Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.
Click here for Superintendency correspondence 1844-1900.
A BILL authorizing the negotiation of treaties with the Indian tribes in the Territory of Oregon, for the extinguishment of their claims to Lands lying west of the Cascade Mountains, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President be authorized to appoint one or more commissioners to negotiate treaties with the several Indian tribes in the Territory of Oregon, for the extinguishment of their claims [to lands] lying west of the Cascade Mountains; and, if found expedient and practicable, for their removal east of said mountains; also, for obtaining their assent and submission to the existing laws regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes in the other Territories of the United States, so far as they may be applicable to the tribes in the said Territory of Oregon; the compensation to such commissioner or commissioners not to exceed the rate heretofore allowed for similar services.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the President be authorized, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint a Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Oregon, who shall receive an annual salary of twenty-five hundred dollars, and whose duty it shall be to exercise a general superintendence over all the Indian tribes, and to exercise and perform all the powers
and duties assigned by law to other superintendents of Indian affairs.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That so much of the act to establish the territorial government of Oregon, approved the 11th August, 1848, as requires the Governor of said Territory to perform the duties of Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and authorizes him to receive a salary therefor, in addition to the salary allowed for his services as Governor, be repealed; and that the Governor of said Territory shall hereafter receive an annual salary of three thousand dollars.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the President be authorized, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint one or more Indian agents, not exceeding three, as he shall deem expedient, each of whom shall receive an annual salary of fifteen hundred dollars, give bond as now required by law, and perform all the duties of agent to such tribes of Indians in the Territory of Oregon as shall be assigned to him by the Superintendent to be appointed by the provisions of this act, under the direction of the President.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That the law regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, or such provisions of the same as may be applicable, be extended over the Indian tribes in the Territory of Oregon.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the sum of [twenty-five thousand] dollars be appropriated out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, to carry into effect the provisions of this act.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, April 18, 1850, page 3 The bill was approved June 5, 1850.
Oregon City O.T.To the Hon.
May 27th 1850
The Secretary of War
I have the honor to report that I have succeeded in bringing to justice five Cayuse Indians, being all that are now supposed to be living, who were concerned in the murder of Dr. Whitman, family and others; they have been tried, condemned, and will be hanged on Monday next.
And I am happy to say that our relations with them, as also all the tribes, with the exception of the Shastas or Rogue River Indians, are of the most friendly character; and I shall this day set out for Rogue River for the purpose of placing our relations with the Indians in that quarter upon a proper and friendly footing.
In sending up my resignation I have given myself until the 18th day of June, in which time I hope to accomplish this most desirable arrangement.
I have the honor to be, sir,NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 2; Letter Books A:10.
Your obedt. servt.
The chiefs of the Clatamas and Calipoos [Clackamas and Calapooyas] have tendered the services of their tribes to Governor Lane. When our informant left, they were encamped at Linn City, opposite Oregon City, awaiting the sentence of the murderers on trial before the Legislature. They are to join the force of the territory, and march under Governor Lane over the land route towards California, till they reach the neighborhood of Rogue River. It is known that there are hostile tribes of Indians in this country. It was infested by these last named, and several helpless companies of Oregonians were murdered while on their way to California. Lately, some friendly Indians have given information in Oregon that the wives and children of some families who journeyed over this route last season are now prisoners among the Digger Indians--the men having been murdered. The Oregonians are highly incensed at these outrages, and it is thought they will not be satisfied until the offensive Indians are exterminated. The energetic steps taken by the Governor will doubtless be the means of opening a safe communication between California and Oregon.--Sacramento Transcript.
"The Indians--Important Movement," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, May 30, 1850, page 2
Treaties with Indians
How and Why They Were Made by the United States Commission.
The people of Oregon Territory in 1850 had a delegate at Washington, and as the Indian title to the soil had been the ostensible cause of differences between the missionaries and the natives east of the Cascades, it was natural that the extinguishment of the native title in Western Oregon should receive early attention. To meet this want, the sixth public act of the 31st Congress was:
"An act authorizing negotiation of treaties with the Indian tribes of Oregon for the extinguishment of their claims to lands west of the Cascade Mountains, and for other purposes,'' passed, signed and approved June 5, 1850, and published in the first copy of the Oregonian December 4 of the same year.
The object of this bill, besides extinguishing the Indian claims to the soil of Western Oregon, and providing for the appointment of officers to effect this object, was to locate the tribes treated with east of the Cascade Range, if found practicable. This was found impracticable, because the healthy wild tribes east of the mountains would have none of the diseased remnant of tribes that had been long dying on the west of the range, and the latter dreaded and feared those from east of the range when they made summer excursions into the Willamette Valley.
The commission appointed was Anson Dart, of Wisconsin; A. G. Henry, of Illinois; Elias Wampole (not located), and H. H. Spalding, of Oregon. To these were added Governor John P. Gaines, A. A. Skinner and B. S. Allen. Dr. Dart knew nothing of Indians; Mr. Henry never came on the ground.
Mr. Wampole was placed over the tribes of Northeastern Oregon, and was soon broken for speculating off the Indians.
Mr. Spalding was allotted as agent over the tribes of Southern Oregon, including the Rogue Rivers and Shastas, who feared neither God nor devil nor man they could steal from or kill.
The first effort of Dr. Dart was at Champoeg, in Marion County. The Calapooias and Molallas were to be treated with. But they would sign nothing without seeing J. L. Parrish. He was sent for, advised them to sign, and they did sign in behalf of those two tribes. They gave up 80x20 miles on the east side of the Willamette River, the north boundary being the small creek making into the Willamette between Oregon City and the Clackamas. The native contracting parties were Joseph Hudson, chief of the Calapooias, and Margaret, his wife, youngest daughter of Costa, chief of the Molallas. The Indians had no idea of mile measurements. They both told the writer that the Calapooias claimed the plains and the Molallas the slopes of the Cascades to the summit eastward and to the Calapooya Mountains south. They were to receive $42,000 in cash payments in 20 annual installments.
The Clackamas tribe was bought out for $2500 annually for 10 years, one-fifth cash and the balance in food and clothing. There were 88 persons, 19 of whom were men, or had that semblance.
The Tualatin branch of the Calapooias ceded 50x30 miles west of the Willamette River. The total number of Calapooias was found to be 220.
A treaty was made with the Coast tribes, covering the coast line from Chehalis, south of the Columbia, to Yaquina, reaching inland to the mouth of the Cowlitz River, at a cost of $91,300, to be paid in 10 yearly installments. Clatsop Point, Woody and Cathlamet islands, in the Columbia, were mentioned as reservations. In the securing of these treaties, not a single figure of the native race made itself notable in making conditions, from the date of the law authorizing them till July 2, 1856, when the followers of Chief John, of the Rogue Rivers, were cowed and worn out by a six-year contest begun by them as wayside murderers for purposes of robbery, and ending in a desperate race struggle for possession of one of the most beautiful valleys of Oregon. John was left the one unconquered man of his race, making his own conditions of submission.
On the side of the white race, General Joseph Lane fully justified his appointment as first Governor of Oregon under the United States dominion. There are few brighter spots in the history of our dealings with the Indians than Lane's courage and watchful wisdom in holding the head chief of the Rogue Rivers as hostage. That and the conduct of the brave wife, who came alone and solicited the favor of being with her husband while he was held prisoner, ought to receive the attention of both poets and painters that Oregon will produce.
True, the Table Rock treaty barely kept the peace during a year. The elements of the contest, when it became one between the races, were so divided by native bands and factions on the one side, and between volunteers and regulars on the other, that the duration of the struggle is not surprising. Its results are summed up in 6,000,000 acres ceded to the United States at a cost of about 3 cents per acre, and 4000 natives put upon reservations and guarded and protected by the government. In constructing this brief chronicle of race strifes and changes, the writer has depended largely on Bancroft's great collection of annals and notes. To one of the latter an opposing view is submitted. Note 26, on page 412, of Bancroft's "Oregon," volume II, concludes: "Out of an appropriation of $500,000, if the Indians received $80,000 or $100,000, they were fortunate."
