1871 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 417-1122. In U.S. House. 42nd Congress, 2d Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1871 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 5, Vol. 1). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872. (Serial Set 1505).


From: No. 98, Annual Report of John B. Monteith, Agent Nez PercÚ Agency, Idaho, pp. 953-954.

. . . The treaty portion of the tribe are very friendly and much pleased with the new policy adopted by the Government for their improvement and civilization.

That portion of the tribe comprising the young men just coming on to the stage of action are very anxious to be taught the ways of the whites, and are opposed to having their language taught in the schools, which they were afraid of when they learned that there had been 1,000 copies of the New Testament printed in their language. I assured them that it was the policy of the Government to teach them the English language, also the agricultural and mechanical arts, so that when the terms of the treaty expired they could do their own talking with the whites, and, by being industrious, could sustain themselves in a respectable manner.

The non-treaty portion of the tribe reside outside the reservation, and very few have been here since I have had charge.

Eagle from the Light’s band (non-treaty) have been gone to the buffalo country for two years, and he took quite a number of other bands with him. I learn from some who have come in that they are all on their back, having been badly whipped by the Sioux, losing most of their horses. . . .

The schools are located one at the agency and the other at Kamia, each numbering about 30 scholars. The only way the Indian children can be taught successfully, in my opinion, is to take them entirely away from their parents so that they will not hear their native tongue spoken. By so doing I think they would learn with less trouble, and after a short time would be more contented with the change of their mode of living, whereas if they are allowed to run home every day or two they keep up their Indian customs in part and consequently make very little progress.

In my report of the condition of buildings dated April 26, 1871, I wrote as follows, in regard to school-houses: "I estimate the cost of furnishing the school-house at Lapwai at $1,000," which sum will be necessary to complete it. The building is intended for boarding and lodging the children. The lower room I use for school although it is not finished. The school-house at Kamia is too small, being only 18 by 24 feet; the Indians complained of it the last time I visited them as not coming up to the requirements of the treaty.

One great evil among the Nez PercÚs, (which is a failing among all tribes of Indians,) is their thirst for intoxicating liquors; it is next to impossible to prevent its being sold to them. A jury can scarcely be found that will convict a man on Indian testimony. The Indians go to Oro Fino and buy whisky by the gallon, get drunk, and frighten someone or run off some cattle, and then, in all probability, some of the very ones who let them have the liquor come to the agency with complaints with regard to depredations committed by the Indians while drunk. There are many white people living along the line of the reservation who are continually annoying the Indians and make trouble. Still there have been no serious outbreaks. The Indians on the reservation, with the exceptions already indicated, are quiet and peaceable. Previous to the announcement of the result of the Indian council held August 9, 1871, on the Umatilla reservation, there was some excitement and anxiety felt by the Nez PercÚs. They considered that the removal of the Umatillas would be the precursor of their own removal, to which they are very much opposed. But when it was known that the Umatillas would remain they regarded their own prospects as more favorable and hopeful. Forced removal from lands that have been secured them by treaty, and with which their longest and tenderest recollections have been associated is fatal to all efforts to improve and elevate the Indians. They must be made to feel that the tenure by which they hold their lands is as sacred as that of the white people. . . .