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The quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society. Volume VIII. March, 1907 - December, 1907 Oregon Historical Society 1907

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Array THE
Oregon Historical Society
\% ->
Agricultural Society, State, The History of tue Organization of.   By
George H. Himes , 817-852
Boise, Judge Reuben Patrick—One of Oregon's Foremost Commonwealth Builders     201-204.
Oondon, Professor Thomas—One of Oregon's Foremost Oommonwealth
Builders 201-218
Financial History of Oregon—Finances of the Territorial Period, 1849-
1859.   By F. G. Young . .... 129-190
Indian Ascent, Recollections of an. By T.W. Davenport.1-41 ; 95-128 ; 281-264 ; 858-874
Kelley, Hall Jackson, Bibliography of.   By Fred Wilbur Powell 875-886
McLoughlin Institute at Oregon City, Address of Frederick V. Holman
at the Dedication of  .. _____ 808-816
Mofmon Settlements, The, in  the  Missouri   Valley.     By Olyde B,
Aitchison   276-289
Oregon Oonditions in the Fifties, Notes from a Government Document
on.   By Thomas W. Prosch 191-200
Sites, the Historic, in Eugene and their Monuments.   By Jennie B.
Harris 265-272
Sites, the Marking of Historic.   By F- G. Young ^_ 1. 273-275
Soldier of the Oregon Frontier, A (Joel Graham Trimble).   By Will J.
Trimble      42-50
Vancouver Reservation Case, The.   By Thomas M. Anderson 219-280
Columbia River, Occupation of the—Floyd's Report of January 25,1821.    51-75
Columbia River, Occupation of the, II—Report of April 15.1824- 290-294
Lincoln, Abraham, Letter of, to Simeon Francis, 1860     76-78
Munger, Asahel and Eliza, Diary of. While Crossing the Plains, 1889 887-405
McLoughlin, Dr. John, Letter of, to the Oregon Statesman, June 8,1852. 294-299
Pickett, George E., Letter of, to Reuben F. Maury     76-78
Brereton, R. M., Did Sir Francis Drake Land on any Part of Oregon.
By F. G. Young        406
Gilbert, James Henry, Trade and Currency in Early Oregon.    By James
R. Robertson 408-409
Gregory, Charles Noble, Samuel Freeman Miller.   By. F. G. Young 406-407
Holman, Frederick V., Dr. John McLoughlin, the Father of Oregon.   By
Joseph R. Wilson        407
Lord, Mrs. Elizabeth, Reminiscences of Eastern Oregon.   By Joseph R.
Wilson.           800
Meany, Edmond S.,  Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound.   By F. G.
Young   . 800-801 iv Index.
Ratification by the Oregon Legislature of the Popular Choice for United
States Senator —  76
Noteworthy State Legislation        79-80
Current Publications _     80-81, 406
Biographical Notes : Principal Wm. I. Marshall and Reverend Myron
Eells         81-83
Aitchison, Clyde B., The Mormon Settlements in the Missouri Valley.. 276-289
Anderson, Thomas M., The Vancouver Reservation Case...  219-230
Davenport, T. W., Recollections of an Indian Agent.1-41 ; 95-128; 231-264; 852-374
Harris, Jennie B., The Historical Sites in Eugene and Their Monuments 265-272
Himes, George H., The History of the Organization of the State Agricultural Society     816-352
Holman, Frederick V., Address of, at the Dedication of the McLoughlin
Institute at Oregon City, October 6,1907 __ _ 303-816
Munger, Asahel and Eliza, Diary of, While Crossing the Plains, 1839.... 887-405
Powell, Fred Wilbur, Bibliography of Hall Jackson Kelley  875-386
Prosch, Thomas W., Note from a Government Document on Oregon
Conditions in the Fifties   _ _ 191-200
Robertson, James R„ Review of Gilbert's "Trade and Currency in Early
Oregon"      408-409
Trimble, Will J., A Soldier of the Oregon Frontier       42-50
Wilson, Joseph R., Review of Lord's "Reminiscences of Early Oregon"       800
    Review of   Holman's   "Dr. John  McLoughlin, the  Father of
Oregon"               407
Young, F. G., The Marking of Historic Sites 273-275
    Finances of the Territorial Period _  128-190
    Review of Meany's "Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound "... 800-301
    Review of Brereton's "Did Sir Francis Drake Land on any Part
of Oregon?" _           406
    Review of Gregory's "Samuel Freeman Miller"        406 THE QUARTERLY
Oregon Historical Society.
