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BC Historical Books

Utilization of the Indians of British Columbia Tolmie, William Fraser 1885

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By William Fraser Tolmie. 
By William Fraser Tolmie. VICTORIA, B.C.
To the humane, religious people of all denominations in British North America, in hope of their
earnest co-operation, is dedicated this appeal to the
present Dominion Government of Canada, in behalf
of the poor Indians of British Columbia, who, for
lack of long delayed and much needed instruction in
various branches of knowledge, are leading comparatively idle, vicious lives, and are g^atly decreasing in
number. In regard to only one Reservation, did the
Superintendent's Report for 1883, state that births
exceed deaths. That reserve comprised the Lower
Eraser and the Mainland Coast, as far north as Bute
Inlet. On it, the religious teaching is principally
Roman Catholic, and in part Methodist.
Wm. Fraseb Tolmie.  \
Some one in America has written a book entitled
The Century of Dishonor, bearing on the bygone
neglect and maltreatment of the aboriginal race,
within the far reaching bounds of the United States.
On the contrary, as compared with "Western Canada, or the Dominion, west of the Rockies, great and
well-judged expenditure with successful issue therefrom has, throughout its possessions on the Pacific
slope, fort he last twenty years, been the action of the
United States government. Farther on this will to
some extent, be shown.
Truly does dishonor attach to the successive do-
minional governments for callous neglect of their
Indians in their Pacific province (B. O), during, to
speak within moderate bounds, the last twelve years.
How is this to be remedied ?
The Dominion Ministry at Ottawa, as well as our
own Ministry at Victoria, are public servants, bound
under penalty of dismissal, to conduct aU public
business "according to the well understood wishes of
the people."
If, throughout the Dominion then, a strong desire
is manifested to have the poor Indians of this Pacific
province variously instructed so as to fit them for
useful citizenship, the buifcfiiess of so preparing them
will soon be zealously undertaken by those, the Dominion Ministry, on whom that duty so solemnly
devolves. It is, by our fellow Canadians, the right-
minded of the New Brunswickers, Nova Scotians,
Quebeckers and Ontarians that this sentiment should
J be felt, and strongly exhibited in an effectual way.
Surely there will be some display of it by British
Columbians, whose country the "Indian problem" so
immediately concerns.
At a late meeting in Boston, Mass., of friends of
the Indian it was remarked by a General Armstrong,
himself principal of the important and flourishing
Indian school of Hampton, Virginia, that the only
way of handling the Indian question lies in awakening a
public sentiment, the infiitence of which is felt at Washington.   Italics mine.
fl@T For "Washington," substituting "Ottawa,"
how perfectly the foregoing; applies.
An article in a late Boston Commonwealth, headed
"The Indian Character," has the following passage.—
"The primal cause of the "century of dishonor" in
our history was the want of reverential appreciation
of the natural Indian character, and the low prevalent idea of their being more savage than the Europeans, whom they always at first welcomed with
generous hospitality, and almost worshipful respect,
and did not begin to fight, till driven to it, by the encroachments and cruelty of the whites."
The books on the early condition of the Pacific
Slope from 1805-6 downwards, present many instances
of the exhibition of extreme kindness by Indians to
whites in distress. Of their almost worshipful feelings towards whites, one well authenticated case,
occurring early in the century, was told me years
ago. Two unusually tall and stalwart men, free trappers, coming amongst a western tribe, were treated
with great respect, being taken for "children of the
sun." This tribe had never previously, in all likelihood seen white men.   The men in question were both Canadians, one of them bearing the same historic surname as does* the present Premier of the
In the southwestern and western countries of the
United States, where Indians, used to Buffalo hunting, have yet to be rationed; the wholesome spur of
necessity is wisely applied. To the native, most
laboring for the production of his own food by tillage,
of the soil, is the most liberal ration given. The
slothful and idle are more scantily supplied. The reports prove however that in some quarters such stinting has been too generally applied. As in Europe,
so in America, the most fermenting troublesome
classes are first attended to. The wild nomad of
the North West had regardless of cost, to be conciliated and restrained, by use of every needful appliance, mounted police inclusive, ere white settlement
of the great prairie countries of Midlandf^Caoada,
could be ventured on.
The, as a rule peaceable, well- disposed redmen
of Western Canada, our province (B. C.) intermixed
with, and helping the whites, have, although long
since taught religion by devoted R. 0. Missionaries, been foi twelve years deprived of their just,
and most important inheritance, to wit, the vitally
needed teachings in secular matters, already bestowed on Indians, elsewhere, throughout the Dominion, and
so liberally afforded in the United States, comparatively close by. Indians of this province going south
to pick hops, comment at home, on the comparatively
great size of American Indian Reservations, and on
the praiseworthy attention to Indian teachings, and
other requirements, at the various reservations, in
Washington Territory, U. S., whither business or
curiosity leads them. 4
Time, surely, that the attention of the Dominion
Government should be directed, to what Columbia
greatly needs for her so long neglected Indians.
