discharged their respective duties.

In conclusion, I would again advise relative to the necessity of increased appropriation for the schools, and the construction of school-houses, as those in which we now prosecute our labors are sadly dilapidated, and unless the Government lends a helping had, its intentions will never be realized in the matter of promoting and fostering education among this tribe. . . .

From: No. 59, Report of  P. M. Whitman, Matron, Nez PercÚ Schools, pp. 650-651.

SIR: In compliance with your letter of July 30, 1870, I most respectfully submit the following report of the operations and system upon which is conducted the boarding-house for the children of the Nez PercÚ nation attending school at Lapwai.

Most of the past fiscal year the house has been under my control and management, and everything which might have a tendency to make it in point of fact a home for the children attending school, and a place of instruction and information which in future will prove conducive to their intellectual, moral, and social welfare, has been the object and aim of the matrons in whose charge the children have been placed.

I would invite your attention to the accommodations provided for the scholars, being as they are totally inadequate to the wants of the institution. The house now used as a boarding and lodging house is by far too small for the number of scholars who have been in attendance, and as the probability is that the number of scholars will be largely increased during the winter session, something should be done to ameliorate the present condition of matters in this respect. . . . Now, . . . the larger portion of the boys having to sleep in an out-house in order that the sexes might be separated, and the dining-room being only sufficiently large to accommodate twenty at once, the necessity for additional accommodations must be obvious. Other additional alterations are required to make a comfortable as well as a suitable lodging-house for the boys. The subsistence supplied by the agents has always been sufficient in quantity and quality.


The girls have been instructed as far as practicable in the rudiments of housekeeping, the making of clothing, and other domestic occupations, and such other necessary work as will qualify them to fulfill in the future the place of good housekeepers; and they not only exhibit a willingness on their part to learn, but are constantly inquiring for information which will eventually make them competent and qualified housekeepers.


The general health of the children has been good, great care having been taken in regard to sanitary measures; but little sickness has occurred from a sudden change of diet or mode of living, and I am led to believe, from the results already obtained, that hereafter a marked difference will be observed between those children attending school and other children of the nation.

As regards the morals and manners of both boys and girls a creditable disposition has been evinced to accommodate themselves to the sudden transposition from their former mode of living to that of their present, which would do honor to persons conversant with the etiquette of society. No rudeness is exhibited by the boys in their associations with the girls, and the little amenities existing between the same is often a subject of comment and wonder to persons visiting the house for the purpose of observing the workings and system upon which it is conducted.