1889 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 3-795. In U.S. House. 51st Congress, 1st Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1889 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 5, Vol.2). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1890. (Serial Set 2725).


From: Allotments of Land in Severalty, pp. 14-16.

. . . Under date of April 13, 1889, the President granted authority for making allotments on the Lapwai or Nez Percé Reservation in Idaho, revoking the authority for that purpose granted July 7, 1887. A new authority was regarded as necessary in view of the fact that the date of the order is the basis upon which the ages and status of allottees are determined. May 4, 1889, Special Agent Alice C. Fletcher was instructed to make the allotments on the said reservation in Idaho, and she is now engaged in the work.

From: Grants Referred to in Last Annual Report, pp. 37-41.

Nez Percé Reservation, Idaho.—There is nothing additional to report in regard to the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company’s right of way through the Nez Percé Reservation, in Idaho, act of July 28, 1888 (25 Stat., 349). As stated in the last annual report, authority was granted the company (August 10, 1888) to make preliminary surveys. No maps have been filed for approval nor steps taken to obtain the consent of the Indians to the right of way, which consent, by the terms of the act, is made a condition of the grant.

From: Report of Charles E. Monteith , United States Indian Agent, Nez Percé Agency, pp. 182-183.

SIR: In compliance with your letter of July 1, 1889, I have the honor to hand you this, my first annual report under my present commission.

I assumed charge of this agency July 1, 1889, relieving Special Agent H. S. Welton. I found the service thoroughly demoralized in all its departments, the primary cause being a lack of foresight and discretion on part of the Department at Washington, which in 1887 caused the adoption of certain regulations in the management of schools on reservations whereby authority was divided, and made the superintendents, in a measure, independent of the agent, at the same time held the agent responsible for the proper management of all affairs connected with the agency.

In this a blow was struck at discipline and good order on reservations, and licensed such as knew not how to appreciate authority to commit insubordination and thereby compromise the best interests of the service, as also the agent. In harmony with said regulations and in conjunction with the enforcement of them at this agency, controversy and contention arose and did not cease until the said regulations were abrogated.

Practically the same thing is about to be repeated at this agency in the establishing of an independent school under a bonded superintendent. It will be time enough to refer to the wisdom of such a step when the result is known.


During the past two years the school service at this agency has been a farce and schools have existed only on paper. Nothing has been accomplished in the way of teaching the children to speak English. I came to the agency June 15, 1889, and several times endeavored to make myself understood by addressing the scholars in English, but failed. The schools were dismissed June 28, 1889.


The disorder in the school service does not exceed that which has crept into the tribe in the way of drunkenness, gambling, and other vices, occasioned by the controversies between agent and employés, whose attention was diverted from the welfare of the tribe and the best interests of the service. In thus speaking it is not my purpose to criticise my predecessor or his employés. I am directed not to submit any "rose-colored" report, but rather the "actual state of affairs," hence the representations herewith. Experience, discretion, and judicious management alone will enable us to regain the ground lost during the past two years.


In my opinion the cultivated acreage is about the same as reported by my predecessor in his last annual report. The crops, as a whole, will not exceed one-half of former years, owing to the long and severe drought, the like never having been experienced in this section of the country. Much suffering will ensue the coming winter among the widows and old and destitute, unless liberal aid is rendered by the Government.


Special Agent Miss Fletcher has made her headquarters, for the present, at Kamiah, the station on the east end of this reserve, and has met with encouraging results. I think all white men who married Nez Percé women have come upon the reserve and made selections for the benefit of their wives and children. The Indians move slow, generally, and in this their tardy action has given said whites opportunity to come in and select lands which reservation Indians had contemplated taking. This has caused considerable feeling, and many Indians have demanded a council and the presence of an inspector for the purpose of requiring said element to be the last to make selections. I have replied, at all times, that the "severalty act" is a law and must be obeyed; that they must not procrastinate, but act quickly, and make their selections without delay.


I asked authority to appoint a graduate from Chemawa school in Oregon as second assistant teacher in the school here, and to detail him to take a census of this tribe embracing every and all questions embraced in the statistical blank. No notice was taken of my communication. . . .


Owing to the shortage in crops at least two-thirds of the tribe are absent from the reserve, having gone into the mountains and fishing grounds to lay in a larger supply of jerked meat and dried fish than usual.

Appropriations have been made regularly, covering rations for the police force at non-ration agencies. I think it would make said force at this agency more efficient if rations could be issued them, this being a non-ration agency. The increase in pay of $2 per month is thankfully received, and will be of some encouragement.

