Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.
Office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Oregon City 1st March 1851
The great number of persons leaving Oregon for the gold mines and passing through (as they will have to do) the Umpqua and Rogue River country renders it necessary for me to call your attention to the following instructions.
I wish you with as little delay as possible to take the most favorable position on the Umpqua to see those on their way to the mines and urge upon them the necessity of not molesting the Indians on Rogue River or elsewhere, but on the contrary, treat them kindly. I am well persuaded that most of the difficulties with these Indians might have been avoided had a more conciliatory course been pursued on the part of the whites. I would also appeal to the whites residing in the vicinity of these Indians to exercise a little more forbearance--they should remember the great ignorance of the red men and their many wrongs at the hands of our race. Our people profess to be governed by reason and law, while the Indian knows no other law than that of self-will, retaliation and revenge--therefore you will, I hope, make great exertions to prevent that state of things transpiring in Oregon that has produced so much bloodshed and misery in Northern California.
I have previously informed you that I have requested the government to order a sufficient number of troops to be stationed on the Umpqua and Rogue River to ensure order and a compliance (so far as may be) with the laws.
I wish you to move onto the Rogue River in the month of May next, or to such other place in southwestern Oregon as will render your services effectual in promoting peace and friendship with the red men in that section of our Territory.
I have the honor, sir, to remainH. H. Spalding
Very respectfully your obt. servt.
for Southwestern Oregon
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 889-890.
We learn that the Board of Indian Commissioners, composed of Gov. Gaines, Judge Skinner and Col. Allen, have entered upon their active duties and commenced a tour among the several Indian tribes, for the purpose of making treaties to secure their lands in behalf of the United States.
Western Star, Milwaukie, April 3, 1851, page 2
Columbia Barrack, Oregon Tery.Sir
April 14th 1851
A report has reached here that Gov. Lane and three other persons have been killed by the Rogue River Indians. As my son S. E. W. Simonson was in company with Gov. Lane we fear he is one of the persons killed, and our consequent distress and desire to learn the facts has induced me to write you. Maj. Meek says that the Klickitat Indians told him they had seen the men who were killed but did not see Gov. Lane and that they came over the mountain after the murder was committed. These Indians must have known my son, as they went with him and Gov. Lane. He was a young man about five feet two inches high, light complexion, light hair, upper front teeth out, and was generally called by the Gov. & his acquaintances Sam. Will you be so kind as to make inquiry of these Indians and from other reliable sources, and let me know the result. My family are yet ignorant of the report, and I desire to keep them so until the facts are ascertained. Your dropping me a line upon the earliest information will confer a great favor and be properly appreciated.
Very respectfully yourDoctor Dart
John S. Simonson
Affairs Oregon Tery.
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received 1848-1852, 1851 No. 20.
Office Supt. Indian Affairs
Oregon City 2nd May 1851
I have the honor to inform you that the commissioners appointed to treat with the Indian tribes in Oregon, west of the Cascade Mountains, have informed me that the fund appropriated and paid over to them for the expenses of their treaties is nearly exhausted, and their labors must cease for want of funds. My impression is that not more than one eighth part of the country west of the Cascades has yet been treated for.
I had taken the liberty to pen an article to you (not sent) suggesting a plan, the application of which would show a great saving of expense to the government in finishing these treaties.
I was about to offer my own services, believing as I do that one man can make these treaties in less time, with equal justice to the parties, and as free from objectionable features, the just and searching scrutiny that all treaties must undergo in the Senate being a bar against intrigue and error.
I am much pleased, however, now to see that a law has passed which anticipates my views on this subject so far, at least as the enormous expenses involved in former treaties is concerned. I allude to the 3rd section of the act of the 27th February last.
In the preceding remarks, I do not wish to be understood as censuring in any degree the acts or doings of the present commissioners in Oregon. But in a country where the cost of everything is so great that two months' labor of these commissioners and their attendants involves an expense of twenty thousand dollars, and this too when little or no returns to the Treasury of the United States can ever be looked for, is my apology for the suggestions that I was about to make.
I have the honor to remainThe Honorable
Your obdt. servant
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 866-868.
Office of Supt. Indian AffairsSir
Oregon City 16th May 1851
I have the honor to inform you that Chief Justice Nelson and the District Attorney, A. Holbrook Esq., are of the opinion that the treaties lately made by the commissioners appointed to treat with the Indians of Oregon are void, inasmuch as they have all been made subsequent to the passage of the act of Congress of 27th February last. Should you be of the same opinion, I would then suggest that the Indians who are parties to these treaties should not be made acquainted with any informalities in the treaties thus far. I am of the opinion that it would be difficult to get these bands together again for the same purpose--besides, it would tend to weaken their faith in the sincerity of the government. Taking this view of the subject, the person authorized to proceed with those treaties should call together only the chiefs of the bands already treated with, and let them subscribe anew to the same articles already agreed to by the several bands. But should it be decided that the President and the Senate have the right to confirm these treaties as they now stand, it will save time and expense. I do not believe that a renewed effort to make these treaties with these bands more satisfactory would be successful, nor could they be essentially changed to the advantage of either of the parties, excepting that the government should buy out the claimants on the several reservations, all of which I think are small enough, without being thus patched up, to say nothing of the endless difficulties that must and will arise out of them.
I have the honor to remainThe Honorable
Your obdt. servant
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 869-871.
Yoncalla Umpqua O.T.To
2nd June 1851
Anson Dart esq.
Superintendent of Indian Affairs
I last evening received a note by the hand of Sah-te-te, a petty chief of the Klickitats, in which you request my good offices in recovering a boy belonging to the Tumwater tribe of Indians held forcibly by a Mr. Smith.
I am happy to inform you that no such case exists in this neighborhood, nor do I know that any involuntary servitude exists in this valley. The case which I expect is the foundation of the complaint made to you by the Tumwater Indians is that of an escaped elité or slave of the Shasta race who stopped in this valley first at the house of Mr. Scott and afterwards with my neighbor Mr. Wilson, but no compulsion whatever was used by either of these gentlemen to detain or exact services from the young man.
During his residence with Mr. Wilson I believe a demand was made for him by the Klickitat Indians. Mr. Wilson informed them that the Indian was at perfect liberty to go where he pleased or to remain with him, but that he would permit no compulsion to be used to return him to slavery.
The Indian has since returned to his own country; the just equivations for his services and the superior comforts enjoyed in the family of Mr. Wilson were not sufficient to eradicate that love of kindred and home which seems implanted in the human mind even in its lowest degradation.
It affords me the greatest pleasure to find that the suppression of the practice of slave holding this Territory comes within the line of your duty, and you enter cordially into the discharge of it. Be assured, sir, so far as an humble individual in his private capacity can aid in so good a work that you shall have my hearty cooperation.
Since an early date in the settlement of this country, the efforts of the humane have been directed to the suppression of the barbarous custom prevailing among the natives in carrying on a traffic in human beings. The Indians of the Columbia availing themselves of the superior strength they acquired from firearms obtained from the whites--have been in the habit of making forays upon their weaker neighbors of the south.
The aged of both sexes being useless, and the male adults wild and intractable were murdered and the women and children carried off and enslaved. Besides the menial drudgery and barbarous treatment, everywhere the lot of the enslaved, the females were compelled by their savage masters to gratify the lusts of all base and sensual enough to seek so gross an enjoyment, hence their lives were soon terminated by the disease which God has provided as the punishment of their violation of his law, and their bodies the means of extending the infection to others, and the males after contributing to the ease and dignity of their masters in life were frequently sacrificed to his manes after this disease.
I have been informed by the gentlemen of the Hudson's Bay Company that the desire to acquire this species of property by the early (Canadian) settlers of Willamette to be used in the cultivation of their farms greatly increased the evils attendant on their acquisitions until the company found it necessary to prohibit their servants from owning or trading slaves under the penalty of banishment from the country. This salutary measure together with the firm opposition this barbarous custom has received from the better disposed American citizens has greatly diminished slavery, and I hope sincerely you will be able to put an end to the cruel and inhuman practices resorted to to obtain them.
Good policy as well as humanity (which I believe to be inseparable) seems to demand its suppression, because the manual [sic] after acquiring all the vices of his oppressors frequently escapes from bondage and carries to his own country those vices aggravated with the deepest hostility to the race from whom his people and himself have received nothing but wrongs, and it is a fact well known that the brigands of the south are in most cases headed by fugitive slaves. In traveling in that part of the country it is not uncommon from the inaccessible bosom of a lake or the top of a mountain to have yourself not only reviled in the jargon of the Columbia but all the opprobrious epithets of the English and French languages most liberally applied to you.
Before closing it may be proper to mention that a letter which from its appearance and post marks I presume is from your office on official business, and directed to my care for H. H. Spalding, Indian Agent, yet remains in this P.O. unclaimed.
I should long since have forwarded it to Mr. Spalding at his residence in Willamette, as I have other communications to his address, only I was led to believe from the consignment of the packer to my care that Mr. Spalding was shortly to pay us or rather the Indians of his district a visit--which I am sorry to say he has too long delayed.
Though long a resident among Indians, he appears not to have learned that the confidence of savages can only be obtained or retained by the most punctual and rigid performance of all promises made to them. Their suspicious natures and limited knowledge, ascribing to design failures which a better knowledge of facts would enable them to see were accidents.
And besides the absence of Mr. Spalding from his districts must subject you to some difficulties in the discharge of your official duties, because in cases like the one in which you do me the honor to ask my cooperation while I as an individual could use nothing but persuasion, he as the representative of his government would act in the strength and majesty of its laws.
But as it is neither my duty nor wish to pass a censure upon Mr. Spalding's official conduct, I must conclude by requesting to know whether the letter above referred to shall be forwarded to Mr. Spalding's residence?
Very respectfullyNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received 1848-1852, 1851 No. 34.
War DepartmentHon. A. H. H. Stuart
Washington June 4, 1851
Secretary of the Interior
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd ult. (enclosing a communication from the Indian Bureau), in which you request, if practicable, that this Department authorize a military escort to be furnished the commissioners appointed to negotiate treaties with the Indians in Oregon.
In reply, I have to inform you that the only troops now in that territory are two companies of artillery, one stationed at Puget's Sound, the other divided between Astoria and Fort Vancouver. The wants of the service will not permit this small force to be diminished. I regret therefore that it will be impossible to comply with your request.
Very respectfullyNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1053-1055.
C. M. Conrad
Your obt. servant
Secretary of War
June 5th 1851Gov. Gaines
Allow me to suggest to your excellency the propriety of ordering (under the auspices of the govt.) a company of mounted volunteers to serve as Rangers, to reconnoiter the southern portion of our Territory as far as the California line, including all that portion of country lying between the California road and the Coast Range of mountains and north of Rogue River and down that river to its mouth, thence along the coast as far as the line between this Territory and the state of California.
The good to be obtained by this movement will be to bring about an amicable understanding between the whites and those Indians who, at this time, entertain a hostile disposition towards all white men, and to cause the surrender of such of them as may have been engaged in the murder of the unfortunate individuals that was killed on the trail the other side of the Umpqua Valley, and also to demand and obtain the murderers of Mr. Newton in the year '46, also to effect an understanding with a large band or tribe who reside on the coast near to the line between us and California.
Those Indians near the line are represented as being numerous and altogether hostile; should there be no arrangements made with these tribes during the dry part of the year, our people will inevitably suffer much, and very much in the coming rainy season, as they are well aware of the fact that a force on horseback cannot successfully march in that part of the country in the winter.
With these views (which is respectfully suggested for your consideration) I tender my services to take charge of the expedition, under such instructions as your excellency may deem necessary, in order to carry out the object in view. I would further submit that the company consist of fifty privates including noncommissioned officers, with one captain, 2 lieutenants and an ensign, making fifty-four in all, to serve sixty days, unless sooner discharged, to furnish their own outfit entire, the same to be valued upon mustering the men into service. As to the command of the expedition, the officer having charge should rank as maj., that being about as high as I have ever aspired to in the military. This perhaps (and no doubt is) a new idea; it has been brought to my view from, and on account of, my travels in those mountains in the year '48.
Should you deem the subject a matter worthy of your consideration, you will please write to me at your earliest convenience.
With due respect
Your obt servt.
(Copy)To the Honorable the Governor of the Territory of Oregon
We, the undersigned, respectfully represent that the Indians on the road through the Rogue River country are at this time very hostile, having recently committed several murders and robberies on the citizens of Oregon passing to and from the mines.
We, the undersigned, respectfully represent that we deem it highly important that some military force should be kept in the country in order to protect those that are passing through.
We, the undersigned, traveling from the valley of the Willamette, having met with Captain Long at the Point of Rocks in Rogue River with a company of men raised for the punishment of the Indians for some recent depredations committed on citizens of Oregon, and understanding from him that if commissioned, and reasonably compensated, that he and his men will stay in the Rogue River country and afford protection to the travelers, we respectfully request that under such regulations as you may think best that he may be appointed, thinking that it will add much to the interest of the citizens of Oregon, that peace cannot be made with them until vigorously punished, we are fully convinced, and for the protection of the lives and the amount of valuable property that is now on the road, that some steps should be immediately taken, and believing that Captain Long would be well adapted for such service, we respectfully request that he be appointed with power to raise such number of men as he may think sufficient for such service.
SUPERINTENDENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
Our worthy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Dr. Dart, started last week on a trip to visit the different Indian tribes in this Territory. His suit consists of eleven persons. Among the Indian tribes he intends to visit are the Walla Wallas, Nez Perces, Flatheads, Spokanes, Cayuses and the several tribes in the vicinity of Puget Sound. He is to hold friendly talks with them, distribute some presents and prepare the way for their permanent peace and good will. Dr. Dart is well adapted to the business, we think--as he is a very fatherly and kind-disposed man.
He informed us that he had taken the requisite materials for making mineralogical discoveries and tests on his trip. The doctor is a good geologist--and his researches may prove of great value to the public. This formed a part of his instructions from the government at home when he left Washington for this country last fall.
Weekly Times, Portland, June 5, 1851, page 2
Dalles of the ColumbiaSir
6th June 1851.
I have the honor to inform you that I arrived here on the 2nd inst. I find a very large gathering of Indians here. Almost every tribe east of the Cascade Mountains have delegations here. The chiefs of all the tribes are here, excepting the main band of the Snakes, the Cayuses and the Coeur d'Alenes. A very friendly feeling exists among them all. There was, however, great uneasiness and anxiety among them, occasioned by the circulation among them of a report that the white people were coming to drive them from their lands--that large ships were on the way, full of people, to take possession of all their country. I met them in council yesterday, and after a long talk they expressed themselves perfectly satisfied--the most of whom have left this morning to go to their country in order to have assembled, en masse, their respective tribes, to meet me at the different points as I pass on my journey, so that (to use their own expression) "their people may all know what they know."
With the exception of the Snakes and the Rogue River Indians, there is the most perfect submission to my orders and requests. Having no agents or sub-agents to locate in the Rogue River and Snake countries, and the impossibility of visiting them in person, will prevent me from having that control over them that is desirable.
I would here respectfully suggest for your consideration the propriety of your requesting me to visit Washington City this fall after the rainy season commences here. There will be a necessity for the passage, at the next session of Congress, of some special act, or acts, connected with Oregon. Besides, I shall have collected information that will be very important to the Department at Washington, much of which cannot prudently be embodied in my annual report.
I shall not probably have another opportunity to send in to the settlements until I return there.
I have the honor to remainThe Honorable
Your obdt. servant
Supt. Indian Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 877-879.
Office of IndianSir
Affairs Oregon City
June 12th 1851
As I am about clearing these dispatches a gentleman by the name of Wm. M. Turpin of Milwaukie arrived at this office direct from the Klamath or Shasta mines bringing the painful news that his party was attacked on the morning of the 3rd instant at a place called the Green Spring [probably Willow Springs, sometimes called Green Willow Springs] south of the Rogue River by a party of about 100 Indians. They fought them for four hours. One man was murdered (Mr. Barlow) & from 7 to 10 Indians were reported killed.
He states that the same Indians attacked two parties of miners at the same place the day before. In this engagement the Indians lost two men, one of which was a principal chief. He states that there has been a party of 40 men raised to fight the Ind. and that some 25 of said party are now engaged in actual war. He states that Dr. McBride of Lafayette was one of his party & that the Dr. will forward a detail of the matter to Gov. Gaines for his immediate action. This party was robbed of 4 pack animals and 1 pack during the fight. One man is said to have lost $1500. He also states that the Indians on this side of Rogue River are very hostile; that they have killed three white men within the last 3 weeks.
I am sir with high esteem yourDr. A. Dart
J. L. Parrish
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 36.
To His Excellency
Gov. J. P. Gaines
With much diffidence I assure you, I shall proceed to address you in reference to some Indian difficulties in which I was compelled of necessity to take a hand, and I have a greater hesitancy, from the fact that many persons will prejudge from hearing the facts, without knowing anything of the circumstances which led to them, and further, because anyone, or any company whose misfortune it is to have a serious conflict with the Indians, are too readily regarded as the aggressor. But, sir, as there were thirty-two white men, and two Calapooia Indians, who can assure your excellency of the correctness of my statements, I shall state the facts as they occurred.
On Tuesday the 2nd inst., at the Green, or Willow Springs, in this end of Rogue River Valley, some twenty miles beyond the ferry on Rogue River, our men were attacked by the Rogue River Indians, quite a number of Indians. Three white men had gone some 150 yards from the encampment to the springs for water, went unarmed, and while dipping water the Indians fired at them, some four or five guns. The fire being instantly returned from our camp, the battle was fairly introduced, which continued almost four hours, beginning at twilight in the morning, and continuing until 8 o'clock. (I looked at my watch when the battle ceased.)
Some few of the Indians were mounted on good horses, but a large majority of them were on foot; some of our horses had been turned loose to graze and were greatly frightened at the yell of the savages on every side. The white men running hastily towards them, to catch and bring them in, so scared a few horses that they run off, and the Indians pursued them on their horses & got them from us, 4 in number.
One of our men was wounded in the thigh by an arrow. I suppose the flint spike on the end went to the bone, notwithstanding Mr. Jas. Barlow, the wounded man, traveled on. The number killed and wounded on the part of the Indians we had no means of knowing, only from appearances. I will here say, however, that I should think there [were] some five or six killed and two or three times the no. wounded. We saw them packing off some on their shoulders like dead hogs. Others were assisted off, and some others limped off with difficulty without help. Upon the whole, considering the parties, white men and red, we had not much to boast of on either side, if we did not whip at all (& I suppose I may say we did, for the Rogue Rivers ceased hostilities and went off out of gunshot), and it was considered a full meal on both sides.
In taking a retrospect, I am much surprised indeed, very greatly astonished, that some half a dozen white men were not killed. They (the Indians) were well supplied with guns and fought with a masculine bravery, came up in gunshot in the open prairie and stood up to us like men, brave, daring and indolent; some two white men have been killed by them, one about six weeks ago at Grave Creek, 15 miles this side of Rogue River, and one in Rogue River Valley, some 20 miles this side of [the] Klamath mines, about fifteen or 20 days since. Others have been defeated and had to leave and consequently lose a part of their property and run to save their lives. I saw and conversed with some of the men.
Now, sir, if you can officially do anything for the security of the lives of our hard-laboring, fallen citizens who are innocently and honestly laboring in the mines to make a living.
I certainly believe you ought to do it, and to do it in haste. Many men, and some of our best citizens, will mainly be cut off by these savages if they are not protected. The world has already acknowledged your bravery, patriotism & magnanimity, and I know you will do right in the premises, and may God speed you. As you can conveniently consult some of our party, I will here name them, Jas. Barlow of Oregon City, Alvin Richardson, do., and Capt. William Turpin of Clackamas City, & this day a report was brought that the Indians killed 4 men the day after we fought them and shot another through the arm. I suppose the report is true, but cannot say for certain.
With very great esteem I have the honor to be, sir, your friend and obt. servt.
Jas. McBrideHis Excellency
Gov. John P. Gaines
Oregon City O.T.
June 12th 1851
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1080-1083.
Pacific City June the 15th 1851Dr Dart Sir I hope you will excuse me for writing to you. The cause is briefly this. In 1849 I was robbed by the Rogue River Indians. Ex-Governor Lane was then Indian agent and Superintendent of Indian Affairs to whom I immediately complained, giving him in writing a history of the whole affair to which I was sworn to by Judge Bryant, he certifying to the same, and it was filed away with his Indian papers. He, Governor Lane, told me I would sometime get my money, but he did [not] know when and there the matter ended. Some months ago I fell in company with Mr. Short, then an Indian agent. He had for his guide an act of Congress the 17 section of which provides that whether the Indians have or have not an annuity the money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the United States. I believe everything has been done correctly on my part, and I cannot see why I may not now draw the money. The amount I think is the raise of 2400 dollars. My children are the age they should go to school and I very much need the money. I hope you will interest yourself in this matter, and if you are not the proper person for me to apply to inform me who is, and so doing you will much oblige your humble servant.
John MeldrumDr. Dart
of Indian Affairs
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 38.
Calapooya June 17th 1851To His Ex.
Gov. of Oregon Ter.
My Dear Sir:
I write in behalf of the citizens of Umpqua and the upper counties of Willamette Valley. They desire, and most earnestly, that you issue a proclamation calling upon or allowing the citizens of the Territory to organize in self-defense and for the self-protection against the Indian tribes inhabiting the southern district of Oregon, the northern districts of California and Utah and the regions bordering upon the great southern route from Fort Hall to Oregon. As yet, the murders and robberies have been committed upon those engaged in the mines, or those traveling to or from the mines. One of these murders, however, was committed lately within twenty miles of the border settlements on the Umpqua. Eight white men are known to have been murdered, some in the most brutal and horrid manner. Many of these murders are known to have been perpetrated by Indians who had professed friendship and who had secured the confidence of their victims and were at the time receiving favor at their hands. This should teach all of us--it has long since taught me--that no confidence can be placed in the Indian, only as he is in our power. The pretended friendship of the wild Indian is only a bait to decoy the white man and his property into his bloody hands. I have been a close observer of the intercourse between the whites and natives W. of the Rocky Mountains for 14 years, and with no exception worth mentioning the Indians have always been the aggressors. Myself and devoted companion consecrated our lives and our all to the good of the Indian, but after a long and bloody experience and external observation, I am fully convinced we can do them no good until they are subdued and brought under our laws. The more speedily, promptly and milder this can be accomplished, the better for all concerned.
