Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.
Oregon City 16th Oct. 1847To
The Secretary of War
My residence in this country and the situation I hold as the officer in charge of the Hudson Bay Co. affairs in it from that date to 1846 has afforded me opportunity to acquire some knowledge of the character and disposition of its Indian inhabitants, and I am convinced that the manner in which the immigrants travel from Fort Hall to this place will lead to trouble with them unless the measures I suggested to Dr. White when he left this to go home are adopted--that every company leaving Missouri bound to this country should have a conductor well acquainted with the precautions necessary to be taken by persons traveling from there to Fort Hall, where the government should establish a post and place an Indian agent who during the summer ought to have ten or twelve steady, judicious men well acquainted with the Indians between this and that place, and he should place one of these men with every company crossing here who would act as conductor and manage any business the immigrants might have with the Indians till they reached this valley, and as it is found the best route from Fort Hall to this place is the road explored summer 1846 by Messrs. Applegate and party, as the immigrants who came by it this season were here long before those who came by the old route, and as it passes out of the range of the Cayuses, Nez Perces and [Walla] Walla tribes, the best-armed, most warlike and numerous tribes on this side of the mountains, and as the Applegate road passes through a country thinly inhabited and badly armed, for these reasons every exertion ought to be made to get the immigrants to pass by this route next year, and indeed it is certain they will, a post ought to be established in Rogue River Valley garrisoned by forty or fifty men to keep these Indians in check and the communication open between this and Fort Hall and between this and San Francisco--and an Indian agent ought to be placed at this post with an Indian trader to carry on trade with the Indians as the certain means of reconciling them to the presence of whites on their land.
But as the Hudson Bay Co. establishment at Fort Hall would serve as it has hitherto the purpose of a post there for the present, the post at Fort Hall and at Rogue River might be dispensed with for a season. But it is of urgent necessity the agent with the necessary authority to act and his twelve conductors was at Fort Hall summer 1848 in time to meet the immigrants.
As the agent and men ought to be persons well known to the Indians and respected by them, such persons can only be found among the Rocky Mountain traders and trappers now residing on the Willamette, and I would take the liberty to recommend Mr. Robert Newell, an old Rocky Mountain trader, as a person well qualified for the office of agent at Fort Hall, and he should select the conductors, and if these suggestions are approved by government instructions might be here in June next, in time to enable Mr. Newell to proceed to Fort Hall to meet the immigrants.
As Mr. Newell and the men he would take are settled on their claims, they would demand what some may consider great wages. But experience convinces that it is economy to get men who can and will manage the business as it ought, especially at the beginning, and in three years it will be so well established that the expenses can be greatly reduced.
As I am informed you are the proper officer to be addressed on business relating to Indian affairs, my duty as a Christian to do all I can to avert evils from my fellow man, and my desire to promote the prosperity of the country and the happiness of its inhabitants, will I am certain be considered as an apology for troubling you and if I can be of any further assistance command me
With the greatest respect
The Secretary of War
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 399-403.
Last revised August 18, 2016