After the Treaties: Administering Pacific Northwest Indian Reservations

By 1881, virtually every Native American in Oregon and Washing-ton was formally assigned to a particular reservation, although many declined to reside on such places. Most reservation tracts had been established under treaties concluded in the mid-1850s by Isaac Stevens and Joel Palmer. The remainder were founded by subsequent treaty arrangements or by executive orders.

Two dozen reservations encompassed, altogether, several million acres on both sides of the Cascade Range. Some, like the various bits of tidewater frontage on Puget Sound, were small in extent. Others, including the Quinault reservation on the coast and the Colville, Yakama, and Klamath reservations east of the Cascades, covered vast portions of the region.1 All were subject to the longstanding assimilationist policies of the federal government, which aimed to transform Indians into landowning farmers. In nearly all locations, administrative and environmental obstacles to successful implementation were much in evidence. 

Given vitality by the triumph of abolition, a national movement for the reform of Indian affairs grew in force following the Civil War.2 Reformers sought to improve implementation of assimilationist ideals, which dated to the earliest years of the republic, rather than to develop new policies.3 Among the reforms, Congress abolished the Oregon and Washington Indian superintendencies in 1873, giving the Office of Indian Affairs direct control over agents in the field. Another innovation, an inspectorate system, provided high-level federal officials with an independent means of auditing reservation management in the distant West. Such innovations would, in theory, encourage more efficient management and deliver improved benefits to the Indians. 

Patronage employment persisted within the Office of Indian Affairs, however, undermining other administrative reforms. Even if viable civil service regulations had been introduced, recruitment of capable employees would have remained difficult. Salaries were low — agents earned twelve hundred dollars a year — and living conditions often deplorable. On coastal reservations, government staff endured isolation, rain, and fog. East of the Cascades, winter brought freezing temperatures and summer drought, broken by occasional thunderstorms and flash floods. For notable extremes in these respects, the Warm Springs reservation in north-central Oregon was known in the service as “Botany Bay,” a reference to the English penal colony in Australia. One of the last Washington Indian superintendents deplored conditions at the Quinault agency: “I have not found a suitable man who could be induced to take his family to so wild and unpleasant an abode for the low salary offered.”4 

Outright incompetence and venality were well-documented among post-Civil War administrators in the Pacific Northwest. Robert H. Milroy, a controversial wartime general, one of the region’s best-known public figures, and, to his credit, a genuine and hard-working supporter of assimilation, was suspended from the Washington superintendency in 1873 for “complicity with … frauds” and “weakness and incapacity.”5 Solid political connections nonetheless secured him both reinstatement and subsequent appointment to the Medicine Creek and Yakama agencies. Although elimination of the superintendencies was supposed to encourage honesty and efficiency, official correspondence files revealed widespread corruption. Malheur agent Linville, though elderly and inexperienced, apparently managed to steal ten thousand dollars during a mere six months of service in 1874. Grand Ronde agent Coffey engaged in “systematic swindling of the Government” at the Oregon coastal range reservation in the mid-1880s. A contemporary at nearby Siletz transformed the girls’ boarding school into a “bawdy house.”6 

With irresponsibility often the norm among agents, honest work could hardly be expected from their subordinates. Except in the case of reservations near urban areas, where physicians might anticipate building a practice among white patients while drawing a public stipend, qualified doctors usually declined to enter government service.7 The schoolhouse may have been a vitally important structure, but often little care was taken in the selection of personnel. Catholic institutions at such places as Tulalip on Puget Sound and among the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene tribes east of the Cascades were notable exceptions. An agent at Grand Ronde actually hired an illiterate person to teach Indian children to read and write. Instead of attending to their duties, instructors of an intellectual bent spent their time, according to one complaint, studying “such books as ‘Looking Backward’, [and] Henry George on single tax.” Some long-term employees were sadistic. In one incident, a teacher was dismissed only when he began wielding a shovel in his regular assaults upon students. A newly appointed agent at the Klamath reservation described the school principal as “a complete jackass” who enjoyed setting his dog upon disobedient boys. The few genuinely motivated Protestant educators tended to be young women desiring to secure classroom experience before moving on to whites-only public schools.8

