1880 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 83-404. In U.S. House. 46th Congress, 3d Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1880 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 5, Vol. 1). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1881. (Serial Set 1959).


From: Report of Charles D. Warner, United States Indian Agent, Nez Percé Agency, pp. 186-189.

. . . At the time of issuing annuities last fall, under treaty stipulation, the parties who had made the greatest improvement to their places taken up the spring before were allowed implements, &c., to enable them to carry on successfully such work, without interference by their neighbors. By this method I was enabled to furnish the necessary farming implements, and successfully locate twenty new families, and shall adopt such a course again this year, when as many or more will be similarly located. . . .


Between the new farmers and the enterprise of the old, the acreage has been increased from 3,172 acres in 1879 to 3,780 acres in 1880, an increase of 608 acres during the year. With a yield of 34,380 bushels wheat and 6,500 bushels vegetables in 1879, they show 43,265 bushels wheat and 7,130 bushels vegetables in 1880, with a proportionate increase of oats and other produce. . . .

A number have been able to dispose of their wheat straw to the garrison at Fort Lapwai. Their surplus crops they pack in the mines of Oro Fino, Elk City, Florence, Warren’s, and Salmon River, supplying these camps nearly entire; the extra wheat they have ground, and supply flour to the above places; in fact, readily turning into cash all surplus crops.


They have made several purchases during the year of wagons and implements above what was supplied by treaty stipulation, and have found no fault, by so doing, that the government was forgetting them or failing to keep its promises, but that they needed them and had the enterprise to buy. Several combined and put in an irrigating ditch of over a mile in length that, for engineering skill, would credit any white man. They have made some 2,630 rods of new fence. Two have bought lumber, &c., sufficient to build houses, they being put up at a trifling expense to the government. At the Kamia settlement quite a strife exists as to who shall have the best garden and the largest vegetables, cash prizes having been offered by the headmen to the most successful gardener.

The 4th of July witnessed about 500 in camp at the Kamia, holding their annual camping, and at which I was fortunate enough to be present, with company, by special invitation. Stories started at this time by interested parties for speculation purposes aroused this military department, with a threatened outbreak; people living on Camas prairie fled to Mount Idaho for protection, leaving everything behind, and reporting the most absurd stories, one that Moses and 600 warriors had crossed the Kamia, after traversing 300 miles unmolested and unnoticed through a settled country. I sent dispatches to annul their fears, but they were entirely useless. As a last resort I called on Flinx and James Lawyer, ex-chiefs, to select the men representative of the tribe and accompany me to Lapwai, where a council was held, at which were present Col. Alex. Chambers, commandant Fort Lapwai, who had been placed in command by General Howard of all troops stationed here and at Camp Howard, with several other officers. They expressed themselves satisfied of the purpose for which the excitement had been originated, and that the Nez Percés were yet friends of the whites. It was a false report, and hurt the Indians that they should be so unjustly accused. It was only by promptness that a military movement was avoided, as eleven companies were "held in readiness."

At the time of the Joseph war, orders were given . . . to parties living on Salmon River, the winter home of Joseph, to collect what cattle and horses had been deserted by the hostiles; also to the commandant of Camp Howard to collect and sell what he could gather for the benefit of the government. Several Indians who had removed on the reservation before the war, and who remained faithful during such trouble, had stock running on this their former range, and in the collection by such parties but little regard was paid to the ownership, and 55 head belonging to such reservation Indians were collected by the military and sold at $5 per head. . . . Some relief should be afforded the Indian owners of the cattle sold, as the military appropriated and sold for the benefit of the government $275 worth that belonged to friendly Indians. Since that time orders have been received by me from General Howard turning over all Indian stock on such ranges.

Considerable complaint has been made of white settlers, who have squatted on the reservation line. I have investigated these complaints; but, owing to the indistinctness with which such line is at present marked, could not take any definite action in the matter. It has been suggested that the line be rerun and permanently marked, that no serious complications may arise, as bad blood is sure to come unless the matter receives the proper attention.

They have cut about 600 cords of wood and 30,000 feet of logs, receiving $4,800 from the sale of such timber. There have been two frame and nine log houses built during the year, at a total cost to the government of about $100. More would build had they the lumber.


Owing to the rejectment of the contracts for rebuilding the industrial school-building at Lapwai, our facilities have been cramped. It was my hope the building might be given us, as it was what we needed, and so many children are thereby kept out who desire to enter the school. The dormitories of the building now used are nearly uninhabitable during severe weather. We have accommodated 14 scholars at the Lapwai and 21 at the Kamia; a total of 35, when, had we the proper accommodations, 100 could easily have been taught. One Indian paid his boy’s board, that he might live near the school and enjoy its advantages during the day, the boarding accommodations being full, which shows their interest in education. What have been taught have made satisfactory progress, and reflect credit on the teachers. I trust the department may see the advantages of the suggestions presented them for an increase in our educational facilities. . .