In addition to the murders, some $50,000 of property and money have [been] plundered from citizens of this Tery. Several men have lost their all. Murders & robberies are daily becoming more frequent and more bold. Forty horses and mules, within a few days past, were taken by night from a ranch in the very midst of the thousands congregated at the mines. Within the last few weeks two companies, one of 30 and one of 24, were attacked in open day and fought for several hours. Formerly it was safe for a small company to travel from this to California. Now it is not safe for less than fifty. The numerous tribes and bands ranging the vast interior between Fort Hall, Boise on the E., the Sacramento and Mary's River on the S., the Umpqua & Deschutes, and I greatly fear our late made friends, the murderers of Doct. Whitman, perhaps led on by a Jo Lewis, a Finley and many apostate Americans from Salt Lake, and evidently combined and collecting their vast numbers in the mining districts, and upon the route between this and California. Some persons returning from the mines report that they passed in one day 10,000 Indians. All agree that they are daily becoming more numerous.
Something should be done, and speedily and efficaciously. One urgent cause is the approaching immigration upon the S. route, who travel in small companies and, encumbered with their women and children and herds, are wholly inadequate to encounter these savage war parties, already flushed with plunder and mad with human blood.
The mines will in all probability continue the principal source of Oregon's wealth and will therefore concentrate a great amount of wealth and life, all of which must be protected, and immediately, or be exposed to increasing depredations and destruction. The citizens do not ask the aid of the military of our country, which is so readily afforded to other territories. This the exposed mothers of our southern borders have asked in vain. They implore your excellency as Governor of the Tery. to call upon them or allow them in a lawful manner to organize in a lawful manner for self-defense and protection, either with the expectation, or otherwise as your excellency may think proper, of a small pay from the present govt. Some 450 men would be sufficient to enlist for 6 months to range in suitable companies, with competent guides, the southern region of Oregon, and the southern part from Fort Hall, to recover the vast amount of property stolen, to apprehend the murderers or demand them of the tribes, and to protect and bring safely into the Tery. the coming immigration.
Another important object is the recovery of the 2 women and 2 children who are held in captivity by the Rogue River Indians. The children have been seen; one of the women has been seen. A small party was known to have left California late in '49 just before a party of packers. The packers came in, but the other party never reached this country.
Yours with best wishesMy health is recovering, by the blessing of God, and I am able to be about a little after a sickness of 9 weeks.
H. H. Spalding
H. H. S.Please write immediately, as the citizens are determined to act without delay. As Ind. agt. I am interested in this monstrous subject.
H. H. S.NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1097-1102.
Department of the InteriorSir,
Office Indian Affairs
June 23rd 1851
By reference to my letter of 7th instant and its enclosures, copies of which are herewith transmitted, you will perceive that this Department has resorted to every means in its power to procure a military escort to accompany the negotiators of treaties with the Indian tribes in Oregon without success, as the Secretary of War, for the want of requisite disposable force, cannot furnish one. These remarks are made with reference to those contained in your letter of the 7th ultimo.
Very respectfullyAnson Dart, Esqr.
Your obt. servt.
Charles E. Mix
Supt. Indn. Affrs.
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 97.
Anson Dart Esqr.Dr Sir
"Superintendent of Indian Affairs"
Impressed with the idea that the interests of both the whites & Indians in Umpqua County, Oregon and its vicinity would be advanced by the appointment of a sub-agent I most respectfully beg leave to call your attention to the matter, and if you will permit, would respectfully recommend J. B. Gagnier, of Umpqua County, as a person well qualified to fill such office.
J. B. Gagnier has for many years served the Hudson Bay Co., but is now an American citizen and entirely free from their influence. He is a man of most unbounded influence with all the Indians of that section of this Territory, particularly the "Siuslaw," "Coos" and "Umpqua." He has also been brought frequently in contact with those of the Rogue River country and the vicinity. In the English language Mr. Gagnier is not very proficient but is in his native French.
The Coos and Siuslaw Indians are of some power and I fear that the former are somewhat affected through the recent Rogue River difficulties. They have, however, as yet received nothing but the kindest treatment from the whites, but it is my opinion and that of many others that they look with suspicion upon the encroachments of the whites, who are fast settling in their rich and genial territory.
J. B. Gagnier lives in cohabitation with an Indian woman, the sister of the chief of the Siuslaw tribe, which cohabitation will consider highly honorable.
J. B. Gagnier is a French Canadian by birth, a man of excellent good sense, and good moral character, somewhat polished in his address, although he has lived for many years completely cut off from civilization, and has I believe been for upwards of twenty years in Umpqua County; his age is about fifty.
If the exigency of your office will permit I most respectfully request that the appointment of sub-agent may be tendered to J. B. Gagnier, as I think, had you the opportunity of knowing the state of affairs in your department in Umpqua and its vicinity, you would look upon the case as requiring your immediate action. I wish my request as regards the appointment of J. B. Gagnier, to be merely temporary until you yourself can judge and are well satisfied as to his fidelity and zeal in the execution of his office or instructions.
Mr. Spalding, whose agency extends through our region of country, I have heard has never but once been in Umpqua County, and many of the Indians have no idea that they have anyone that they can look up to for protection.
Should you deem the appointment necessary, an answer to this communication will reach me if addressed to the care of Jesse Applegate, Yoncalla, Umpqua County.
I have the honor to beJune 23rd 1851
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 47.
Rogue River Ferry, July 3rd 1851Dear Major
You have doubtless heard of the Indian disturbances in this neighborhood, the skirmishing Major Kearny has lately had with them, and the death of the gallant Stuart. Maj. Kearny resumed his march to California on the 29th ult., having in charge about thirty prisoners, women and children, and crossed the Siskiyou Mountains on the following day. I caused him to be overtaken at the foot of the mountain by express, with a note requesting him to halt until I could reach his camp, but for reasons which I have no doubt were satisfactory to himself he declined it. My horses were exhausted by a rapid march from the Willamette Valley, and I was thus, very much to my regret, deprived of the pleasure of an interview with him. The Indians are in a state of exasperation, increased no doubt by the capture of their women and children, or rather their withdrawal from the country, and have withdrawn from their usual [omission].
I have in my employment fifteen men, at a cost of three dollars a day each besides expenses, and can keep them perhaps thirty or forty days.
I have dispatched a messenger to procure an Indian through whose instrumentality I hope to be able to learn the whereabouts and designs of the enemy, and several days must intervene before I can expect his arrival. I have made several efforts to procure volunteers from amongst the returning miners without success, and the time which it would require to organize a company in the Willamette Valley, where I have no doubt they can be had on short notice, would be considerable, and the expense enormous.
Under the circumstances I desire to know whether it would not be possible for you to send a force of some twenty men, under a discreet officer, to this point immediately. I am well aware that your entire command (excepting the few at Nisqually) is but little if any above this number.
But I submit whether it would not be better to use your entire force here, rather than resort to the means above indicated, to meet the emergency.
I am sirMajor Hathaway
Your obt. servt.
Jno. P. Gaines
Commanding Ft. George
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1089-1090. Hathaway's response is below, dated July 15.
Camp near Rogue River FerrySir
July 5th 1851
I have written to Major Hathaway to know whether it would be possible to procure a small military force in the present crisis, and in case it cannot be had I shall be compelled to raise volunteers to serve in this region for a short period.
There are no government funds in this Territory with which to pay expenses, and I desire to know whether money can be had at your office.
I will guarantee its approval by the government, and if you decide to furnish it I will thank you to place it, at your earliest convenience, in the hands of G. Abernethy & Co., Oregon City.
Yours respectfullyGenl. J. Adair
Jno. P. Gaines
Collector of the Port
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frame 1091.
Rogue River July 8th 1851Sir
The prisoners captured by Major Kearny have been brought to this place by Genl. Lane and are now here. On his way down the river on yesterday the Genl. conversed with what he supposed to be the principal chief, but being on the opposite side of the river he was not certain. The person conversed with promised to come down today and see me and propose terms of reconciliation. He appeared to be greatly distressed on account of the late occurrences, and altogether the prospects are flattering for an adjustment. I have with much difficulty procured an Indian who can act as interpreter and will send him up to the Point of Rocks [Rock Point] today to hold out proper inducements to chiefs to come in.
It is highly important that an experienced agent be sent to this place immediately to reside here not only to restrain and conciliate the Indians, but to watch the movements and properly dispose of infamous white men.
All the difficulties here are justly attributable to the latter class of persons if my information can be relied upon. Licenses should be granted to properly disposed persons to trade only, and those of an opposite description immediately removed.
This matter cannot be too soon attended to.
I am extremely anxious to return home, and hope you will come up and take charge of this whole matter, to whom it properly belongs.
Yours respectfullyDr. A. Dart
Jno. P. Gaines
Superintendent In. Affrs.
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 899-900. A copy is also on frames 1084-1085. Anson Dart's letter of July 18, below, served as a cover letter for this one..
Articles of agreement and treaty stipulations made and entered into this fourteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one, by and between John P. Gaines, Governor of Oregon, for and in behalf of the government of the United States on the one part, and we, the undersigned chiefs of the Rogue River tribe of Indians on the other part, witnesseth that we, the undersigned respective parties, doth covenant and agree to the following articles, to wit:
Article first. That on this day hostilities heretofore carried on between the parties shall cease, and that a lasting peace is hereby established.
Article second. That we, the chiefs of the said tribe of Rogue River Indians, for ourselves and our nation, do agree to put ourselves under the exclusive care, guardianship and protection of the government of the United States, and we further agree that in all further disputes between ourselves and any citizen or citizens of the United States, that we will submit the same to the government of the United States, or to such officer as may by said government be appointed.
Article third. And we, the said chiefs, do agree to submit to said government of the United States, or its agents, all and singular, any article or articles by us taken or captured from any American citizen or citizens, or prisoners captured at any time by any of our tribes. And the government of the United States doth agree to return and restore to said nation of Indians all property and prisoners that may have been captured from them by the American people.
In witness whereof, we the parties hereto affix our names and seals the day and date above written.
Jno. P. GainesSigned, sealed and acknowledged in the presence of the undersigned witnesses:
Che-he-quash (his X mark)
Hah-maloh (his X mark)
Lanahawetah (his X mark)
Apar (his X mark)
Te-com-tomt (his X mark)
Te-ke-lah-weah (his X mark)
Teclomeah (his X mark)
Temewahoseah (his X mark)
Yew-ah-kno-seah (his X mark)
Tcheant-kah-wah (his X mark)
Hala-le-wahke (his X mark)
C. M. Walker
H. H. Spalding
Wm. H. Rector
J. W. Perit Huntington
D. D. Bailey
Your letter of the 3rd inst. has been received by the major commanding, who directs me to reply that he regrets feeling compelled to decline sending a detachment to Rogue River.
The Major has only heavy artillery at this post, which he would not be able to transport through the country, & to bring over the mountain howitzer from Steilacoom would take two weeks at least.
To take the field with only twenty men, armed as infantry merely, would be in his opinion without any decisive results, & he therefore respectfully though at the same time with regret declines sending them.
I am sir vy. respty.NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1090-1091.
Your obt. svt.
P. T. Wyman, 2nd Lt.
Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Oregon City July 18th 1851
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 12th April, being a copy of a law passed Feb. 27th, also ordering the commissioners to hand over to me monies, papers &c. At the same time I received a copy of the Washington Republic. These reached me by an express while on my journey in the upper country. I had gone as far as the upper Nez Perce country. When the express arrived I had just finished all the important business expected to be accomplished on this journey. I therefore, without delay, returned to Oregon City to enter upon the new duties assigned me.
On my arrival here I learned that new difficulties with the Rogue River Indians had broken out, which resulted in the killing of Captain Stuart of the Army and some thirty or more Indians in various places. In the absence of any military force Governor Gaines started with some 15 to 18 volunteers for the seat of war on Rogue River before I returned. He is now at the crossing of that river in charge of some captive Indian women and children taken by Major Kearny in his fights with these Indians.
I have made up my mind to start for that country in three days, although I have been six weeks on horseback every day, and this too in an Indian country.
My object is to adjust all the difficulties if possible in that country and treat for such portions of it as can be bought and remove the Indians to some distant point from the thoroughfare and settlements.
The most serious difficulty I have to contend with is the want of funds applicable to these purposes.
I learn from the late commissioners' secretary that there was about two thousand dollars of the treaty fund left on the receipt of your order to turn over the same to me. The Governor, however, soon started for the south and took this money with him. I am therefore left without funds--besides, there is a deficiency to meet the contingent and incidental expenses of my Department. You will excuse me for calling your attention once more to the draft drawn the 21st of October last for the ten thousand dollars appropriated in the early part of the first session of the last Congress in what is called the Deficiency Bill for the use of Indian Affairs in Oregon.
Ex-Governor Lane has just handed me a letter from Governor Gaines, of which the enclosed is a copy.
I have the honor to beHon.
Respectfully your obt. servt.
L. Lea, Commissioner
of Indian Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 896-898. The enclosure referred to is Gaines' letter of July 8, above.
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsSir
Oregon City July 18th 1851
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of yours of May 9th. The notice to the commissioners (which I have mentioned in another communication of this date) reached me on the 26th of June, and I immediately handed the same to Judge Skinner, the only one of the three commissioners with whom it was possible for me then to communicate. Governor Gaines was still in Southern Oregon, and Mr. Allen had left the country.
Up to this date no papers or monies have been handed over to me by either of said commissioners--owing I suppose to the absence of their chairman (Governor Gaines).
In the absence of Mr. Allen it will be necessary for me to act with but one assistant (Mr. Spalding), and it is uncertain that he will be well enough to act when required, as he has been indisposed for some time past.
It has been, and will continue to be, my study (as suggested) to act with the kindest feelings towards any other officer of the government. I am not aware that there exists any cause for other than the kindest feelings.
I have the honor to beHon. L. Lea, Commissioner
Respectfully your obt servt.
of Indian Affairs, Washington D.C.
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 884-885.
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsSir
Oregon City July 22nd 1851
The difficulties that have existed between the gold diggers of Northern California and the Indians have in some degree extended over the line into Oregon. This I early foresaw would probably happen (please see my letter addressed to you of 30th Dec. last). There being but one agent in Oregon--H. H. Spalding Esq.--it was not in my power to select, between two or three, the most efficient man to occupy an important post in that part of the country. I have, therefore, been without anyone to send there during Mr. Spalding's many months' illness. After writing me that he was well enough to enter upon his duties I addressed him a letter (a copy of which I enclose to you), but from causes unknown to me he did not go to his post (the Rogue River) until within the last month.
I do not suppose, however, that it would have been in the power of one man to entirely prevent the difficulty amongst men who look upon Indians as intruders and having no more rights in this country than wild beasts.
I have the honor to beHon. L. Lea
Respectfully your obt. servt.
of Indian Affairs
P.S. My latest information from the Rogue River is that no new difficulty has occurred since I wrote you on the 18th July.
I shall defer attempting to treat with these Indians for their lands until the Governor returns.
A. DartNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 886-889.
Oregon City July 25th 1851Dear Sir
I recd. your communication of July 15th to my communication of the 3rd, and much regret that you decline sending the troops I then requested.
At the time of my writing you I was actually engaged trying to get together the Indians in order to conclude a treaty with them, which I have since succeeded in accomplishing. The Indians expressed their desire for peace and said they had not violated the treaty made with Genl. Lane sometime since, until the whites commenced hostilities against them.
A small force there now would keep peace. It is my opinion that the troops sent there now (and I so intended to be understood when I wrote you) would not be engaged in hostilities with the Indians.
In requesting you to send out twenty men, I did not propose the prosecution of a war, but wished them to aid in keeping a peace that, I had no doubt at that time, I would be able to make with them.
The influence of a small body of troops to aid the authorities would be immense, over both the Indians and the whites. I hope, therefore, that you will reconsider your determination and send out as infantry merely twenty men, or as many as you can well do without, under a discreet officer, and [on] your decision, I think, depends peace or hostilities with these Indians. Twenty men as infantry, well equipped, would, I apprehended, be sufficient to overawe the Indians, and by their aiding the authorities show them that the treaty is meant to be enforced.
The Indian agent has some fifteen men at camp at the ferry on Rogue River who are waiting, at a large cost to government, your marching to their relief.
Let me again urge you to reconsider your determination and to send out the troops immediately.
I am sirMajor Hathaway
Your obt. servt.
Jno. P. Gaines
Commanding Fort George
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1086-1087. Hathaway's response is dated August 9, below.
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsSir
Oregon City July 25th 1851
Your letter of the 12th April, intended for me, was through mistake directed to Gaines, Allen and Skinner, and did not come into my possession until this day. Your letter of the same date intended for the old commissioners was in like manner directed to me, the receipt of which I acknowledged by last mail, supposing it a copy of the same sent the commissioners. But Gaines and Skinner say they had not received any such paper until this day.
I have the honor to beHon. L. Lea
Respectfully your obt. servt.
Commissioner of Indian
Affairs, Washington D.C.
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 905-906.
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsSir
Oregon City July 29th 1851
By the mail that arrived yesterday I received your letters dated 28th & 29th May, two dated 4th June, one 5th & one 7th of June.
Yours of June 5th speaks of there being no money appropriated at the last session of Congress for treaty purposes in Oregon. As there has not, as yet, been any money handed over to me by the late commissioners, it will not be in my power to go on with the treaties unless the Collector at Astoria should be disposed to advance me funds for such purposes. (I suppose he has no right to do so.) I understand, however, that great anxiety exists among the people on this subject, fearing as they do that the dry season will be allowed to pass without any treaties being made that can receive the approval of the President and Senate at the next session of Congress. The great length of time that must elapse before I can receive instructions from you makes me extremely anxious, knowing as I do that but a small portion of Oregon (to be treated for) is yet bought, and that there is an uncertainty whether the Senate will approve of those already made.
The great expense and delay attending the commissioners' system of treating (to which I have heretofore alluded) I had hoped to avoid, and thereby favorably [sic] disappoint the expectations of government as to the labor and cost of making these treaties.
That part of your letter calling for an estimate of the quantity of Indian goods to be furnished on the treaties already made in Oregon, together with an estimate for all purposes connected with Indian affairs in this country, will be duly attended to as soon as the commissioners hand over to me the papers &c. showing what they have agreed to furnish to the Indians.
I have the honor to beHon. L. Lea
Respectfully your obt. servt.
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 913-915.
Oregon City July 29 1851Sir
Your letter of the 12th of April last addressed to Messrs. Skinner, Allen and myself was received on the 25th inst. by the hands of Doc. Dart, it having been sent to him as I suppose by mistake. It was received by the Doc. whilst on a tour amongst the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains, and when I was absent endeavoring to negotiate a peace with the Rogue River Indians near the California line.
By this letter I am informed of the abrogation of the commission to treat with the Indians of which I was a member, and am instructed to turn over to Doct. Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, all funds, papers and other matters in possession of the commission, taking his receipt for the same.
I have signified to Doct. Dart my readiness to comply with these instructions so soon as the accounts can be made up, at which the secretary is employed and [which] will be completed within a few days.
I am sirHon. Luke Lea
Your obt. servant
Jno. P. Gaines
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1043-1044.
For the Spectator.
My Dear Sir--I am happy to inform the citizens of Oregon that an amicable peace has been concluded with the Rogue River Indians by Governor Gaines. I am sorry to see any reflections cast upon our Governor for this step. The perseverance with which he met and overcame difficulties to accomplish this most desirable end is worthy of all praise. By reason of protracted and severe sickness, there was no agent in that field when the Governor, at the risk of his life, resorted to the theater of war and carnage. By his prudence and good management, he finally collected the Indians, and they were in peaceful council when I arrived. The next day the treaty was concluded, to all appearances greatly to the satisfaction of the Indians. I believe the Indians on their part will respect the treaty if they are not molested by the whites. All white persons, therefore, who may have occasion to travel or abide in that country, are respectfully but most earnestly requested to aid the officers of government in maintaining peace and a good understanding with these tribes. The conditions of the treaty are to give up prisoners and property on both sides. The whites are to give up all property they have taken from the Indians; the Indians are to restore the property they have taken from the whites. For this end those persons who have taken horses from the Rogue River country are requested to restore such horses or mules, or an equivalent, to the agent without delay. Persons who refuse to do so make it necessary for the law to take its course, which obliges me to double the amount, besides meeting all cost. Of course the government will redeem its own pledge. All persons who have lost property by the Rogue River Indians are requested to send in bills, with the prices of such property at the time and place of the loss. Sufficient testimony should accompany such bills to satisfy the government that the property was really taken or caused to be taken, or destroyed, or lost, by the Indians. Such bills may be directed to me at Oregon City, or Calapooia, Linn Co., or Yoncalla, Umpqua Co. Persons who take this step, make out their bills properly, [and] accompany them with sufficient testimony, may rest assured that their property will be restored to them or an equivalent will be retained out of the monies to be paid to the Indians for their lands. Persons who have sustained great losses are respectfully requested to use forbearance. We may not be in a situation to make all their damages good at once. It will not be prudent to retain so much of the monies as to irritate the Indians until we have an efficient force in that country, either of troops or settlers, to keep them in awe. The commissioners have appointed the 15th of Sept. to meet the Rogue River Indians and to treat for their lands, and let me again most earnestly entreat my fellow citizens traveling among these Indians to use every possible method to maintain peace and a good understanding. A little rashness on the part of a single white man may prevent our purchasing the country this season and involve the government in great expense. From testimony on all hands, the great loss of life and property were brought about by the brutal act of a single individual.
H. H. Spalding.Oregon Spectator, August 5, 1851, page 2
Indian hostilities on Rogue River appear to be brought nearly to a close. From the miners who are just in we learn that Governor Gaines was at Rogue River Ferry, awaiting the action of the Indians, who were gathering their scattered remnants to prepare for making a treaty with Gov. Gaines. The general impression is now that a military post at Rogue River will ensure peace and safety to those in that region.
"Later from Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 5, 1851, page 2
Tansy Point near the mouth of theSir
Columbia River August 8th 1851
I have the honor to inform you that I arrived here on the 1st inst. having previously made arrangements for meeting several tribes of Indians at this place to treat with them for their lands.