Personnel problems were supposed to have been corrected under President Ulysses S. Grant’s “peace policy,” proclaimed in 1869. After a brief experiment in military supervision, the Grant initiative allocated responsibility for the reservations, including the right to nominate employees and exercise loose administrative oversight, among various religious denominations.9 The result, at least in the Pacific Northwest, was sectarian conflict, as the churches — Methodists and Catholics in particular — battled for control of the agencies and often exhibited little concern for the wishes of the supposed Indian beneficiaries.10 Some religious figures also appeared intent upon vindicating the Republican administration’s reputation for dishonesty. According to several investigative reports, Rev. Charles Huntington left the Makah reservation, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in “a state of ruin.” Edwin Eells was repeateadly, though unfairly, charged with illegality, largely on account of a suspiciously large personal fortune secured during his fifteen years on Hood Canal and at Puget Sound agencies. James Wilbur ran something akin to a personal cattle empire on the Yakama reservation, maintaining records confusing enough to defy comprehension on the part of auditors.11 

Even when given over to honest, hard-working men and women, the implementation of Grant’s peace policy faltered. Both before and during the Grant era, Congress was more concerned with avoiding expenditure than with adequately funding the reservations. There was never enough money to meet treaty obligations, institute assimilation measures, or pay salaries sufficient to attract qualified personnel. Schools closed from lack of funds, mills went unbuilt, and fields remained uncleared. The Siletz agency on the Oregon coast, with six hundred permanent residents, was reduced to four employees in 1877 and to one in 1887. Small reservations such as Swinomish, Port Madison, and Muckleshoot on Puget Sound were usually unstaffed, with no resident agents, teachers, doctors, or farmers.12 

Underfunding and mismanagement were evident across the region. Reprimanded in 1879 for failing to provide a detailed report on his physical plant, Colville agent John Simms submitted a revealing defense: “no reports of Government buildings accompanied my accounts … from the fact that there are no Government buildings at this Agency.”13 Reservations that did have government structures often appeared to be in no better condition. Visiting inspectors described the facilities at Umatilla, near Pendleton in eastern Oregon, as “rubbish” and “pig pens” unfit “for any purpose except firewood.” Offices, quarters, and barns at Warm Springs, another auditor noted, must have been constructed “on the ‘Cheap John’ principle.” Employees assigned to Yakama enjoyed “comforts seldom experienced by men living on the frontiers” only because of the solid houses left behind when the army abandoned Fort Simcoe.14 

Schoolhouses provided clear evidence of poor management. Henry Webster, the original agent to the Makah at Cape Flattery, erected a building said to be “the best in the Territory with the exception of the University at Seattle” but then allowed the expensive edifice to fall into terminal disrepair. “An insane man” must have built the Umatilla school, one inspector concluded. The rickety structure was located on an exposed slope “in about the finest place that could be selected to secure all the benefits arising from Storms, Hurricanes, [and] Blizzards.” Stout tree trunks braced against the lee wall were the only thing keeping this “death trap” upright. James Wilbur’s pride and joy, the school at Yakama, was “very considerably out of plum.” Regular outbreaks of disease among the students arose from the unsanitary water supply and the lack of sewage disposal.15

In order to properly learn the ways of the whites — the essence of assimilation — Indians had to be confined to the reservations, the government believed. Whether forced or voluntary, isolation was expected to provide the best protection against vice, illness, and disputes with settlers.16 Tulalip agent Edward Mallet asserted that permanent residents of his Puget Sound reservation lived “in good frame houses that are painted, papered and furnished.” Those who moved on and off the reservation, in contrast, dwelt “in mat-houses or slab-shanties on the beach near some saw-mill … exposed to the baneful influence of shameless whisky-sellers.”17 Off-agency subsistence fishing was, to federal officials, an especially pernicious activity. “The ease with which these Indians can secure food … from the streams and the Ocean,” inspector E.C. Watkins explained in 1877, “is a great hinderance to their civilization.” Why work day after day on a farm, Indians asked, when near-instant gratification could be attained by taking salmon? “I have but little faith,” Watkins stated, “in civilizing Indians — so that they will stay civilized — in canoes.”18 