The efficient work of securing these treaties was done by Oregonians. A. A. Skinner superseded Dr. Dart as Commissioner; Joel Palmer succeeded Skinner. Of agents, H. H. Spalding, being utterly misplaced over the Southern Oregon Indians, may have drawn pay without service, but no one ever doubted his honesty. J. L. Parrish was the most serviceable man in the field in the work of getting the Indians to treat. His accepted accounts came within $1 of a balance. No one in Oregon ever doubted the probity of Judge Skinner, General Palmer or J. W. Nesmith. A note following the above says: "A Special Commissioner, C. H. Mott., was sent to examine the accounts, who could find nothing wrong, and they were allowed and paid in 1859."
Mr. Bancroft's note strengthened the arbitrary action of the Third Auditor of the United States Treasury in scaling down the claims of the Oregon and Washington volunteers and robbing those soldiers and people out of two-fifths of what was found due by a Congressional committee, and is yet justly due. It supported General Wood's malevolent course against these volunteers, who were starving amid the thickets and steeps of Lower Rogue River, Coquille and other streams in the southwest corner of Oregon, on a public promise of $2 a, day, when the writer of this could and did get all the labor he wanted at $4 per day in California, and from that sum to $2 for common labor prevailed all along the coast at that time. It was, of course, much more in the mines, even at Yreka and Jackson mining districts, where miners detailed parts of their separate camps to chase and run down the separate bands of wild, murderous robbers.
In using these words as descriptive of the Rogue Shastas--one tribe was divided into clans by family contentions and mountains--it is without bitterness. Within two years prior to the beginning of this contest between natives and miners [in 1848] the writer saw the hunters' paradise of Upper Rogue River. He saw banded antelopes lying on the swells of land opposite where the City of Ashland now is, like flocks of peaceful sheep. He saw the watchful native runner, seemingly naked, start to carry the news of our parties' presence from village to village in advance of us. He saw them closing in on the trail we made into the snows of the Siskiyous, where, according to the estimate of our leader, Jesse Applegate, they would slaughter every one of us for the property one of us carried, if we gave them the chance. When they were surprised by us, three-fourths of them were clad in deerskins, with the hair yet on. That they fought for their native valleys according to their knowledge is no disgrace to them.
Oregonian, Portland, December 4, 1900, page 19
We have been favored with the perusal of a letter from Samuel H. Culver to his father, Col. H. P. Culver, dated Portland, (Oregon) June 18th, 1850. It gives an interesting description of the character of the country between the Missouri River and the Pacific, and discusses the practicability of the proposed railroad through that region. The soil is represented as generally less fertile than has been asserted by many writers, and incapable of sustaining a large population, while the want of materials and the general features of the country forbid the successful construction of the road, or render the undertaking one of too great magnitude and encountering too many obstacles to warrant the attempt. The length of the letter, however, covering eight pages of writing paper, prevents its insertion entire, and a division would detract from its interest.
Janesville Gazette, Janesville, Wisconsin, September 12, 1850, page 3
Astoria, Oregon Territory June 25 1850.To the Hon. the Secretary of the Interior
I take the liberty through the hands of the Hon. Truman Smith to address you upon the subject of this Territory, and more particularly in regard to its native inhabitants. Since my arrival in Oregon and especially since my residence here, my attention has been drawn to the condition of the Indian tribes residing on or near the Columbia River between the Cascade Mountains & the coast. I believe any opportunities of having the actual facts regarding them both from observation and inquiry have been good, and the suggestions I shall make I know meet the concurrence of old settlers of a respectable & trustworthy class.
You are perhaps aware that the geographical conformation of Oregon, particularly of the western or coast section, tends to divide the country into districts having but little communication with one another except by water or circuitous routes. The largest body of land fitted for agriculture is the Willamette Valley, where the great number of the whites are settled, and which is accessible from the Columbia only by the river of that name. Around Fort Vancouver another tract exists of the extent, and portions of prairie land are likewise found on the Cowlitz and the Chehalis rivers and adjacent to Puget's Sound. Small tracts capable of sustaining a few families are likewise scattered on the mountain streams and upon the coast. Almost all of these are isolated, accessible only by canoes or by difficult trails through a broken and timbered country, & the vast extent of the remaining territory is mountainous, heavily timbered and unfit for agricultural purposes. The Columbia itself is below the mouth of the Willamette bordered almost everywhere either by low tide lands covered with cottonwood and alder or by steep and rocky bluffs. I estimate the total amount of arable land in all Oregon as not exceeding in area the state of Massachusetts, though in the central district there is a larger extent fit for pasture. It follows that a population of the class of our settlers [could] rapidly though sparsely cover the whole of such a country.
The consequence has been that the native inhabitants are thinned as they are by disease and death, have become more and more crowded, and as the emigrants naturally select for the purposes of settlement or speculation the most eligible sites, with little enough regard to the necessities of the savage, the results have already become disastrous to the latter.
In considering the necessities of these people it is to be remembered especially that western Oregon affords but little game, and that the fur trade is substantially extinct here. It is emphatically a fishing country, and its original inhabitants depend, even as of old, upon the produce of the waters. Indolent and thriftless, but few of them of their own accord make sufficient provision for the winter and on the other hand they are easily driven off or purchased out of their stations by whites. Under these circumstances as it is, the more incumbent upon our government to extend to them its protection and care, or but a few years will bring about their extinction.
The present Governor, Gen. Lane, though in justice to him it should be said he has protected from invasion those immediately under his eye, nevertheless resides at too remote a point (Oregon City) to watch either the encroachments of the whites or the misdemeanors of the Indians here. The distance of 120 miles and back, a matter of a few hours' travel in the States, is in the rapid current & rough waters of the Columbia, traveling in a canoe and camping at night on the shore or in a squatter's lodge, no comfortable journey especially in the winter season, and occupies often ten or twelve days. Moreover, as every public officer in the Territory is obliged to work for a livelihood beyond his salary, his attention to public affairs is often a little distracted by the urgent calls of his own. Straggling remnants of Indian tribes in such a territory as Oregon are therefore likely to receive but little notice. These sub-agents were, I understand, some time ago appointed, but as they either declined altogether or made it a condition of acceptance that they should be allowed to look in the first place after their own business, they were not installed into office. Later one sub-agent, a Mr. Parrish, has been appointed above, but his district does not include the lower river. To find a suitable person to fill such an office is difficult, for in a country where a cook, a common sailor or a wood chopper receives four or five dollars a day, men fit to fill the office of Indian agent are not easily obtained for $750 per annum.
In one way this labor may be lightened and a more strict attention secured, and that is by bringing these scattered tribes west of the Cascade Mountains and nearest the Columbia River into one reservation, appointing a sub-agent to remain among them, and suffering no other whites to reside there but such as [are] married to Indian women and considered of proper character are allowed by the Governor to do so on security that they will not sell liquor or otherwise violate the laws.
The tract of land which I would point out as suitable for a reservation, considering both the welfare of the natives and the rights which the emigrants may be considered to have acquired, is that lying on the north side of the Columbia & south of the Chehalis or Tsihalis River and between the Cowlitz & the Pacific. It comprehends a space of about fifty miles square, affords good salmon grounds on the Columbia and a sufficient amount of prairie on the coast to support their animals and raise their vegetables and is moreover less liable to intrusion than the lands on the south of the river. This is more particularly the case now than formerly, for the channel at present altogether used across the bar of the Columbia, upon which the report of the officers of the Coast Survey now here, will be conclusive is on the south side of the river.