The late commissioners had promised to meet these Indians in June last for the same purpose. I could not get possession of papers or money from the commissioners until after I arrived here. I was, however, fully persuaded that the amount that would be turned over to me from there would be very small, too small at all events to warrant us in starting to treat with the Rogue River Indians, as such an enterprise would require an expenditure of some thousands of dollars. You will see by reference to Governor Gaines' note to me dated 1st inst. how far I am justifiable in the cause I have deemed it prudent to pursue. A copy of Gov. Gaines' letter is enclosed.
It gives me pleasure to inform you that we have been very successful in treating for a large tract of country, which is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean and north by the Columbia River. We are now preparing to enter into a treaty with the Chinooks for the country on both sides of the Columbia, extending about fifty miles up from the mouth. Copies of these treaties will be forwarded by the next mail. I trust that what we shall have done will compare favorably with the works of our predecessors--or at least so far as regards expenses.
I have the honor to beHon. L. Lea
Respectfully your obt. servt.
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 901-903.
Astoria, O.T. August 9 / 51His Excellency
Hon. J. P. Gaines
Govr. of Oregon
Under the different circumstances in which troops are asked for in your letter of the 25th ult. from the application in June, and being of opinion that a permanent post should be established with at least one company, I laid the matter with your last communication before the genl. commanding the Pacific Division. If a post be established on Rogue River with one company, this post (Astoria) will probably be abandoned, and I did not think myself authorized to move troops in this division, the Department having been broken up, without authority from Div. Hqrs., except under greater emergency than now exists. By a recent decision I am commander only of my own post and can only move troops in this immediate neighborhood.
I have the honor to beNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1086-1087.
Your obt. servt.
J. S. Hathaway
Capt. 1st Artillery
Office, Superintendent Indian AffairsDear Sir,
Oregon City Aug. 14th 1851
Enclosed is a letter to James Gamble Esq. at Port Orford in which you will see I have requested his aid in taking the first steps towards attempting to negotiate with the Rogue River Indians for their lands in Oregon.
Knowing your desire to restore peace and harmony in that country as well as extinguish the Indian title to the lands I am induced also to ask your cooperation in the attempt to collect these Indians for treaty purposes at Port Orford. Your extensive knowledge of the country will enable you to render us essential aid in this matter without interference, I would hope, with any other business in which you may have embarked in their country, I have sent an express to the crossing of Rogue River to notify the chiefs and headmen there, to come down to Port Orford to attend this treaty. It is our wish to treat if possible with the whole tribe at that place, therefore should it become necessary for you to step out of the line of your other business to promote this much desired object you will be remunerated for your trouble.
I have the honor to beWm. G. T'Vault Esq.
Very respectfully your obt. servt.
(Signed) Anson Dart
The foregoing is a true copy from the letter book page 155 in Supt's. Office O.T.
Edward R. Gray, Clk.NARA Series M234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency, 1856, frames 748-750.
From the days of the Plymouth colony on the Atlantic to the present period when the Pacific bounds--for how brief a time let us not attempt to say--the "area of freedom," the extermination of the Indian race on the continent has been as gradual and as natural as the growth of an empire, and the increase of the whites over the hunting grounds once possessed by the dusky tribes of America. In vain humanity has pleaded the cause of the "poor Indian," in vain national efforts have been put forth to save, and in vain civilization has provided a seat beside her in the triumphal car of Progress and Improvement for the child of nature and of "nature's God." His path has been downward from the day that disclosed to him the stranger's track upon the Atlantic shore. His destiny, or doom, has been to perish with his native wilds. Slowly he has receded before the paleface, in a line of march towards the setting sun. He has reached the last "vestige of dry land," and even thither he has been followed, until the waters of the Pacific wash alike the feet of the white and the red man.
Could that decree of fate which has followed the Indian to the verge of ocean rest here as readily as we withdraw from the contemplation of its unceasing pursuit, tracked out as it has been by scores of writers, there still might linger for many centuries to come a worthy remnant of the brave men who once held sway on the continent. But we know that this may not be. Once it was but by the light of prophetic vision that we saw the last Indian hunted to the shores of the western ocean. Today we overlook the Pacific wave, and build our homes upon the crumbling ashes of Indian huts and above the mounds of whole tribes that have been swept from before us. We stand upon the eastern coast of the great western waters, and across its waves we look for fresh signs invoking further extension of the homes of freemen. But the Indian whom we have hunted to these shores--where is his abiding place?
This we call "manifest destiny." It gives us this broad expanse of land and water, and levels the primitive forms of nature, and bows down even unto the dust the outcasts of humanity. It is to no purpose that we proclaim redemption and strive to avert the fast-closing doom of the Indian. The nature of our existence does not permit of success being attained. The practices and usages of our people, from the days of the pilgrim fathers to the present moment, have involved the annihilation of the Indian race as a necessity and a part of the irresistible impulse of America's destiny. They perish, and were ordained, or at least are identified with their native wilds, to perish and pass away with the forest and hill. We may labor at "policy," and perhaps provide for a few tribes a few years' lengthened period of existence or lingering decay, but we never can save. We never can by allotments of land, by government rations, or by any system which we may adopt for the promotion of the welfare of the red man, cure the wound that is rankling in his race. We cannot shut out for him a remnant of territory of which he may be taught to feel sole possessorship, where he may prosperously and at peace pass his days. We cannot debar him from intercourse with our frontiers, while from the touch of the pernicious influences wrought by pioneer settlements he recoils as from the deadly upas, with the poison breath drying up his life.
And more than this, the cause of pioneering immigration admits of no mild, humane, pacifying or conciliatory doctrines and practices. When the march of civilizing improvement is seriously impeded or obstructed, peace or war are the only and ready alternatives. No humanizing or Christianizing course could be adopted. The men who are always thrown in advance of the body of immigration are always but poor apostles in the work of conversion or reform. The axe and the rifle bear out their only ideas of improvement. When stubborn tribes of Indians do not readily conform to the elements of the new life established among them, they are like the wild beasts of the forest, and must shun the quick glance of the white settler. When it becomes necessary to subdue them, the rifle is substituted for the axe, and the day's work of slaughter counted up as though the change from the ordinary avocation of the woodsman among the forest trees to the "clearing" of a "patch" of Indians were hardly noticed.
It is difficult to realize that, with all our pious resolves to sustain a humane Indian policy only, here in California, many wild sections of country can only be reclaimed from the hands of the Indian by the method usually adopted to redeem the forest land from its primitive, wild and unprofitable condition. Yet such is the fact. Government agents, with their rum and tobacco dispensations, can accomplish very little in the work of attaching to some of our public lands a marketable value, or encouraging settlement in many districts of the state. Towards her northern boundary, many of the fairest lands of California are overrun with troublesome and untamable tribes of Indians. The Rogue River Indians are an unalterably vicious and dangerous people. They will never, in their mountain homes, consent to partake of the thralldom of the white man's law, and preach against the practice as we may, they can only be removed by the exterminating encroachments of their superior enemy--by the law of the rifle and the axe, and the code of practice usually "served out" by the pioneer.
That extermination is only another name for the warfare already commenced in this country is shown by the following extract from a letter written by one of an expedition at present ranging the Rogue River country. He says:
"During this period we have been searching about in the mountains, destroying villages, killing all the males we could find, and capturing women and children. We have killed about 30 altogether, and have 28 prisoners now in camp."
This system of singling out and deliberately destroying "all the males" is on the plan of indiscriminate massacre. We may treat these things with strong disfavor, but by such process, and by this barbarous practice, do our pioneers prepare the way for settlement and civilization.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 15, 1851, page 2
19th August 1851.
Anson Dart Esq.
Superintendent of Indian Affairs O.T.
Your favor of the 17th July was duly received and would before this have been acknowledged, but having business at Oregon City I hoped to answer your question orally, but your absence from the city on the business of your office depriving me of the pleasure of paying my respects personally, I feel it my duty to impart to you the little information I possess if it will be at all useful to you in the discharge of your duties. That portion of your letter which calls for a reply reads as follows: "I shall feel greatly obliged to you for such information as may be within your reach touching the origin or causes of the difficulties with the Indians of Southern Oregon."
Being partial to Southern Oregon, my attention was early drawn to that region, and I have availed myself of every source and opportunity to obtain correct information of its history and geography. With much of its surface I have made myself personally acquainted, and I think I can pretend to some knowledge of the habits and character of the natives. The Indians inhabiting the country west of the Cascade Mountains and south of the Umpqua Range as far south as Mount Shasta in California are known to the whites and Columbia Indians by the general name of Shasta. They appear to use a common language, and though they may have sometimes feuds among themselves, they band together against a common enemy.
In the early occupation of the country, trapping parties were sent into this region. I have learned from some of the gentlemen heading these parties that in their early intercourse with the whites the natives did not appear disposed to shed blood, but were inveterate thieves, their cupidity being only exceeded by their dexterity in gratifying it at the expense of others.
Though apparently desirous to cultivate the friendship of their visitors, they appeared wholly incapable of resisting their propensity to steal whenever an opportunity presented itself, and according to the stories of the trappers the most dexterous of the Old World were their inferiors in the "act of appropriation."
From this trait of character the Canadians gave them the very appropriate surname of "rascal," from which the principal stream of the country is now known as the Rascal or Rogue River, and its ancient and far more musical appellation of Tututni is almost entirely disused. Though in many instances where the thief was taken in the fact a summary punishment was inflicted, yet in accordance with their general policy of conciliation I have heard of no instance in which parties belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company inflicted the punishment of death for a crime of less degree than murder.
The first extreme punishment inflicted on these people for their disregard of the laws of property was by a party headed by Ewing Young Esq., late of Chehalem Valley and the founder of that settlement.
His party of 18 men were encamped on the Tututni near its mouth; a large number of the natives assembled at his camp, and while in the act of stealing some meat from a scaffold, the party, being under arms, received from Mr. Young the order to fire. A terrible slaughter of the unprepared natives ensued, and the only injury sustained by the assailants was a severe bite received by one of the men while stripping the skin from the head of an Indian not yet dead.
Mr. Young on the same expedition visited the Klamath Lake, where again a large body of Indians approached his camp, as he believed with hostile intent; he anticipated their attack, killing a number on the land and driving the rest into the lake, where my informant (one of the party) is confident one hundred must have perished.
These facts were related to me by Mr. George Gay of Yamhill County, an inveterate Indian hater and a justifier of Mr. Young, but as in both instances the whites acted on suspicion only, the Indians making no positive demonstrations of hostility, they can be regarded only as wanton destruction of human life.
Mr. Young's expedition took place 12 or 15 years ago, and I have gone thus back into the early history of the intercourse of the whites with the southern Indians because in that period I think is found the answer to your inquiry.
Since that expedition these people have ever been hostile to the whites. Being by nature suspicious and revengeful even if their after treatment by whites had been uniformly friendly, it is doubtful whether these early injuries would yet be forgotten.
But as a great thoroughfare lies through their country, the kindness they have received at the hands of one party has sometimes caused them to trust themselves in the power of another, where the existence of an ancient grudge or a reckless spirit has made them repent their confidence.
Consequently, as fear and interest are their governing principles, they continue to gratify their ancient cupidity by robbing & stealing on all favorable opportunities, and for the ill treatment they receive from the strong, they retaliate on the weak.
Such was the state of things when the late Superintendent, ex-Gov. Lane, resigned his commission as such, to take effect sometime in June 1850. As he was about to pass through the Rogue River country on his way to California, he fixed a day for his resignation to take effect sufficiently distant as he thought to enable him to reach that country and in some way bring about a better understanding with these people. That his intentions in inviting the Indians to his camp, treating them kindly and making them presents, were to promote the best interests of his country, cannot be doubted, and by inducing the "Abiding Horse" and some others of the principal men to enter into an agreement to keep the peace, he partially effected his object, but as by his own limitation he had ceased to be an officer of his government, he could only regard his acts, however good in their tendency, as the unauthorized efforts of a private citizen. For Gov. Lane too well knows what is due to his government to have in an official capacity received as friends savages tricked out in arms and clothing obtained by the rapine and murder of her citizens and soldiers, without demanding and enforcing ample restitution. He looked (as we have long looked in vain) to the establishment of a military post in the country, and from such establishment alone in my opinion are we to expect a permanent peace.
Before the appearance of Mr. Spalding's publication in the Spectator of August 5th, I was not aware that the late treaty negotiated with a part of the Rogue River Indians was the act of Gov. Gaines. I had supposed that power vested in the Indian Department, and I had also understood that Mr. Spalding's precipitate journey to Rogue River was undertaken solely to relieve Gov. Gaines from the necessity of assuming this power; if such was not the object of the Indian agent and Gov. Gaines powers were competent to enable him to appear for and bind his government in a treaty, Mr. Spalding in his great zeal to share the dangers of such negotiations should not have forgotten that the Umpqua Indians would again feel disappointed and aggrieved at his nonappearance at a meeting to which he had called them, and that his congregation on the Sabbath would ascribe the absence of their spiritual adviser to some personal calamity. If his perilous journey was performed merely to give the Governor the benefit of his advice and deep insight in Indian character, we cannot but admire his modesty, while we regret that it deprives him of his full share of the honors of this transaction.
I much regret that this treaty has become a theme of contention with the people and a source of virulent attack upon the Governor by the opposition proper, and that he appears very sensitive to a discussion of its merits. He should be satisfied with knowing that he had conscientiously acted for the best, and whether the people approve or the government sanction the act, his good intentions will be acknowledged and fully appreciated by both.
I have through life adhered to Whig principles and been identified with them as a party, but arriving at my political, as I have my religious, opinions from the convictions of my judgment, I am neither a partisan in the one nor a sectarian in the other. I therefore feel that in giving some of the reasons why I consider the Rogue River treaty as not being the best arrangement that might have been made, and that the proposed purchase of the country by the Indian commissioners is premature, that I am not surrendering any political principle or arraying myself personally against Gov. Gaines, for whom I entertain the highest esteem, according to the publication of Mr. Spalding, "The conditions of the treaty are to give up prisoners and property on both sides" &c. The acknowledgment by our diplomatists that the Indians have a just claim to the restitution of horses and mules taken from them by the whites is not only in itself false but is calculated to encourage in them the commission of the very crimes for which they have lately received a severe punishment and to prevent which I thought the treaty was negotiated.
For whether the horses and mules referred to have been wrested from them by their proper owners or not (for five of which Mr. Spalding has himself to account, as they were taken by his orders), it is a well-known fact that these Indians have come into the possession of such property only by robbery and theft.
And while the whites are to make restitution in kind, it appears the Indians are only to pay for their stolen property out of monies to be drawn by a future treaty out of the Treasury of the U.S., while the whites are threatened with the penalties of the law in case of failure to make ample restitution to the Indians; those having claims against them are exhorted to use forbearance, as "It will not be prudent to retain so much of the monies as to irritate the Indians"!!
After inflicting a severe punishment on the Indians as a further means of bringing them to terms, Maj. Kearny held a number of their women & children prisoners, some of them belonging to the family of the principal chief. So long as these captives were in our hands the peace of the country was secured. They should have been held until all just demands were complied with, and such steps taken by the government as would secure the peace of the country hereafter. But they were hastily released upon the bare promise of a pact only of those engaged in hostilities, which even if they understand (which is doubtful) they will no longer observe than suits their convenience.
The concluding sentence of Mr. Spalding's communication reads, "From testimony on all hands, the great loss of life and property were brought about by the brutal act of a single individual." The use of such language by an officer of the government I think is highly improper.
If from "testimony" he can fix upon "a single individual" all the rapine and bloodshed which has been perpetrated in Rogue River Valley, it is his duty to bring him to punishment; if he cannot establish the fact, he should not make the slanderous assertion.
I have been informed Mr. Long was summoned to Oregon City by Mr. Spalding to answer to the charge of murder. The attendance of a prosecuting witness was secured by the promise of a daily compensation, while Mr. Long was left to his resources to obtain rebutting evidence. This he did by taking with him six witnesses. The journey was performed at a great loss of time and expense, and Mr. Long discharged without examination. If he were the guilty person alluded to by Mr. Spalding, his conviction and punishment was due to the country. If innocent he should not have been drawn a great distance from his place of business and procure the evidence necessary to his acquittal at his own expense. If Mr. Spalding alludes to an individual other than Mr. Long, the remark is equally uncalled for, as it, in case of the guilt of such person, will put him on his guard and enable him to escape the punishment he deserves or in case of a trial it is calculated to create either strong prejudices against or strong sympathy for the accused, according to the personal or political bias of the people.
And lastly it has but recently come to my knowledge that the men employed to occupy Rogue River Valley are with the consent and approval of Mr. Spalding trading guns and ammunition to the Indians and receiving in return horses, which as I before remarked have been obtained surreptitiously from the whites. This act alone if generally known would create a burst of indignation from one end of the country to the other.
The mode by which the commissioners propose to enable the Indians to indemnify those who have suffered losses by them, I think is in many respects objectionable.
It may be objected by the government that many of the losses were sustained during the joint occupation of the country by Great Britain and the United States, and many of the sufferers were at the time and perhaps still are foreigners, and that all of them lost their property in a country the inhabitants of which they knew to be hostile and which they entered at their own risk and by their own free will. That with these people the government has never been on terms of friendship or entered into any treaty unless the informal one of Gov. Lane is so considered, which is of a date too recent to cover many cases.
The country is not yet needed for agricultural purposes; there is no place to which the natives may be removed out of it, and further they are at this time too ignorant to understand the nature of the contract they are expected to enter into, the value of their country, or of the money and property they are to receive in payment. A better understanding of these things is sure to lead to discontent among the Indians hereafter, and then follows the troubles the purchase is intended to prevent.
I think therefore the purchase of the country will be premature and will not further the end to be accomplished.
Whatever treaty stipulations you see proper to enter into with these Indians I am of opinion a military post and a permanent Indian agency should be established in their country to enforce its observance. Unless this be done, to restrain the treachery and cupidity of the natives on the one side, and those vicious and reckless characters which the mines of the country bring into it on the other, I am fully persuaded that a treaty, however formally entered into, or however good the intentions of the contracting parties, will in itself be a nullity.
Excuse the length of this epistle, which has insensibly grown under my hand without more touching upon many points which I should be pleased to elicit your opinion by freely expression my own.
To Dr. Anson Dart
Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon Territory
The undersigned respectfully submits the following report--
My agency is bounded as follows, viz: on the N. by the Calapooya Mountains which divide the waters of the Umpqua from those of the Willamette River, on the E. by the Cascade Range, on the S. by the California line and W. by the Pacific.
It is naturally divided into two districts, the Rogue River & the Umpqua district, separated by a high range of mountains known as the Kenion Range, nowhere as yet passed by carriages except through the Kenion, a passage by this time well known on this coast, but by no means a difficult one in the dry season. Another practicable route has been lately discovered E. of the Kenion by Major Kearny under the guidance of Jesse Applegate Esq.
The Rogue River District is watered by the Rogue River and its tributaries, the southern tributaries of the Klamath River and perhaps one or two others not well known putting into the Pacific.
This country is likely to become of great importance to Oregon by reason of the extensive gold mines everywhere being discovered upon its watercourses. These mines in connection with the Klamath mines on the southern boundary have already collected thousands of the enterprising citizens of our country mostly from this Territory and the state of California. A great amount of capital is directly or indirectly embarked in the business of these mines & [they] are likely to become the principal market for the products of the Territory.
I make these brief statements because they are intimately connected with the condition of the Indian tribes of this district. If they are peaceful and friendly the labor and capital embarked are safe and productive, but if hostile quite the reverse.
This whole district is owned I believe by the Rogue River tribe of Indians, who from their first intercourse with the whites have been found to be thievish, hostile and treacherous. Who were the first aggressors cannot now be ascertained. The Indians without doubt, especially for the last few years, have been greatly the sufferers as to the loss of life, while the whites have been the sufferers as to the loss of property. In June of '50 Gov. Lane, then Supt. of Indian Affairs for this Territory, effected a treaty of peace with these Indians. This treaty was respected by the Indians so far as I have been able to learn till last March, when it was violated, first by a party of white men headed by a man by the name of Jesse Gage of Polk Co. Without any cause but wantonness they fired upon a small party of Indians who had met the whites in a peaceable manner, killed two and wounded others. This act the Indians regarded a declaration of war on the part of the whites & they commenced again the work of plunder & bloodshed & continued it till the late treaty of peace effected by Gov. Gaines. It resulted in the destruction of a great No. of Indians principally by the troops & volunteers under Kearny, the loss of a good many white men and a great amount of property. In addition to this, great expenses have been incurred in effecting the late treaty of peace. It is due to justice that a man who can thus jeopardize life & property to gratify his own selfish revenge should be taken into custody & punished according to the laws of our land. For this end & in accordance with your instructions I have collected and put into the hands of the Att. Genl. the requisite testimony & the case will doubtless come up before the next court in Polk Co. which [is] in Oct.
I found a man by the name of Long at the Rogue River ferry who had become offensive to the Indians & the whites & after investigation I became convinced that it was my duty to remove him from the Indian country. But to prevent any advantage that might grow out of the double [sic] state of things in this country, especially as I noticed that he detailed some 10 men to accompany him as witnesses expecting mileage for them as also damages for himself should the case terminate favorable to himself, I advised him to accompany me as a traveling companion. He preferred to do this rather than be regarded as a prisoner.
This will cut him off from any claim for damages should govt. disapprove of the course I took, but of which I have no fear. It gives me great satisfaction to know that you approve my course.
After arriving at Oregon City you are aware that the Att. Genl. gave it as his opinion for some days that there was no law by which to punish a white man for injury done to an Indian. This made it necessary to release Long or rather not to arrest him & with your advice he was permitted to return to that country as trader.
Some men by the name of Thomas of Linn Co. on their return from the mines last spring brought away some 4 horses from the Rogue River country, 2 of which it appears belong to the Rogue River chief. I called upon these men a few weeks since, but they refuse to deliver up the horses. I have collected the testimony & put it into the hands of Mr. Holbrook & this case will come before the court in this co. next month.
The peculiar state of the country made it necessary after the peace effected by Governor Gaines to leave a force to look after the Indians as also the whites. By the advice of Gov. Gaines a small force of 13 men under Capt. Walker were left. I hope you will secure an appropriation to meet the expenses. I will let you know the amount in time for next Congress.