Volume VIII.] MARCH, 1907. [Number 1
[The Quaeteblt disavows responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pages.]
By T. W. Davenpobt.
. On a very beautiful afternoon in the latter part of September, a. d. 1862, an equestrian alighted from his rather jaded
horse, at our gate in the Waldo Hills, and presented me a
letter from Wm. H. Rector, Superintendent of Indian Affairs
for Oregon, asking if I would accept the appointment of
Special Indian Agent at the Umatilla Agency; and he desired
an immediate answer.
My oral reply to the bearer of the dispatch was short and
emphatic. "If I am to answer now, I say no; if I can have
time to ask my wife if she will accompany me, I may say yes. ' '
"When can you see your wife?" was curtly asked.
j j To night, ' ' I replied.
"Well, if that is the case, I shall tell Mr. Rector that you
can be depended upon, for the women always go. I never
knew one to refuse, ' ' remarked the bearer of the message, who
was none other than the very shrewd, ever-ready, hard-riding
messenger of the Indian Superintendency, One-Armed Brown.
My wife was willing to go, as Brown predicted, and I repaired at once to Salem to obtain my appointment and instructions from the Superintendent.
As to the latter, they were very brief and characteristic of
Mr. Rector. He said : " I have sent for you because you are
possessed of good judgment, and I believe are competent to
manage an Indian Agency.   I will give you an account of how
J T. W. Davenport.
things are, up at the Umatilla, and may make some suggestions, but you must be the judge at last, and do as you think
best." He began by saying that "the resident agent there,
Wm. H. Barnhart, had killed an Indian some months before,
under circumstances which did not seem to warrant so extreme a remedy, and the Indians were exceedingly exasperated by it. Immediately after the death of the Indian, who was
of princely descent in the Cayuse tribe, Uma-howlish, their
war chief, put on his war paint and feathers ; others followed
his example, and the agent, fearing the loss of his scalp, appealed to the military commandant at Fort Walla Walla for
protection, and a detail of cavalry under Lieutenant Capps has
been stationed at the agency. Add to this, that the Walla
Walla newspapers, in nearly every issue, contain uncontradicted affidavits by Charles Goodenough, charging Agent
Barnhart with irregular and peculating practices, and you
will see that things at the Umatilla are not as they should be.
Of course I have had no opportunity to ascertain the truth of
the damaging allegations against the agent there, but from
letters I have received from respectable persons residing near
the agency, I have thought best to order a change for the
present. So I will give you an order to Agent Barnhart, requesting him to turn over to you the property belonging to
the agency. Imploring letters are coming to me, from a man
by the name of Pinto, who has been living with his large
family at the agency for more than a year, and he states that
he was induced to move there from the Cowlitz Country, by
promises from influential politicians, members of Congress,
etc., that he should be appointed teacher of the Indian school
at that place. He is as poor as a church mouse, and in fact
unable to get away by his own means. Examine his letters as
to whether he was really promised anything, and if you think
he was and can be of service as a school teacher, employ him ;
if not, cart him off. Old Doctor Teal, whose family resides
at the Umatilla Meadows, some twenty miles below the agency,
has been the Indians' physician ever since the agency was
established.   He is a man of much influence among them and Recollections of an Indian Agent.
you will likely conclude that he should be retained. John S.
White, superintendent of farming operations, has been there
long enough to become well acquainted with the Indians, and
can render you valuable service. There is a large and well assorted stock of annuity goods, in boxes and bales, at the
agency, and it is getting along towards the time of year when
the Indians will need them. There is no record in this office,
showing the names and numbers of the individuals composing
the three tribes, Cayuses, Walla Wallas, and Umatillas, gathered there, and, of course, a census must be taken first, and if
you are reasonably expeditious it will be mid-winter before
they get their blankets. ' '
Mr. Rector finished as be began, by saying, "I shall give
you no written instructions as to the management of the
agency and you will consider yourself free to use your own
judgment. ' '
It may be well to state that I was at that time wtholly
unacquainted with the art and science of conducting an Indian
agency. I had been led to suppose from my reading, however,
that the Government had established the agency system for
the double purpose of introducing the aborigines to civilization and whether more or less successful in it, to divert them
by such means from the chase and the war path. As to the
method of keeping accounts with the Government I knew
nothing. To be sure, I had heard that it was by abstracts and
vouchers, and I learned from various sources that by means
of them an agent upon a salary of $1,500 a year had been
known to accumulate for himself very much more. The
question was asked of Horace Greeley, how an agent, upon
such a salary, could in four years get forty thousand dollars,
to which he answered with grave simplicity, " It is above my
urithmetie." Of course, I knew there were imperfections in
the system and suspected the ordinary amount of unfaithfulness in officers, but in the main I supposed the good intentions
of the General Government were fairly well carried out.