So far as the whites, except [for] the settlements of the so-called Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, a small store of the Hudson's Bay Company and one or two other settlers on the Cowlitz, there are few persons not proposed to be included within the population of the district for the majority being Canadians have Indian wives. Mr. Abernethy, late Territorial Governor of Oregon, who owns a sawmill about ten miles below the mouth of the Cowlitz, and Mr. James Birnie, formerly chief trader in the Hudson's Bay Co., are the only whites who has of yet made improvements on the north side of the river between that stream and Chinook Point. The latter is himself married to an Indian woman, has a family of well-educated children and would exert himself for the amelioration of a race to which their children belong. From Chinook Point, opposite Astoria, to Cape Disappointment there are several claimants settled. Among them are the French Canadian priest of the Chinook tribe & Capt. Scarborough of the Hudson's Bay Co., married to a Chinook woman, but the greater number are a class of little worth, almost all engaged in selling liquor to Indians, and who hold their claims of one mile square as matters of speculation. Mr. Ogden, chief factor of the H.B. Co., claims Cape Disappointment itself, but does not reside there. A Dr. White, formerly sub-Indian agent, has laid out a city "in contemplation" on Baker's Bay, Pacific City, but as there are yet no inhabitants; there is no one to be particularly injured by the reserve.
Such is the literal condition of this tract, and it is probable that no district of equal size, fitted for the occupation of the Indians, could be found in all Oregon where less hardship would accrue to white settlers from its conversion to a reservation. Baker's Bay has been indeed until lately the common anchorage ground of vessels entering the river, and an objection would naturally present itself in the fact of the vicinity of sailors to the natives, but since the south channel has been found so much superior, and the anchorage within Point Adams so safe, but one or two vessels have entered and gone out by the old passage.
As to the tribes that should be settled here, they may be enumerated as follows:
On the South Side of C. RiverNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 683-692.
On the North Side of the River
You will perceive by a reference to Capt. Wilkes' memoir before the National Institute that the diminution, since the estimates therein contained, of these tribes has been fearful, nor can the ratio be diminished until they shall be removed from the fatal influences now at work upon them. Their lands and fisheries are taken from them by whites under promise of compensation from government, which hitherto has been without prospect of fulfillment, and they themselves either forcibly driven off, or deterred from asserting their rights to their wretched homes by dread of the vengeance of their great father at Washington. No power exists here to whom they can apply for redress of no wrongs, no influence which can restrain them from evil or lead them to wiser and more prudent habits. The care of the missionaries, never of much avail to them, has ceased; they are the prey alike of the best and the rapacity of the white man and are made the ministers at once of their own degradation & their own ruin.
But beyond this the condition of the half-breed is worse than that of the Indian. Many of the older settlers are lawfully married to native women. They have children whom they rear as we do our own, educate to the best of their ability and upon whom they would confer the savings of a life of toil that they may preserve the respectability in life which themselves bore. No discredit is attached to this union and no stigma upon the offspring of it, and yet by the territorial law their children are disenfranchised. They have rights neither as Indians nor as whites. If their parent dies a squatter may dispossess them of their farms and homes and turn them adrift in their own land to become servants or strumpets. And the government of the United States have endowed missions with miles of the best soil in the Territory & the people of the United States have paid salaries to priests that they might teach those whom they thus leave to extermination. The salaries I believe have ceased, but the lands are still held not for the benefit of the flock, but for that of the pastors.
There is one suggestion which it is here understood has been made to the government and a law in pursuance thereof introduced, & that is to remove these coast Indians to the country on the Snake River. As one who knows that country, I would earnestly pray that government should sooner leave them to their fate. A country so different from that of their birth, so inapplicable to their habits & wants and above all so worthless that grasshoppers & carrion are luxuries even in summer, that in winter parents are often driven to the appalling food of their own children, is hardly the land for "a reservation."
I have said that it would be difficult to find a person competent to take charge of these people, and who would do it for the salary which the law allows. Such a person could only be found among those long settled in this country, having families by native mothers, whose standing and influence both among whites and Indians would secure the ability & the will to protect & control the latter & whose interest in their offspring and desire to be of service to the race would form the real inducement.
Should the government take a favorable view of the suggestions I have made and be willing to confide in the recommendations of one who is known to them only by reference to others, I would presume to mention the name of a neighbor, an early Oregon emigrant himself, married to the daughter of the late great chief of the Chinooks & whose known integrity, as well as benevolence to these people, has secured their entire confidence. Though of limited means he has brought round his house a number of aged or unprotected people of that tribe whom he personally, either in whole or in part, supports. This person is Mr. Robert Shortess of Astoria. Should it be of any consequence, it may be stated that he is one of the few Whigs in this district.
I take the liberty sir of referring you so far as I myself am concerned to the Hon. Truman Smith of Conn., J. P. Hall, Esq. of New York or the Hon. Horace Binney of Philadelphia.
Very truly your obt. servt.
Washington June 28, 1850Hon. Orlando Brown
Sir: I desire you to instruct the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon on the following points
1. To exercise the greatest vigilance to prevent liquors being sold or given to the Indians.
2. In all goods paid the Indians, to have them made fully to understand that the same proceeds from the American government, and not from the English Hudson's Bay Company.
3. Whenever goods are bought in Oregon for the Indians, that they be bought of American traders.
4. That the Indians be paid no cash from government, because the same always is swindled from them by the H.B. Co.
5. That he inform the Catholic priests in this Indian country that the American government will expect them to use their best endeavors to conciliate the Indians to the American government, and to aid in carrying out & executing the laws among the Indians, and to instruct the Indians that they are dependent upon our government and must therefore adhere to it, and against the British, and that if those priests give him trouble among the Indians to cause them to leave the Indian country.
6. That he inform the H.B. Company that they and their agents will not be allowed to trade in the Indian country, and to allow none to be licensed as Indian traders, except the Americans, and then such as can be relied on for their honesty of purpose towards the Indians and government.
7. To ascertain the most suitable locality for an agency east of the Cascade Mountains and to establish the same by the erection of the necessary buildings, and that he have at his disposal a suitable number of soldiers stationed near it for its protection, and to enable the agent to manage the Indians with safety. Let H. H. Spalding, if he prefers it, take charge of this agency.
8. That he will locate the other agencies at such suitable points as he, upon survey, shall think proper, providing the same are sufficiently removed from the bulk of the white settlements. A military station should be placed for the protection of each.
9. That he will keep our sub-agent located at Astoria for the purpose of watching vessels as they come in & prevent them from selling liquor to Indians.
10. That he will confer with the U.S. D. Atty., and so that all violators of law regulating intercourse with the Indians &c. be promptly prosecuted.
11. That he will direct his energies to persuading the Indians west of the Cascade Mountains to remove east of those mountains.
12. That he will see that his agents use their best endeavors to learn & induce the Indians to engage in agriculture, raising stock, horses &c.
13. That he will direct his attentions to cause the different tribes to enter into treaties of amity and intercourse and trade with each other.
14. It would have a wonderful effect for him to offer a certain promise to the tribe who would make the best progress in agriculture, or who would raise & exhibit the best horses & oxen, or cows.
And finally, you will and ought to give Mr. Dart very large discretionary powers, and at times be intended generally to use his best endeavors to elevate the conditions of the Indians.
I would wish an interview with you as to the returns of the treaties to be made by the commissioners &c.
I am sir yours trulyNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 755-759.
S. R. Thurston
1. Want the treaties to provide for schools, physicians, blacksmiths and men to instruct them in farming.
2. Let the small tribes be united, if possible, into one or more tribes.
3. Let the Indians be bound in the treaties to fight for the United States in case of war with other tribes or with any foreign power.
4. Let treaties be made with the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains for portions of their lands on which to remove and settle those Indians west of the Cascades, and let those west of the Cascades be removed to such lands east of the Cascades.
5. Don't let the treaties stipulate to pay any money for lands, but let the lands be paid for in such needful articles as the Indians may need.
6. Let the Indians stipulate to surrender up all members of their tribes as may violate the laws of the United States, and to surrender up all property stolen by a member of a tribe, and in default of such surrender of property to have its value withheld in their annuities.