The presence of this small force evidently prevented another rupture with the Indians. A party of miners (whites) soon after I left stole an Indian woman & took her to the Klamath. The Indians were disposed to commence hostilities at once, but were appeased by sending for the woman, who was fortunately recovered & restored to the Indians. The offender must be looked after.
The Umpqua District is watered by the Umpqua, Siuslaw & the Coos River & their tributaries.
There is a small band of hostile Indians ranging in the Kenion Mountains who have not as yet showed any disposition to make peace.
The No. of the Indians in my agency I have not yet been able to ascertain as it has been unsafe to travel about as yet in the country south of the Umpqua River. The No. of the bands N. of the Umpqua River are given on the opposite page.
H. H. SpaldingCalapooya
Ind. Agent for
Aug. 25, 1851
[Annual Report]To the
of Indian Affairs
In submitting my annual report of the condition of Indian affairs within my Superintendency, I must beg leave to state that, in consequence of there being such a large number of Indian tribes scattered over so great an extent of territory, I shall hope to be excused for any apparent want of information upon the several subjects under consideration.
It may perhaps be unnecessary to add that, owing to unavoidable causes, I have been left almost alone to perform the duties and labors intended to have been divided amongst efficient agents and sub-agents. At the same time it should be remembered that very great additional labors have been added to the duties of my office by the provisions of the act of Congress of 27th February last, which transfers to this Department the authority to make treaties with the Indian tribes west of the Cascade Mountains. It should also be borne in mind that in consequence of the almost incessant rains that fall during six months of the year in Oregon, all the outdoor business of the country must be accomplished in the remaining six months.
With an earnest desire to meet the highest expectations of the government in the performance of the duties assigned me, I have left nothing unattended to that the very limited means in my possession would warrant me in undertaking.
A brief account of the labors performed by agents and sub-agents acting under my Superintendence is all that can be communicated at this time, no regular report having been received from them.
H. H. Spalding Esq., Indian agent, whose post was located on the Umpqua River, has visited that part of the country twice since his appointment, once last fall and again in June last. How much of the intervening time he may have been confined to his home on the Calapooya by sickness I am unable to determine. Believing the state of affairs in the Rogue River country was such as to require the services of an active and competent agent, one who would be willing to render the government some equivalent for the salary received, I felt it my duty to write you, as I did on the 20th of May last, asking the appointment of E. A. Starling Esq., to supersede Mr. Spalding.Elias Wampole, Esq., Indian agent, arrived here in June last, and has entered upon the duties of his office at his post on the Utilla River in Upper Oregon.
J. L. Parrish, Esq., of Portland, was the only acting sub-agent that I found in Oregon upon my arrival in the Territory. Mr. Parrish has been a useful and efficient agent, always ready and willing to discharge the duties assigned him.
In October last I took the liberty to recommend the appointment of Robert Shortless, Esq., of Astoria, as sub-agent, in place of a Mr. Van Deusen, who declined accepting the office. Mr. Shortless immediately entered upon the duties of his office, and has been vigilant and useful. I do not learn that a commission has yet reached him.
On the ninth of August last I received a commission for E. Walker, Esq., as sub-agent, to reside in the Spokane country. I am not yet informed that Mr. Walker will undertake this long journey.
Soon after forwarding my brief report of October, I was called to the mouth of the Columbia, on account of the difficulties that seemed to oppose our efforts to check the extensive traffic in spirituous liquors in that part of the country. After a thorough examination of the matter, I found a state of things existing that induced me to ask for further instructions in regard to the introduction and sale of spirituous liquors in Oregon. Up to this time, no definite answer has been received on this subject. It gives me great pleasure to remark here that notwithstanding there is a great deal of liquor sold in some localities, I believe the Indians of Oregon, taken as a whole body, consume less liquor in proportion to their number than any others in the United States. No country with which I am acquainted exhibits so few drunken Indians. I have seen many thousands of these Indians, but never saw but one that appeared intoxicated. I am also well persuaded that with few exceptions the Indians of Oregon are the most peaceable, friendly and easiest managed, with proper care, of any uncivilized tribes within the bounds of the United States.
The exceptions alluded to are the Snakes and the Shasta or Rogue River tribes, whose stealing propensities have led them into many difficulties with the whites, and no sudden change in their bad habits, or security from their depredations, can reasonably be expected until detachments of troops shall be sent into the two sections of the country inhabited by these tribes. The discovery of gold in the Rogue River country has attracted, with many well-disposed persons, some of the most unprincipled and ungovernable white men of all countries; to keep in check these men troops are indispensable. I regret that my recommendations of November last on this subject have not been ere this carried out. While writing this report General Hitchcock, commander-in-chief of the military forces on the Pacific, has called upon me and states that he has ordered a detachment of twenty men from Astoria and Ft. Vancouver to proceed immediately to the Rogue River country.
There should also be a small force stationed in the Snakes' country, before the emigration of next summer comes over the plains. It will be prudent also to have a small detachment at Steilacoom, on Puget's Sound. Elsewhere in Oregon I know of no necessity for United States troops.
In my instructions from the Department, the following language is used: "Under no circumstances should the company (Hudson's Bay) be permitted to have trading establishments within the limits of our Territory, and if any such establishments now exist, they should be promptly proceeded with in accordance with the requirements of the intercourse law." Believing that the rights of this company were such as to justify me in calling the attention of the government to the subject, before I attempted to carry out the instructions, I have deferred action in the matter until further directions shall be received. No answer to my letter of October last on this subject has yet been received, except that the matter had been referred to the Secretary of State and his decision would be forwarded as soon as received. I would suggest to the consideration of government the propriety of buying out these possessory rights of the company. The advantages possessed by them are such as to seriously affect the interests of our own traders in what should be our own country. Such a negotiation, I would further suggest, should be, on the score of economy, made in Oregon, between the company's chief factor or governor, and such other individual (well acquainted with the property and trade of the company) as might be selected by the President of the United States.
While on this subject, it may not be improper to state some facts in relation to the trade of this company. They have at this time, within the Territory of Oregon, twelve large trading posts, situated at the following places, viz: Ft. Vancouver, Ft. Walla Walla, Ft. Boise, Ft. Hall, Ft. Okanogan, Ft. Colville, Ft. Nisqually, Ft. Umpqua, Cape Disappointment, Cowlitz, among the Flatheads and among the Kootenais. At these places the most perfect order is observed, and all their business operations are thoroughly systemized. Their regulations are such that they can procure their factors, clerks, boatmen, servants &c. at one-fourth the prices our own merchants are obliged to pay for the same kinds of labors. Their goods are mostly brought out in their own ships, and whenever they are brought on other ships (which is not infrequent), they pay less than one-half the price for freight on goods from London to Oregon that is paid by our merchants on goods from New York to Oregon; besides, they save the profits and charges that are paid on goods at New York.
I am unable to state with much accuracy the value of goods imported annually to Oregon by this company, but should think the amount rapidly increasing. This year it will be at least one hundred thousand dollars more than it was two years since.
The chief factor of this company, Gov. Ogden, is a gentleman of high standing, and much kindness and good feeling is manifested by him on all occasions towards the people of the United States.
From a late decision of Judge Nelson, it appears that, in consequence of a territorial law of Oregon, there is no way by which a white man can be punished for offenses committed against Indians, unless there be some other white person to testify as a witness against him. It would seem highly necessary that Congress enact some law by which such a difficulty can be obviated.
The following is the decision of the chief justice, as written out by himself.
"William Johnson and Ezra Johnson have, on this 17th day of July, A. D. 1851, been brought before me upon a warrant issued against them for an assault and battery alleged to have been committed by them upon the body of a woman belonging to the Clackamas tribe of Indians, and now, on the hearing of the matter, the prosecution, for the purpose of establishing the charge set out in the warrant, offer as a witness an Indian woman named Kezika. Her competency is objected to by the defendants, and the question arises whether an Indian in a case like this can be permitted to testify against a white.
"The legislature of the provisional government enacted in its day a law in these words: 'A negro, mulatto or Indian shall not be a witness in any court or in any case against a white person,' which law was in full force at the time of the passage by Congress of the act organizing the Territory. By section 14th of the Organic Act, it is provided, that 'the laws now in force in the Territory of Oregon, under the authority of the provisional government established by the people thereof, shall continue to be valid and operative therein, so far as the same be not incompatible with the constitution of the United States, and the principles and provisions of this act,' &c.
"Again, the territorial legislature at its last session reenacted the law of the provisional government in the very words in which it is quoted above. It would seem from all this to be very plain that the witness offered is made by law incompetent to testify in this case, and she must accordingly be rejected.
(signed) "Thomas Nelson
"Chief Justice of the Su. Co. of Oregon."
I would suggest for your consideration the propriety of the passage of a law authorizing the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon to appoint interpreters for himself and agents (not exceeding the number specified by law) without sending the nominations to Washington to be confirmed. The reasons for such a change were fully explained in my letter of 1st May last to the commissioner.
The total amount of money received in this Department, up to the first day of July last, is twenty-two thousand two hundred and fifty-seven dollars and fifty-three cents; and the total disbursements up to the same time amount to nineteen thousand seven hundred and eighty dollars and nine cents.
Estimates were forwarded from this office by the last mail for the necessary appropriation to supply deficiencies for expenditures in this year, and to fulfill treaty stipulations.
Estimates are also forwarded for appropriations to meet expenditures for all purposes in the year commencing the first of July 1852.
There will not be time to visit the Puget Sound country before the commencement of the rainy season. An agent will be sent to reside there as soon as there is one appointed.
The following statement of the number of Indians composing the different tribes and bands I think can be relied upon as being as accurate as can possibly be obtained at present. A division of males and females is made in all cases where their numbers have been ascertained.
It may perhaps be unnecessary to call the attention of the Commissioner to the great discrepancy between this and former reports in relation to the number of Indians composing the several tribes in Oregon. It may, however, be interesting to observe how very great the error has been in giving the number of the Cayuses and Walla Wallas. I very early discovered these erroneous statements and have thought best to give an account of but very few that I have not personally visited.
A map showing the localities of the several tribes is in progress and will be forwarded as soon as it can be completed.
The Clatsops are a band of the Chinooks, occupying the country on the Pacific coast from the mouth of the Columbia River, about thirty miles south. Their lands are considered very valuable; they include what are called the Clatsop Plains. Nearly all their territory is already claimed and occupied by settlers. They number in all eighty and have ceded their lands to the United States.
The Chinooks are divided into five other small bands occupying both sides of the Columbia, from the mouth some sixty miles up. They number one hundred and forty-two, of which thirty-six are slaves. In 1828 they were thought to number nearly twenty thousand. All their lands have lately been ceded to the United States. They all speak a language called the Chinook, which is not spoken by any white person, and also the common jargon of the country. The whole country bordering on the Columbia, as far up as the Dalles, was formerly owned and occupied by this tribe.
For a distance of about eighty miles from the Cowlitz River to the Cascades there are now no real owners of the land living. It is occupied by the Vancouver Indians, of whom it will have to be purchased. Their band numbers in all sixty.
Two small remnants of bands called the Willopahs and Kwalhioquas have ceded to the United States a considerable tract of country north of that bought of the Chinooks, bordering on the Pacific and extending east nearly to the Cowlitz River. They number thirteen.
The Tillamooks, living on the Pacific coast south of the Clatsop, and occupying the country between the Coast Range of mountains and the ocean, have ceded their lands to the United States. Their territory extends from forty-five to fifty miles south of that of the Clatsops. Their total number is one hundred and fifty.
The Clackamas band, living upon the Clackamas River near Oregon City, were formerly a part of the Chinook tribe and still speak their language. They claim the country on the east side of the Willamette River from a few miles above its mouth nearly to Oregon City and extending east to the Cascade Mountains. They refuse to sell their land without immediate payment. Their whole number is eighty-eight. They own a valuable tract of country.
The Tumwater band, also a remnant of Chinooks, residing at the falls of the Willamette, opposite Oregon City, claim a strip of land some twenty miles in length, on the west side of the Willamette extending from Sauvies Island, at the mouth of the river, up to Tualatin River, and west to Tualatin Plains. They also refuse to sell their land without pay down, giving, as a reason the probability of their living but a very few years. Their number is thirteen.
The next lands south, extending sixty or eighty miles up the valley of the Willamette, and from the Coast Range on the west to the Cascade Range of mountains on the east, have lately been ceded to the United States by the several bands of Molallas and Calapooyas.
The Molallas, formerly a branch of the Waiilatpu or Cayuse nation, number one hundred and twenty-three.
The Calapooyas are divided into several large bands and number in all five hundred and sixty. The lands ceded by these two tribes, Molallas and Calapooyas, is considered the best in Oregon. Their territory comprises the largest and most densely settled portion of the Willamette Valley, and is nearly all an open prairie country.
The Umpquas, inhabiting the valley of the Umpqua River, have not ceded their lands. They will be treated with this fall, if possible to do so before the rainy season sets in. Their country is becoming rapidly settled and is a very desirable portion of Oregon. They number two hundred and forty-three.
The Shasta or Rogue River Indians claim the southwestern part of Oregon, south of the Umpquas. They will probably be treated with this fall. Their number is not ascertained.The Cascade Indians, a branch of the Chinooks, live at the cascades of the Columbia. They number one hundred and twenty.
The Klickitats claim a district of country north of the Columbia, but they are a rowing tribe and are scattered about in different parts of the Territory. Their number is four hundred and ninety-two.
The Cowlitz, Chehalis and Nisqually tribes have not been visited, nor has any reliable information as to their number been received, nor of those farther north on Puget's Sound.
The tribes and bands mentioned above are those living west of the Cascade Mountains.
Wascopams occupy the country on both sides of the Columbia at the Dalles, and on the Deschutes or Fall River. They are divided into three bands, and all speak the Walla Walla and Chinook languages. They number in all seven hundred and eighty-two.
The Walla Wallas live principally upon the Walla Walla River. Their number is one hundred & thirty.
The Waiilatpus or Cayuses, occupying the country south and east of the Walla Wallas, number one hundred and twenty-six. They are the wealthiest, in proportion to their number, of any of the tribes in Oregon, owning large droves of horses and cattle.
The country owned by the Cayuses and Walla Wallas contains more good tillable land than there is in the four New England States--Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island--and, as these tribes have become so nearly extinct, I would suggest the propriety of early provisions being made by Congress for purchasing their lands.
The Sahaptin or Nez Perce tribe own a large tract of country north and east of the Cayuses and Walla Wallas, and are the most numerous and powerful tribe in Oregon, possessing immense wealth in cattle and horses. They are divided into fifteen bands, which number in all one thousand eight hundred and eighty souls.
The Palouses occupy a district of country north of the Nez Perces and speak the Walla Walla language. Their total number is one hundred and eighty-one.
The Spokanes or Flatheads own a large district of country north of the Walla Wallas and Nez Perces. These Indians received the name of Flatheads from the fact that their heads were not sharpened by pressure on the forehead, as the Chinooks. They are divided into eight bands, the total number of which, as near as can be ascertained, is two thousand five hundred and twelve.
The Yakimas, including the band at Priest's Rapids, speak the Walla Walla language and own the tract of country drained by the Yakima River. Number estimated one thousand.
The numbers of six bands of the Spokanes were furnished me by a Catholic missionary residing in their country.
Recapitulation of Tribes East of the Cascade Mountains
Soon after the commencement of the rainy season last fall, the Indians belonging to the various bands of the Spokanes began to assemble in and about Oregon city in numbers much larger than usual. Sixty of them were visiting me at one time. Their object in coming into the Willamette Valley was twofold: In the first place they came to ask my aid in procuring a missionary to reside in their country, who would teach them the precepts of the Christian religion; their next object was to labor for the whites, and procure clothing for themselves and families. They all appeared industrious and civil, and were very strict in keeping up the forms of worship morning and evening at their encampment.
Large numbers of the Wascopams, Klickitats and Cascade Indians were also encamped near this place at the same time.
They all claimed the honor of making me a formal visit, upon which occasion they were supplied with provisions for the day. Each one received a present of bread, tobacco &c. upon their departure for their distant homes.
When agents become established in these distant parts of Oregon, there will not be such a disposition among the Indians to leave their homes.
These last-mentioned tribes had become alarmed at the report that the government intended to remove all the Indians west of the Cascade Mountains and locate them among the tribes east of those mountains. Having satisfied myself that such a removal could not be made with the consent of the Indians, I could do no less, in answer to their daily inquiries, than promise to meet them at the Dalles of the Columbia in June, and there tell them the result of the negotiations that were about to be made by the commissioners appointed to make treaties with the Indians west of the Cascade Mountains.
When it became generally known in Upper Oregon that I had promised to go to the Dalles, I had pressing invitations from nearly all the large tribes of that region to extend my visits to them. They wished me to do so with a view of adjusting, if possible, many difficulties that they said never could be settled among themselves without going to war with one of the neighboring tribes.
About this time I received instructions from Washington, authorizing me to investigate large claims against the government made by the American Board of Missions for losses sustained at their several mission stations in Upper Oregon, at the time of the massacre of Dr. Whitman, family and others, in the fall of 1847; and also claims arising from the subsequent Cayuse War. Believing that no just estimate of these claims could be made without personally visiting the several mission stations, and believing also that it was necessary to locate an agency house somewhere in that part of Oregon, I was induced to arrange my business affairs so as to start upon this long journey about the last of May.
Were it not that I wish to give the government some idea of the difficulties attending my travels in that remote region of Oregon, as well as the enormous expense unavoidably connected with them, I would refrain from giving details that otherwise would be uninteresting at Washington.
Having made previous arrangements for riding & pack horses to be furnished us at the Dalles of the Columbia, and also for boats to convey us from the Cascades to the Dalles, we embarked the 30th of May at Oregon city, on board the steamer Lot Whitcomb, destined to the Cascades. Our company consisted of the Superintendent and secretary, two interpreters, three packers and a cook; besides these there were two carpenters and a cook who were going with us for the purpose of building an agency house. The prices paid these men were as follows: First carpenter, seven dollars per day; E. Walker, interpreter, six dollars; secretary, one interpreter, one carpenter and three packers, five dollars each; two cooks, each one hundred dollars per month.
On the morning of the second day we arrived at the Cascades. Our passage and freight thus far (eighty miles) amounted to three hundred dollars.
After two days hard labor in making the portage, at a cost of one hundred and fifty dollars, we embarked in two large boats for the Dalles, and arrived there late in the evening of June 2nd. The cost of getting from the Cascades to this place (forty miles) was nearly one hundred dollars.
Here we found awaiting our arrival delegations from many of the Indian tribes of Upper Oregon. On the 4th a council was held with them which lasted three hours, at which a variety of arguments were made use of to demonstrate the wrong that would be inflicted upon their tribes were the government to send among them the Indians west of the mountains. The habits and customs of the fishing tribes of the Lower Columbia and its tributaries were all unlike theirs; besides, those tribes were diseased and dying off rapidly. They did not wish their people subjected to those loathsome disorders &c.
In reply I stated to them that the government did not intend to force the Indians west of the mountains among them, nor would their lands be taken from them without a fair and just equivalent.
They separated in high spirits, and one old chief remarked that he was now willing to die and leave his people under the protection of such a government as ours.
We experienced much delay here in changing our mode of traveling from boats to horses. On Monday morning, June 9th, we left the Dalles (having added one man more to our company to act as guide, at five dollars per day) with twenty horses, riding twelve and packing eight, for which we were to pay seventy-five cents each per day--being less than half the usual price, which is two dollars.
For the purpose of transporting building materials &c. for the agency house, two wagons and four yoke of oxen were hired at twelve dollars per day for every day they should be used. At noon we halted at a beautiful creek which run through a rolling prairie, where not a tree or shrub could be seen except a few willows along the stream. These prairies would make the best of sheep farms, where millions of sheep could be kept with little care. At one o'clock we came to a large creek, a splendid mill stream. The soil is of the best quality, although it rarely rains here, except occasionally in the winter season.
At four o'clock we reached the Deschutes or Fall River, a large stream flowing into the Columbia from the south, over which we swam our horses and encamped on the eastern side.
10th. Left the Deschutes, and after traveling some four miles along the Columbia struck off for the high prairie lands, which are very interesting. I found abundance of excellent limestone, which had not been known to exist here; the main quarry is about midway between the Deschutes and John Day rivers. This region is susceptible of being one of the greatest wool-growing countries in America. Reached the John Day River at night, having traveled about thirty miles this day.
11th. In the morning, while waiting for canoes to cross the river with, I made some explorations in the vicinity and discovered large quantities of manganese. About noon we crossed the river and, traveling up six miles, encamped on a small tributary. Here I found more limestone. The country passed over this day is more broken and rough, and much difficulty was experienced in getting the wagons along.
12th. We traveled about twenty-five miles through an open prairie country, entirely destitute of timber, and encamped on a small stream called Willow Creek. Here is a wide rich "bottom," containing several thousands of acres; along the shores of the creek were a great many wild currants.
13th. Traveled thirty miles over a dry rolling prairie on which there was an abundance of wild flax growing, very similar to the cultivated flax.
14th. After traveling about twelve miles we reached the Utilla River five miles below the lower crossing. This stream passes through a valley of extensive flats, which are very rich and would make fine farms. At the lower crossing of the emigrant road I selected a site for the agency house. Although this is undoubtedly the best place for an agency in all this upper country, it will be a very expensive building here on account of the difficulty of getting the materials. Boards will have to be hauled forty, and shingle stuff fifty miles. There appears to be a great scarcity of timber in Upper Oregon.
16th. Left our encampment on the Utilla and, passing over a sandy country destitute of much vegetation, and along the rocky shore of the Columbia, reached Fort Walla Walla, where we were kindly entertained by Mr. McBean, an agent of the Hudson's Bay Company. Our encampment for the night was three miles farther up the Walla Walla River.
17th. Passed up the Walla Walla, and arrived at the mission station formerly occupied by Dr. Whitman; after a thorough examination of the premises (an account of which will form a part of my report upon the mission claims) we passed on three miles farther up the river and encamped for the night.
By a previous arrangement we were to remain here two days for the purpose of holding a council with the chiefs of the Cayuse tribe. Accordingly, early on the morning of the 20th, eight of these chiefs arrived with their attendants. Some of them were dressed in fine style, and all appeared highly pleased to meet us. They said they looked upon our friendly visit as one of the greatest events of their lives, and readily gave their consent to have an agency house built in their country. A beef was furnished to feed the Indians while they were together, which cost eighty dollars. We ascertained the whole number of their tribe to be one hundred and twenty-six. They were once a numerous and powerful nation, and are still a proud, haughty race, but very superstitious.