The official report of the Dominion Indian Department, ending 31 Dec. 1882, states that the Indian
population of Manitoba, and the North West, numbering 37,044 had that year expended on them
$1,099,736.80, which averages $29.69, for each one,
young or old.
During the same year, the Indian population of
British Columbia, approximately numbering 35,052
had an appropriation of $40,333.75, or $1.15 each.
Of their grant, $17,582.65, went for surveys, and establishing of reservations, without buildings, not yet
needed, until the Indians have their inheritance,
acquired when the whites took possession of their country.
The Midland Canadian Indian had in 1882, for his
present and prospective benefit, nearly 2,600 per cent,
more per head, than was then received, by his very
mildly complaining western brother.
The Weekly Montreal Gazette of February 27, 18-
85, after, in a becomingly rejoicing strain, detailing
the breaking up of land by thousands of acres, and
the production of grain and roots by, tens of thousands of bushels, in midland Canada^the Buffalo ^s-
hunting aborigines of less than a decade ago, concludes thus:
" It is evident, therefore, that as long as the interests of the native races are considered as they have
hitherto been, our authorities are not likely to have
upon their hands that dreadful burden of responsibility which our neighbors understand by the Indian problem."
If the writer in the Gazette would, as attentively as
I have, look over and re-peruse particular portions of
the U. S.  Commissioner of Indian Affairs' report, 5
with the several agents' reports and many interesting
tabulated statements appended thereto, for 1883,
("Washington Government Printing Office, 5510,
Ind."), he would perhaps attain the conviction of the
undersigned, that in the United States the " Indian
problem " is in process of speedy and satisfactory adjustment, with the bright end in view of qualifying
the native races for citizenship.
Not but that, in the United States grave difficulties
have yet to be surmounted. These are, however,
being firmly and judiciously grappled with, aid that*
by an ever increasing body of zealous, philanthropic
men, the Indian Agents and Teachers. The annual
reports of these gentlemen evince earnestness to sug-r
gest improvement, as well as courage boldly to
complain of neglect, or ill-judged economies, such as,
—amongst other things--the reduction of lay teachers' salaries, who, more valuable, when experienced,
are thus induced to resign, in that blessed country,
in which, as in our own, every one willing to work
can find something to do.
The principal religious bodies of the Union contribute in whole, or in part, to instruction in Christianity on the various reservations ; and the agents
of- most experience. and success, maintain that religious teaching is a prime necessity for the elevation
of the Indian.
That land, to Indians in severalty, should for a
long period of years be inalienable, except to another
Indian, seems to be the general opinion on the reservations: The granting of land to them will hasten improvement.
Last September, having visited several reservations
on the "American Side," I conclude with brief reports of progress; regretting much that your limited- ^
space will not admit of fuller notices, where everything seems so prosperous and advancing for the
Red man:
The Yakima reservation, consisting of 800,000
acres, one third of which is cultivafeable and the remainder timbered and grassy mountain land, wasr
after the Indian outbreak of 1855-6, granted to certain
equestrian tribes east of the Cascade Mountains, who
had revolted against the authority of the United
States in consequence of the utter inadequacy of
reservations first allotted to them. Ruined and
utterly impoverished by tha war, they were, on submitting to the military in 1856, at once rationed.
Continuing in miserable plight, however, until 1863,
they were that year placed on the reservation above-
named, in charge of an excellent agent, the Rev. J.'
H. Wilbur, who labored amongst them with success
for about twenty years.
Having at Vancouver, Columbia River, in 1836(
and at Nisqually, later, known prominent members
of the tribes under Mr. Wilbur, 1 inquired of him in
1875 as to progress. His reply was so satisfactory
that I sent a copy of it to Premier Mackenzie at
Ottawa, when urging on him more attention to the
needs of the British Columbia Indians. If I mistake
not, a copy of 'Mr. Wilbur's letter has also gone to
our present Dominion Premier, whom I have often
by letter vainly importuned on various points in
British Columbia's "Indian problem."
Mr. Wilbur has latterly been succeeded at the
Yakima agency by Gen. R. H. Milroy, a distinguished
soldier during secession troubles and who, in 1872,
was a superintending agent on Puget Sound, so he
has had experience.   At Yakima there is an Indian
\S judiciary and police force, with county commissioners
also for the three districts, into which the reserve has
by Gen. Milroy been divided.