7. Let the Indians stipulate to trade with American traders, and to adhere in all cases to American interests.
8. Let provision be made in the treaties for a delegation, not exceeding two from the important tribes, to be conducted overland to the States & to Washington.
9. Get the tribes whose lands are bought and as many of the others as possible to give to follow the direction of some man, to be designated an agent, or the Superintendent, in matters of agriculture, raising stock &c.
10. See if some stipulation can be made with any tribe or tribes for carrying the mail between Salt Lake and Oregon.
11. Get the tribes to stipulate that they will have no teachers among them except such as are approved by the officers of the United States.
12. Instruct the commissioners to have no interpreters except such as are true to American interests.
13. Instruct the commissioners, while treating with the Indians, to have the place of negotiation beyond the influence of any white man.
[S. R. Thurston]NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 762-766. Undated.
Department of the InteriorSir
Office Indian Affairs
July 20th 1850
I have been officially notified of your appointment as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Oregon, under the act of the 5th ultimo creating that office, and am directed by the Hon. Secretary of the Interior to prepare appropriate instructions for your observance in the discharge of the duties of your office.
Such instructions must necessarily be of a general character. That Territory having been but recently organized, the files of this office do not as yet afford sufficient material for more specific details than those formerly given to Governor Lane (a copy of which you will find among the accompanying papers), and circumstances may require an occasional departure from, or modification of, any general code of instructions emanating from a point so remote from the scene of action as this. On this point much is left to your own discretion and better judgment, when your superior local knowledge will have enabled you to act more advisedly in the premises, but such departures, if any, you will report at once to this office, in order that it may be constantly advised of the state and progress of Indian affairs in your Superintendency.
The instructions, then, to the late ex-officio Superintendent will serve for your general guidance until the Department is in possession of further information upon which to base others more in detail, and in view of this desirable object it is both hoped and believed that you can do much towards furnishing such information in a short time after your arrival in the Territory, and that the Department will not rest for any great length of time under its present embarrassing want of reliable statistical knowledge of Indian affairs in Oregon.
The above-mentioned paper, taken in connection with the report of Governor Lane (a copy of which is also herewith enclosed), will serve at least as an outline for your initiatory action, and until further instructed by that practical experience and observation, from which, as before mentioned, much is anticipated.
Among the papers enclosed you will find the regulations for the prevention and suppression of the whiskey trade among all Indian tribes. Governor Lane speaks of this traffic as being carried on by "vessels coming into the Columbia and particularly at Baker's Bay and Astoria." It is doubtless introduced at other points, and as the country becomes more densely settled, the evil, it is apprehended, will be greatly increased. The suppression of this traffic has always been considered by the government as one of the most important measures for the civilization of the Indians, and every effort has been made throughout the whole Indian country to keep it beyond their reach. I beg leave, therefore, to call your particular attention to this branch of your duties, and to urge upon you to enforce a strict compliance with the laws and regulations, and, by every effort in your power, endeavor to put a stop to this deplorable evil. You will find in the intercourse law, a copy of which I enclose, full power to enable you to discharge this duty.
It has been represented that most of the goods that have been given to the Indians of Oregon have been purchased of the Hudson's Bay Company, thereby conveying to the Indians the false impression that they were conferred by persons belonging to a foreign government. It is to be hoped that this has not been done to an extent to produce as yet much bad effect; but as it is adverse to the policy of our Indian relations, as well as injurious and insulting to our government, to cause these people to believe themselves the recipients of foreign gratuities, I would suggest that you make all your purchases from American citizens when practicable, and embrace every opportunity to impress on the Indians that it is the American government and not the British that confers upon them these benefits. The Indians should also be prevented from crossing the line into the British possessions. The Hudson's Bay Company has so long wielded an undue influence over all Indians within their reach that you may perhaps find it a difficult matter to carry out these views, but perseverance will no doubt finally effect it, or at least go far towards correcting the present condition of affairs. Under no circumstances should the company 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.
In this connection, it is proper to mention that it is the policy of the government, as far as possible, to avoid the payment of money, by way of presents or otherwise, to Indians. They are wasteful and improvident, and but rarely expend money for any useful object. They should receive nothing but what will tend to their happiness and comfort.
The President has appointed two agents, as authorized by the recent law, viz: Anson G. Henry and Henry H. Spalding. They are required by the act to perform such duties as you may assign to them, and will be directed to report to you for this purpose. The first thing to be considered is their proper location, so as to give the greatest efficiency to their labors. It is presumed you will find it best to place one of them east, and the other west of the Cascade Mountains.
It is desirable that this office should be advised as to their locations, the limits of each agency, and the name, strength, condition &c. of each tribe, as early as possible. A copy of your instructions to each agent should also be forwarded as soon as practicable.
A great and important object to be attained, and which must be done mainly by the agents, is the reconciling [of] all differences among the Indians themselves. The agents should represent to the Indians that their Great Father, the President of the United States, enjoins it upon them to live in peace and harmony, and that they must shake hands and live like brethren together. The best way to accomplish this, is by inducing bands hostile to each other to enter into written treaties of peace and amity, stipulating to preserve friendship among themselves and towards the whites, and to refer all their misunderstandings and differences to the umpirage of the proper representatives of the United States government.
Great efforts should also be made among the Indians to induce them to engage in agricultural pursuits, to raise grain, vegetables and stock of all kinds. It would not be amiss to encourage them, by the promise of small premiums, to be awarded to those who raised the greatest quantity of produce, horses, oxen, cows, hogs &c. The presents which may be given to them from time to time might be applied to this object.
The agents under your supervision will find among the Indians Christian missionaries of various sects and denominations, differing in some articles of form and faith, but all engaged in the good work of extending the blessings of Christianity to an ignorant and idolatrous people, and of civilizing and humanizing the wild and ferocious savage.
The orthodoxy of any of these missionaries is not to be tested by the opinion of the Indian agent, or any other officer of the government. None of these can rightfully be the propagandist of any sect, or the official judge of any article of Christian faith. All, therefore, who are entrusted with the care of our Indian relations in Oregon, are instructed to give the benevolent and self-sacrificing teachers of the Christian religion whom they may find there, equal aid, countenance and encouragement, and that they merit their good will by uniform kindness and concession to all--leaving them free alike to use such means as are in their power to carry out the good work in which they are respectively engaged. The rapid increase of our population, its onward march from the Missouri frontier westward, and from the Pacific east, steadily lessening and closing up the intervening space, renders it certain that there remains the red man but one alternative--early civilization or gradual extinction. The efforts of the government will be earnestly directed to his civilization and preservation, and we confidently rely upon their Christian teachers, that in connection with their spiritual mission they will aid in carrying out this policy, that stationed as they are among the various Indian tribes, they will use all their influence in restraining their wild, roving and predatory disposition, and in teaching them the arts and bringing them to the habits of civilized life.
If this can be attained--if they can be taught to subsist not by the chase merely, a resource which must soon be exhausted, but by the rearing of flocks and herds, and by field cultivation, we may hope that the little remnant of this afflicted race will not utterly perish from the earth, but have a permanent resting place and home on some part of our broad domain, once the land of their fathers.
It is represented that the missionaries exercise great influence over the Indians of Oregon, and no doubt could be made powerful auxiliaries in carrying out the policy of the United States. To this end, it might not be amiss to let them know, in such manner as the delicate nature of the communication may suggest to you, that the government, whilst affording them every possible facility and protection, expects in return their aid and cooperation in executing its laws.
The happiness of the Indian is the common aim of both, and the extension of our laws and regulations over them being for their own welfare, this class of philanthropists could not more effectually advance their own humane intentions than by inculcating obedience on the part of their wards, at the same time instructing them that they are solely dependent on this, and not on the British government, and must adhere to it alone, and that with a sincere desire to protect and favor those who abide by its laws, it has also the strength and disposition to punish those who infringe them.