One agent recommended that the government erect “a sort of Chinese wall around” the reservations, “with but one, if any gate, and that one but seldom used.”19 As the Indians well knew, however, the treaties guaranteed “the right of taking fish, at all usual and accustomed stations … in common with all citizens.” The same principle extended to hunting, root and berry gathering, and stock grazing. These protected activities “take so nearly the entire year, that what is left is not worth contending for,” Gen. Robert Milroy pointed out, “so that practically the treaty permits the Indians to choose whether they will live on, or off the reservation.”20 


The completion of one of the great lines of railway to the Pacific coast has totally changed the conditions under which the civilized population of the country come in contact with the wild tribes. Instead of a slowly advancing tide of migration, making its gradual inroads upon the circumference of the great interior wilderness, the very center of the desert has been pierced.

It has long been the policy of the government to require of the tribes most nearly in contact with white settlements that they should fix their abode upon definite reservations and abandon the wandering life to which they had been accustomed. To encourage them in civilization, large expenditures have been made in furnishing them with the means of agriculture and with clothing adapted to their new mode of life.

I understand this policy to look to two objects: First, the location of the Indians upon fixed reservations, so that the pioneers and settlers may be freed from the terrors of wandering hostile tribes; and second, an earnest effort at their civilization, so that they may themselves be elevated in the scale of humanity, and our obligation to them as fellow-men be discharged.

—Secretary of the Interior Jacob Dolson Cox
Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, November 15, 1869

Rather than being coerced, Indians had to voluntarily abandon old ways in favor of reservation life. The process would take time, for little, apparently, could be done to influence people already grown to maturity. “Adult Indians having their habits, ideas and superstitions fixed like grown up trees,” Milroy wrote, expressing a common point of view, “can be but little changed or improved by culture.” Although such men and women were considered forever lost to barbarism, the Indian race was far from doomed. Rapid progress could be expected, in fact, from individuals exposed at an early age to the proper influences. “The only hope of civilizing our Ind. Tribes to such an extent that they may be safely citizenised and united in the body politic of our Nation,” Milroy declared on behalf of a legion of policymakers, “is in the rising generation.”21 

There was, claimed Alfred Meacham, another individual long-involved in the region’s Indian affairs, “a key to every human heart.”22 That key, according to virtually every thinker on the question of assimilation, was education.23 On all the reservations, to the fullest extent allowed by available financial resources, children’s routines were the same. Mornings were devoted to elementary instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, and history, the standard school regime of rural America. In the afternoons, boys labored as apprentice farmers and girls learned to sew, cook, and clean house in the white manner. “Knowledge of, and taste, for civilized habits” were thereby attained, a highly placed administrator asserted.24 

Considered a priceless benefit by the government, the schools drew minimal genuine interest from students and parents, particularly on reservations managed by Protestants. Federal rations, more often than not, appeared to provide the principal attraction of classrooms. “They can be influenced by their stomachs sooner than their brains,” concluded James Swan, a longtime teacher of the Makah, “and appeal to the former is a certain way to induce them to exercise the latter in receiving instructions.” Recognizing the need for incentives, schoolmasters resorted to a variety of devices, including magic-lantern shows, songs, and issuance of clothing. Even the brightest and most interested children, however, disappeared on a regular basis, from whimsy or on lengthy family excursions.25 