My faith was not built so much upon knowledge of what
had been done, as upon the character of the men who had been 4 T. W. Davenport.
foremost in establishing the system in Oregon. And in this
connection my mind reverts to that grand, good man, General
Joel Palmer, whose rational altruism, exhibited on every
proper occasion, left no room for doubt. He and Governor I.
I. Stevens negotiated the treaty by which the three tribes,
before mentioned, were brought onto the Umatilla Reservation.
At this time was held the first State Fair at the grounds in
Salem, and I tarried a few days to attend it. Although it was
a week interspersed almost hourly with drenching showers of
rain, families from all over the State were encamped upon
the grounds, and pioneer sociability, unalloyed, reigned supreme. A eleven years' residence within the State and Territory, accompanied with much rambling, had blessed me with
friends and acquaintances, who wished me well, and some gave
assisting advice as to how I should manage in the new role of
Indian Agent. If any one of the latter neglected to remind
me that "an Indian is an Indian and you can't make anything
else of him, " I do not now recall it.
The repetition of that peculiar phrase struck me as something queer, and I occasionally suggested that there is a difference in Indians, to which they invariably answered, "Yes,
but they are all Indians." One old friend, who at that time
stood high in the Federal Government, volunteered lengthy instructions, for which I was truly grateful. Not that I considered them as sound in every particular, but for the reason
that he was more likely to voice the prevalent knowledge and
sentiments of those engaged in Government employ, and
therefore familiar with the working of the Indian system.
He remarked that I was generally understood to be an ardent
believer in the civilizing influence of education upon the inferior races, and that now I would have a good chance to
prove to myself that I had been too optimistic. Said he:
' ' The Indian, like the negro, is the product of a long succession
of ages, with an environment favorable to barbarism, and of
course you do not expect to change him much during the
little time you live, and I do not think you had better undertake it.    On the outside the appearance is, that the Govern- Recollections of an Indian Agent.
ment is trying to civilize the Indians, when in fact there is no
such intention. They are put upon reservations, where goods
and rations are occasionally doled out to them, for the reason
that it is cheaper to do that than to fight them. The agriculture and mechanics supposed to be taught on the agencies is
all a pretense. Such things figure largely in the agency reports to the Indian Bureau at Washington, but they are in
the main fanciful. The whites work and the Indians look on.
The Umatilla Reservation is large enough for a county, and
has in great part a fine rich soil, which should tempt anybody to agricultural pursuits. But you will find that the
Government has been raising crops for the lazy, blanketed
Indians to eat. You will not find the Indian of fiction and
philanthropy at the Umatilla, though you may see some of
the murderers of an eminent man who tried in vain to teach
them Christianity and the white man's pursuits, Dr. Marcus
Whitman. He sacrified his life mainly in their interest and
I shall assume there is nothing to show for it. My advice is,
not to spend your time experimenting where others, after
long trying, have failed.   Go and do something for yourself. ' *
The manner of my distinguished friend was earnest and
his logic seemed to be good, but they only whet my curiosity
to know if there had been any honest, earnest effort to advance
the Indian, and if so, if the same means which had raised
the white man from a barbarism as intense as that of the Indian, must fail when applied to the latter. I was not altogether unacquainted with Indians and their character, for I
had frequently met them while crossing the plains, and during my residence in Oregon and Washington had traded with
them, and sometimes depended upon them for food and directions, very important to me in this new country. It may
seem strange, but I considered them human beings capable of
modification and improvement.
