1881 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 1-394. In U.S. House. 47th Congress, 1st Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1881 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 5, Vol.2). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1882. (Serial Set 2018).
From: Report of Charles D. Warner, United States Indian Agent, Nez Percé Agency, pp. 123-124.
. . . The Indians under my charge have made unprecedented advancement during the past year. As regards agricultural matters, there has been an increase of at least 20 per cent. of grain grown over that of last year. There has also been a corresponding increase of cultivated acreage. The crops as far as harvested are unusually heavy, and large quantities of wheat, oats, and vegetables are being packed into the mining camps adjacent to the reserve by the Indians, for which they receive very satisfactory prices. Large quantities of hay are being cut and stored away by the Indians for winter use and for sale. When any is sold the price realized is from $10 to $15 per ton. Several houses and barns have been erected during the year, and a great many more would have been put up had lumber been available. Wagons, reapers, mowers, fanning-mills, &c., have been purchased by many of the Indians from private funds.
These Indians evidently realize that it is high time that they should bring themselves up to a point of self support, and are making such an effort a success. Their progress is gradual and permanent. Last fall they hauled about 700 cords of wood from the banks of the Clearwater River, at the agency, to Fort Lapwai, a distance of about 4 miles, and are now making preparations to deliver at the same point for contractors this fall about 1,200 cords. They use four and six horse teams generally. The Indians have cut about 500 cords of wood, and have cut and sold about 75,000 feet of saw-logs[.]
The new school building at Lapwai is nearly completed, and will be the finest structure of the kind in the Territory. The main building, 32 by 80 feet, three stories high, lathed and plastered throughout. There is a wing one and a half stories high, furnished with a hotel range, pumps, tanks, and pipes, making it the most complete establishment of the kind in the Territory. By order from the department the boarding and lodging school at Kamiah has been closed, and their seems to be quite an effort being made to have it reopened on the part of the Indians.
The saw-mill under course of construction at the agency will, we hope, be in running order in about a month. As regards the grist-mill, we look for its completion some time during the winter. The Indians dug the ditch to be used in conveying water to the mill flume. The ditch is about half a mile long, and does credit to the Indians. In matters of this kind, where they can be made to see that they are the ones to be benefited they will work without compensation.
The general sanitary condition of the tribe is good.
In educational matters we have been laboring under disadvantages during the year past. The accommodations for boarding schools have been very limited, and very poor at that; but during the ensuing year, with proper facilities in the way of school employés, we have reason to expect marked advancement in this department. The Indians have taken the usual interest in religious matters. As a whole, the progress made by the Indians in the various departments of the reserve is certainly commendable. . . .
From: Report of Thomas J. Jordan,, United States Indian Agent, Ponca Agency, Indian Territory, pp. 150-152.
. . . THE NEZ PERCÉS,
[l]ocated at Oakland, comprise three hundred and twenty-eight souls, and I am sorry to be compelled to report that there has been a large amount of sickness and many deaths among them during the last year[.] This arises from the fact that they have not become acclimated, and are to a great extent compelled to live in tepees, the cloth of which has become so rotten from the long wear and the effects of the weather as to be no longer capable of keeping out the rain, by which they were soaked during the last spring. The tribe, unless something is done for them, will soon become extinct.
Of all the Indians with whom I have become acquainted, they are by far the most intelligent, truthful, and truly religious. Under their pastor, the Rev. Archie Lawyer, a full-blood Nez Percé, one hundred and twenty-four Indians have joined the church (Presbyterian), which was organized during the year by the Synod of Kansas. They are greatly in need of a church in which to hold services, and for want of one are compelled to meet under an arbor covered with branches and leaves. They keep the Sabbath-day holy, abstaining from all kinds of work, and the service at the arbor is attended by every member of the tribe, whether a commuunicant or not. The universal attendance, the attention and the general good conduct of these people, does not only compare favorably, but causes me often to blush for their more favored white brethren. Poor as they are, they have contributed $45 with which to buy the lumber, &c., necessary to build a house for their pastor, which is now completed and occupied by him. . . .
Love of country and home, as in all brave people, is very largely developed in this tribe, and they long for the mountains, the valleys, the streams, and the clear springs of water of their old home. They are cleanly to a fault and most of them have adopted the dress, and as far as possible the habits, of the white man. They keep their stock in good order and are a hard-working, painstaking people. I hope by the time winter comes on, to have them all in comfortable houses. . . .
The number of acres broken and under cultivation is one hundred and sixty-one, an increase of one hundred and twenty-one during the year.
The deaths have been seventeen and the births six.
There were fourteen box-houses erected for the Indians, one for the pastor of the church, a good stable and saw-mil completed, besides a large amount of repairing, done by the carpenter and his assistants.
The number of females outnumbers the males by more than one hundred. This surplus is caused by the widows whose husbands fell during the war. These poor women are all longing to return to Idaho, to their friends and relations. I would suggest the propriety of returning them to their old homes, where they will be more comfortable than they are at present, and, I believe, would not be a greater expense to the department than they are here. So brave, good, and generous a people deserve well of their government, and I can only express the hope that such generous action will be taken by the coming Congress in their behalf as may enable the department to furnish them with the horses and implements of agriculture that they so much need. Such a people should not be allowed to perish, and this great government can afford to be generous and just. . . .