Because it constituted a dire and ongoing threat to assimilation, absenteeism compelled stern, often offensive countermeasures.26 “The only way to succeed with Indian children,” one of the Puget Sound agents argued in advising the establishment of boarding schools, “is by taking them away from their parents and not to allow the influences of their savage home to counteract those of the schoolroom.”27 Opened wherever funds allowed, boarding schools usually permitted students to visit their families only at Christmas.28 At day schools, mandatory attendance was adopted, and most agents used coercive measures to force boys and girls into class. When “wild and uncivilized” Yakamas refused to send their children to school in 1884, Robert Milroy sent his reservation police to arrest the parents, holding them in irons until they surrendered their offspring.29

Federal officials bent the environment as well as people to the requirements of assimilation. Umatilla, in northeastern Oregon, was the only agency well suited to the practice of agriculture, supposedly the essential mark of “civilized” life.30 Elsewhere, nature worked at cross purposes with policy. Although informed non-Indians reported that development of a commercial fishery offered the “only certain and reliable means” for residents of the Siletz reservation to support themselves, the Indian Office made misbegotten efforts to establish farms.31 Neah Bay, where over a hundred inches of rain fell per year and “cereals will not ripen,” was an even more unsuitable place for agriculture. Famous as whalers, the Makah generated an ample living from the sale of fish, otter skins, and oil. The government nonetheless persisted in devising plans for draining and diking marshes and tidelands in the interest of transforming people genuinely disinterested in agriculture into farmers.32 

The Lummi reservation occupied a fertile delta on Bellingham Bay, but other Puget Sound reservation lands were unsuited to agriculture.33 The enormous stands of timber along the shores of the great estuary provided an all-too-obvious alternative means of earning a living. From the early 1860s on, Indians worked in white-owned mills and camps and logged and sold fir and cedar from agency lands. Labor of this sort, though surely hard and sustained, was, however, deemed harmful to the assimilationist cause. Explaining the Indians’ reluctance to farm, one agent reported that “the slow returns from working the land, and the amount of labor incident to putting it in a fit condition for cultivation is to them, very discouraging.” As a means of compelling greater attention to farming, no matter how environmentally nonsensical, federal officials stationed in the Pacific Northwest declared a partial ban on reservation logging in 1873. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court contributed a powerful legal assist, ruling that agency forest resources belonged to the government, not the Indians. Henceforth, the only removals allowed were those incidental to the clearing of fields.34 

Natural conditions also worked against the propagation of farms east of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington. The Umatilla reservation had good soils, but it was subject to harsh winters, dry summers, and grasshopper infestations. Although an estimated hundred thousand acres of the Yakama reservation contained “fine tillable” soil, frequent drought made irrigation an expensive necessity should farming operations be attempted.35 In these places, at least, the expenditure of labor, money, and patience might make agriculture a viable venture. 

At other interior agencies, no amount of funding was likely to achieve satisfactory returns. Early experiments at Klamath revealed a crucial problem: most of the reservation was at an elevation of more than four thousand feet, so frost was likely in any month of the year. The soil at Malheur, a visiting inspector found, was “strongly impregnated with alkali.” Farther north, three thousand marginal acres offered the closest prospect of success for farms at Warm Springs. “I don’t believe,” another of the inspectors wrote, “there could have been 40 miles square of as poor quality of land found any where in the State of Oregon … as the Warm Springs Reservation.” Colville, in Washington Territory, was so lacking in potential that most of the assigned Indians steadfastly refused to live there for fear of starvation.36 

Horizon-spanning grass, plus the historical practices of the Indians themselves, suggested that grazing, like fishing and logging west of the Cascades, might be a more suitable activity on the eastern reservations. Most agents recommended that the government provide stock and related forms of assistance. Three hundred head of cattle were sent to Klamath in 1881, and Agent James Wilbur’s herd was distributed to the Yakamas in 1889. Otherwise, federal authorities refused to abandon the farming ethos. The same storms and droughts that ruined crops also killed animals, the Indian Office reasoned, so the tribes might just as well cultivate the land. When implemented under treaty provisions, moreover, allotment would leave individuals in private possession of tracts too small to nurture cattle and sheep.37 

