1886 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 79-919. In U.S. House. 49th Congress, 2d Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1886 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 5, Vol.1). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1887. (Serial Set 2467).


Report of Charles E. Monteith,, United States Indian Agent, Nez Percé Agency, pp. 330-331.


August 24, 1886.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following as my fifth annual report of the condition of affairs on this reserve. Of necessity my annual reports partake of a similarity more or less.

There is little or no incentive to prompt the members of this tribe to become further advanced in civilized pursuits than they have been doing during the past two years. They have their small farms, market for surplus produce, large herds of horses and cattle, and enough land for ten times their number, the latter secured them by treaty, and to be taken from them only by their unanimous consent, unless some compulsory measure is adopted by the Government. They live, move, and have their being, are happy and contented, and apparently have no desire to accumulate except as nature increases their herds and it becomes necessary for them to make provision for more properly caring for their stock, during about two months of winter.

There is an increased cultivated acreage of about 450 acres, occasioned principally by Nez Percés of Joseph's band, who were returned from the Indian Territory about one year ago, taking farms. On account of the severe drought there is a heavy falling off of cereals this season over that of a year ago. But little stock was sold by the Indians during the past year, and, as to numbers, probably not more than half the natural increase. Inasmuch as they will not have their usual surplus of produce to dispose of, I am of opinion that many will have to sacrifice at low figures considerable stock to procure money with which to purchase their winter supplies.

Last winter the Indians hauled 81,337 pounds supplies from Lewiston to the agency, and received therefor[e] $406.68.

I purchases from them 63 tons of hay, and paid them $882 for the same; 20,000 pounds oats, and paid $319.92; 155 cords wood, and paid $775.

During the year the buildings at old Fort Lapwai have been renovated, repaired and remodeled for the purpose of placing them in condition suitable for school purposes. Several things have occurred which have hindered me in said work and prevented me from completing the same, all of which has been duly reported to the Department. Considerable work yet remains to be done, which will fall to the lot of my successor, whose arrival is anxiously awaited by myself. As to the practicability of establishing a training-school at Fort Lapwai I will say nothing, considering it the privilege of my successor to report thereon.

Our boarding and industrial school has been successfully managed during the school term, and the progress made by the pupils is all that could be expected. The capacity of the building is 60, the average attendance 58 2/9, and the cost per capita for the past year about $183.

Next to education, the Indian police and court of Indian offenses will rate as important factors in the march of civilization among this tribe. To the more restless and renegade element the police and court are bitter pills, and are hated as only such elements can hate. To-day not less than thirteen offenders are outside the boundaries of this reserve waiting for my successor to relieve me, hoping he will not support said branches of the service to the extent I have, and thereby be permitted to return to this reserve. They know that the Department has ruled that the police have no jurisdiction beyond the lines of the reserve. I cannot understand how the Department can harmonize said ruling with the following, taken from the rules governing the police force, defining the duties of the police, to wit:

The police will be especially vigilant in detecting and arresting * * * Indians absent from the reserve without a permit from the agent.

The efficiency of the force could not receive a more severe blow than said ruling.

The following is the result of the working of the court as to convictions and fines imposed and collected during the year ending August 21, 1886.




Drunkenness 9 $45.00
Plurality of wives 3 116.50
Attempt at rape 2 110.00
Assault 4 44.00
Gambling 20 32.60
Larceny 3 100.00
Contempt of court 1 77.00
Adultery 2 10.00
Wife beating 1 20.00


Under date of May 17, 1886, I was instructed to take a census of this tribe, and as no funds were available to pay for the expenses connected therewith, I must use such employés as . . . could be spared. There being no employés who could be spared from their respective duties, no census has been taken. It is utterly impossible to take a census of this tribe without considerable expense, and I consider it monumental cheek on the part of Congress to expect a census to be taken without expense.

The general health of the tribe has been very good.

Upon leaving the service for all time to come, I desire to return sincere thanks for the courtesies received at the hands of Department officials generally.

Very respectfully,


United States Indian Agent.

From: Report of Benjamin P. Moore, United States Indian Agent, Colville Indian Agency, Washington Territory, pp. 449-453.

. . . Of Chief Joseph and his people, Nez Percés, who were placed upon the Colville Reserve in June, 1885, having been removed from the Indian Territory, little of encouragement can be said. Upon my assuming charge here I visited Fort Spokane, where these Indians were located, and found that the military were subsisting them. The amount of supplies I had on hand for these Indians was not sufficient to issue them one-fourth rations to the end of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1886. After considerable writing and telegraphing to the Department as to the condition of these Indians, I received authority to issue half rations, and submit estimate for the necessary supplies to last to the end of the fiscal year, when some two months later I was permitted to contract for supplies and to issue to these Indians full rations. It was about this time that Joseph, with 120 of his people, expressed a desire to move to the Nespelim, where Moses was living, and to take up farms. To help and encourage them in this I obtained authority to issue them monthly instead of weekly rations, and in the month of December they moved to the Nespelim. But when they got there they found the land they wanted was claimed by other Indians, and instead of taking the advice of the farmer living there to take up other land, they allowed the winter and spring to pass without doing anything except to draw their rations and to gamble with the clothing and blankets I issued to them last fall. At the beginning of last month I visited the Nespelim (this being the first opportunity I had had), and spent two days in locating Joseph and his people upon land. On the last day, it taking me till 10 o'clock at night before I got through, I selected for them a very fine valley, situated about 4 miles from the Nespelim mills and school-house, and Joseph expressed much pleasure at the location. They are now busy fencing in the land, and although it will be necessary for the Government to subsist them during this year, I believe and have every hope that they will be self-supporting after they harvest next summer. They are greatly in need of wagons and cows, and I have already submitted an estimate for the purchase of some, which I hope will be allowed them. . . .