By the census of 1880, there were belonging to the
Yakima reservation about 3,400 Indians, but they
were not all on it, some preferring an idle, wandering,
vicious life. The general rightly recommends military coercion to check this evil, (as such Indians are
but children of a larger growth). That, in the United
States on the Pacific, is now quite practicable.    Of
General Milroy says in his report of August 1883:
"This is the mill or course through which our
Indians must reach civilization. Adult Indians, with
their habits, prejudices, and superstitions fixed, like
full-grown trees, can be but little changed by culture.
It is wholly different with minor Indians. With
them it is a truism that 'just as the twig is bent the
tree is inclined.' Indian children can learn and
absorb nothing from their ignorant parents but barbarism. Hence the vast importance of detaching
them from their parents as soon as they reach school
age and placing them in industrial boarding schools
under the charge of energetic Christian teachers and
instructors to take the place of parents, and by them
to be trained up during the formative periods of their
fives, into civilized habits and industries. Too much
importance cannot he attached to industrial boarding
schools among Indians. Upon the efficiency of teachers in these schools depends the progress of Indian
civilization."      These are weighty^^JMr. Milroy on
Says: 11 have found the Indian police here very
prompt and efficient in the discharge of their duties,
and a great power for good and the restraint of evil.
I frequently have to send them outside the reservation,
sometimes as much as a hundred miles, to make arrests, recover stolen property, etc., and so far they
have always been successful in the performance of
their required duties, without interference from the
whites.     When   ordered outside   the   reservation, 8
in the performance of any duty, I always give them a
written order, stating the duty to be performed, and
requesting white men not to interfere, but to assist
them, when necessary, and convenient."
For the year ending June 30, 1883, the total governmental expenditure for Yakima Reservation was
$6,095.54. Many Indian farmers on the Yakima,
have produce for sale, as have men on Puyallup, W.
T., and Grande Ronde, Or., reservations. These
places I visited lately, but at an unfavorable season;
nearly all young and old of both sexes being absent,
earning wages in the hop-field.
Before getting to the great Indian training school,
at Forest Grove, Or., which cannot be omitted, I
must mention that at the Skokomish reservation, the
scholars are, in the department of music, claimed by
Mr. Edwin Eeli^, to be in advance of those of any
other school by himself supervised :—"A number of
the girls are quite competent to play the organ in
church, and for the Sunday School." Skokomish
school is also a boarding and industrial one, as is
Puyallup, where Mr. Eel» resides.
The site of the town of Forest Grove, (Washington Co., Oregon), near the base of Oregon's lofty
range of coast hills, here and there meriting the appellation of mountain peaks, is picturesque, elevated
and salubrious, away from the malaria of the large
/aver valleys. Its position, morally, is also beautiful.
Within its precincts, alcohol for sale in any of its multiform disguises is not permitted.
Near \ to the Indian Training School, in Forest
Grove, is the Pacific University, founded and conducted by congregationalists, ancLif I am not mistaken,
the oldest institution of the kind in the State.
Here the elite of the youth of Oregon, either finish
their education, (Some eminent Oregonians have
done so), or go east for deeper drinkings of " the
Pierian Spring" of knowledge, so vastly enlarged
since the [ renowned poet unwisely warned men
against scrimp tastings of it.
To the Caucasian, and to the Indian aluWii at the Grove, I had the satisfaction, on request, of extemporizing, severally, a few earnest words of exhortation
to well-doing.
During the recent boom at Tacoma, three young
Indian carpenters commencing at Puyallup, and finishing at the Grove, took, in Tacoma, contracts for
house-building, found their material and gave satisfaction. The bright intelligence of educated young
Indians, met during my recent trip, is in striking contrast to the manner of the ordinary Indian. In 1866
at Metlakatla, I first noticed this difference.
It would be improper to close without gratefully acknowledging the kindness, and readiness to give information, invariably-met with at Forest Grove, and at
the Indian Reservations visited. Forest Grove training school is the pinnacle and " bright particular
star " of the whole arrangement. May Canada, with
a good record, east of the Rockies, very soon emulate
on the Pacific, her elder sister Columbia's excellent
work for Indians in the extreme West.
Wm. Fraser Tolmie.
It may interest those concerned about Indian progress to learn the salaries paid at Forest Giove.
The mark x designates Indian functionaries:—
Per |Annum
Superintendent $ 1500
Clerk  1200
Head Teacher and Physician (in one)   1200
Assistant Teacher  600
Blacksmith and Farmer (in one)  900
Shoemaker  900
Carpenter and Wagon Maker (in one)  900
Disciplinarian  -900x
Matron  700
Assistant Matron  600
Tailoress  600
Seamstress  420
Head Cook  540x
Laundress'.  360x
Laundrvman  360x
Six Cadet-serjeants @ $60  360x   


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