Wherever possible, the government had located reservations in places unlikely to appeal to settlers. Though often forced onto inferior tracts as a result, the Indians at least had secure homes. Land once considered low quality, however, might later become valuable and attractive to the government or settlers. Reports of gold on Yaquina Bay in the mid-1860s, for instance, led President Andrew Johnson to order removal of a twenty-five-mile-wide strip from the Siletz reservation.38 The subsequent development of Newport, together with settlers’ demands for land, led to demands for new reductions. Pointing out that the agency still contained eight hundred acres per “man, woman and child” — nearly five times the land allowed homesteaders — Senator John Mitchell argued for the removal of what he considered a discriminatory affront to white Americans. The necessary executive order, proclaimed in 1875, abolished a large portion of the reservation, leaving Siletz with barely a sixth of its original acreage.39 

For the Puyallup Indians of Puget Sound, town growth — in this instance the development of Tacoma — meant similar trouble. A botched survey established reservation boundaries that differed in substantial ways from the limits described in the treaty and opened valuable Commencement Bay acreage to white claimants in 1869.40 Four years later, the Northern Pacific selected Tacoma as its western terminus and immediately undertook a campaign to close the agency, arguing that it was an impediment to commercial exploitation of the flats at the mouth of the Puyallup River.41 Only persistent vigilance on the part of local Indian department officials stalled action favorable to the company in the nation’s capital.42 

East of the Cascades, urban areas also frequently impinged on the Indians. Attracted by the rich lands in the vicinity, settlers were quick to file claims adjacent to the Umatilla agency. A portion of Pendleton, the leading settlement in northeastern Oregon, was actually located inside the reservation boundary. “Among these buildings,” agent R.H. Fay reported in March 1881, “is a Baptist Church … [and] the Parsonage of the Methodist Church.” Arguing that the off-reservation portion of the town was exposed to regular flooding, pioneers insisted on the right to build on Indian acreage. The Umatilla tribes eventually sold several hundred acres, relieving for the moment the pressure on their holdings.43

Other forms of white infringement in eastern Washing-ton and Oregon arose because only the Colville reservation — bounded on the east and south by the Columbia River, on the west by the Okanogan Valley, and on the north by the Canadian border — had clear geographic bounds. Everywhere else, white stock interests and farmers intended to secure effectual control of the best tracts. “They want all the land they can get,” one agent noted, “and … are not at all scrupulous as to the means employed in accomplishing their selfish designs.” Trespassers removed survey markers to facilitate utilization of the reservations. An enterprising settler diverted the stream serving as the northern line of the Umatilla agency, placing a valuable stand of timber outside the treaty boundary. County governments brazenly declared pasturage open to non-Indian ranchers.44 

Faulty federal surveys lay at the root of the problem. As in the case of Puyallup west of the mountains, surveyed boundaries often contrasted with the lines described in treaties. Government surveyors somehow removed desirable tracts from most of the interior reservations: eleven thousand acres of Umatilla farmland, extensive grazing districts at Klamath and Warm Springs, and timber at Yakama.45 “METALLIC influence” exerted by the Northern Pacific, an inspector discovered upon a visit to the Yakama agency, made “the compass used by the surveyor vary” so that forest resources worth a quarter million dollars reverted to the public domain and eventually were included in the railroad’s land grant.46 

Cattle and sheep raisers established their operations just outside reservation boundaries. “The white settlers,” Warm Springs agent D.H. Butler reported in 1889, “… drive their stock near the line and leave them knowing that they will cross over on the reserve of their own accord where there is better grass and water.” Arriving at Umatilla, a special Indian Office representative remarked, “this Reservation has been used at will by the whites as one large ranch,” a situation common to the interior Northwest.47 The barest regional overview conveyed the dimensions of trespass. Agent William Rinehart tallied twelve thousand head of illegal stock on the Malheur agency in 1878. In 1888, the army drove thousands of cattle off the Klamath reservation during a single sweep. The next year, Yakama agent Thomas Priestley found numerous bands of trespassing sheep feasting upon Indian grass.48 