On the morning of the 5th of October, 1862, I left Salem
on the north bound stage with as many passengers as could
be crowded into it, myself on the seat with the driver. The
ground being deeply saturated by the unusually heavy rains,
'-.   ■ 6 T. W. Davenport.
our team of four strong horses was occasionally incompetent
to extricate the coach from the holes wherein it had sunk to
the hubs, and the calls of the driver to unload were jovially
responded to by the passengers, to whom nothing came amiss.
Oregon City was reached late in the afternoon, and our
toilsome stage ride, of hardly forty miles, was ended at a cost
of $7 in gold coin. Thence we avoided the mud road by boarding the little steamboat plying to Portland.
Aft that time the 0. S. N. Co. furnished travelers with very
comfortable passage from Portland, by steamboat, to the Cascades of the Columbia, around which there was a portage railroad of six miles; from there another magnificent steamboat
ride to The Dalles; thence a stage ride of fifteen miles to
Celilo, at the head of the Dalles, where steamboat navigation
began again and continued uninterruptedly to Lewiston, on
the Snake River. My river journey ended at the mouth of
the Umatilla. From there I walked and rode, as I could catch
it, up the Umatilla, about forty miles, to the agency, where I
arrived without detention or accident on the 10th of October,
Immediately upon my arrival, my credentials were presented to Mr. Barnhart, whom I had never met, along with a
kind of letter of introduction given me by Hon. B. F. Harding, at that time United States Senator from Oregon. I found
Mr. B. a very intelligent gentleman, ready and willing to
show me around, introduce me to the chiefs and headmen
of the tribes, explain existing conditions and relate the history
of the agency doings during his residence there. He likely
saw that I was green in such business and therefore made
several suggestions which he thought would aid me in avoiding
trouble with the Indians. As to the employees, he deemed it
essential that Dr. Teal should be retained as resident physician, and informed us both of his opinion.
He also recommended the retention of John S. White, the
superintendent of farming, on account of his knowledge and
influence with the Indians. The interpreter, Antoine Placide,
a half-breed' Indian, and a man of giant proportions, he char- Recollections of an Indian Agent.
acterized as one half breed who could be depended upon to
tell the truth, a very strong testimonial and one which, after
an acquaintance, I would not diminsh.
George Barnhart had been acting as farmer at a salary of
$1,000 a year, but he departed with his brother, thereby making
a vacancy to be filled. Although there was no legal provision
for a clerk or private secretary to the agent, Mr. B. had one,
Matty Davenport, who was mustered on the roll of employees
as school teacher at a salary of $1,000 a year. As there was
no actual school there, this method of paying a clerk seemed
a little irregular to an outsider, but it was said to be the
custom at all the agencies. Mr. B. spoke of it as "a paper
fiction," and I thought the term admirable in several points of
view. Matty Davenport went away with the retiring agent
and there was a vacancy in the office of school teacher, and
an end to the paper fictions at the Umatilla.
Before going, Mr. Barnhart remarked to me, that "the place
of agent at the Umatilla is worth $4,000 a year, ' ' to which I
responded by asking how that could be on a salary of $1,500.
He made no reply but told the sutler, Mr. Flippin, that he
' S could show me how easy it is to do such things. ' '
There was no difficulty in turning over the Government
property, though a very broad margin was left for inaccuracies. Wheat, oats and barley, in the stack, estimated in
bushels; several acres of potatoes not dug, but estimated by
digging and measuring three rows ; and several hundred dollars worth of medicine in the agency drug store, for which 1
had to take the word of Dr. Teal as to the amount. The list
contained an item of five plows, only one of which could be
shown, and that was broken in removing from the wagon
which brought it from the implement store. It had not been
used and the others were said to be on the reservation somewhere.    As Mîr. B. said, "may be in some fallen tree top."
To the enquiry, whether the Indians had been instructed
to return them to the store as soon as they had finished their
work, he said, "Yes, but the instruction was not obeyed. Oh,
they do not plow, only dig with them a little.   Did you ever T. W. Davenport.
see an Indian plow? If not, it would amuse you. He fastens
ropes to the plow clevis, and the other ends to the Indian
saddles which are tied together with raw hide strings, and the
squaws lead the team. The buck tips the plow up onto the
nose, and in this way the ground is scratched over. The.
method of sowing his grain is unique too. He stands in one
place and sows a circle, and then moves to another point and
sows another circle. They see the white employes doing work
in a proper manner but poor 'Lo' refuses to learn.. They are
good hunters but poor farmers," said Mr. Barnhart, and I
afterwards learned that his description was about correct.