The governor of the Territory, who has until the passage of this law been ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs, is in possession of all documents, books, papers, public money and property belonging to the Superintendency. He will be notified of your appointment and requested to turn over to you everything pertaining to your office. From him you will probably receive most, if not all, the important papers accompanying this communication; yet, as a matter of precaution, duplicates are herewith furnished.
The sum of $20,000 will be advanced to you from the Treasury, to be applied as follows:
Your own salary and those of the agents will be paid quarterly.
The amount set apart for provisions, presents, contingencies &c. is not divided into specific items, for the reason that it would be impossible to designate how much should be expended for any one of them. The sum is a much larger one than is usual in such cases, or supposed to be necessary for the objects specified, but the distance to your Superintendency being very great, it is advanced to you as a measure of precaution, and it is perhaps needless here to enjoin on you the greatest economy in its disbursement.
Your official bond has been received, and is approved. Your salary commenced on the 1st instant, the day of its execution.
You will please communicate with the Department as frequently as occasion and opportunity may offer; and in return you will from time to time receive such additional instructions as the public service may seem to require.
RespectfullyAnson Dart Esq.
Your obdnt. servt.
Supt. Indian Affairs
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs, Reel 11, Instructions and Reports 1850-1855, pages 1-9.
INDIAN TRIBES OF OREGON.--The following are the tribes of that territory, with the number of souls in each, as computed from the latest sources:
Dalles of ColumbiaSir
July 30th 1850
I am in possession of positive information that the man by the name of Olney, who has a house at this point, has contrary to law brought liquor up to this post and is selling the same to Indians and soldiers. I am aware of the powers vested in the commanding officer of a military post, which I assure you will be exercised in good faith, but not having here any jail or safe place for keeping such a culprit till he may be brought to justice, have taken this opportunity of informing you as Indian agent that you may direct the U.S. Marshal to proceed to this post, where the offender shall be taken and turned over to him without delay, being the proper officer to take him into custody and bring him before the proper tribunal for trial. If possible send Meek up at the earliest time possible; when he should arrive then will be the time to proceed, and send him immediately down to Oregon City, as it will be impossible perhaps to keep him here if taken in custody. You undoubtedly see the propriety of such procedure, and I hope will coincide with me in the measure as not only being best advisable, [but] altogether expedient for the good of the service, and for the preservation of the laws regulating such matters in the Indian country. Meek can come up with all his documents, and report to me, and take him into custody immediately.
I beg of you let there be no delay.
Truly yours &c.Gen. J. Lane
S. S. Tucker U.S.A.
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received, 1850, No. 16.
Washington, Sept. 3, 1850.W. Meek Esq.--
My Dear Sir:--I am now fighting hard for your claim, and for my land bill. It came up this morning in the Senate, and would have passed in one half hour had it not been for an attempt on the part of Jeff Davis, as chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, to give power to the officers in Oregon to seize your farms and houses and stores. This has been brought about through the mission of Capt. Hatch, operating on the Secretary of War. It is contended that our people have no rights, and that the President should be authorized, through these officers, to remove whoever they please without ceremony. Against this, I am fighting. I expect they will defeat my bill, as they protected all of you in your claims. I have written home an article for the Spectator. Get up meetings, and have the Assembly speak out. Every man in Oregon is in danger of losing his all, and all this though the operations of one military officer on the War Department. I will do all I can, but if our bill is defeated, lay it to them. I hope our people will struggle against these usurpations of military power, and that they will protect each other in their claims. Pray Congress to take away every troop or soldier and officer in Oregon. For if such is to be the doctrine, we may all expect our houses to be taken for barracks, and ourselves driven out like dogs. Move in this matter, Meek, and let Milwaukie speak out, and send your memorials to Congress. I will stand by you to the last, and all I ask is to have the people stand by me.
My circular to the people will appear in the Spectator.
I am, sir, yours, &c.A meeting is called in the school house in Milwaukie on Saturday evening next.
S. R. THURSTON.
W. M.The above was handed us by Mr. Wm. Meek, with a request that we publish it in our first issue. We do not wish to create any unnecessary alarm by so doing. The gentleman himself is undoubtedly excited.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 31, 1850, page 2
INDIAN AGENTS.--The following nominations for the various posts connected with the Indian affairs in this Territory have been confirmed by the Senate:
His Excellency Governor Gaines, Hon. A. A. Skinner, of Oregon, and Mr. Allen of Tennessee, to be commissioners to negotiate with the Indians west of the Cascade Mountains for the purchase of their lands.
Dr. Anson Dart, of Wisconsin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Dr. D. is on his way and will probably arrive on the next steamer. Rev. H. H. Spalding, of Oregon, and Dr. A. G. Henry, of Illinois, Sub-Indian Agents.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, September 5, 1850, page 2
Among the passengers of the steamer Panama we see enrolled the names of Dr. Anson Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and P. C. Dart, secretary for the same. Since writing the above we have heard of their arrival in the city. We understand that the Superintendent contemplates entering upon the duties of his commission immediately--to treat and make settlements with the Indians, west of the Cascade Mountains.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, October 3, 1850, page 2
Office Supt. of Indian Affrs.Sir:
Oregon City Oct. 14, 1850
Your bond dated October 11th and duly executed has been received and is approved and placed on file in this office. Your salary as Indian Agent then will commence on this day.
I have decided upon establishing temporarily (perhaps it may be) your agency in the southwestern portion of the Territory, and at some convenient place in the Umpqua Valley.
Information of a reliable character has reached me to the effect that the Indians of that quarter, particularly those on Rogue River, are disposed to be unfriendly to the whites, and are in the habit of robbing from and otherwise seriously annoying persons who pass through their country.
In view of these facts, I wish you to repair with as little delay as possible to the Umpqua Valley and visit also soon after your arrival there the Indians on Rogue River. You will represent to these tribes, whose predatory habits and roguish dispositions so much annoy our peaceable citizens--that you are an officer sent among them by their Great Father, the President of the United States, to warn them of the danger of any longer ill-treating the people of the United States. Impress upon their minds if possible the fact that their Great Father the President wishes to treat them as friends, as well as to protect them in their rights. But in no event will they be allowed to go unpunished should they persist in their thieving course, or in any other manner to annoy those traveling in their country.
But on the other hand, that if they are hereafter quiet and peaceable Indians, it will give their great father the President much pleasure to make them valuable presents, and treat them always as friends.
I would next call your attention to the suppression of the whiskey trade among the Indians in that quarter. I apprehend that this traffic has been productive of much of the trouble existing in the Umpqua country, and I would here strictly enjoin on you that no person be allowed to trade or traffic in any manner among the Indians in your agency. In a copy of the Instruction Law which I herewith enclose you will observe the strict injunctions upon all agents or others having intercourse with the Indians, and the penalty incurred by those guilty of the offense of selling whiskey or other spirits to them.
I cannot more forcibly express the wish of the government in regard to the course to be pursued towards the Christian missionaries of this country than by copying a part of my own instructions, which you are here instructed to observe.
"The agents under your supervision will find among the Indians Christian missionaries of various sects and denominations, differing in some articles of form and faith, that are engaged in extending the blessings of Christianity to an ignorant and idolatrous people, and of civilizing and humanizing the wild and ferocious savage.
"The orthodoxy of any of these missionaries is not to be tested by the opinion of the Indian agent or any other officer of government. None of these can rightfully be the propagandist of any sect, or the official judge of any article of Christian faith; all therefore who are entrusted with the care of our Indian relations in Oregon are instructed to give the benevolent and self-sacrificing teaching of the Christian religion, whom they may find there equal aid, countenance and encouragement, and that they meet their good will by uniform kindness and concession to all, leaving them free alike to use such means as are in their power to carry out the good work in which they are respectively engaged."
I should inform you here perhaps that it was my first purpose to establish your agency in the country of the Cayuses on the Columbia, but owing to the existing feeling of those Indians toward you I have resolved first to visit them and ascertain the cause and extent of their prejudices against you, consequently your present location may, as I before related, be temporary.