There is no better land in Oregon than in the Cayuse country, which is nearly all an open prairie, well watered, and rich soil. There is very little timber except in the mountains.
21st. In the morning I visited the sawmill belonging to the Whitman station, which is a rather rude affair (a more particular account of this mill will be given in another report). After it had been sufficiently examined we traveled on towards the country of the Nez Perce Indians, and encamped at night on a small stream twenty miles from the Walla Walla.
23rd. Our route this day was over a rolling prairie country, where all the streams run through deep ravines which were difficult to pass. It is a fine region for raising sheep, cattle, horses &c., and good crops of wheat could probably be raised here. Encamped at night on a small creek called Elpaha.
24th. Started early in the morning, passing down the Elpaha to its entrance into the South Branch, or Snake River, where we came to the residence of Red Wolf, a chief. Here we saw corn in the tassel and many thrifty apple trees, some of which were loaded with fruit. One of the apples measured six and a half inches in circumference. In the vicinity were ten lodges, one of which contained fifty-three persons. The women were engaged in pounding camas root, of which they make a kind of bread, which is dried in the sun, packed in skins and stowed away underground for winter use.
Some of these Nez Perces own large droves of horses; one of them I was informed owned over a thousand. It is very common to see from one to three hundred in a group feeding upon the prairies. Encamped at night upon the Clearwater River, three miles above the mission station formerly occupied by H. H. Spalding.
25th. Visited the mission station and made a thorough examination, the result of which will be given in my report upon the mission claims.
26th. At our encampment on the Clearwater, we were to meet the chiefs of the Nez Perce tribe; accordingly in the afternoon of this day they began to arrive. They were all mounted on fine horses, which, as well as themselves, were decorated in the highest style of Indian art, and came riding into our camp with a great flourish of trumpets, beating drums, and firing their guns into the air. In a short time the whole valley seemed filled with Indians, galloping their horses, shouting and going through a variety of evolutions before they came up to the camp. After dismounting and going through the ceremony of shaking hands, their dances commenced and were kept up until late at night.
27th. In the afternoon a grand council was held, at which there were probably over five hundred Indians present. We had a very friendly talk with them, and they seemed pleased and perfectly satisfied with our kind intentions towards them. The chiefs said they were highly delighted with our visit, which they assured us would be productive of much good. It was admitted on all hands that such a gathering had never been seen before in Oregon. Three beeves were killed to supply the Indians while at the council, the cost of which was nearly three hundred dollars. They made but two good meals for them. We ascertained the whole number of the tribe to be one thousand eight hundred and eighty.
I had made arrangements, before leaving Oregon City, to have all letters that arrived from Washington in my absence forwarded to me by express. As we were about to take up our march for the Spokane country an Indian arrived with letters, informing me that I had been selected as one of the new board to make treaties with the Indians west of the mountains.
In order to accomplish as much as possible in this capacity during the dry season, I deemed it advisable to return at once to Oregon City. Accordingly, we commenced our homeward march early on the morning of the 30th, reached the Dalles on the 9th of July, where our company separated, a part going by the emigrant road over the mountains, myself and a few others going down the river. Passed the Cascades the 11th and arrived at Oregon City the 13th, having been absent just forty-four days.
The geography of this country is but little known, even by its oldest white inhabitants. Therefore the few remarks that the limits of this report will allow me to make on this subject will be confined entirely to my own observations.
Nearly all that part of Oregon west of the Cascade Mountains is what might be called a timbered country; there are, however, large tracts of land that are open, the most of which are on or near streams and are mostly flat or level lands. Of the timber, I should think seven-tenths of it is of the different species of fir, and the remainder long-leafed pine and white cedar. I do not think there is a white pine tree growing in Oregon. The accounts that have been given of the immense size of the trees growing in this country are highly exaggerated. There are a few of these very large trees, but generally the trees are no larger than are found in other countries, although they are straighter and taller than any I have ever seen elsewhere. Away from the river flats the country is rolling, or very hilly; but on the whole there is much less waste and useless land in Oregon than is generally supposed. The lands upon the highest hills are as rich as those on the bottoms. No better wheat or fruit country can be found in the United States.
That part of Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains is an open rolling prairie country, everywhere except upon what are called the Blue Mountains, which are from one hundred to one hundred and fifty miles east of the Cascade Range. On these there are large quantities of yellow pine. The open prairie lands extend across the whole width of Oregon, from north to south, and, I think it is a good wheat country, and, as stated in my travels, well adapted to the raising of sheep, cattle and horses.
Two of the buildings that I was instructed to have built for the government will soon be finished. I will, upon their completion, forward full vouchers for labor done on them, and for such materials as have not been already accounted for.
I have the honor to remainOffice of
Your most obt. servt.
Indian Affairs for
of Indian Affairs
September 4th 1851
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 924-948. A copy can be found on NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs, Reel 11, Instructions and Reports 1850-1855, pages 23-44.
Answers to Remarks on Special Account for August & Sept. 1851
Voucher 3rd is undoubtedly an error in calculating.
Voucher 9th. This bill of particulars is at the Superintendent's office in Oregon. I purchased these groceries myself; they consisted of sugar, molasses, tea, coffee & tobacco, all of which were consumed by the Indians while engaged in treaty at Tansy Point. No part of this bill was for liquor.
Voucher No. 10. This bill of particulars is also at the Supt.'s office in Oregon. It consists mostly of the hire of Indians to carry him (Parrish) from place to place at & near the mouth of the Columbia River & their expenses while so doing, to which is added his steamboat fare.
Voucher 11 is undercharged.
Voucher 15. The same remarks applies to this as to Voucher 10.
Voucher 18. The same remarks applies to this as are made to Voucher 9.
Voucher 19 is for interpreters. There was no two tribes of Indians treated with at Port Orford that spoke the same language. This bill was paid by Mr. Hubbard, the purser of the steamer Sea Gull that conveyed us to Port Orford & back.
Very respectfullyHon Commissioner of Ind. Affairs
Yours, Anson Dart
Late Supt. Ind. Affairs Oregon
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 608 Oregon Superintendency 1853-1855, frames 66-67. Undated, but received in Washington September 16, 1853.
Office Superintendent Indian AffairsSir
Sept. 4th 1851
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 8th July on the subject of the appointment of A. A. Skinner as Indian agent in place of B. S. Allen Esq., who declined the office.
Also yours of same date, in which you speak of the appointment of E. A. Starling as Indian agent in place of H. H. Spalding Esq.
Two other letters of same date acknowledging the rect. of letters have also been received.
I have the honor to beHon. Commissioner
Respectfully your obt. servt.
of Indian Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 955-956.
Scottsburg Sept. 5th 1851Dr. Dart
Sir, in compliance with your request I have been to Rogue River and had a talk with the chiefs of the Indians there. They inform me that there is no pass or trail from their country to the coast unless by the Klamath or Umpqua; to go either way it would take ten days, and that they would have to travel through tribes of Indians that are not friendly with them and that they cannot meet you at Port Orford.
The head chief would have come with me to this place but said that it was proper for him to stay with his people to keep them quiet. I believed so and did not urge him and I now know I did right. I left Rogue River on the 21st of August with a man by the name of Mr. Gee, whom I hired to accompany me to Port Orford by the way of Scottsburg, which is the only route. I arrived at this place on the 5th of Sept. From this place I cannot get to Port Orford with a company of less than ten men. These I cannot get; they are not to be had, so you see I have done all that a man could do. I start this day for Oregon City, where I hope soon to see you.
YoursNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 54.
D. D. Bayley
United States Indian Agency, in a/c with C. M. Walker
1851, July 15
Say four hundred and forty-two 10/100 dollars
United States per Cap. Walker's Co.
Rogue River Agency per C. M. Walker
Bought of Chas. A. Barnard
Aug. 10, 1851 5 lbs. coffee @ $1 $5.00
Recd. Payt: A. Barnard
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 608 Oregon Superintendency 1853-1855, frames 747-750.
Oregon City O.T.Sir,
September 28th 1851
After much delay caused in collecting the vouchers for my expenditures in quelling the hostilities of the Rogue River Indians, I have succeeded in getting them all together, except one, which is due in the account for subsistence (marked in the abstract) to a Mr. Greer, of $360, which I will forward as soon as obtained. Vouchers for the balance of the amount, with the different abstracts, and also some papers relating to the matter in the parcel marked "A," I have the honor herewith to transmit.
I have the honor to forward also the correspondence with Major Hathaway, commanding at Astoria, urging him to send a small military force to Rogue River. I regret that my efforts were unsuccessful. In parcel marked "B."
I arrived at Rogue River on the 29th of June, just as Major Kearny was leaving with the troops under his command and thirty prisoners, captured by his command from the Indians. Having but ten men with me, I immediately dispatched an express to him, which overtook him at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain, by which I requested him to suspend his march until I could see him, which very much to my regret he declined. Finding myself then left in the heart of the enemy's country, with so few men, I increased the number from returning miners to fifteen and sent into the Umpqua Valley to procure an interpreter and busied myself in endeavors to learn the whereabouts and disposition of the enemy. It being understood that Major Kearny intended to take the prisoners (all of whom were women and children) to San Francisco and return them by water to Oregon, the Indians were said to be highly exasperated and that any any attempt to terminate hostilities with them would be unavailing. Most fortunately General Lane, who was about returning to this place from the mines, meeting with Major Kearny, tendered his services to conduct the prisoners back to Rogue River and arrived with them at my camp on the 8th day of July. Up to this time, the Indians had evinced no disposition whatever to come to terms. Indeed, I was informed that they rejected, with scorn, Major Kearny's tender of peace. But when they saw their women and children returning and received an assurance from General Lane that they would be kindly received at my camp, and that peace would be granted them if they would come in and give assurances of a friendly disposition, they promised to do so and acknowledged their condition to be wretched and their utter inability to prosecute a war with the whites. Being thus in possession of the prisoners I found it necessary further to increase my force, which I did to twenty-five men or thereabouts, and having in the meantime procured an interpreter, I sent him with a half-breed & one of the prisoners to the Indians, by which means they were induced to come in, and the result was a treaty of peace, herewith enclosed in the parcel marked "A."
The correspondence with the military commandant in this Territory, and my letter to Mr. Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, from Rogue River, of date July 8th 1851, all herewith enclosed, will show the steps taken by me to procure a small military force and an efficient Indian agency in this part of the Territory. And I can but deeply regret my failure in both particulars. My great reliance in the efficacy of the treaty was based upon my firm conviction that both would have been readily furnished; had I believed at the time that both or either would have failed I should have had but little confidence that peace would have been preserved. But contrary to my expectations, the Indians have, up to this time, shown a disposition to observe the treaty and keep peace, notwithstanding their naturally thievish disposition, being sorely tempted by the numerous opportunities offered for them to commit depredations by persons going and coming from the mines, when they are well aware of the distance it is to where troops are stationed and the respite they would have before they could be punished for the theft. This temptation would be removed, I apprehend, if there were a small number of troops stationed somewhere in either the valley of Umpqua or Rogue River, on the route from this valley to the mining districts. They would then be restrained from committing any depredations for fear of the immediate punishment. A slight immediate punishment with an Indian is much more effectual than a terrible punishment, long delayed. I cannot but express my regret that the small force which has lately been sent to that quarter of the Territory should have been sent to a place where they will be entirely useless, except to the very small district of country they are in, where there are no white settlers except at the point where the troops are stationed. The trade between this valley and the mines in the vicinity of Rogue River is the most lucrative and extensive that there is in the Territory, and the whole of it must of necessity, at present, pass through or near the Territory of these Indians. The troops that have been sent are to be stationed at a point on the coast called Port Orford--unknown until a month or two since--which is separated from the valleys of Rogue and Umpqua rivers by the Coast Range of mountains, and as yet no practicable route has been found, nor do I suppose from the information I have upon the subject [that] one can be found or made without much trouble and expense between this point and the valleys above mentioned. The troops, therefore, can be of no more use to the mining and trading interests of the Territory nor to the settlement of that portion of the country by the whites, nor to the preservation of peace & among the hostile Indians, than they were at Astoria. Whereas the same number, stationed in the valley, would have kept peace and have conduced to the settlement of that country, which is most desirable, and have effectually, with the aid of the Indian agent, guarded the interests of the traders and miners. I cannot therefore but repeat my belief that without a military post in either the Umpqua or Rogue River valley I apprehend great trouble and expense from the hostilities and depredations of these Indians.
The other papers in the parcel marked "A" are communications received from men of influence and upon whose accounts of the matter I based my actions until I arrived at the scene of hostilities myself. They will tend to show the views of the state of things anticipated by some of the most influential settlers in that part of the Territory.
One of the papers of this parcel is a report of Dr. McBride, whose party, while returning from the mines, were, without provocation on their part, attacked by the Indians. In a communication I had the honor to address His Ex. the President of the U.S. dated from this place June 15th 1851, speaking of the attack Dr. McBride and his party sustained. I state that the party, after a fight of four hours, were driven off the field. And in a communication addressed to yourself, dated at Nesmith Mills June 19th 1851, written while on my way to Rogue River, I state in relation to the same matter "that the conflict lasted about four hours, and ended in the whites withdrawing from the field." The first of these statements was based upon rumors, the second from information received from Dr. McBride. In neither of these statements do I mean in the least to imply any want of bravery in the party under Dr. McBride, nor to censure the manner of conducting the fight. I think the explanation is due to Dr. McBride and his party, as my not stating the manner of their withdrawing it may have been construed that I questioned their bravery and ability to sustain the attack. The party after sustaining the attack for four hours, the firing having ceased, the party withdrew in good order.
I have received no answer to any of the communications I have addressed to yourself or to His Ex. the President upon the subject. I would, therefore, be pleased to be informed of the reception of this & the safe arrival of the enclosed accounts, as is convenient.
I am sirTo the Honorable
Your obt. svt.
Jno. P. Gaines
Gov. of Oregon
The Secretary of War
C. M. Conrad
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1071-1077.
STEAMER SEA GULL.-This steamer arrived here on Sunday morning last, with a full cargo and about forty passengers. She touched at Humboldt Bay, Trinidad and Port Orford on her way up. Capt. Tichenor reports all quiet at Port Orford. The exploring party who had gone out with a view of finding a road from that point to the Rogue River country had not returned. The Sea Gull left on Wednesday, p.m., with a full freight of various kinds of produce and several passengers. Among them were Dr. Dart and Messrs. Spalding and Parrish en route for Port Orford, for the purpose of effecting a treaty with the Indians on the coast below.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, September 13, 1851, page 2
Winchester, Umpqua CountyMr. Bush--I write you from a flourishing little town, the name of which heads this letter. It is situated on the south bank of the Main or North Fork of the Umpqua River, where the great thoroughfare from the Willamette Valley to the mines crosses. From its central position to the Umpqua Valley, the favorable site and convenience to the mines, it must become, in the course of the settlement of the country, a place of considerable trade. It will also be the seat of justice for the new county, which we hope will be organized at the next session of the Legislature.
September 16, 1851.
The country around Winchester is rapidly increasing in population, though somewhat retarded by our Indian difficulties, which appear to be growing worse. The Umpqua Indians, having been twice disappointed by the nonattendance of the agent at the time and place he had appointed to meet them in council, have no longer any confidence in his promises, and now threaten to drive off the settlers.
The Cow Creek Indians, who inhabit the country on both sides of the Umpqua Mountain, have committed several acts of aggression since the conclusion of the Rogue River Treaty, and from their hostile demonstrations kept the whole southern country in a state of alarm, and the Rogue River Indians have been at their old game of stealing horses in the southern end of that valley. And those living along the main river, the only band that have pretended friendship (and they were whipped into it by Maj. Kearny) are enraged with the request of the Superintendent to meet him at Port Orford instead of the place of meeting in their own country as promised them. From this state of things, those best acquainted with these Indians are of opinion that there is now more danger to be apprehended from them than heretofore. The privilege given by the agent to traders and others to sell them guns and ammunition, of which the Indians have availed themselves to the utmost, will contribute not a little to raise their courage and make them formidable. Whatever these difficulties result in, I am confident they have grown out of the improper conduct of those whose business it is to prevent them, and I hope, sincerely, that our agents will, hereafter, make no promises to Indians that they do not intend to perform.
A MINER.Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, September 30, 1851, page 2
Port Orford TreatiesProceedings of a council held at Port Orford O.T. by Anson Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Henry H. Spalding, Indian Agent and Josiah L. Parrish, Sub-Indian Agent, with the chiefs and headmen of the You-quee-chac, Qua-tou-wah and To-to-tan (or Rogue River) bands of Indians, September 19th 1851.
Superintendent--Are you ready to talk about making a treaty with us and selling your lands.
Answer--Our hearts are all united and good towards the whites. We have received from you coats, jackets, pantaloons, blankets &c., and if you want our land you can have it. In receiving foods and presents we have done the same as promise you our land.
Supt.--Are you willing to unite in one treaty and sell us your land from midway between the Kah-oose and Coquille rivers to the To-to-tan River. When you have sold us your land we intend to take care of you and guard & protect you from injury. You will be allowed to fish & hunt as you always have without molestation.
Answer--We are willing to sell you all our land, which extends from the Coquille River to the To-to-tan. We are ashamed to acknowledge that we have no presents to make you, but if you remain here the game we obtain shall be free to you. Our hearts are good and we are all united in this feeling.
Supt.--We will now tell you what articles of clothing &c. we propose to give you each year for ten years to come, provided we buy your country. No matter how many of your number die in that time or how far removed to receive them the payments will still be made as agreed.
Here the articles were enumerated to them and they were reassured they would be given for ten years. During the enumeration of the articles to be given in payment these Indians were so elated as scarcely to be able to contain themselves.
Supt.--Do you desire to remain where you now are or to remove to some other point?
Answer--We would like to remain where we are, or change our residence, just as you please. We would like to have the privilege of moving where we desire to.
No objection was made to this, and the proceedings necessary in connection with the signing and ratification of the treaty were then explained to them.
The interpreters were directed to urge upon them the necessity of their abandoning entirely their habits of stealing, and in every case to show to whites whom they found in misfortune in their country kindness and every attention in their power.
An article of the treaty was then explained to them relative to the care which would always be taken of them by the U.S. government.
Another article of the proposed treaty was also explained to them relative to the respect, protection and care they must show to any agent of the government, visiting or passing through their country. They were told that the treaty bound them to deliver up any offender in their tribe who might be demanded by the United States government, and also to deliver up any white offender who might be concealed among them.
They were assured that the goods that had been given them formed no part of the payment for their land but were given as [a] present.
They were told to come together again in the morning of the next day, when the treaty would be drawn up and ready for signing. Whereupon the council adjourned to tomorrow morning.
Saturday, September 20th 1851NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 28, Records of the Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Records Pertaining to Relations with the Indians.
The council met in pursuance of adjournment and after the treaty was fully interpreted and explained to the Indians it was signed, sealed and witnessed in due form.
Meanwhile messengers had been dispatched to the Ya-sew-shah tribe or band, living south of the To-to-tan or Rogue River, requesting their attendance for the purpose of concluding a treaty with them also.
Several of the chiefs and headmen of this band arrived in the morning, and a council was immediately held with them, the terms of the treaty concluded with the other bands explained to them, the intentions and wishes of the government toward them fully made known, and they were inquired of as to the boundary of the lands claimed by them.
They stated that their country extended from the To-to-tan River south one day's travel (which as they travel on foot was understood to be about twenty miles), that they approved of the terms of the treaty entered into by the other three bands, and were ready to sell their country upon the same terms.
A treaty was accordingly drawn up, differing from the other only in the 7th Article and in the amount paid for the land which, of course, was lessened in accordance with the size of the tract purchased.
The terms of the treaty, the amount of the annuities &c. &c. were again explained to the Indians, and they being perfectly satisfied therewith the treaty was signed and concluded in due form, and being late in the evening the council adjourned (sine die).
Articles of a treaty made and concluded at Port Orford on the Pacific Ocean and in the Territory of Oregon this twentieth day of September A.D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one, between Anson Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Henry H. Spalding, Indian agent and Josiah L. Parrish, sub-Indian agent, on the part of the United States, and the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the Ya-su-chah band of Indians of the other part.
Article 1.The Ya-su-chah band of Indians do hereby cede and relinquish to the United States all their right, title, interest and claim to lands lying, or supposed to lie, within the Territory of Oregon and bounded as follows, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of the To-to-tan or Rogue River, running thence southwardly along the Pacific coast twenty miles, thence east in a direct line to the summit of the Coast Range of mountains, thence northwardly along the summit of the said Coast Range of mountains to the said To-to-tan or Rogue River, thence down said river to the place of beginning.
Article 2.It is agreed that the said bands of Indians shall have free and unmolested possession of the ground now occupied by their houses, and upon which they now reside, during the ten years in which they receive their annuities, and that they shall also be free to fish as they have heretofore done, and it is further agreed that with the consent of the President said privilege shall be extended beyond the expiration of the aforesaid ten years.
Article 3.In consideration of the cession and relinquishment aforesaid, the United States hereby agree to pay to the said band of Indians yearly, and every year for ten years from the date of these presents, the sum of three hundred and fifty dollars in the following articles to wit: twenty blankets, ten woolen coats, ten pairs of woolen pantaloons, twenty shirts, ten plaid linsey dresses, fifty yards of domestic cotton, ten hats or caps, ten pairs of shoes, twenty pounds of tobacco, fifty pounds of soap, two barrels of hard bread and five kettles. Said articles to be delivered at Port Orford, and the first of said annuities to be paid in the month of June next.
Article 4.It is admitted by the said band of Indians that they reside within the territorial limits of the United States acknowledge their supremacy and claim their protection. The said band also admit the right of the United States to regulate all trade and intercourse with them.
Article 5.The United States agree to receive the said band into their friendship and under their protection and to extend to them from time to time such benefits and acts of kindness as may be convenient and seem just and proper to the President of the United States.
Article 6.The said band of Indians further agree to give safe conduct to all persons who may be legally authorized by the United States to pass through their country and to protect in their persons and property all agents or other persons sent by the United States to reside temporarily among them, nor will they, while on their distant excursions, molest or interrupt any American citizens who may be passing through their country in traveling to or from California.