Prevention of trespass was, as a practical matter, close to impossible. Some government employees, like the Warm Springs school director who set his brother-in-law up on the reservation with two thousand head of sheep, were corrupt.49 The honest and the energetic conceded the futility of their efforts. “It would almost require a regiment of police to keep the stock off,” Yakama’s Priestley noted. The army removed cattle from the Klamath reservation, but within weeks the herds “returned … in as great numbers as before.” When agents confronted trespassers, the Oregon and Washington congressional delegations would protest to the Indian Office on behalf of their constituents.50

Year after year, reports from the nation’s capital declared Congress on the verge of terminating or consolidating reservations in the Pacific Northwest. In 1878, for example, delegates to a convention to draft a constitution for the proposed state of Washington called for abolition of the Indian agencies so that “large areas of good lands [would be] thrown open to settlement.”51 Agents blamed the failure of Indians to take up farming on these rumors and demands. “While urging the Indians at Nisqually to go to work,” Robert Milroy reported from Puget Sound in 1872, “… a chief despairingly answered me that they greatly desired to do so, but that … if they went to work, and made valuable improvements, they had no certainty of permanently holding them.” Siletz agent J.W. Fairchild wrote that his charges had “bought lumber, intending to build on their farms, but not wishing to go to the expense of building on what might prove to be the land of another, they piled their lumber where it is now rotting.”52 

Besieged by settlers and development, Indian lands apparently could be protected in only one way: by allotment, or the transformation of the reservations into individually owned tracts. Private ownership of small farms — the endpoint of assimilation — was provided for in the Northwest treaties. The Medicine Creek agreement of 1854, for instance, authorized presidential action to “cause the whole or any portion of the lands hereby reserved, or of such other lands as may be selected in lieu thereof, to be surveyed into lots,” which would be assigned to such “individuals or families as are willing to avail themselves of the privilege.” Calls for activation of the proviso predated passage of the Dawes Act, or General Allotment Act, of 1887. “This is the grandest step ever prepared for those under our charge,” Oregon’s Alfred Meacham affirmed in 1871. “The first vital and fundamental step towards the permanent civilization, christianization and true elevation of the Indian,” agreed Robert Milroy, “… is to give him a separate property in the soil and a fixed and permanent home, where he may confidently surround himself with the comforts of civilization.”53 Milroy, in particular, emerged as a fervent champion of a cause thought to be in the best interest of Native Americans. 

Implementation of allotment proceeded slowly, the work beginning in the mid-1870s and continuing through the early years of the twentieth century. Opposition from Indians disinclined to give up the old ways, communal land ownership included, was a serious obstacle, especially on the large agencies east of the Cascades. Tribal leaders knew that white settlers supported allotment in the expectation of eventually gaining access to surplus tracts. Reports by agents and inspectors that were available to the Indians appeared to validate their suspicions of cynical intent on the part of local white interests. According to accounts circulating in the interior, settlers and corporations anticipated acquisition of “the great bulk” of the Colville reservation and up to four hundred thousand acres at Yakama.54 

Selection of tracts to be allotted was in itself time-consuming. Many of the smaller reservations lacked sufficient arable land to give the standard 160 acres to all qualified persons. The agencies also had to be surveyed, and not just to resolve external boundary disputes. They had to be “Sectionized,” as one official wrote, a process complicated by prevailing methods of land tenure. “As matters now stand,” Agent Alonzo Gesner reported from Warm Springs in 1885, “there is no order or system in the way the land is taken and held by the Indians, some hav[ing] as many as four small tracts of land in different parts of the Reservation.” The lack of interior surveys, Gesner explained, meant that “not one Indian knows just where his lines should be, and disputes are continually arising.”55 