Accompanying these instructions you have statistical blanks which I wish you to fill as perfect as possible. Embracing all the tribes and parts of tribes of Indians inhabiting the country south of the headwaters of the Willamette River to the southern boundary of Oregon, and between the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean. You will please inform me as often as occasion may require the condition of affairs in southwestern Oregon that are connected with your duties as Indian agent.
I am sir very respectfullyTo Henry H. Spalding
Your obt. servt.
Supt. Indian Affrs. Oregon
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 2; Letter Books A:10. A bad copy of this letter can be found in NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 730-734.
Office Superintendent IndianTo the Hon.
Affairs, Oregon City October 22nd 1850
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
You will I trust excuse me for making a brief report at this time of Indian affairs in Oregon. I have not as yet had sufficient time to enable me to obtain such information as would warrant a lengthy and detailed account of our present Indian relations here.
I have, however, used great exertions since I have arrived to procure information that would enable you to give such directions as would best tend to the welfare of the United States, as connected with the duties of my office.
I arrived in the mouth of the Columbia River on the 26th ult. and at Oregon City on the 28th. On the first day of October I started on a journey up the Willamette River and proceeded as far as the Calapooia country, one hundred and thirty miles distant. I find scattered through this beautiful valley the Chinooks, a numerous though well-disposed tribe, all of whom are not only peaceable, but industrious; nearly all of them adopt the habits of the white people--dress as near like them as their means will allow--a very large portion of these act as servants or laborers among the whites and are becoming very useful in this thinly settled country. I therefore do not believe it is the wish of the people here to have the attempt made to remove them to the east of the Cascade Mountains; their swift destruction would I think be the fruits of such an enterprise.
I do not intend these remarks to apply to all the Indians west of the Cascade Range, for I shall not attempt to enlighten the Commissioners at Washington on this subject, only as time will allow me to visit each tribe and section of country occupied by them. The Chinooks claim all the country from the mouth of the Columbia to Fort Vancouver on both sides of that river, as well as the valley of the Willamette between the Cascade and Coast ranges of mountains. There are however remnants of tribes inhabiting parts of the country described who also lay claim to such positions as they occupy.
A part of my business to the Calapooia Valley was to meet with H. H. Spalding (the only full agent in the Territory). I delivered to him his commission, and he at once consented to act under his appointment, since which time his bond has been executed and placed on file in this office. I have fixed his location at Scottsburg in the Umpqua Valley for a twofold purpose--1st, the Indians of that locality, particularly those on Rogue River, continue their hostile demonstrations towards the whites who have occasion to pass through their country. The appearance of Mr. Spalding will tend to intimidate these Indians, he being clothed with power to chastise them or bring them to terms.
Second--That the government intend soon to treat with all the Indians west of the Cascade Mountains for their lands, hence the importance of establishing as early as possible among the Indians a friendly policy towards the people of the United States. On my return from Calapooia I found at my office a letter from Gov. Gaines (a copy of which marked "A" accompanies this report), calling my attention to an alleged murder of an emigrant on Burnt River by an Indian of the Snake tribe. This information, with the knowledge that large quantities of whiskey was on the way to the Upper Columbia, induced me to start on the 8th inst. for the Dalles or further if necessary. On my arrival at the Cascades of the Columbia I met a party of emigrants who informed me that the Indians were not guilty of the crime but that a person was killed by one of his own party during a dispute.
At this point I overtook the traders with whiskey and took possession of it. Having accomplished the main object of my journey I returned, arriving here on the 16th inst.
I shall leave here soon for Astoria to prevent if possible the landing of liquors at that place and effectually to stop its further progress into the country, either by way of the river or otherwise. In arresting the progress of this evil, however, I am sure it will call in requisition our greatest efforts. I would here ask further instructions in relation to license. The Hudson's Bay Company claim the right to trade under "treaty stipulations." How shall I discriminate between traders in the villages and those in the back country? It being all an Indian country, I do not know where to draw the line of distinction.
I would also ask instructions in relation to the pay of sub-agents, none of whom have been paid. A Mr. Van Dusen was appointed sub-agent to reside at the mouth of the Columbia River. He declined acting and has not qualified. I deem it indispensably necessary for one sub-agent to reside at Astoria, and I would recommend for appointment to that place Robert Shortess Esq. (who now resides there) as qualified in every way for the office at that particular post.
I would recommend as a measure of economy the building of a storehouse near the Superintendent's dwelling, for storing Indian goods and provisions. It will doubtless be the policy of the government to pay the Indians in part for their lands in clothing, provisions, farming utensils &c., hence the economy, as storage is immeasurably high. A store sufficiently large could be built for about $3000.
I would also recommend that a law be passed authorizing the appointment of a permanent clerk in the office of Superintendent [of] Indian Affairs. This would seem indispensably necessary in the event that I visit in person all the tribes of Indians to procure the information at present so desirable for a full understanding at the seat of government of all that is useful connected with the Indians of Oregon. Very little is yet known of the Indians of this country that has not emanated from the Hudson's Bay Company or from Wilkes' Exploring Expedition.
I have received from Governor Gaines the papers and blanks left with him by ex-Gov. Lane. No money has however been handed over to me. Governor Gaines has also placed in my hands the order of the Commissioner for $10,000 (sent to meet him at San Francisco) for the purpose of paying the sub-agents and some other claims on the Indian Department in Oregon.
None of these claims have as yet been paid. I have therefore forwarded to you this order, with Gov. Gaines' endorsement, together with my draft for ten thousand dollars for which amount you will please send me the draft on the collector at San Francisco, Cal.
While in New York I took the precaution to purchase for the government the necessary hardware, glass, paints &c. together with stoves for the use of Superintendent's and agents' buildings, which I was instructed to build. I also purchased books and stationery for these offices and some plain furniture for my own.
I purchased but few Indian goods, as you will observe, not knowing what would be the most suitable for the Indians of Oregon. At the same time I would recommend a liberal distribution of presents to all the tribes to be treated with west of the mountains.
I have the honor to beNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs, Reel 11, Instructions and Reports 1850-1855, pages 14-18. What is apparently the original of the letter may be found on NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 718-723.
Your obedient servant
Superintendent Indian Affairs, Oregon T.
Liquor trade in Oregon, Nov. 13, 1850
As you are about to occupy a high position as disseminator of, I trust, all that is right and much that is rare, useful and interesting, you will, I hope, allow me to make a few remarks touching the subject at the head of this article and give it a place in the newspaper you are about to issue at Portland.
I shall not attempt to read you a temperance address, nor to raise an argument against the lawful pursuits of any class of people doing business in Oregon.
The time will soon come, however, when we shall take sides for or against the liquor trade. The question has been frequently asked of late, "Has the Superintendent of Indian Affairs now in Oregon any power to stop the introduction and sale of wines and spirits in this country." The American people are, and always have been, wherever found a law-loving and law-abiding people. Taking the ground that the majority of people of Oregon are American and that they will not suffer to comparison with those of other parts of our country, taking this to be the cause, I believe he has the power. The authority there is of course no doubt to anyone who has read the laws. You will remember that long before the strong arm of the government was extended over this country, one of the first and most prominent acts of that virtuous and honest self-governed people was to prohibit the introduction and sale of intoxicating drinks. Were the laws of that feeble government respected? Let the people answer. The right of that policy adopted by Congress touching intercourse and trade in Indian countries cannot come in question. Had we, however, any doubts about the policy of having the law applied in its strictest sense in this country, we should first stop and consider the great objects now about to be accomplished by the general government. I allude to the treaties contemplated and about to be entered into with all the Indian tribes west of the Cascade Mountains. Are there any who wish well to Oregon who suppose that government commissioners can with safety enter upon their arduous duties while the country everywhere is flooded with whiskey and other spirits, and that too accessible to every Indian that is able to buy. The question then that comes back to us is what shall be done. I will take the liberty to suggest what I think would readily be acquiesced [to] by all good citizens and all well wishers to Oregon: So long as this is an Indian country forgo entirely the use of ardent spirits until the Indian title to the country is extinguished.