Article 7.That the friendship which is now established between the United States and the Ya-su-chah band of Indians shall not be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, it is hereby agreed that for injuries done by individuals no private revenge or retaliation shall take place, but instead thereof complaints shall be made by the party injured to the Superintendent or agent of Indian affairs, or other person appointed by the President, and it shall be the duty of the chiefs of the said band, upon complaint being made as aforesaid, to deliver up the person or persons against whom the complaint is made, to the end that he or they may be punished agreeably to the laws of the United States.
Article 8.This treaty shall take effect and be obligatory upon the contracting parties as soon as the same shall have been ratified by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States.
In testimony whereof the said Anson Dart, Henry H. Spalding and Josiah L. Parrish and the chiefs and headmen of the Ya-su-chah band of Indians have hereunto set their hands & seals this day & year aforesaid.
Anson DartNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 28, Records of the Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Records Pertaining to Relations with the Indians.
H. H. Spalding
Josiah L. Parrish
Signed & sealed in present of
Theo. Wygant Secretary
Norman Parrish Interpreter
S. W. Childs
To-to-tans, You-quee-chees, Qua-tou-wahs
Articles of a TreatyMade and concluded at Port Orford on the Pacific Ocean and in the Territory of Oregon this twentieth day of September A.D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one between Anson Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Henry H. Spalding, Indian Agent and Josiah L. Parrish Sub-Indian Agent on the part of the United States and the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the To-to-tan, You-que-chae and Qua-tou-wah bands of Indians of the other part.
Article 1.The To-to-tan, You-que-chee and Qua-tou-wah bands of Indians do hereby cede and relinquish to the United States all their right, title, interest and claim to lands lying within the Territory of Oregon and bounded as follows, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of the To-to-tan or Rogue River, running thence northwardly along the Pacific coast sixty-five miles to the mouth of the Qua-tou-wah or Coquille River. Thence up said river to the summit of the Coast Range of mountains. Thence southwardly along the summit of the said Coast Range of mountains to the aforesaid To-to-tan or Rogue River, thence down said river to the place of beginning.
Article 2.It is agreed that the said bands of Indians shall have free and unmolested possession of the ground occupied by their houses, and upon which they now reside, during the ten years in which they receive their annuities and that they shall also be free to fish as they have heretofore done, and it is further agreed that with the consent of the President, said privileges shall be extended beyond the expiration of the aforesaid ten years.
Article 3.In consideration of the cession and relinquishment aforesaid, the United States do hereby agree to pay to the said bands of Indians yearly and every year for ten years from the date of these presents the sum of twenty-five hundred dollars in the following articles, to wit: Seventy-five woolen coats, seventy-five pairs of woolen pantaloons, seventy-five vests, one hundred shirts, seventy-five pairs of shoes, fifty hats or caps, thirty plaid linsey dresses (ready made), forty calico dresses (ready made), one hundred blankets, two hundred yards of domestic cotton, two hundred pounds tobacco, ten barrels hard bread, two hundred pounds of soap, fifty knives, twenty kettles, twenty pint cups, ten chopping axes, said articles to be delivered at Port Orford, and the first of said annuities to be paid in the month of June next.
Article 4.It is admitted by the said bands of Indians that they reside within the limits of the territory of the United States, acknowledge their supremacy and claim their protection. The said tribe also admit the right of the United States to regulate all trade and intercourse with them.
Article 5.The United States agree to receive the said bands into their friendship and under their protection and to extend to them from time to time such benefits and acts of kindness as may be convenient and seem just and proper to the President of the United States.
Article 6.The said bands of Indians further agree to give safe conduct to all persons who may be legally authorized by the United States to pass through their country and to protect in their persons and property all agents or other persons sent by the United States to reside temporarily among them, nor will they while on their distant excursions molest or interrupt any American citizen or citizens who may be passing through their country in traveling to or from California.
Article 7.That the friendship which is now established between the United States and the To-to-tan, You-que-chai and Qua-tou-wah bands of Indians shall not be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, it is hereby agreed that for injuries done by individuals no private revenge or retaliation shall take place, but instead thereof complaints shall be made by the party injured to the Superintendent or agent of Indian affairs, or other person appointed by the President, and it shall be the duty of the chiefs of said bands upon complaint being made as aforesaid to deliver up the person or persons against whom the complaint is made to them and that he or they may be punished agreeably to the laws of the United States. And in like manner if any violence, robbery or murder shall be committed on any Indian or Indians belonging to the said bands, the person or persons so offending shall be tried and if found guilty shall be punished in like manner, as if the injury had been done to a white man. And it is agreed that the chiefs of the said bands shall to the utmost of their power exert themselves to recover horses or other property which may be stolen or taken from any citizen or citizens of the United States by any individual or individuals of said bands, and the property so received shall be forthwith delivered to the agent or other person authorized to receive it that it may be restored to the proper owner. And the United States hereby guarantee to any Indian or Indians of the said bands a full indemnification for any horse or other property which may be stolen from them by any of their citizens, provided that the property stolen cannot be recovered and that sufficient proof is produced that it was actually stolen by a citizen of the United States. And the said bands of Indians engage, on the requisition or demand of the President of the United States or of the agents, to deliver up any white men resident among them.
Article 8.This treaty shall take effect and be obligatory on the contracting parties as soon as the same shall have been ratified by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States.
In testimony whereof the said Anson Dart, Henry H. Spalding and Josiah L. Parrish and the chiefs and headmen of the To-to-tan, You-quee-chac and Qua-tow-wah bands of Indians aforesaid have hereunto set their hands this day and year aforesaid.
Anson DartSigned and sealed in present of
Henry H. Spalding
Josiah L. Parrish
Theo. Wygant, SecretaryNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 28, Records of the Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Records Pertaining to Relations with the Indians.
N. O. Parrish, Interpreter
William G. T'Vault
Oregon CityH. H. Spalding, Esqr.
Sept. 22nd 1851
The following list will show the cost to the agency for supporting the party under me in the Rogue River country from the 15th July until the 15th of this month.
To witThe papers &c. connected with this business are in my possession, which I will take down when I hear from you.
For supplies of J. Perkins (see bill) $442.50
For supplies of A. Williamson (see bill) 199.75
For supplies of E. M. Geiger (see bill) 56.25
For supplies of D. D. Bayley (see bill) 26.75
For supplies of D. D. Bayley (see bill) 12.00
For C. M. Walker's services & account, see bill 330.10
For Matthew Hall services & account, see bill 218.75
For W. P. Day services & account, see bill 249.00
For J. M. Jackson services, balance 103.00
For Frank West services, balance 86.00
For Timothy Bayley services 68.62½
For John McGee services 120.00
For [Mr.] Vanriper services 39.00
For J. Miller services 39.00
For [Mr.] Johnson services 39.00
For D. D. Bayley services 60.00
Yours respectfullyNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1078-1079.
C. M. Walker
Judge A. A. Skinner has received the appointment of Indian agent, vice B. S. Allen resigned, and Mr. E. A. Sterling takes the place of the Rev. Mr. Spalding.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, September 23, 1851, page 2
Port Orford Sept. 24 1851To Anson Dart Esq.
Superintendent of Ind. Affrs.
For Oregon Territory
My Dear Sir
Your kind favor of the 9th inst. came to hand today. In reply to your inquiry whether the men under Capt. Walker were left at Rogue River in obedience to, or to carry out my orders which I had at any time received from yourself, I answer they were not.
But the object I will give the language of Gov. Gaines as well as I can recollect, as I was governed by his experience in governmental affairs & his advice. And it is was [sic] to carry into effect the treaty which he had concluded with the Indians, to go up the river & make known to the white men the fact of the treaty & its provisions, to allay as much as possible the excitement prevailing among the whites, to awe the Indians & to receive the stolen property which the chiefs might be able to recover from their people.
A war, & to the natives a bloody one, had just closed; some 30 of their women & children had been prisoners in the hands of the whites & report says their women had been brutally treated; white men from all parts of the world had lost property, in some cases their all, & were making loud threats. If it was not speedily recovered they would shoot down Indians wherever they might meet them. I was compelled to return to Oregon City with a white man whom I found it necessary to remove out of the Indian country. But the removal of this white man was not the occasion of employing Walker & his party & had no connection with it.
With best wishes I remainNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 60.
Dear sir your
H. H. Spalding
Ind. Agent for S.W. Oreg.
Alonzo A. Skinner [Indian Agent]
[Alonzo A. Skinner] Indian Agent
Alonzo A. Skinner [Indian Agent]
[Alonzo A. Skinner] Indian Agent
ROGUE RIVER MATTERS.--Dr. Dart and suite have left for Port Orford on the Pacific, to purchase of the Indians their land in that vicinity and about the mouth of Rogue River. This band of Indians is small and is separate and distinct from any of the tribes generally denominated Rogue River Indians. [Spectator.
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 28, 1851, page 2
NEW INDIAN AGENTS.--Judge Skinner has been appointed Indian agent in place of Col. Allen, declined. Edward A. Starling Esq., of this city (late of Kentucky), has also been appointed in place of Rev. H. H. Spalding, removed.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, September 30, 1851, page 2
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsSir
Oregon City Oct. 3rd 1851
I have the honor to inform you that I returned to Oregon City this day--after an absence of nearly four weeks--from the southwestern part of Oregon, where we have made treaties with four bands of the Coast Indians, who claimed the country from the Coquille River to the southern boundary of Oregon, a distance of about eighty miles--extending back more than fifty miles into the interior, containing an area of over two & a half millions of acres.
The whole of this purchase is represented as being good farming lands--large tracts of it are heavily timbered with white cedar of very great growth--there are also many fine mill streams running through it.
Port Orford, where these treaties were made, is situated on the coastline of this purchase about midway between the northern & southern limits. A settlement is already commenced at this point and bids fair to become an important place.
The whole amount of this purchase is twenty-eight thousand five hundred dollars ($28,500), payable in ten equal annual payments--no part of which is to be paid in money. All the expense in making these treaties--adding the salaries of the officers of government while thus engaged--would make the cost of the land less than one cent & a half per acre.
I would further remark that no treaties have been made with the Indians of Oregon which seem so very satisfactory to the tribes concerned as the two we have closed with these coast bands.
There is no connection or intercourse between the coast tribes and the Indians occupying the valley of the Rogue River east of the Coast Range of mountains--their language is different, as is the case with the different bands along the coast.
I have the honor to beHon. Commissioner
Your obt. servt.
of Indian Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 959-961.
Dr. Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Messrs. Spalding and Parrish, agents, returned from Port Orford on the Sea Gull, where they have been engaged in treating with the Indians for their lands. They collected about five hundred men, women and children, from whom they purchased the district of country extending along the coast from the California line to the Coquille River, a distance of about eighty miles, and reaching about fifty miles into the interior. The purchase is said to include some of the finest lands in Oregon.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2
Port Orford Correspondence.
The Indian Treaties in Oregon--T'Vault's Expedition--The Rogue
and Coquille Rivers--Probable Errors in Their Geographical Determination--Discoveries, &c. &c.
Port Orford (O.T.), Oct. 7, 1851.Messrs. Editors:--In a previous communication I promised to furnish you an account of the proceedings of Dr. Dart, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who for several days has been negotiating with the different tribes in this vicinity, and with satisfactory results, the object of the treaty on the part of the government being to secure peace and thereby afford the privilege of traveling through, with safety, all the Indian territory in this vicinity, and also for the purpose of purchasing their lands. In these projects the Superintendent has succeeded, except with the Coquille tribe, which is the most formidable tribe on the Pacific coast, and with whom a treaty at the present time is absolutely demanded. It will be remembered that this is the tribe into whose hands Capt. T'Vault and his company of ten men fell, and of which only two made their escape.
The extent of territory inhabited by the Indians with whom a treaty of peace and friendship has been concluded, and from whom lands have been purchased, extends from the Coquille River on the north to a point some twenty miles south of Rogue River and extending back from the coast fifty miles, making an area of four thousand square miles, or 2,550,000 acres, at an aggregate cost of $25,000. The terms of the treaty give to each tribe the privilege of traveling with safety through any portion of the territory occupied by other tribes, and also gives the whites the privilege to occupy any portion of said territory which may be desired, in consideration of which the government of the United States has agreed to pay the said tribes, for ten years, yearly installments consisting principally of clothing and provisions. Dr. Dart estimates the whole expense of the treaty and purchase will not exceed the sum of $25,000. The Indians seem to be very much pleased with the great bargain that they have made, and seldom have I witnessed proceedings of a public character that were more interesting. Knowledge of the most serviceable character in regard to the geography of the country has been made known at these negotiations, and in the future explorations of this portion of Oregon it will be of the greatest importance. From the Indians and what we have gained from our own discoveries, we are led to believe that there has been a great error committed in naming the rivers of the interior in accordance with the names applied where they empty into the Pacific.
McArthur, in his survey of the coast, has placed the delta of Rogue River some twenty miles north from the line of California, and from many sources we learn that there is an extensive farming country bordering on Rogue River and extending from thirty miles back into the interior. But Mr. T'Vault, while on his recent adventurous tour, contradicts this report and positively asserts that there is but a small portion of farming land situated upon this river, and that is at or near the coast. But while passing down the Coquille River, he found the description which had been given of Rogue River exceedingly applicable to that, and he reports a large river, with extensive farming lands bordering upon it, and extending back into the interior at a distance not less than fifty miles, where the tide in the river ebbs and flows at a height of two feet. Judging from these facts, we are led to believe that the description of what has been termed Rogue River was intended for the Coquille; we are also inclined to believe that the river passed over by the Oregon Trail, and supposed to be Rogue River, is none other than the Coquille. We arrive at this conclusion, however, more particularly from the pleasing descriptions of the geography of the country. We have taken much interest in making all the inquiry possible in regard to this same subject, and from all the information thus obtained, from persons who have actually traveled over the Oregon Trail from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta mines, we gain the same important information. We learn that after leaving the south branch of the Umpqua the trail leads a southerly direction until it reaches Rogue River. This distance, they say, is from thirty-five to forty miles, and that they cross no river of any importance between the two points. Now it is a well-known fact that the coast between the Umpqua and Cape Blanco, and in fact to the California line, extends about north and south, and the trail, we are informed, runs parallel with the coast. Consequently, at the point where it crosses the river, which is supposed to be Rogue River, it cannot be over sixty miles from the coast, for at the point where it crosses the Umpqua, it is less than that distance to the coast. After crossing Rogue River the trail follows up the river on an easterly course some thirty miles, at which point it again leads off [in] a southerly course. At this point, where the trail leaves the river, the distance to the California line is put down at forty miles. These facts convince us that there is a mistake somewhere in regard to the application of names to the rivers from the Umpqua southward. If not, where does the Coquille head, or where does it come from? It is most assuredly equal in size to Rogue River, and far more susceptible of navigation. According to the most reliable information, Rogue River rises in Oregon and runs a westerly course, passes into California, and when some seventy miles from the coast recrosses the line into Oregon and empties into the Pacific some twenty miles from the California line. Consequently the trail leading from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta mines cannot at any point on the borders of the stream named Rogue River in McArthur's coast survey be a distance of forty miles [sic]. Another fact, and one which convinces us more forcibly that there is a mistake somewhere, is this: When Capt. T'Vault and his company reached the Coquille River, or rather a branch of that river, they supposed that it was a small river that empties into the Pacific Ocean some twelve miles south of the Umpqua. But while passing down that stream, and to their great disappointment, they found that it was nothing more or less than a branch of the Coquille, and from the discoveries made by them, compares with the description of those who have explored Rogue River for several miles below the crossing.
These circumstances appear plausible, and almost positively indicate that the river over which the Oregon Trail passes, and known as Rogue River, is none other than the Coquille; yet we may be mistaken. It is a subject that causes much speculation in the minds of adventurers, and I have no doubt that if these remarks should meet the observation of any person who is sufficiently conversant with the geography of the country to furnish the desired information, he will confer a great favor by making the same known to the public.
Having already occupied a much greater space than I intended in my remarks upon the above subjects, I shall content myself with giving an account of the discoveries of gold, as related by Messrs. T'Vault and Brush, by barely making mention of the fact, and reserve the principal remarks as a subject of interest for a future communication. We are convinced that they discovered an extensive mining region, and not unfrequently, while passing over high mountains several thousand feet above the neighboring streams, they found gold-bearing quartz, and from appearances exceedingly rich and extensive.
More anon. CLINTON. [probably William Clinton Tichenor]
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 16, 1851, page 2
From the Superintendent, Dr. Anson Dart, who returned from Port Orford a few days since, where he, together with his assistants, Messrs. Parrish and Spalding, has been treating with the Indians, we learned the following particulars of that hitherto unknown and unexplored country. The Superintendent thinks the district included in the new purchase is second only to the Willamette Valley in point of beauty and fertility. Settlements no doubt will soon follow, now that the Indians have been convinced that the government is disposed to treat them kindly and protect them in their rights. They have always looked upon the whites with suspicion and treated them as intruders. They are totally unacquainted with or ignorant of the benefits of civilization:
"Treated with four bands of Indians who owned the country from near the southern boundary of Oregon, on the Pacific Ocean, to the Coquille River, which enters the ocean about 80 miles north of the southern boundary of this purchase, extending back from the coast more than 50 miles, making over two and a half millions of acres, all of which is represented as good farming lands, large tracts of which are very heavily timbered with white cedar of a large growth. There are many fine mill streams on his tract. The whole amount of this purchase is $28,500, payable in annuities, no part of which is to be paid in money. The Indians of this part of Oregon appear to have no knowledge of the value of money. They are highly pleased with the idea of receiving a large proportion of the payment in clothing, being almost entirely naked. No treaties have been made with the Indians of this country where they seemed so well pleased with the trade made with government. The whole cost of this tract of country is less than one and a half cents per acre."
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 7, 1851, page 2
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsDear sir
Oregon City Oct. 10th 1851
On my return from Port Orford last week I was advised of your appointment as Indian agent for Oregon in place of B. S. Allen Esq., who declined the appointment tendered him in May last.
Your bond as approved Sept. 15th ult. by A. Holbrook Esq. is now on file in my office.
On account of your long residence in Oregon and your knowledge of the Rogue River country & of the Indian character in that region I have been induced to locate your agency there, believing also that it will require sound judgment & great prudence and perseverance on the part of the agent to secure and maintain peace and friendship between the Indians and the mining population scattered throughout that district of country.
I deem it unnecessary for me to give you any account of the murders of white men said to have been killed by Indians or of the reported robberies committed by them, nor of the number of Indians that have been killed by white men passing through their country. It is sufficient to say that reports as to the hostility of these Indians have been greatly exaggerated.
I think it advisable for you to locate on Rogue River where you will be near, if not upon, the thoroughfare between the interior of Oregon and the gold mines. Your good judgment will suggest to you the most suitable place for the present, leaving the permanent location of the agency for southwestern Oregon until a more thorough examination can be made.
The fear of punishment and the hope of reward are undoubtedly the main, if not the only, incentives to honesty and good behavior existing among the Indians of that part of Oregon. Your power to apply the first of these must of necessity be (for the time being) very limited. I shall, however, urge upon Genl. Hitchcock the propriety of stationing a small military force at or near Table Rock, or such other point near the mining districts as he shall deem more advisable. The small force stationed at Port Orford on the coast should not be removed from that place, there being at least one thousand Indians living along the coast south of the Umpqua River, and as you are aware some of these bands have shown themselves quite hostile of late.
I have in readiness for you two hundred & fifty best 3-pt. Mackinac blankets, nine hundred yards of calico prints, four doz. camp pails & tin pans and half a box of tobacco--all of which you will distribute to the Indians in your district in a way that will seem to you best calculated to promote friendly feelings between the several bands and their white neighbors & travelers.
The four bands on the coast that were lately treated with have all received presents; there is, however, no intercourse between them and the Indians east of the Coast Range of mountains, and therefore I shall be under the necessity of asking the government at a proper time to appoint a sub-agent to reside on the coast. For the present your agency will embrace all the country bounded on the north by the
The great anxiety of our government to prevent the introduction of spirituous liquors among the Indians will, I trust, prompt you to use your best exertions at all times to aid in carrying out an object so desirable.
Much must depend upon your persuasive faculties in your attempts to promote peace among the whites and Indians, without the aid of legal tribunals or military force, but with the Indians themselves. The presents you will be able to make them will do much towards making them friendly, and will be the success of strengthening their confidence in the friendly intentions of our government towards them.
I wish you to procure as early as practicable an estimate of the number of Indians south of the valley of the Umpquas between the Coast and Cascade ranges of mountains and north of the 42nd degree of north latitude (of which, however, you will not be able to ascertain the location at present), and ascertain the extent of lands claimed by each tribe or band, the general character of the land &c.
It is perhaps unnecessary to call your attention to the impropriety of an Indian agent attempting to dictate as to what denomination of Christian teachers shall be permitted to reside within his district.
The small salary paid to the officers in the Indian Department of Oregon will not be looked upon by the government as a reasonable excuse for disregarding the 14th section of the act of Congress passed June 20th 1834.
Your salary and necessary traveling expenses will be paid quarterly at this office upon receipt of your vouchers for the same.
I have the honor to be, respectfullyAlonzo A. Skinner Esq.
Your obt. servt.
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs, Reel 11, Instructions and Reports 1851-1855, pages 51-53. A copy of this letter can be found on NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 974-981.
Lafayette Oct. 15 1851Sir
I have employed Mr. Chesley B. Gray as an interpreter for the agency to which I have been assigned.
If his employment meets your approval, I should be pleased if you would recommend him to the President of the United States, to be by him appointed permanently to the situation above mentioned.
Respectfully yourAnson Dart Esquire
A. A. Skinner
Superintendent Indian Affairs
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 61.
Headquarters Pacific DivisionSir
Benicia Oct. 17, 1851
I deem it my duty to inform you that I have ordered a military expedition hence to Port Orford to operate against, punish and subdue the authors of the late massacre on the Coquille River, and that I have instructed Maj. Kearny, the commanding officer of the expedition, to confer freely with you if he should find you in that country. I write this on the supposition that, if you have returned to Oregon City, you may feel disposed to repair to Orford for the purpose of giving your official assistance and authority in establishing peaceful relations in their quarter.