Miss S. L. McBeth has a class of nine young men, educating them for the ministry. The work of civilization has been benefited by the addition of Miss Kate C. McBeth, who has a class of women, and is imparting a knowledge not only of books, but that which makes a wife a virtual "help-meet" to her husband. She has a noble work before her, and reflects credit to the enterprise of the Ladies’ Foreign Mission Society (Presbyterian), by whom she was sent. The above are held as day-schools.


The missionary work is under direction of Rev. Mr. D[e]ffenbaugh, an appointee of the Presbyterian Board Foreign Missions, assisted by the Rev. Robert Williams, a full-blood Nez Percé Indian, a member of the presbytery of Idaho. The membership has increased from 303, at my last report, to 378, a gain of 75 during the year; they are divided as 146 male and 232 female members. Rev. Mr. D[e]ffenbaugh is not only a credit to himself, but the society by whom sent, as he is energetic, clear-headed, and capable of guiding their church affairs with an even hand. Through the kindness of the department, I have been able to paper and paint their churches, making quite a difference in their appearance, the work being assisted by Rev. D[e]ffenbaugh. The members of the Kamia church raised, by voluntary subscription, $125, with which a 300-pound bell was purchased of Meneely and Kimberly, Troy, N. Y., and is now in position at their church. They have also contributed $100 toward the salary of Rev. Mr. Williams, their native preacher. These few facts best show the interest they have in their churches.


On July 1, the "Stevens Treaty" expired, after running the twenty-year limit. By such expiration the chiefs and annuities were abolished, and they were placed virtually on a white man’s footing. Some inclination was manifest to re-elect a head chief with five subchiefs, but the action of the department in allowing me to carry out my suggestion of the purchase of a supply of farming implements, &c., to help new men on the road to civilization, and support themselves, overcame such ideas, and they have expressed their satisfaction and are willing to accede to the wishes of the government.


The sanitary condition during the year has been quite good, no sickness to any extent having been prevalent, ague, inherited scrofula, with a few cases of quick consumption, having been most prevalent. Their births have exceeded their deaths, showing a slight increase of their numbers. . . .

From: Report of William Whiting, United States Indian Agent, Ponca Agency, Indian Territory, pp. 205-208.


When the facilities to work with are taken into consideration, the Nez Percés have made good progress the present year. With only twenty-three teams at their disposal, they hauled all their supplies one hundred miles from terminus of railroad, besides breaking one hundred acres of prairie and hauling logs for houses.

Potatoes, corn, and garden seeds in their usual variety were issued to each family, and in almost every instance they were planted and the growing crop well taken care of. The Nez Percés have more garden vegetables, potatoes, melons, &c., of their own raising than they can make use of. They have asked for wheat to sow this fall, and I have requested authority to buy them enough wheat to sow one hundred acres.

The 96 head of two-year old heifers and four bulls, received for the Nez Percés, were issued to them July 20, 1880. The Indians are taking excellent care of their cattle. The Nez Percés appear to be natural herders, and show more judgment in the management of their stock than any Indians I ever saw.

The old Ponca saw-mill was removed to the Nez Percé reservation in July last, and we are now sawing out lumber for the purpose of erecting houses for the Indians, and I hope to have them all comfortably housed before cold weather. . . .

A day school was opened in February, 1880, and has been very successfully run under the care of James Reubens, a full-blood Nez Percé, with an average daily attendance of twenty.

The Nez Percés are a religious people, and under the intelligent teachings of Mr. Reubens they are strict observers of the Sabbath, refusing to perform any labor whatever upon that day. Twice upon the Sabbath they meet together, and listen to the preaching of Mr. Reubens, and sing hymns with an occasional prayer. Their services are conducted with as much order and the congregation is as much interested in the proceedings as any body of white people in any church in the land. In bad weather they hold services in a large tent erected for the purpose in Husses-Kutte’s camp, but in pleasant weather their meetings are held in the open air, with some boughs laid upon poles to protect them from the rays of the sun. The Nez Percés should have a building erected, suitable for church purposes, in which a day school might be run, made up of such children as it would be impossible or impracticable to take into the industrial school.

The Nez Percés are an intelligent, religious, and industrious people, ready and willing to work and help themselves, and if agricultural implements, sufficient stock to work their land, and seeds are furnished them, they will, I think, give a fair representation of the condition of affairs at this agency. . . .