It is not reasonable to suppose the government will undertake to do what it has no intention of doing after having made provision to meet any contingency that may arise. You will confer a particular favor upon your correspondent suggesting some cause better suited to the subject, according to your ideas. Indeed I think it your duty, and the duty of every other person in the Territory, that pretends to support the laws by which they are supported, to speak out plainly on this subject.
Anson Dart Supt. Indian Affrs.NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 2; Letter Books A:10.
Yoncalla UmpquaTo H. H. Spalding
7th Dec 1850
Indian agent &c.
To your note of this day inquiring among other things whether in my opinion a person may travel alone in safety beyond the ferry on the Umpqua River and visit the Indians on Rogue River, I have no hesitation in replying that I consider it not only unsafe and imprudent to attempt it but at this season of the year impossible to do so.
Though the late Superintendent of Indian Affairs for this Territory held treaties or rather talks last summer with the Indians of the South Umpqua and a portion of those inhabiting Rogue River Valley, yet no change for the better has appeared in the conduct of those people, in fact the Indians of South Umpqua have been more vicious and hostile the past season than heretofore. The only instance that I know of a person traveling alone in their country resulted in his robbery by the first band of Indians he met from whom he only escaped with his life by the interference of an Indian who had lived with the whites, since which time the Indians of South Umpqua have continued to annoy the parties passing from the mines and have stolen about 20 horses which have not been recovered.
Owing to this bad disposition of the natives the country of the South Umpqua remains unoccupied by our people though its value as a farming and grazing country in the immediate vicinity of the gold mines is fully appreciated.
The attempt of a single individual to visit the Rogue River Indians at any time but particularly in the winter season is an idea to me so preposterously absurd that I should certainly consider it an act of insanity. I have only to remind you that the Rogue River country is inhabited by a people amongst whom safety is only secured by constant vigilance to detect and strength to resist aggression--where much property and many lives have been lost--to the truth of which each year adds its separate list of wrongs to the sad record, and the year 1850 has not been barren of its tragedies--besides the usual amount of thefts and robberies, to my knowledge eight victims have fallen at the hands of these ruthless murderers, all without provocation or resistance, and many of them circumstances of aggravated atrocity.
But aside from the dangers to be apprehended from the inhabitants, were none to exist a single individual could scarcely make his way, alone and unassisted, over the many large and rapid streams now swollen to torrents that intervene between this and Rogue River; at least it would be attended with great danger.
To the remaining queries contained in your note at a time of more leisure I will with pleasure reply to the best of my information.
Before closing permit me to notice the good effect which your talk with the Indians of this vicinity appears to have had upon them, and to congratulate you upon the near prospect you have of at last being able to bring to punishment some, perhaps all, the surviving murderers of the late Mr. Newton, killed in this valley in the fall of 1846, an object most necessary to the quiet and safety of this valley & which none of your predecessors have been able to effect.
Very respectfullyNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received 1848-1852, 1850 No. 33. Anson Dart's cover letter to the above is below, under date of December 30. A copy of Applegate's letter is found in NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 821-826.
Your obt. servt.
Elk Creek Umpqua Dec 9 1850To Dr. Anson Dart
Superintendent of Ind. Affrs.
Oregon Ter. Oregon City
In my last from McKenzie River I gave you an account of my doings up to that date. I have visited all the tribes & nearly all the bands & to traverse their valleys & the upper waters of the Willamette River. I find four great divisions in this field divided into a great no. of small bands, viz, the Molalla divided into 2 bands, one on the Molalla River & the other ranging from McKenzie River to headwaters of Rogue River. 2nd Klickitats ranging in several bands from the Tualatin Plains to the Calapooia of the Umpqua, nearly or quite all spending the winters on the waters of the Umpqua. 3rd. Calapooia 15 bands speaking 7 different dialects. 4th Umpqua N. of Umpqua River in 4 different bands speaking 4 different dialects. There are also 3 different dialects between the ferry & the Kennion. I have obtained the statistics of most of these bands. There are a few who have returned from this valley to the waters of Mary's River & Long Tom, which I purpose to visit soon. In two instances I have given flour to the Indians collected for a talk. Food is all-important in our intercourse with the Indians. At Mr. Applegate's on Elk Creek I found 10 head of oxen belonging to the government strayed from a band taken last season to Fort Hall & found their way back to this place. One of these oxen I caused to be killed for the Calapooias & Klickitats now in this vicinity and for the following reasons. 1st It is no use to confer with an Indian unless he is made to feel you know what only can touch an Indian's feelings. 2nd I wished to sharpen up this feeling in the Umpquas. They have in their nearest camp one of the murderers of the lamented Newton, killed 6 miles beyond the ferry. This Indian is a terror to the settlers & it is all-important that he should be secured. But in the absence of a military post to protect the settlement it would make the matter worse for the settlers to attempt to take him. The Umpquas themselves should be made willing by some means to deliver him up. Of course but two motives could be held out to them with any prospect of success, i.e., property & food. The former I had not, the latter I presented in as tempting a position as possible. Immediately on killing the first ox I announced to the Indians that the Umpquas would get another fat ox as soon as they delivered up the Indian who had lost two teeth that he might be taken to Mrs. Newton (now Mrs. Powers I believe) that she might say whether he was one of the three who killed her husband, as all the whites & Indians are of the opinion that he is. The next day with an Indian guide I proceeded to the Calapooia 12 miles short of the ferry, arriving after sundown in a violent snow storm. The river was too violent to venture the horses & the ride and started off to find a camp. I raised 3 men upon the opposite side of the river who said they would get me if from a tree which had been used to cross and if I could get to it. I staked out my horse, put up my saddle & blanket, took my saddle bag, & waded onto the tree, the water coming up to my hips. I found but a limb of the tree above water. The men saw the danger & urged me to remain till morning when they would make a canoe & cross me over. But the idea of taking the frozen ground for a bed & the cold chills for a supper, called to mind too vividly the 6 days & nights I was fleeing from the Indians without food, sleep or rest & with bare feet on the frozen ground, cut rocks & prickly pears & committed myself to the quivering, slippery limb & Providence conducted [me] safe over. The next morning the tree had rolled under; a narrow escape. I was as kindly entertained by the family living at the place as their crowded situation would admit. I sent for a half breed living 2 miles distant & what was my surprise to find in him the same Louis whom I met hiding with the priest. An Indian, the latter to tomahawk me & who as the Indian wheeled to reload his pistol spoke those then-memorable words to me, "Flee nights, secrete yourself by day & keep in a country in which you are acquainted" & I flew. He left the priest immediately & came to the lower country & last year settled at this place with a wish to live with the Americans. He speaks the Nez Perces as well as I can understand the Klickitat, has a wife of this tribe, the jargon, two or three dialects of the Calapooia, two or three dialects of the Umpqua, is well acquainted with every part of the country between the Rogue River, Fort Hall & the coast & will be of great service as interpreter. I learn from him that the Umpqua chief was camped near. With Louis & two Calapooia I repaired to the camp, told the Umpquas that the great chief of the whites (Bostons) had sent me to make known to them his determination to deal kindly & justly with them, that I had thus far numbered the Indian tribes as friends, but here I had come to a spot of blood. I can go no further until this blood is wiped away or covered up. All the friendly Indians & the whites pointed to an Indian in their camp as one who helped to spill this blood. If the chief of the Umpquas would the next day bring this man to Mr. Applegate's to be taken to Oregon City, I would enroll them at once among our friends, & they should forthwith have one ox to eat. And left them. The next day [I] returned to the settlement, as the water was too high to cross my horse.