I hope, through this expedition, though it is late in the season, to open up the country from the coast to the Oregon trail and impress all of the Indians with a suitable awe of the military power of the white man.
Very respectfully &c.Mr. Dart
E. A. Hitchcock
Brig. Genl. U.S. Army
Supt. of Ind. Affrs.
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 64.
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsSir
Oregon City Oct. 18th 1851
I have the honor to ask instructions in a matter which I will endeavor to make you as fully acquainted with as the nature of the case will admit of.
On my return from Upper Oregon in July last I was informed that Governor Gaines had raised a few volunteers and had gone to the Rogue River country to fight the Indians. This subject was alluded to in my letter of the 18th July. The Governor hired the men upon his own responsibility and paid them up to the time he concluded what he calls a treaty of peace with the Indians. About this time the agent H. H. Spalding arrived on the treaty ground and was by the suggestion of Governor Gaines induced to engage these men to remain with a Mr. Walker to maintain peace &c. On the 9th of Sept. this Mr Walker called on me to inquire who was to pay him & his men for their services after the Gov. left them. I could only say that the whole affair was got up without my knowledge, and I did not believe my instructions would authorize me to pay so large a bill (over two thousand dollars) for services too that I could not have approved of had I been on the ground at the time.
Enclosed you have a copy of my letter to Mr. Spalding on this subject, and also a copy of his reply.
Should I be instructed to visit Washington this winter I can, while there, give more particulars on this subject.
I have the honor to beHon. Commissioner
Your obt. servt.
of Indian Affairs
(Copy)NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 968-973.
Office Superintendent of Indian AffairsDear Sir
Oregon City 9th Sept. 1851.
A gentleman by the name of Walker has called upon me this day to inquire who is to pay the expense of himself and the men under him while stationed at the crossing of Rogue River for the last two months, or since the close of the treaty by Gov. Gaines with a band or bands of the Rogue River Indians.
Knowing that the men under the command of this Mr. Walker were turned over to you by Gov. Gaines, I would beg leave to inquire whether you took these men and continued their service in obedience to, or to carry out, any orders that you had at any time received from me directly or indirectly. Your early reply to this will I hope place this matter in a true light.
I am dear sirH. H. Spalding
Very respectfully &c.
Port OrfordTo Anson Dart Esq.
Sept. 24, 1851
Supt. Indn. Affrs.
for Oregon Ter.
My dear Sir--Your kind favor of the 9th inst. came to hand today. In reply to your inquiry whether the men under Capt. Walker were left at Rogue River in obedience to, or to carry out, any orders which I had at any time received from yourself, I answer they were not. But the object I will give the language of Gov. Gaines as well as I can recollect, as I was governed by his experience in governmental affairs & his advice. And it was to carry into effect the treaty which he had concluded with the Indians; to go up the river & make known to the white men the fact of the treaty & its provisions; to allay as much as possible the excitement prevailing among the whites; to awe the Indians & to receive the stolen property which the chiefs might be able to recover from their people.
A war, & to the natives a bloody one, had just closed: Some 30 of their women & children had been prisoners in the hands of the whites & report says their women had been brutally treated; white men from all parts of the world had lost property, in some cases their all, & were making loud threats if it was not speedily recovered they would shoot down Indians wherever they might meet them. I was compelled to return to Oregon City with a white man whom I found it necessary to remove out of the Indian country. But the removal of this white man was not the occasion of employing Walker & his party & had no connection with it.
With best wishes I remain
Dear sir your obt. servt.
H. H. Spalding
Ind. Agent for S.W. Oregon
Roger's LandingDr. Anson Dart
Oct. 19th 1851
The pressing demands that call upon me to supply the wants of my family compel me to ask your most favorable consideration of my claims against the agency. My account, as you are aware, against the agency is $330, three hundred and thirty dollars. I am fully convinced (upon a representation of the claims of the party under me on Rogue River by you to the U.S. Congress) that this amount of debt created there will be promptly met. I therefore think that I do not abuse due respect for you in asking you at this time to advance to me one half the amt. due me, allowing the remaining half to lie over unpaid until you shall have recd. advices from Congress. I regret, sir, that I am compelled to press these importunities, but hope they may have the purposed ends attained.
Should you conclude to render this favor and kindness, Dr. John McLoughlin will receive & recpt. for the amount paid by you, which I hope will at least be $170, one hundred and seventy dollars, as 'twill require at least that amount to serve my purpose &c.
I remainNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 65.
C. M. Martin
We have conversed with several persons direct from the mines; they all concur in their statements relative to the feeling entertained for the whites throughout the entire Rogue River country, except the small roving and marauding band of Grave Creek Indians, with whom no treaty has ever been made, and who are no better than the bears and wolves that roam over the forests. They are a small band consisting of about 40 head. Persons are passing and repassing daily without interruption, and are not compelled to stand guard, save in the neighborhood of the Grave Creeks. This is a very desirable state of things and contrasts very favorably with that that prevailed previous to the making of the treaty. The only dissatisfaction that exists is said to be the failure as to the time on the part of the government to make good the stipulations of the treaty. This has, in a great measure, exhausted their patience. We have no fears but that Mr. Skinner, now on his way thither, will soon render full satisfaction on this source.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 21, 1851, page 2
of Indian Affairs
Oct. 21st 1851
Enclosed herewith are copies of the receipts for stationery and Indian goods, given by A. A. Skinner & E. A. Starling, Indian agents.
I have the honor to beHon. L. Lea
Your obt. servt.
of Indian Affairs
List of Articles Furnished A. A. SkinnerNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 964-967. A "wafer" was a gummed sticker for sealing envelopes.
by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
One ream letter paper & ¼ ream foolscap paper, one bottle blk. ink, sand box, box wafers & bunch quills, three quires wrapping paper, ledger, paper of sand, 250 envelopes, two quires blank vouchers, 3 sticks sealing wax, 3 pencils, 3 pen holders, two boxes candles.
Two hundred & fifty blankets, nine hundred yards calico, two doz. tin pans, two doz. tin kettles, half box tobacco.
Received the above articles of A. Dart--viz, the stationery to be used at my agency, and the Indian goods to be distributed among the Indians of my district.
(signed) A. A. SkinnerOct. 10th 1851
List of Articles Furnished E. A. Starling
by Supt. Indn. Affairs for the Puget Sound Agency
1 ream letter paper & ¼ ream foolscap paper, 1 ink stand, 1 sand box, ½ box wafers & 5 sticks sealing wax, 2 doz. quills, 7 bunches stick tape, 100 large envelopes, 200 small envelopes, 5 blk. lead pencils, 1 letter stamp, 1 paper writing sand, 1 doz. steel pens & 3 pen holders, 1 bot. blk. ink, 1 bot. red ink, 12 reams blotting paper, wrapping do., 1 day book, journal & ledger, 2 boxes candles, 2 candlesticks, 2 quires blank vouchers, package of tobacco for Indians. Also two hundred & two blankets & seven hundred yards of calico prints for distribution among the Indians.
Oregon City Oct. 8th 1851--Received the above articles as enumerated--together with one office stove.
(signed) Edm. A. Starling
Agt. North District
A. A. Skinner, Indian Agent, left for the Rogue River country on Tuesday last, the place assigned for him for future operations. He has gone prepared to make the Indians presents, which, when distributed, will no doubt have a tendency to render permanent the good feeling that now prevails.
The portion of country assigned E. A. Starling is north of the Columbia River.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 21, 1851, page 2
ROGUE RIVER MATTERS.--Dr. Dart and suite have left for Port Orford on the Pacific, to purchase of the Indians their land in that vicinity, and about the mouth of Rogue River. This band of Indians is small and is separate and distinct from any of the tribes generally denominated Rogue River Indians.--[Spectator.
New York Daily Tribune, November 3, 1851, page 7
Umpqua Valley at the MouthDear Sir
of the Kenyon Nov. 7, 1851
I arrived at this place the day before yesterday, and have been detained here until now for the purpose of seeing the Indians residing in this neighborhood. About fifty of the Indians met me here today. I delivered to them as presents 23 blankets and 141½ yards of calico. I assured them that you would be here next summer to purchase their lands and explained to them why you could not come this fall, and I think they left well satisfied, and with friendly feelings towards the whites.
On my way here I saw and had a talk with the Umpqua band of the Calapooia tribe, and made them a present of a beef (of this fact I believe I informed you when I was at Winchester).
I remained at Winchester nearly two days after sending word to the Umpquas to meet me at that place, but none of them came in--perhaps they did not get the word. All the inhabitants of that neighborhood assured that those Indians were entirely friendly and that no difficulty was to be apprehended from them.
Since I have been at this place I have seen several men who had just come in from Rogue River, from whom I learn that on the 29th ult. a difficulty occurred on Rogue River near the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain, in which one white man and one Indian were killed, and one white man and one Indian were wounded. From all that I can learn about the affair, some white men (and among the number was Mr. Moffit, who was killed) had been staying for several days on the creek where the affray occurred, with a drove of hogs, and that the Indians alleged that the hogs had destroyed some of the acorns which they had collected for food, and demanded one of the hogs as a compensation for the acorns, and one of the Indians pointed his gun at one of the hogs, and as Mr. Moffit supposed with the intention of shooting it--that Moffit in drawing a pistol discharged it and wounded his own hand, and that irritated at the accident he fired at the Indian. At that another Indian fired at Moffit, giving him a mortal wound. This may not be the correct version of the affair. I shall endeavor as soon as I arrive in the Rogue River Valley to ascertain the truth with reference to the affair.
We have had a very unpleasant trip thus far, and have a very fair prospect of having a yet more unpleasant time of it from this out. From what I can learn about the road ahead it is almost impassable. I have hired most of my loading packed through from here to Rogue River, and shall start in the morning with the wagons.
I must again beg of you to excuse the haste with which this is written. It is raining almost constantly, and it is difficult for me when the wagons happen to stop to find time or opportunity to write. I presume it is not important for you to have an official report of my doings before I arrive at Rogue River. I wish you to consider this and my previous note as entirely & altogether unofficial.
In hasteAnson Dart Esq.
A. A. Skinner
Superintendent Indian Affairs
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 67.
Office of the Superintendent of Indian AffairsHon L. Lea
Oregon City O.T. November 7th 1851.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
You have herewith thirteen Indian treaties, which cede to the United States more than six million acres of land, lying upon both sides of the Columbia River, upon the Willamette River, and upon the Pacific Coast--west of the Cascade Range of mountains in Oregon. The treaties concluded at Tansy Point (near the mouth of the Columbia) cover a tract of over one hundred miles on the Pacific, running back along the Columbia about sixty miles: The country was owned by ten small tribes of Chinook Indians, numbering in all about three hundred and twenty souls. The Clatsops, who were the first treated with, interposed many objections to parting with their country upon any terms. They made many long and loud complaints at the injustice done them by the government, who they said had taken possession of their lands without paying them, had allowed the white people--many years since--to occupy and buy and sell their country, for which they had received no equivalent, pointing to instances where farms had been sold for from two to six thousand dollars, upon which lands the whites were making "much money." Their first demands of the government--notwithstanding their anxiety to get their pay--were very unreasonable. They assured me that they would not "talk" until I would stop the ships from coming into the Columbia and destroy two sawmills in the southern part of their country, which by their noise had frightened the fish away! Being assured of the impossibility of having their demands complied with, and after much talk on council, they concluded to waive these demands provided they could be permitted to have two reservations of about ten miles square each. This being objected to in like emphatic manner, the Indians held a consultation with neighboring tribes which lasted two days, and finally agreed to one reservation, which should cover their burying grounds and lodges at Point Adams--making a tract three and a half miles in length--two miles wide at the north end, and one mile at the lower, or south, end. As this tract had three claimants or settlers upon it, large offers were made the Indians to place the title to all in the United States. This they steadily declined, leaving no alternative but to allow this reservation or not treat with them for the balance of their lands, being about five hundred thousand acres. That part of their lands known as "Clatsop Plains" is an open, level country with a very rich soil, nearly or quite every acre of which is claimed and occupied by white people. The balance of the purchase is timbered land, chiefly of the heaviest kind (although it is called "timbered land" there are some prairies of small extent on both sides of the Columbia); the soil is of excellent quality for farming purposes, and from its very advantageous situation upon the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean affording superior facilities for exporting its timber and the products of the farmer, it cannot but prove of immense value to the United States, this too at a day I think by no means far distant. The timber alluded to is mostly a species of fir, growing immensely large and tall. There are upon this purchase two never-failing mill streams sufficiently large for any mill or manufacturing purposes; besides these are large springs and spring brooks in every part of the country west of the Cascade Mountains.
In relation to the conditions of the treaties made it is necessary first to inform you that the habits and customs of these fishing Indians are unlike those of any other part of our domain. It is characteristic with them to be industrious. Almost without exception I have found them anxious to get employment at common labor and willing to work at prices much below those demanded by the whites. The Indians make all the rails used in fencing, and at this time do the greater part of the labor in farming. They also do all the boating upon the rivers. In consideration therefore of their usefulness as laborers in the settlements, it was believed to be far better for the country that they should not be removed from the settled portion of Oregon if it were possible to do so, as alluded to in the act of Congress of June 5th 1850. Let me here remark that the treaty commissioners, appointed under this act, used their best exertions to persuade all or either of the bands in the valley of the Willamette to remove east of the mountains, but without success.
The poor Indians are fully aware of the rapidity which, as a people, they are wasting away. On this account they could not be persuaded to fix a time beyond ten years to receive all of their money and pay for their lands, saying that they should not live beyond that period. They are fully sensible of the power of the government, admit that they can be killed and exterminated, but say they cannot be driven far from the homes and graves of their fathers. They further told me that if compensation for their lands was much longer withheld, the whites would have the lands for nothing.
Believing as I do that the food used by these Indians (being almost entirely of fish) tends much towards shortening their lives, I cannot but admit that there is great probability that only a very few years will pass ere they will all be side by side with their fathers and braves--the tribe or tribes extinct. When an Indian is sick, his only food is salmon, which he must eat or nothing, and I have observed that few--very few--ever recover from sickness. Owing to their wretched food in such cases, I was induced to include in their annuities flour and bread, and to protect them from storms & inclement weather I stipulated to furnish clothing sufficient for every adult, male and female, in all of the several tribes treated with.
You will observe that besides furnishing each band with provisions, which will go far towards their yearly subsistence, there are many useful farming tools and cooking utensils.
I am convinced that money or goods given to the Indians of the Pacific, beyond what is absolutely necessary for their subsistence from year to year, is worse than thrown away. I would, however, here remark that in every case with the bands treated with they are well satisfied with the compensation to be given them as well as with all the conditions and stipulations of their several treaties.
It may not be uninteresting to inform you that during each treaty concluded with the thirteen tribes, the entire band was present, men, women and children, and all were made to fully understand the importance and the conditions of the contract entered into. In most cases they were extremely anxious one and all to sign their names (make their mark) upon the treaty. In several cases every man living of the band did sign or make his mark. I mention this to show you that a difficulty often arising in Indian treaties may not be looked for here. I allude to the many cases that have occurred where loud complaints arose after a treaty was concluded--that the greater part of the tribe were not parties to or consulted during the negotiation.
The lower band of Chinook Indians, which is the largest of that tribe, have their headquarters at what is called Chinook Point on the Columbia and occupy at present the country on the north side of that river, directly opposite that of the Clatsops. As late as the year 1820 this point was the rendezvous of the most powerful nation upon the Pacific Coast, now wasted to a few over three hundred souls.
In going to council with this band, a difficulty arose which they assured me must be settled before they were ready to "talk." They stated that one Washington Hall, a white man, had laid claim to the ground covering their whole village; he had degraded himself by marrying one of their slaves, was very obnoxious to all the band, sought every means to drive them from their possessions, and had particularly annoyed them by fencing up all the fresh water and entirely excluding them from it, in short had done many acts which compelled them to demand his removal as a first consideration, and we were obliged to agree to this requirement or abandon negotiations with them.
In continuing this subject I would here remark that the removal of Hall, and the Clatsop Reservation, seem to be the only grounds for objections raised against the ratification of these treaties. I should be sorry then if a whiskey trader upon one side of the river, and the influence of two or three settlers on a point of land which the Indians refused to sell upon the other, should interfere with their ratification.
The next treaty I would speak of in detail is the one concluded with the remnant bands of Willopahs and Kwalhioquas, the only males living of which tribes are the two signers to the treaty; there are however several females--women and children yet living.
The tract of country purchased of them is situated on what is known as "Shoalwater Bay" upon the Pacific, having about twenty miles of coast and running back inland about forty miles--bounded on the north by the country owned by the Chehalis Indians--on the east by the lands of the Cowlitz band--and on the south by the lower band of Chinooks. This purchase is known to embrace a tract equal in fertility of soil and quality of timber to any portion of Oregon. It has extensive and beautiful groves of the fir and cedar, with small prairies interspersed; there are also large tracts of what is called "hardwood bottoms." The surface is gently undulating, and mill streams and fine brooks abound throughout the purchase.
You will perceive that this tract is set apart as an Indian country, or reserve, provided all the neighboring bands shall within one year consent to occupy it and give up their temporary rights of possession; this was not done at the suggestion of the Indians, but to gratify a large number of our own people, who believed these small bands on, and adjacent to, the coast (should suitable provision be made) could be persuaded to live together as one band or tribe. But in my opinion, there is not the least prospect that a single band will leave their present homes, in which case the country will be open for settlement within one year--at the present time there is not a white man residing upon the purchase.
Wallooska is the only male survivor of a tribe once of some note. The tract purchased of him, joining the Clatsops on the east, is mainly valuable for its immense forests of and variety of choice timber; the southern part is very hilly, almost mountainous--yet everywhere covered with the timber described. Lewis and Clark's River (where these travelers wintered) is a superior mill stream; there are others--smaller streams in different parts, all valuable for milling or agricultural purposes. It is equally true of this, as of the other purchases, that the soil is good and has every indication of being susceptible of high cultivation.
The Cathlamet band of Chinooks cede a valuable body of land to the United States--extending from Ah-pin-pin Point forty miles along the south side of the Columbia--running back (south) about twenty miles. Astoria and Fort George are upon this tract. Dense forests of various kinds of valuable timber, with small prairies and many mill streams--are the principal features of the country. The great growth of timber and underbrush here rendered it extremely difficult for me to examine as much of the tract as I desired, but I informed myself very particularly from those who had made personal inspection of it--this band reserves from sale two small islands in the Columbia.
The treaty with the Tillamooks secures a valuable country resembling the Clatsop Plains and is directly south of that tract; it is very even and regular along the coast, but approaching the mountains it is uneven and hilly. Tillamook Bay affords a fine harbor, with sufficient depth of water on the bar for vessels drawing twelve feet of water. There are no less than five considerable streams putting into the bay, the valley of one of which extends fifty miles along the stream, making [the] richest of bottom land. Much of this purchase is open country, and as far as known without settlers. Travelers all concur in representing it as offering equal inducements to settlers with any portion of Oregon.
The lands ceded by the Wahkiakum and Konniack bands of Chinooks is everywhere densely covered with timber, and has many very valuable mill-powers upon it; that part lying upon, and for two or three miles back from the Columbia, is very hilly with many bluffs and deep ravines. The balance is moderately rolling, and susceptible of cultivation. The Cowlitz River near the east side of the tract is sufficiently large for steamboats to the rapids fifteen miles up from the Columbia; at the rapids it is a series of falls suitable for milling purposes which extend many miles interior.
The country ceded by the Konniacks upon the south side of the Columbia is composed of flat lands adjacent to this river, with deep, rich soil, then gradually rolling, but good farming land extends to the bounds of the Clatskanies a distance of about twenty miles. These lands were once owned by the Clatskanies above mentioned, and as an instance to show the rapidity with which the Indian upon these shores is passing away, I will relate that this tribe was, at the first settlement of the Hudson's Bay Company in Oregon, so warlike and formidable that the Company's men dare not pass their possessions along the river in less numbers than sixty armed men, and then often at considerable loss of life and always at great hazard. The Indians were in the habit of enforcing tribute upon all the neighboring tribes who passed in the river, and disputed the right of any persons to pass them except upon these conditions. The tribe is now reduced to three men and five women. The face and character of their country is very similar to that previously purchased along the river (of the Konniacks).
The two treaties made at Port Orford upon the Pacific embrace a valuable tract of country, not only on account of the great value of its timber, but having two good harbors upon the Pacific, viz., at Port Orford and mouth of the Coquille River--in addition to the harbor at Coquille that river is navigable for large steamboats seventy miles interior. The bottom lands along this stream are from ten to twenty miles in width, and I think in fertility of soil are not surpassed in the United States; the whole tract will be rapidly settled first, on account of its proximity to the gold mines; again its inducements, in an agricultural point of view, and thirdly on account of the easy access to its almost interminable forests of cedar. The total number of Indians living upon this tract is ascertained to be about five hundred souls, have had very little intercourse with the whites, and live in an almost entirely denuded state; they have no idea whatever of the value of money or many articles of use and value among other tribes, yet it is believed that they will in every particular scrupulously adhere to the contract which they have entered into with the government.
The Coquille Indians, of whom so much has been said connected with the murder of T'Vault's party--have not yet been treated with; their country lies adjacent on the north, beyond the river bearing their name.
I will now speak of the Clackamas treaty, the last and decidedly the most important one concluded among the thirteen bands or tribes of Indians. It embraces a country more thickly settled than any portion of Oregon. The flourishing town of Milwaukie on the Willamette River,is upon the purchase; and immediately on its southern border adjoining is Oregon City, the largest town in the Territory. Woodland and prairie, conveniently situated for farms, make up the western portion of the tract, and upon the north, or Columbia, side of the country--as well as adjoining the Willamette on the west, are extensive and rich river bottoms. There is much of this kind of land also on a considerable stream washing the base of the Cascade Range of mountains--called "Sandy River" (which joins the Columbia near the northeast part of the purchase).
The Clackamas River, which empties into the Willamette just below Oregon City, is a dashing, never-failing stream, upon which are many mills, affording besides these power for many more; there are now in operation about twenty mills in different parts of the tract. I will mention that instances have occurred where farming lands have been sold for fifty dollars per acre; this was of course upon the western or best-settled portion of the purchase.
The whole eastern side of the Clackamas lands is covered with a dense growth of fir and cedar timber and has not been much explored; at least not sufficiently for me to give a minute description in these papers.
