Kate and Sue McBeth, Missionary Teachers to the Nez Perce

COURT OF INDIAN OFFENSES

1883
Comm. Indian Affairs
Nez Perce Agency

1884

1885

1886

1887

1888

1890

1891

1892

1893

In 1878 (20 U.S. Stat. 86), Congress authorized payments for Indian police to assist agents in maintaining order on reservations; the Court of Indian Offenses followed in 1883, with Indian judges in charge of the reservation courts. The activities and statistics of the court became a staple of the agent reports, and reflect the efforts of the acculturation policy.

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Felix Corbett
Photographed (edited) courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society 63-221.83a

Board of Indian Commissioners Reports
from Experiences in Alloting Land by Alice Fletcher, 1892

. . . At Kameah is this remarkable settlement where Miss Sue McBeth has left the great mark of her work. Kameah is some 70 miles from the agency, and has been removed from the agency influence; and these Indians have risen to a degree of independence and intelligence that is very remarkable. In the Kameah settlement Felix Corbett was elected judge. The agent ran one candidate, the people who were opposed to him ran another; and the result was that the Christian, progressive Indians put up their candidate, and he was elected. I was some 50 miles away at the time this happened, and the next day Felix Corbett came to my tent. He said: "the people have honored me by electing me their judge. You tell us we will be citizens when our lands are allotted, and that we will live under the laws of the land. I want to do right; it seems to me it would be well for me to try to administer my office under those laws, and I would like to have a book to tell me about them." I entered into some correspondence with some lawyers, and it resulted in my presenting him with a copy of the revised statutes of Idaho, under which he administered his judgeship during the last year, was reŽlected the present year, and is going on in the same way. I am informed, however, that he has been found fault with because he does not collect sufficient fines. He told me that he had been able to manage the people with only one offense where he had had to collect any fine, which I think was a good record for Kameah and Judge Corbett. But Felix can not read. However, his daughter has been at Chemawa school, and she has read the statutes to him.