As soon as the receipts were signed, the agent, his brother
and the clerk went away on horseback and I was left in command. To fill the vacancy in the office of farmer, I appointed
Mr. Dow Montgomery, who had come to the agency on the
recommendation of Surveyor General Pengra, and had been
at work as field laborer at $35 a month.
Dr. Teal was solicited to remain, and he consented to do so
on one condition, viz : that his wife should be given the position
of teacher of the Indian school. The Doctor was requested to
wait until the next day for an answer to his proposal, as I had
not investigated the case of Mr. Pinto, an applicant of long
standing. Mr. Pinto was found to be fully competent, and the
victim of those political promises, which everybody ought to
know, are never intended to be fulfilled. Besides, his wife, the
mother of a large family, was a consumptive invalid requiring
the constant care of the older children. Mr. Pinto's case was
an irresistible appeal to my sympathies, and he was given the
position which Dr. Teal wanted for his wife. Other things
being equal, as respects the public service, human necessities
are likely to decide every case submitted to me.
Mr. Pinto was instructed to have the school room warm by
9 o'clock, five days in the week, and be there ready to teach
every one in attendance, and furthermore to talk to the parents
and as far as possible stimulate a desire for education.
By the treaty with these three tribes, they were promised
two school houses and two teachers, but as there was one Recollections of an Indian Agent.
school house, only one teacher could be profitably employed,
and so Dr. Teal was informed that his wife could not be accommodated. His salary was $1,200 a year and he was permitted to do outside practice besides, which made his position
a very desirable one. Still he had been led to believe that his
presence at the agency was absolutely necessary to the stability of the agent's administration, and with this idea firmly
fixed in his mind he went to his home on the meadows, but not
until he had, in rather bad humor, informed the influential
members of the tribes that I had turned him off.
In his place, Dr. Roland, who had been a day laborer at the
agency, was appointed. Mr. Backus Henry, the carpenter, a
brother of Dr. Henry of Yamhill County and an intimate
friend of President Lincoln, was retained. To all of the employees this message was delivered : ' ' Gentlemen, we are here
to work in earnest, to carry into effect the promises made to
these people. Whether the Government was right or wrong
in supposing it possible or practicable to civilize them, no one
will ever know until the proposition has had a fair and vigorous trial. If there is any one of you who is not willing to cooperate with me in this effort, and drop his other avocations
to do so, let him make it known now, and surrender the place
to which he has been appointed." All were willing to go forward in the new departure.
As the harvest was over, John S. White was granted leave
of absence to go to Portland, on his private business. The
place of blacksmith being vacant and there being urgent need
of one to repair the tools and implements, a requisition was
made upon Superintendent Rector, who sent Thomas Weston,
a former employee at the Siletz Reservation.
Only one day passed until Mr. Flippin, the sutler, said to
me: "You made a mistake in thirning off Dr. Teal; the Indians are grumbling and likely you will have to recall him."
Mr. F. spoke the Walla Walla language fluently and was
withal influential among the red men, so I requested him to tell
them that I did not turn Dr. Teal off; the Doctor turned
himself off.   Mr. F. suggested that such information would 10 T. W. Davenport.
sound better coming from headquarters, and deeming the hint
pertinent I requested the interpreter to call a meeting of the
Indians for next day in the afternoon. At the appointed time
the council house was full, and they were asked to state their
grievance. The chief of the Cayuses, Howlish Wampo, arose
and in a very deliberate manner said that Dr. Teal had been
their physician for years, that they had great confidence in
him, and felt very much hurt when they heard that the new
agent had discharged him. As his people were the ones
chiefly interested, he thought they should have been consulted
before making any change. It did not make much difference
to them who was superintendent of farming, or carpenter, but
it was a matter of grave concern who was to treat them when
they were sick. He remarked with a grim smile that the
Doctor appointed by me, while working in the field that summer, was not suspected of knowing anything of medicine, and
he wanted to know how I would take it, if some one would
turn off my family physician and send an unknown-person to
treat me when more than at any time in my life I wanted some
one in whom I had confidence? Howlish Wampo ended his
speech by saying it was the unanimous wish of his people that
Dr. Teal should be recalled.