I was induced to negotiate this treaty, although there was an informality connected with it, but which I hope will not prove a serious obstacle to its ratification. I allude to the fact of there having been no one associated with me on the part of the United States. In conformity to the act of February last, you did associate with me Henry H. Spalding and Beverly S. Allen, but the first-named having been removed and his successor not having conferred upon him the power to act with me--and Mr. Allen declining the office--left me the responsibility of acting alone on the part of the government.
At first many unsuccessful efforts were made to negotiate with them owing to demands made by them which were unreasonable, and even impossible to comply with; at several of our meetings they refused to sell the most valuable part of their lands, but at length came and expressed their willingness to be governed in their sale entirely by my readiness to do them justice, and would submit the matter entirely to me as to the reservations and other preliminaries connected with the sale. The same terms as contained in the treaty were then submitted to them, upon which they deliberated a few days--then they met (every male person in the tribe) and desired the treaty to be drawn up accordingly. To conclude, I would say that I found so many persons anxious and deeply interested in the result that I assumed the responsibility before mentioned of acting alone.
In concluding this report I would say that I have sought to embrace the principal and important features connected with the treaties herewith submitted without great care as to manner of arrangement.
I desire time to become more thoroughly acquainted with each and every band of Indians in this important and interesting section, as well as to examine personally tracts of country occupied by them (portions of which have been but little explored) before I can enlarge upon many subjects but briefly alluded to in this report.
I have the honor to be your obt. servt.NARA Microcopy T-494 Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Treaties, Reel 8, Unratified Treaties 1821-65, frames 333-347
Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Rogue River Nov. 17, 1851Dear Sir
I arrived at this place (Perkins Ferry) the day before yesterday. So far as I can learn the Indians appear quite friendly. I shall have a talk with the Umpqua band of the Rogue River Indians this afternoon & make them their presents at this place. The Shastas I had met about 17 miles above here. Joe & Sam the principal chiefs are here and say that they and their people wish to be friendly.
It is now raining about as hard as it can conveniently, and the water is running under my tent, and on the whole we are in a right nice fix. I write this in great haste, as Mr. Snelling by whom I send it is now waiting.
RespectfullyAnson Dart Esq.
A. A. Skinner
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 68.
Rogue River Nov. 25, 1851Sir
Enclosed I send you the vouchers for my traveling expenses and transportation to this place. It is of the utmost importance that I receive the amount due me by the return of the bearer of this.
I also send you an account for provisions furnished by me to the Indians since my arrival at Perkins Ferry. Although I had no orders from you to furnish them with provisions I found it absolutely necessary to have Joe and Sam with me all the time, and of course it was necessary to furnish them with provision. And it was frequently necessary to feed other Indians who were about my camp, to avoid giving offense.
The Indians would have been much better satisfied could I have fed them all--that however was altogether impossible.
I have the honor to beAnson Dart Esquire
Your obt. servt.
A. A. Skinner
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 89.
Rogue River Valley Nov. 25, 1851.Sir:--
In obedience to instructions received from your office dated Oct. 10, 1851, on the 13th ultimo I left Oregon City en route for the district assigned to me, and on the 15th inst. arrived at Perkins' Ferry on Rogue River.
On my way here I met the principal part of that portion of the Calapooya tribe of Indians, who reside in the northern part of the Umpqua Valley. I found them friendly disposed towards the whites, but very impatient and much dissatisfied that the proper persons to purchase their lands had not visited them. In consequence of the state of feeling which existed I thought it highly advisable to make them some kind of presents, but owing to the limited number of blankets and the small quantity of calico which I had with me, I did not deem it proper to give any of the goods away until I should get farther south. I therefore concluded to make them a present of a beef ox, which I found roaming on the prairie in the neighborhood of Mr. Applegate's, which was said to belong to the United States, but which I subsequently found to be claimed by Wm. J. Martin Esq. of Winchester. I was not able at the time to procure the necessary vouchers, but can do so when I come in next summer.
On my arrival at the mouth of the Kanyon, I met a part of the band of Indians who reside in that vicinity and had a talk with them and made them some presents of blankets and calico. I also left thirty-five (35) blankets and one hundred & fifty-one (151) yards of calico with Mr. Joseph Knott, to be given to such of the tribe as could not be present in consequence of sickness, the weather being very inclement at the time. I have since learned that he has distributed the presents in accordance with my directions. From all I could learn these Indians are entirely friendly and anxious to sell their lands to the government. I assured them that you would be there next summer for the purpose of making the purchase. With that assurance, and the presents which I made them, they appeared perfectly satisfied.
At Perkins' Ferry I met about one hundred of the Umpqua band of Rogue River Indians, including the chiefs and principal men of the Grave Creek band, with whom I had a talk and to whom I made presents of blankets and calico. They appeared quite friendly and well pleased with the presents.
At the same time and place I met a portion of the Shasta band of Rogue River Indians. I also made them presents and found them much more familiar and friendly than I had anticipated. This portion of the tribe reside principally on the main river between the ferry and Table Rock.
At the request of Joe and Sam, the principal chiefs of the Rogue River Indians, I met another part of the Shasta band a few days subsequent on the river, about eighteen miles above the ferry, to whom I made presents of what blankets and calico I had remaining, and of the tin pans and pails. These Indians were from different parts of the upper valley and represented all the different bands residing there with the exception of those living on the headwaters of the main branch of the river.
From what I saw of these Indians I am satisfied that by the exercise of a little forbearance and discretion on the part of the whites any further difficulties may be avoided. I believe the only portions of the Indians in this valley from whom any difficulty is to be apprehended, unless some provocation shall be given them, are those living in the vicinity of the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains and those in the valley of the main fork above Table Rock.
With the Umpqua band no difficulty of any consequence has occurred since last summer, and I am satisfied that it will require some serious outrage on the part of the whites to arouse them to hostility.
I have availed myself of every opportunity which has presented to learn the truth with reference to the difficulty which occurred near the Siskiyou Mountain on the 29th ult., and from all that I can learn I am well satisfied that it was the result of a misunderstanding between the whites and the Indians and not in consequence of any previous hostile feelings on the part of the Indians, and that there was as much blame to be attributed to the whites as to the Indians; and in all the talks I have had with the Indians I have told them that the whites were willing to overlook and forget all the murders which have occurred on either side, but that property taken by the Indians from the whites, or by the whites from the Indians, must be restored.
From the acquaintance I have had with Joe & Sam I have been very favorably impressed. They appear entirely friendly, and to have sufficient intelligence to see that neither they nor their people have anything to gain by hostility with the whites, but that on the contrary it is to their interest to cultivate the most friendly relations with both the whites who are settled in their country and those who are passing through it, and I have no doubt they will use all their influence to keep their people quiet. And from the acquaintance I have had with the whites settled in the valley I think they are disposed to pursue a course calculated to secure the peace of the country.
I have not as yet had time to make a selection of a location, but am at present at what is called the Willow Springs, about twenty-five miles above Perkins' Ferry, and just at the lower part of the main valley of Rogue River and about five miles south of Table Rock.
From what I have seen I am satisfied that the presence of the agent in this vicinity will be more necessary than in any other part of the agency, and I think I shall locate within from five to ten miles of this place.
I have not yet had time to acquire sufficient knowledge of the country to give you any description of it, but from what I have seen I am highly pleased with the appearance of the valley. The view from this point is the finest I have ever seen.
If you could send me one hundred or one hundred and fifty blankets, and from three to four hundred yards of calico, it would assist me very much in securing the peace and quiet of the country in my agency. There are many Indians who have not been present when I made presents, and consequently have not yet received any; and the number which I had was too small to enable me to retain any for those not present.
In great hasteAnson Dart Esquire
I have the honor to be
Your obt. servt.
A. A. Skinner,
Indian Agent for
Superintendent Indian Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1231-1234. The letter can also be found in Executive Documents, 32nd Congress, pages 451-453.
War DepartmentHon. A. H. H. Stuart,
Washington, December 6, 1851
Secretary of the Interior,
I have the honor to enclose, herewith, a letter from Governor John P. Gaines, dated the 28 of September last [see above], with accompanying papers in parcels marked A & B, referring to difficulties with the Indians in Oregon, and to expenses incurred in an expedition which resulted in a treaty with them.
The vouchers for expenses incurred he has forwarded with a view to their settlement by this Department, but there is no appropriation at my disposal applicable to such an object, nor are the expenses such as usually come under the cognizance of this Department. The men employed had no military organization; they were paid at a rate far exceeding that allowed by law to volunteers; their expenses include many items inadmissible in a military account, and the articles were neither issued nor accounted for in the mode required by the rules pursued in the settlement of such accounts. For these reasons, and as the men appear to have been intended rather as an escort to Governor Gaines and to give weight to his negotiations, rather than for military operations under his command, it appears to me that a more satisfactory settlement could be made through your Department than through this.
The treaty and accompanying papers appertain to your Department and should have been transmitted to you directly.
Very respectfullyNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1067-1069.
Your obedt. servt.
C. M. Conrad
Secretary of War
Oregon City Decr. 17th 1851Hon. Secretary of War
I have the honor herewith to enclose the receipt of Jerome B. Greer for three hundred and sixty dollars, alluded to in my letter and report concerning the hostilities with the Rogue River Indians of the 28th of September last.
Your obt. servt.
Jno. P. Gaines
Hon. C. M. Conrad
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 1271-1272.
Rogue River Dec. 28th 1851Mr. Anson Dart
Superintendent of Indian Affairs
for the Territory of Oregon
We, the undersigned citizens of Rogue River Valley, present this as our testimony of the character of Worthington Bills, now under arrest, charged with attempting to excite the Indians to hostilities.
Testimony of T. Thompson
On or about the 19th of Dec. last I was conversing with Mr. Worthington Bills as to the best method of ejecting one Mr. Gibbs from a claim I had commenced work on, which said Gibbs had jumped in my absence on business to the Willamette Valley. Mr. Worthington Bills said to me, "Never mind, I can get Gibbs off. I will get the Indians on him." I told him I did not wish such assistance. [signed] T. Thompson
Testimony of Sam Colver
I called on Worthington Bills a few days previous to his arrest. He told me to look sharp, to use his own words, "that Hell was a-brewing," that the Indians were going to give us a turn. I told him I had no fears from what I saw. He evidently wished to alarm me by his statement and, as I believe, for bad purposes, that I might assume a hostile or defensive bearing towards the Indians, that would at once lead to open hostilities. I was present at his arrest and trial before Judge Skinner, heard the testimony of Sam, the war chief, as interpreted from the jargon, who stated that said Bills told him that the whites were going to make an attack on the Indians and that they were going to shoot him through a crack in his house. The chiefs stated also that Mr. Bill had planned the conquest of the valley by the Indians from Long's ferry up to the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. This last statement by the chiefs was interpreted by Wm. H. Corkins. In these and the statements of others who will be called on as witness in the case whose lives were threatened and menaced by the Indians are sufficient reasons we think for his removal from our midst; we regard him as a very dangerous man on our frontier. [signed] Sam Colver
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1852, enclosure to No. 6.
Rogue River Dec. 28th '51Gentlemen Sirs,
This is a statement of conversation between Mr. Bills and I. Bills told me one night as I was coming from work that Hell was a-brewing. This is his expression. I then asked what made him think so. He then told me that he had had conversation with Sam (the war chief) and Sam told his men was agoing [to] kill or waylay me and Lord (my partner) that night. He said he told him this in jargon. He also told us that he told another Indian in his presence in their language that his men that night was agoing to make an attack on us at our cabin. He said he understood their tongue and advised us to prepare for fight that night, for it was raining and that was their time. I told him the Indian agent ought to know this. Says he, "Boys, if go to so the agent don't tell him what I told you. If you do he will [tell] the Indians and they will be down on me, as I am alone. I shan't be safe here alone." We then invited him to go home with us and stay with us that night as he was alone. He hesitated and seemed loath to go. We went and consulted things; he advised [us to] keep up guard that [night] and he lay down and went to sleep, got up in the morning, went off with the Indian.
P.S. By the request of George Skinner
A. D. SloanI was knowing to the same conversation that took place between Bills and [Sloan].
A. J. LeonardAfter having this conversation with Mr. Lord and Mr. Sloan he stayed all night with me and in the morning he said that he would go into the chief's house and tell his family to remain in the house that we was not agoing to hurt them. And in place of telling them this he told them to move as quick as possible that we was agoing to kill them. Mr. Bills acknowledged to this and said that he meant no harm by telling them this. The chief then took Mr. Chriss by the hand and led me to this house and pointed to me a crack between the logs which Mr. Bills told him that I was agoing to shoot him through. Mr. Bills acknowledged to this and told us to kill him and I told him that we should not hurt him, that we would deliver him to Mr. Skinner, and he would deal with him as he seen proper.
E. H. Lord
Elijah ChrissNames of the two companies working on the bar at that time.
R. H. Moore
David KendallNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1852, enclosure to No. 6.
John S. Hibler
Rogue River Dec. 29, 1851
Since my last communication everything connected with the Indians in this valley remained perfectly quiet until about 20 inst. when I was informed of indications of hostility on the part of the bands of the Shasta Indians residing at the falls of the river and about 20 miles above Perkins Ferry. Immediately on learning these facts I repaired to the place (the residence of Sam, the principal war chief of the Shasta nation), and on examination I soon became satisfied that all the difficulty had been caused by a white man by the name of Worthington Bills, who has taken a claim near the house of Sam.
This man Bills and his father came into the valley last fall and located their claims some four or five weeks previous to my arrival. They have been living on the most familiar terms with the Indians, and the young man, although as I am informed [he] has a wife and four children somewhere in the States, has taken an Indian woman, a niece of Sam, and has been regularly married to her in accordance with the usages of the tribe. At the time these men located their claims they entered into an agreement with the Indians by which they were to reserve a small valley in which their claims were, containing several sections of land. By the terms of this agreement the Indians were never to permit any white men to settle within this reservation, nor were they ever to sell to the government of the United States, as on their first arrival making themselves liable to the penalty provided for in the 12th section of the act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes and to preserve peace on the frontiers approved June 30, 1834.
About the time of my arrival in the valley some twelve or fifteen men with consent of Joe and Sam built houses and commenced work, digging gold on the bar in the immediate neighborhood of Sam's house, but not so as to in any way to interfere with him or his house. Until about the 20th inst., the Indians appeared perfectly friendly and willing to have the whites remain on the bar. At this time the whites were occupying two cabins situate about four hundred yards apart. About this time the young man Bills commenced advising the white men to be on their guard against the Indians, for he believed they contemplated commencing hostilities and advised the white men to remove from one of their houses into one owned by his father, which at the time was vacant and situate within a few feet of one of the houses of the miners. From the indications of hostility on the part of the Indians the miners determined to remain in the house of old Mr. Bills and accordingly did so in the night. About this time the wife of the young man Bills who had gone over to Table Rock, a distance of some four or five miles, informed the Indians there that Bills had told her that the miners on the bar intended to murder Sam, their war chief. Immediately on hearing this an Indian started down the river to where two of the brothers of Sam resided and informed them of what he had heard, and they immediately came up to the bar and inquired for their brother and whether the whites had killed him and informed the whites what they had heard as coming from Bills. This information gave the whites an opportunity of an explanation which at the time appeared satisfactory. Sam immediately showed the white men (the miners) a hole or crack in his own house through which he alleged young Bills told him that one of the miners intended to shoot him. This statement was made in the presence of Bills and was not denied by him at the time, although Bills now denies ever having told Sam the whites intended to kill him. Sam also stated that from what Bills had told him and seeing the whites preparing for defense he supposed that the whites intended to murder him and commence hostilities, and if it had not been for the arrival of his two brothers from below and the explanation given by the white men he should have commenced the attack on them that night.
Sam further stated that young Bills a short time previous to this had advised him and his people to exterminate all the whites in the Rogue River Valley--to commence with Mr. Long, who lives lowest down the river and to massacre all the whites as they come along up the river with the exception of the Indian agent. This last statement was made in the presence of Bills. Bills denied ever having given Sam any such advice, but Sam still insisted that he had, and referred to the time and place where the conversation took place. It is extremely difficult, if not quite impossible, for me to give you any idea of the amount of confidence to which the statement of the Indians are entitled. In order properly to appreciate their statement it is necessary that you should see them and observe their manners.
From the facts stated in the foregoing & from those contained in the statements of Messrs. Thompson & Lord & Sloan and from what I have myself seen, I am satisfied that the Indians understood Bills to intend to communicate to them what they have stated to me. It is possible that from his imperfect knowledge of their language and the little knowledge they have of the Chinook jargon they might not have fully understood him.
From all I can learn from others and from my own observation I am fully convinced that it has been a leading object with both the young man and his father to learn the language of, and to acquire an influence over, the Indians. To what extent they have succeeded the latter object the present difficulty shows.
After learning the facts stated in the foregoing and in the statements above referred to I became fully satisfied that it would be altogether inconsistent with the safety of the white settlers in the valley to permit the young man Bills to remain in the country and consequently took him into custody, with the intention of removing him from this part at least of the Indian country under the provisions of the 10th sect. of an act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes and to preserve peace on the frontier, approved June 30, 1834, knowing that the offense for which he had been arrested only subjected him to removal from the country and to punishment by fine if he should be found guilty. I did not think myself at liberty to put him in irons or to use any great degree of severity, and accordingly I took him to my own house with the intention of having him sent to the Willamette as soon as practicable. The first night he was at my house pretending that it was necessary to attend to one of the calls of nature I permitted him to step to the door, when he immediately made his escape and fled as we have good reason to believe to one of the Indian villages about six or seven miles from my house.
The fact of his escape and fleeing to the Indians in my judgment tends to confirm his guilt and to render his removal from the valley still more necessary. And as there was no military force in the valley and not a sufficient number of miners and settlers to render a party to recapture him in case the Indians should be willing to have him taken I deemed it advisable to apply to the Indians to deliver him up. And in order to counteract any influence which Bills might have with the Indians I promised Joe & Sam & two of their brothers, who are subordinate chiefs, eight (8) blankets each, and also to Jo & Sam a good coat & pair of pants and shirt each, if they would deliver Bills into my custody. They consented to undertake to recapture him and about 12 o'clock at night of the same day I received news by an express that [they] had him in custody at Sam's house and wished me to come and receive him. I immediately went over and received the prisoner, and gave him in charge of Messrs. Dean and Thompson, with directions to use no unnecessary severity, but to make use of such means as they should deem necessary to prevent his again escaping.
I have also employed Messrs. Dean and Thompson to take the prisoner to Oregon City and deliver him into your charge that he may hereafter be dealt with according to law, and as I have no money in my hands belonging to the Department I have directed them to call on you for compensation for their time and traveling expenses.
At the time that I received the prisoner from the Indians Jo & Sam informed me that four other Indians had been particularly active in assisting them to capture him, and expressed a wish that I would in some way reward them, and in view of the critical state of affairs and the importance of having all the Indians satisfied I promised to give them two (2) blankets each, which together with those I first promised make the whole number of blankets necessary to be sent forty (40). I presume it not necessary for me to urge upon you the absolute necessity of my having the blankets to deliver to the Indians immediately on the return of Messrs. Dean & Thompson.
And for additional reasons for adopting the course I have with reference to the prisoner I beg leave to refer you to the accompanying statement of Saml. Colver Esqr. who is acquainted with all the facts connected with the case.
Mr. Colver has resided since the fall of 1851 in the upper part of the Willamette and is now here making arrangements to remove his family here in the spring.
You can judge from the accompanying statements [see above] whether the evidence is such as to make it advisable to commence a prosecution to recover the penalties for disturbing the peace, or for being found in an Indian country contrary to law.
I have the honor to beAnson Dart Esquire
Your obt. servt.
A. A. Skinner
Superintendent of Indian
Affairs for Oregon
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 6.
Indian AgencyDear Sir
Rogue River Dec. 29, 1851
You will see by the accompanying communication that I have taken the responsibility of arresting and sending into the Willamette a white man whom I deemed it unsafe to let remain in the valley. From all I can learn of the previous character of the old man I am well satisfied that he is as guilty as the young man whom I have sent in, but all of his acts have been so concealed that we have not been able to get hold of anything that would justify sending him out of the country.
You are aware that I have no means of examining the law on the subject further than is afforded by the two acts of 1834, and may not have proceeded strictly in accordance with the law. But whatever may be the consequence to myself, the safety of all the whites both settlers and miners imperiously demands that Bills should not be permitted to return to this valley until there shall be a sufficient military force stationed here to protect us. For although this affair has undoubtedly weakened his influence with the Indians, there is too much reason to apprehend that his efforts to excite them to hostility would be strongly seconded by the old propensity of the Indians for robbing and plunder, and I should regard the whole settlement in imminent danger if he should be permitted to return. His conduct has shown him to be a reckless and unprincipled man, and one unfit to be permitted to remain in an Indian country situated as the Rogue River Valley is at present. If Bills is not permitted to return I do not apprehend much danger of difficulty with the Indians. They appeared entirely willing to give him up. At first Sam appeared rather reluctant, but before he left me to go after Bills he requested the interpreter to say to me that he was entirely willing to give him up and that he went into the affair with right good will. But in order to secure the peace of the country it is absolutely necessary that I should have the blankets by the return of Messrs. Dean and Thompson. If they should return without the blankets my influence would be gone forever, and it would not be advisable for me to remain a day in the valley.
Messrs. Dean & Thompson will incur considerable expense in taking Bills into the valley, and it would be a most serious damage to them as they wish to pack a load of provisions and need the money to buy their loads. If there should be any doubt as to the propriety of the government paying their expenses or furnishing blankets, they can be sent out on my account and applied in payment. Either of my salary or of house and office rent, so that there is no danger of the government's losing the amount if they ought not to pay the expenses or furnish the blankets. I must have the blankets. If you have not them on hand buy them at any price and charge them to me--no matter what the price.
I have pledged my word to Dean & Thompson that their actual expenses shall be paid & of course I would rather lose five times the amount than not have them paid.
Just previous to my writing to you on the 25th ult. I had a felon commence on the middle finger of my right hand which was at that time very painful, and which since that time has prevented me altogether from using my hand until this morning. And it is now so painful that it is almost impossible for me to write.
RespectfullyAnson Dart Esq.
A. A. Skinner
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1851, No. 7. A slightly different version is No. 9.
Last revised June 26, 2017