The general health of the tribe is good. . . .

Report of  D. W. Eaves, Superintendent of Schools, Fort Lapwai, Idaho, pp. 354-355.


September 10, 1889.

SIR: During the two years that I have been in charge of the school at this agency so many experiments have been tried and so many changes made by the agent in charge that it is difficult to give a satisfactory or intelligent report of the school work.

The school has been, as regards the sexes, at one time mixed and then separated. It has been removed from Fort Lapwai to the old agency, and then divided, the boys returned and separate schools for the sexes established.

The school opened at the old agency for boys and girls was in one commodious building, erected especially for school purposes. Sixty scholars had been the usual number accommodated there; seventy-five were crowded in before the end of the first quarter.

Agent Norris, then in charge of this agency, ordered school divided and boys removed to Fort Lapwai. I was directed to take charge of the boys’ school, and another corps of employés was supplied for the girls’ school. There was no increase in attendance after this division and establishment of a second school, and great inconvenience arose in the division of labor, it being necessary to train boys to wash dishes, make beds, and do work usually allotted to girls, and vice versa.

The boys’ school at the fort was, after the usual vacation, re-opened October 1, under discouraging auspices. The average attendance for the quarter following, ending December 3, was 9.57. This was the last quarter of Agent Norris’s administration. During the third quarter of the fiscal year, Agent Norris was relieved by Special Agent Heth. Under his management of the agency the number of pupils at the boys’ school soon reached 70. Two-thirds of this increase were in school for the first time and were totally ignorant of the English language or civilized customs. Many of them were past the age where children usually first enter school, and much difficulty was experienced in teaching them.

Special Agent Heth directed that whenever practicable Indian employés be given positions in the school. The following positions in this school were filled by Indians, viz: Industrial teacher, assistant teacher, and assistant matron. This experiment, while it gave great satisfaction to the Indians, was not conducive to the best interests of the school. There was a lack of constancy and energy. They did not sufficiently impress on scholars the necessity of the use of the English language, often failing in this respect themselves.

The work of every kind on the farm has been done by the school boys. Not only have they been kept busy at dormitory, laundry, and kitchen, but in the field and garden. The season has been an unfavorable one for farming, a drought prevailing since May, but the yield in grain and vegetables is up to the average. About the usual amount of hay has been cut for stock, and the supply of potatoes, onions, and cabbage for the school will be adequate.

The matron found the boys opposed to domestic occupation, but they became in time expert bed-makers, dish-washers, and launderers.

Work in the school-room has been carried on without intermission. We have had our regular three sessions during the week days and a Sunday session for appropriate exercises. The progress, especially of the older boys who understand some English, has been satisfactory. Our more-advanced pupils work in fractions, read in the Fourth Reader, have a fair knowledge of the geography of North America, letter-writing, and simple English composition. All of our Indian pupils show great aptness in penmanship, drawing, and music.

The children should be taken into the school at an early age, and I would respectfully suggest that no method of instruction could be used with these pupils so successfully as the kindergarten, and that it would be well to introduce classes of this kind in all our Indian schools.

The health of the pupils in attendance at school here has been exceptionally good. For a time various forms of cutaneous diseases and scrofulous sores were quite prevalent, but under proper treatment and sanitary regulations these have disappeared and all the children left us at the close of year in good sanitary condition. An epidemic of mumps prevailed in June, but all had recovered before close of school year. There was one case of typhoid fever which resulted fatally, this being the first and only loss by death the school has sustained in two years.

The facilities for large school, afforded by its location at Fort Lapwai, are good. The buildings formerly occupied by the officers and soldiers here are in fair condition and supply accommodations for more children than this tribe can supply. The land on the military reservation for agricultural purposes is unexcelled in fertility and well watered. The arrangements for distributing a water supply to the various buildings in use for school purposes are incomplete. Pipes have been laid and tower constructed, but it will be necessary to erect a wind-mill to raise the water.

In conclusion, the inferences I draw from two years’ active experience in school service may be condensed as follows: That Indian children should be placed in school at an early age and upon their own reservations, and not sent away for five or six years to distant schools. The graduates from such schools in this tribe are not so useful, influential, or healthy as the Indians educated here. That schools and school employés should not be subject to the caprice of agents, but placed under trained teachers, who should not be changed unnecessarily. That the sexes, while carefully guarded, should not be separated, as the defining of a proper relation of the sexes is a most important branch of civilization. That it is important that English-speaking employés should fill the positions in schools.