White people who have lost their favorite doctor will judge
that the Indian chief had made out a very strong case, and
such was my opinion. And lest the reader may think that I
have been putting words into his month, I must say once for
all that no claim is herein made of giving exact language;
only the points as abstracted from the uneducated interpreter's
rendering is it possible to ;give, and they of necessity must be
in my own style.
As the meeting was called, not to ascertain the wishes of the
Indians, but to explain matters to them, Howlish Wampo was
taken at his word and no vote called for. His speech showed
strongly that he was a reasonable being and I assumed they
all were, and so addressed them. They were informed that
Dr. Teal was solicited to stay, but required conditions that
could not be complied with, unless I was willing to take his Recollections of an Indian Agent.
wants as a guide by which to manage the agency. Mr. Pinto
had been promised the school teacher's place and had been
there a year waiting for the fulfillment, and certainly they
would not have me violate the promises made to him by distinguished men at the seat of government. Doctors move from
city to city and town to town and white folks get a change of
doctors without making any fuss about it. They frequently
change from choice, and there is no agreement among them
as to which is the best doctor. It is likely fortunate that they
do not agree, or they would all want the same doctor. No
doubt doctors differ, although they learn from the same books.
Some are better surgeons, others are preferred to treat women
and children, and each is best for some one disease. As for
Dr. Roland, I know nothing of his success in practice, but I
do know that he is a better educated physician than Dr. Teal,
who is what is called among the whites a home-made doctor.
The interpreter informed me that some of those present
said that Dr. Teal had told them I had turned him off. To
this I answered : " I have told you the truth, and Dr. Teal will
not tell a different story in my presence." The meeting
broke up with a changed feeling and no more was heard of
their discontent.
The whole of the next week was spent in trying to obtain a
knowledge of the present conditions, and with such a purpose
in view one would naturally ask to be shown the record evidence of what had been done since the agency was established; the names and numbers of each of the tribes, where
located, what assistance had been rendered by the Government
and what response to civilizing efforts had been observed in
the habits of life of these people; but strange as it may seem
there was not a scratch of pen to reward an investigator.
There was a printed copy of the treaty made with them, invoices of the annuity goods in store, a copy of the receipt
given Mr. Barnhart for the property turned over to me, and
a small list of articles from the annuities, issued by him to
indigent Indians, but from these no comprehensive judgment
could be formed as to what had been the method of treatment 12 T. W. Davenport.
of these wards of the Government or the measure of success.
The records, if any, were at Washington, and too far away to
be compared with the facts and things to which they relate.
So I was compelled to depend upon personal inspection and
the memory of employees, most of whom were new to the place
or discretely reticent as to the past management.
One patent fact, observable by every one coming to the
agency, was the scarcity of Indians. But very few of the three
tribes were there, and no one could give any account of the
others. They were away without leave. In fact, the reservation was not their abiding place. And when conditions on the
reservation were thoroughly understood, no good reason presented itself why they should be there. There was no employment for them, either as hunters or farmers. It was no
fit place for civilized or uncivilized men in the condition of
poverty common to the Indians. Every one knows how a
poor white agriculturist does when he takes up a quarter section of prairie land in the West. He goes to work for somebody who has something, and from his wages buys a team
and with the earnings of himself and team procures little by
little the tools and implements necessary for successful husbandry. But if there were no one near him with more capital
than himself, he would be compelled to emigrate to a community where he could work and earn such things as were
essential to start, with in the unsettled country. The confederated tribes on the Umatilla were all alike incompetent,
as respects tilling the soil. If they had been white men,
educated to agricultural pursuits and inured to toil, they could
not have succeeded without levying upon the wealth around
them. He would have been indeed a very shifty white man
who could have gone onto the reservation and sustained himself
from the soil through means obtained from the resources of
the Indians. Nearly every Indian family had two or three
horses and a few were amply supplied, but this was about all
their wealth, and they were ponies, hardy and fleet no doubt,
but too small for the plow. Howlish Wampo had 800, some
of them bred to fair size by crossing with American stock, Recollections of an Indian Agent.
and Tin-tin-met-sah, another Cayuse headman, had 3,000 head
of ponies.
