1872 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 391-847. In U.S. House. 42nd Congress, 3d Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1872 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 5, Vol. 1). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872. (Serial Set 1560).



For the year preceding the passage of the act of July 15, 1870, all superintendents of Indian affairs and Indian agents, with the exception of those for the States of Kansas and Nebraska, were officers of the Army assigned to duty under the orders of the Indian Office. In the two States named, however, the superintendents of Indian affairs and Indian agents had been for somewhat more than a year appointed by the Executive upon the recommendation of the two Societies of Friends, the appointees being in all cases recognized members of one or the other of those religious bodies, and, while duly subordinate and responsible in all official respects to the Indian Office, maintaining close correspondence with committees of their respective societies appointed for that purpose. So fortunate were the results of this system of appointment in Kansas and Nebraska considered, that when, under the provisions of the 18th section of the act of July 15, 1870, it became necessary to relieve officers of the Army from this service, it was decided by the Executive that all the agencies thus vacated in the remaining states and the territories should be filled by appointment upon the recommendation of some religious body; and to this end the agencies were, so to speak, apportioned among the prominent denominational associations of the country, or the missionary societies representing such denominational views; and these associations or societies were thereupon requested to place themselves in communication with the Department of the Interior to make nominations to the position of agent whenever a vacancy should occur within the list of the agencies assigned them respectively, and in and through this extra-official relationship to assume charge of the intellectual and moral education of the Indians thus brought within the reach of their influence. The reason formally announced for this somewhat anomalous order of appointment was the desirableness of securing harmony between agents and missionaries, complaints having become general that, in the frequent change of agents, no missionary efforts could long be carried on at any specified agency without encountering, sooner or later, from some agent of different religious views or of no religious views, a degree of opposition or persecution which would necessarily extinguish such missionary enterprise and even destroy the fruits of past labors. When it is remembered that efforts of this kind must, to achieve valuable results, be continued for many years, confidence being a plant of slow growth in savage breasts, and the hope of the missionary being almost universally founded on the education of the rising generation, while in fact, Indian agents were under the old political régime changed every few months, or every two or three years at the longest, it will readily be seen that the chances of missionary enterprises being cut off in the flower were far greater than the chances of continuance and success. . . .

While, however, the importance of securing harmony of feeling and concert of action between the agents of the Government and the missionaries at the several agencies, in the matter of the moral and religious advancement of the Indians, was the single reason formally given for placing the nominations to Indian agencies in the hands of the denominational societies, it is, perhaps, not improper to say that the Executive was also influenced by the consideration that the general character of the Indian service might be distinctly improved by taking the nomination to the office of agent out of the domain of politics and placing it where no motives but those of disinterested benevolence could be presumed to prevail.

The following schedule exhibits the present apportionment of Indian agencies among the several religious associations and missionary societies. The figures refer to the number of Indians embraced in the several agencies: . . .

Presbyterian, . . . Nez Percé, 2,807, in Idaho Territory; . . . (pp. 460-461)


By the tenth article of the treaty concluded with the Nez Percés tribe of Indians June 11, 1855, it was agreed that the tract of land then occupied by William Craig (in consideration that said Craig had consented to reside among them as their friend and adviser) should not be considered a part of the reservation set apart for them by said treaty, except for the purpose of enforcing the intercourse act. The privilege accorded to Craig by the treaty has been regarded and held by the Department as giving him the right to personal occupancy only. Craig having deceased, the improvements upon the tract in question were purchased by his son-in-law, at the administrator's sale. It is represented by the agent that these improvements are very desirable, and necessary for the accommodation of certain Nez Percés Indians now living outside of the reservation; that said improvements cover between 300 and 400 acres of land, which is under very good cultivation, with between 500 and 600 rods of fencing, and that there are 50 acres in timothy, which yield from 2½ to 3 tons per acre, worth $21 per ton.

In view of these facts the agent recommends that the Department purchase the fencing, and pay for the plowing at the usual rates, which he represents to be at the rate of $4 per rod for fencing, and $4.50 per acre for plowing, the cost of said improvements amounting in the aggregate to $3,500. The purchase of the improvements is deemed desirable by this Office for the use of the Indians, twenty or more of whom can be provided with good farms out of the tract in question, but the authority of the Department to purchase them out of existing appropriations being regarded as doubtful, and in order to quiet all question, it was recommended in Office report of May 18, 1872, (H. R. Ex. Doc. 307,) that Congress authorize the same to be paid for from the appropriation for "plowing land and fencing, as appears from the first clause of the fourth article of the treaty of June 9, 1863," appropriated by the Indian appropriation act, approved April 10, 1869. This action was not authorized by Congress, but as the same reasons exist now as at the last session, I think it desirable that this subject be again presented to Congress. (pp. 493)

From: No. 36: Report of John B. Monteith, Nez Percé Agency, Idaho, pp. 654-656.

. . . During the past year the Indians of this tribe have been quiet and well disposed. No trouble has arisen between those upon the reservation and the whites outside. Frequent complaints have been made at this office, on the part of those Indians belonging to this tribe outside the reserve, and the white settlers. Troubles between them and the whites will continue to arise so long as they are permitted to reside outside the reserve, upon lands in the valleys, that are partly being settled up by the whites. The sooner all belonging to the tribe are brought upon the reservation, the better it will be for all.

The condition and circumstances of those within the reserve are generally improving. A greater desire to cultivate their lands is obtaining, and a slow yet steady progress toward settling down to the pursuits of civilized life is to be seen.