On my return a Calapooia chief of the Tualatin band stated through Mr. Applegate that one of the murderers of Newton is now in the French settlement, has confessed the murder to an Indian now living near the Institute. Mr. A. tells me that the description he gives of this Indian answers that given by Mrs. Newton. I have persuaded the Indian to wait a few days till I can proceed forthwith & before my intelligence, to arrest the Indian & take him to Oregon City with the other if he is brought.
I have learned with the deepest anguish that [what] was sent abroad as floating reports is a horrible reality! Two women & two children are if yet alive captives in the bloody hands of the Rogue River Indians, the sport of their unrestrained brutality. My blood curdles as I write. The captivity of my dear child, then 10 years of age, in the hands of the bloody Cayuse, although but for 4 weeks, has more than prepared me for the awful duties now devolving upon me. The whole parent & the whole husband are dissolved into burning anguish. Oh, that I had the wings of the wind & the power adequate to deliver them from those indescribable sufferers. But they are beyond the arm of power. In fact the appearance of an armed force in their vicinity would only be the signal for their butchery. Myself, family & the captives at Waiilatpu were in like circumstances. They can be saved only by property, and the Klickitats in my opinion are the only agents for this in the opinion of every settler in Umpqua who can undertake the work with any prospect of success. Quatley, the principal Klickitat chief, with a part of his people are yet on the Long Tom. I shall go as soon as possible to see him & shall offer him 50 blkts. for a child & 75 for a woman.
I have offered the Klickitats also $10.00 for every stolen horse they may retake from the South Umpquas, the Rogue River & Klamath Indians.
I have not time now to give you a history, sketch of the country, the no. of families, the future prospects, the natural facilities &c. but will in my quarterly report. There is no liquor sold or kept to be sold to Indians. At another time I have an important question to settle on this matter.
I have now questions on two painful subjects to propose & shall wait your answer before I take a step. One the killing of an Indian by an American last year, the other the murder of an Indian caused by a French man relative to the first case. Mr. T'Vault of Oregon City I believe is testimony. He reports that a Mr. Officer when on his way to California shot an Indian in most aggravated circumstances. You had better see Mr. T'Vault & learn the particulars & then let me know what I am to do. The other case is as follows. The Frenchman in charge at Fort Umpqua is believed to have caused the murder of an Indian by two other Indians, relatives of the Frenchman's wife. Louis, my interpreter, tells me there is no doubt. He is to consult another Frenchman who is the principal witness. It is the opinion of the Americans that the Frenchman is guilty. Shall I inquire into it? The murder took place but a short time ago. My views & reasons for a military post to be established immediately on South Umpqua, the practicability of employing the Klickitats as rangers in the south frontiers, the importance of surveying a route up the W. Umpqua & through N. of Mary's River, the new discovery of a W. branch of the Umpqua R. heading in a like E. of the Coast Range, so opening an easy communication into the Upper Willamette, the propriety & humanity of allowing the Indians to remain on some portion of their lands, the vital question what shall constitute a right to the soil when we come to meet with the tribes, with other questions will be noticed in my report. I see my work will call me frequently to the headwaters of the Willamette, the Indians of this region making that their place of camping a portion of the year. The late discovered mines on the waters of Rogue River are occupying some 200 this winter & will be likely to call the attention of vast nos. from the Willamette next season. It is manifestly of the first importance that I accompany them if possible. I think their regions hold out stronger inducement for immediate action than the Cayuse country. In this I think you have judged correctly.
Last Friday night the Umpquas arrived at Mr. Cowen's after night. In the morning I met them. The chief & the father of [the] suspected one were present. They said they had brought the man within a short distance when he suddenly left them & gave as a reason that he unfortunately had lost two teeth & might be mistaken by the woman for the guilty one which had this mark, two teeth wanting, but he was dead. The Indians in good Indian style demanded the beef. I told them that they can't have no beef nor any of the property when the ships arrived unless the Indian was delivered up. That such conduct showed that he was guilty, that he made himself away, hiding at the approach of the whites & that he would be in danger of being shot by the first white man who might meet him. His only safety if innocent was to go & look the white woman in the face & if she said he was innocent all the whites would be satisfied & receive him as a friend. The father & chief left to bring him, but I think he has escaped. However this may be the great object is attained. The tribe are now with us & against the murderer, as they will to some extent pursue him & he will have to leave, at best can expect no more countenance from his people. The case would have been very different had the whites attempted to take him (as Gov. Lane did), then his people would have protected him (or they did in that case) & become our enemies. The punishment of the Indian is not of so much consequence as to secure a peaceable relation with the tribe. As I can wait no longer the Indian if apprehended is to be brought on by Mr. Applegate.
The reasons why I did not visit the Indians on South Umpqua & Rogue River are to be found in Mr. Applegate's letter which I herewith forward & will I doubt not be satisfactory.
With best wishes till you hear fromNARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 12; Letters Received 1848-1852, 1850 No. 35.
me again I remain
Your obedt. servant
H. H. Spalding
Ind. Agent &c. &c.
Office of the Supt. of Indian Affairs,Notice is hereby given that all the country known as the "Grand Ronde," supposed to be in latitude 45 degs. 30 min. north, and longitude 117 degs. 40 min. west, being about three hundred miles east of the Cascade Mountains, is reserved for the residence of an Indian agent and agricultural purposes, for the use of the Indians; therefore, no claims or reservations can be located on said tract of land without the consent of the general government.
Oregon City, Dec. 9, 1850.
ANSON DART,Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, December 12, 1850, page 3
Superintendent of Indian Affairs, O.T.
Office of the Supt. of Indian AffairsDear Sir;
Oregon City December 16th 1850\
Your favor per Mr. Leland, dated October 7th, is recd. Your request is complied with, see Oregon Spectator of December 12th.
I was authorized by the Department to have built the Superintendent and agency buildings out of the funds in my hands, but I have asked the Department to allow me to have built a store house for Indian goods and such other articles as may be used for paying the Indians for their lands and for presents &c. &c. This would require about four thousand dollars. Did you fix our pay here the same as is allowed for the same offices in California. There would seem to be strict justice in its being so; both countries, lying side by side on the Pacific, and both subject to the same extravagant prices for living. I trust you will not let anything pass that does not mete out the same justice to Oregon that is fixed for California. I have not seen the acts of Congress since I left, but your standing in the House is so manifestly popular that I count it about equal to the two votes that California has in the Senate.
Oregon is filling up with settlers beyond all former calculation. I believe there will be twenty thousand added next year. Every vessel coming to Oregon is full of passengers, and every boarding house and tavern in Oregon is full to overflowing.
I have the honor to remainHon.
Your obt. svt.
Supt. of Indn. Affairs
Saml. R. Thurston
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 30; Miscellaneous Loose Papers 1850-1873.
Office of the Supt. of Indian AffairsSir:
Oregon City Dec. 30th 1850
I have the honor herewith to transmit a copy of a letter from Jesse Applegate, addressed to H. H. Spalding Esqr., Indian agent for southwestern Oregon. Mr. Applegate is a gentleman of high standing and one of the oldest settlers in the Umpqua Valley. I am fully persuaded that it is indispensably necessary that there should be a detachment of U.S. troops sent to the Umpqua, with as little delay as possible. I would therefore respectfully recommend that the troops under command of Maj. Hathaway at Astoria should be ordered to the Umpqua. They are of but little use at their present location, there being but few Indians in that part of the country, and what few are there can be easily managed without the troops, as they are all friendly with the whites. Mr. Spalding's letters to me on this subject are numerous and lengthy. I could not, therefore, better condense his views as to the necessity of sending troops to the Umpqua than by transmitting a copy of Mr. Applegate's letter.
I have the honor to remainHon. Commissioner
Your obt. svt.
Supt. Indian Affairs
of Indian Affairs
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 607 Oregon Superintendency 1842-1852, frames 821-826. Applegate's letter is above under date of December 7.
Last revised April 3, 2021