It is easy to see how these men, by sales of horses, could
have started farming operations full handed, but there was
more money in horses than in anything they could raise on
the farm. While they could sell a pony for forty to one hundred dollars, there was no inducement to raise wheat, especially as two days were required to make the trip to the Walla
Walla mill. Even an Indian could see that. In spite of all
discouragements a very few Indians had little fields of wheat,
which they threshed with sticks and took to the mill aforesaid.
Three of them had log houses, and a few of them had set out
some apple trees. The two men who were most able to have
good houses, barns, stack-yards, and the other accompaniments
of permanent settlement, lived in wigwams or tents and partook of the white man's delicacies, raised flour biscuits with
store butter, coffee, tea, sugar, etc., while sitting upon the
ground after the fashion of their ancestors. People forget,
when they sarcastically smile at sight of an Indian garden
patch, how recently he was a nomad depending for his subsistence upon hunting and fishing; and if they would only
stop and think how many mature white men, with families
depending upon them, had been enticed away from home by
the fascinations of the chase and become incorrigibly lost to
the pursuits in which they had been bred, the smile would
take an entirely different expression.
The sensible, humane men who negotiated the treaty were
fully aware that those Indians could not in any way maintain
themselves upon the Umatilla Reservation, ample as it was, and
they, therefore, pledged the United States Government to
subsist them the first year, while with Government help and
under its supervision houses should be built and farms opened
so that they might live in the main by agriculture. The
Government, as usual had been dilatory and as usual, too, the
means given to its agents had been squandered or appropriated. The treaty specified that a flouring mill and saw mill
should be erected at suitable points on the reservation; and
II 14 T. W. Davenpokt.
apparently with the purpose of erecting a flouring mill the
first agent, a Mr. Abbott, purchased of a military officer the
running gear of an overshot mill located below The Dalles,
for an immoderate sum, reported to be forty thousand dollars.
He transported the same, at extravagant cost, overland to the
Umatilla River, and to a site as foolishly selected as the mill
had been. Instead of hauling lumber from Walla Walla,
as practical men of sense would have done, Government camps
were established in the Blue Mountains, eight or ten miles
away, and lumber manufactured by the abandoned process of
whip-sawing, in this instance from pitchy pine logs. The
result was plainly visible in the fall of 1862, and whatever
amount was paid for the overshot, or expended for work in
the mountains, was a total loss to the Government of every
dollar thus invested. And this costly fraud was perpetrated
before there was any wheat to be ground.
There were to be expended the first two years, sixty-six
thousand dollars, not including the two mills, but any one
looking over the premises and taking a bird's-eye view would
ask, how ? where ? Two log houses, a half dozen log huts, an
open shed for wagons and plows, about a hundred acres of
loamy, river bottom fenced and in cultivation, a set of carpenter's and blacksmith's tools, and farming implements insufficient for an ordinary half section farm, would hardly
satisfy his reasonable expectations. For the rest he must
enquire at the Indian Department in Washington, where the
most incredulous might be satisfied, if vouchers would satisfy
him. For the objects declared in the treaty, the money was
no doubt injudiciously, if not fraudulently expended, and
there was scarcely a beginning to any rational and methodical
system of bringing those people into the way of sustaining
With but few exceptions, the whites employed there had
done the work, and the Indians, wrapped in their blankets,
had been lazily looking on whenever they chanced to be present. For the most part, they were away, fishing along the
Columbia, hunting in the Blue Mountains, digging eamas in Recollections of an Indian Agent.
Grande Ronde Valley, picking berries along the water courses,
or hanging around the towns where they bartered their ' ' ictas"
for the white man's goods, or in case of a shortage of their
legitimate earnings, engaged in predatory acts very annoying
to their white neighbors. Aind this kind of life, at the time
of which I write, and notwithstanding its uncertainties, was
certainly romantic enough. Enlightened people with white
skins will leave remunerative employment and the most sumptuous apartments where every needful thing is at hand, ana
with a very meager outfit endure toil and travel in a hot day
to enjoy a picnic in shady groves and by cool, purling brooks,
and yet they wonder at the Indian families, ponies, papooses,
cats and dogs that from early spring to late in the fall enjoy
travel and a refreshing camp every day. Or is it supposable
that only those of the superior race receive any pleasure from
the beauties of Nature ? Likely none of the red race has sung
in faultless numbers of the "pleasure in the pathless wood
or the rapture on the lonely shore," but that he is fully as
sensuous is shown by his language and the tenacity with which
he clings to his birthright, of mountain and valley, grove and
stream. Our pioneer history shows that it is no child's play
to fight him out of them and coop him up on a reservation
where, at best, he dwindles to extinction from confinement,
which should be sufficient evidence as to the pleasurable and
healthful excitements of his primitive state.