Farming.—Although there has been one-third more ground cultivated the present season than there was the last, there will be less of all kinds of grain harvested. The causes that brought this about was the continuous drought, setting in soon after sowing and planting, and continuing up to nearly the present time. The crickets also came upon us early in the spring in immense droves, and remained until July, ravaging our fields of grain and destroying our vegetables. . . . At Kamiah the harvest has been much better than here or any part of the reserve, not having been troubled with the crickets, and having been blessed with seasonable weather. On account of this failure of Indian crops I anticipate numerous calls for help from Indians during the coming winter.

Schools.—We have had two schools in operation during the past year—the boarding-school here at the agency, a day-school at Kamiah. The school-building here is 26 by 50 feet, two stories. The upper story is used as a dormitory for the boys, the lower is the school-room. The girls are lodged in a building near by, fitted up for them. The boarding-house is occupied by Rev. R. N. Fee, the teacher, and is situated between the two. The boarding department is superintended by Mrs. Fee, the matron. The school has made much more progress than I could have anticipated, which is encouraging to myself, with a prospect for the future that is still more encouraging.

One great drawback is the superstition of the Indians. There has been considerable sickness among the scholars, and one of the most promising boys in the school died during the past summer. Immediately after his death some of the wilder portion of the tribe remarked that the sickness was caused by their adopting the manners and modes of the whites. "See," say they, "we are more healthy and stout than those who work their farms and live in houses." "They will all die off if they continue to live as the whites." This feeling, I believe, will gradually pass away. We have at present in the boarding-school 20 boys and 3 girls. Some have made considerable proficiency in their studies. We have two far enough advanced to be able to explain to the others. They are a great help. I hope they will fit themselves for teachers. At Kamiah, there being no suitable house for boarding purposes, the school is necessarily a day-school. I have clothed some of the scholars attending there. The scholars have not made that progress in their studies that we find among those here. The school has been under the charge of the Rev. H. T. Cowley, whom I suspended July 1, 1872, for cause. I shall look for greater improvements during the next season. I cannot too strongly urge the absolute necessity for another building here, for the use of the school as a boarding–house and dormitory. We will need all the room we have now for school purposes as soon as the scholars come in for the winter term. And I sincerely hope that during the next season we shall have an appropriation not only sufficient to complete the present building, but also to erect a suitable boarding-house. An estimate for the same I have already sent on.

Improvements.—There has been one barn built for the use of the agency during the summer. It is a good substantial structure, and was much needed. Quite a number of Indian cabins have been built, and others now are in process of erection.

There seems to be a growing desire, particularly on the part of those who show any inclination to cultivate land, to build houses to live.

Right here, in this connection with improvements, and in keeping with the policy of the administration, and which has obtained at other agencies, I have to call attention to, and urge that the estimate I forwarded some time ago for building dwelling-houses for employés be allowed. It is essential under the present policy that the employés be married men. In them we find men of steadier habits, more willing to recognize the duties and obligations resting upon them, and far readier to discharge them. Such a little colony of Christian families as we might have here located in the midst of the tribe would go far toward inducing the Indians to give up their wild nomadic life and bring them nearer to civilization, and exert a very salutary influence in christianizing them. To accomplish this we must have other buildings for the employés.

Those buildings we have are wholly inadequate to meet the wants of the agency. The Indians see it and remark it. Two dwelling-houses should be built at once. We need a church-building, hospital-building, and boarding-house for the school. There is no building here suitable for a mess-house, and I am compelled to keep the mess for those who have no families.

General remarks.—This tribe is divided into different bands, each having a head-man. Neither the head chief, sub-chiefs, nor head-men exercise that control or restraint over the tribe they ought. The tribe shows very little respect for their chiefs, and the nearer they approach civilization the more they rely upon the agent to settle matters in dispute among them. If in council the tribe or band are pleased with the council and advice of their chief or head-men, they follow it; if it does not accord with their feelings, it is disregarded. The tribe is about equally divided between "the treaty" and those who term themselves "the non-treaty" Indians. The non-treaty portion, with a very few exceptions, reside on the outside the reserve, along the Snake River and its tributaries. They never ask for assistance, and take nothing from me, except, perhaps, a little tobacco. There is no good feeling existing between the two parties. The non-treatys claim that [L]awyer, at the time he made treaty with the Government, sold their country out from under them and reserved his own. They are the ones who give me much trouble outside the reservation. The time is coming, and I believe is now at hand, when the Government will be compelled to remove those outside the reservation upon it. As I have before remarked, troubles are constantly arising on the outside, and the settlers are getting impatient, and are inclined to push matters to the extreme. By a timely stroke and judicious management I think those on the outside could be induced to come on the reserve, and I can see no better time than the present. . .

No. 37: Supplemental report of John B. Monteith, pp. 656.


Lapwai, Idaho Territory, October 1, 1872.

SIR: I am pleased to submit the following as a supplement to my annual report.

I forwarded some time ago estimates for buildings at this agency and asked for appropriations therefor. It gives me pleasure to report that since my annual report was forwarded the appropriations asked for have nearly all been allowed and received. We have received appropriations for building two churches—one here, the other at Kamiah—a hospital building, the completion of the school-houses, building boarding-houses and dormitories; also an appropriation for breaking and plowing land.

The Indians are highly pleased with these appropriations. Immediately upon receipt of the appropriation I commenced getting out the necessary lumber, and have already let contract for completing school-house and boarding-house for present use, and dormitory for girls. Work is now progressing on same.

I shall push these improvements along as fast as I possibly can, with a due regard to good work and material, and early in next season will have all the buildings in process of erection. Our saw-mill here, and at Kamiah as well, are running in the day time, while the grist-mills run at night. The two dwelling houses asked for, and for which no appropriation has yet been made, are all that is wanting now to make every one comfortable, and they are absolutely necessary.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


United States Indian Agent, Lapwai, Idaho Territory.