There are but two ways of keeping Indians upon a tract of
jcountry too small or ill fitted to furnish them a living by
their ancestral modes; one is by force, and the other by enticement. At the Umatilla neither had been tried. Just
enough of the latter had been done to bring them on a visit
when other preferable sources of income were not in season.
The salaried chiefs, three in number, and their families and
dependents remained there most of the time, for they received more favors than could be given to others. This
method of running an agency was quite aptly named by Mr.
Montgomery "the subsidy plan."
There were also tribal jealousies, which to some extent pre- 16 T. W. Davenport.
vented a willingness among the weaker ones to engage in the
work of making a home there. The Cayuses were more numerous and powerful and appropriated the greater part of the
choice spots along the river.
To the reader who has got this far in these recollections it
is hardly necessary to say that the system which had been
followed I intended to reverse ; hereafter the Indian must take
hold of the plows and the whites will look on, instruct and
interest him. With the white man improvement has been
obtained by rationally directed effort; and as respects agriculture, to which he is addicted, it must not be supposed that
success in it is a settled question. Indeed, it is quite the
contrary, for there are very few successful farmers, and those
who obtain the best results are the most skillful in the application of knowledge along with their labor. Hence, although
there is constant reward for improved methods in the increase
of crops, this is not deemed a sufficient stimulus to the exertion
of brawn and brain, and societies offer premiums for excellence of product and the exhibition of skill in the performance of farming operations.
The present plow is a very perfect specimen of a long continued evolutionary process, and yet no greenhorn, though he
may have seen plowing done all his life, can at first adjust a
span of horses to it and do good work. And for his imperfection all due allowance would be made, for the reason, "he is
not used to it." Now, the Indian is not used to farming,
and looking on will not get him used to it. He must pass
through the same ordeal that brought the white man to his
present state, a discipline of faculties and powers, the accumulation of knowledge and social efficiency of a civilized trend
and type. And those who deny to the Indian capability of
improvement in this direction should reflect how sadly they
would fail in practicing the arts in which he is an adept.
The same reflective faculties, powers of observation and mechanical aptitudes exhibited by the savage in obtaining a living with bows and arrows and spears will perform all the industrial operations practiced by the civilized man. Recollections of an Indian Agent.
Likely the true interpretation of the phrase so often repeated, "the Indian is an Indian and you cannot make anything else of him," lies not in his want of ability to become
a farmer, but that he prefers hunting and fishing and wandering habits. I rather suspect this to be true of the Indian, for
it is true of the white man, who is only civilized by compulsion
and relapses to his first estate whenever the pressure is withdrawn. If he could make no easier or better living than by
fishing, he would fish ; and though plowing is one of the most
agreeable of farming operations he prefers the gun to the
plow. Running a harvester, mower or threshing machine;
plowing, hoeing, drilling or harrowing is work, and to most
people drudgery. Hunting, though accompanied by greater
physical exhaustion, is sport, and the Indian is not alone in
loving it. The probable truth is, that men of all colors do not
love work for work's sake, but for what it will bring to them of
the necessities, comforts, conveniences and luxuries of this state
of existence. That man is a social being, is the supreme fact
of human life, but society evolved in conformity to his eon-
trolling desires is impossible with no other provisions than the
spontaneous production of the earth. In this part of the
temperate zone not more than two to the square mile could so
subsist, and even at the equator where food is comparatively
abundant and clothing almost unnecessary, civilized and progressive society seems to be unattainable.
Looking over the bald pretense of civilization as I found it
at the Umatilla, I was more than ever convinced that tuition
was the first thing needed and that it should commence with
the parents and grown-up children. And what better to be
taught than the unavoidable truth, that under existing conditions they could no longer get a living by the methods of
their ancestors: the earth could not afford it. Their edible
roots, the camas and cous, had been in great degree destroyed
by the hogs of white settlers, and the gold mine