Problems by no means ceased with the distribution of land. Patents finalizing the transfer to private ownership were issued in the nation’s capital. To the dismay of many agents, government clerks invariably failed to prepare the necessary documents in a timely fashion. Robert Milroy claimed in 1878 to have written his superiors “at least fifty times,” urging speedy issuance. “But on the subject of individual titles to Indians,” he complained, “the Dept. is as silent as death and as dumb as the grave.” Bureaucratic inertia was, in some cases, only partly to blame. Still hoping to remove Indians from the vicinity of Tacoma, the Northern Pacific contested the provision of titles to the Puyallups. Strong intervention by the Indian Rights Association, a national reform organization headquartered in the east, was required before tribal members finally secured patents in 1885.56 

Reformers in the east tended to regard allotment as an end in itself, ignoring the question of whether the supposed beneficiaries were willing or, for various reasons, able to immediately become self-sustaining farmers.57 Better-informed agents on the scene often condemned blanket application of the concept. “No Indian should have been allotted,” Umatilla’s George Harper reflected in 1894, “until after he has selected his land, moved on to it and made sufficient improvements, to prove by his work that he was worthy or intended to make it a home for the support of himself and family.” Instead, tracts were distributed to the disinterested and the disabled as well as to persons intent upon a genuine attempt at farming. Many observers feared that allotment, if not carefully applied and supervised, would guarantee the impoverishment rather than the liberation of Indians. Harper, for one, had no doubt of the outcome once allottees took unfettered possession upon expiration of the twenty-five-year trust period applied to most land patents: “in a very short space, in the twinkling of an eye, the title to his land will pass over to the sharks who have been lurking and … lying and waiting many a year.”58 

Northwest Indians, Robert Milroy pointed out, had always been self-supporting in terms of fishing, hunting, and gathering. “The principal object of our policy,” he declared of the change to come under assimilation, “has been to induce them to draw their subsistence from agriculture.”59 Given this criterion — the erection of a new sufficiency on the ruins of the old — the government made little headway in the closing years of the nineteenth century. Agricultural progress was impressive in some locales but as a general rule was limited — not surprisingly, considering the unsuitability of most reservations for farming.60 Traditional Indian culture, moreover, thwarted government assimilationist efforts. “It is astonishing,” Yakama agent Jay Lynch observed in 1892, “with what persistent tenacity the Indians hold on to their old customs and superstitions.”61 

Indian opposition did contribute significantly to the undermining of the assimilation process. There was no clear divide, however, between the rejection and acceptance of the proffered new lifestyle. Indians adopted those things, material and otherwise, deemed useful, while holding on to tradition, so far as practical circumstances allowed. Visiting Warm Springs in 1885, a federal inspector remarked on one example of the cultural hybridization produced under the treaties. “About 100 … houses of lumber” had been constructed, white-style structures “generally mated” with an adjoining “wigwam … in which the owners prefer to dwell.”62 

Annual Fourth of July celebrations, carried on at virtually all agencies with a verve lacking in neighboring American settlements, provided poignant insight on the cultural effects of assimilation efforts. Tribal members assembled for parades, patriotic orations, and games of baseball. The observances often went on for days, interfering with normal business. “Unless I had given strict orders when the festivities should cease,” Yakama agent Thomas Priestley confided in 1889, “I believe they would have celebrated all summer.” Despite official attempts at discouragement, the Indians also engaged in traditional dancing and incorporated old-time ceremonials into their new mid-year holiday.63

The work of assimilation faltered in considerable part because government indifference and irresponsibility more than outweighed the efforts of agents inclined toward conscientious behavior. Money was short, and employees were usually hired for reasons of politics rather than competence. The Indian Office invariably ignored environmental conditions inconducive to the spread of farming. In a fundamental failing, policymakers refused to accept Indians as adults capable of working out their own accommodation with the westward expansion of American society. “They should be regarded and treated as children,” declared John Smith, a veteran of the Warm Springs agency, “with firmness and kindness.” Genuinely, if haphazardly, interested in the long-term welfare of Native men, women, and children, reformers in public service considered assimilation a slow-maturing process.64 Unfortunately, settlers’ demands for access to land during the late nineteenth century allowed little opportunity for the assimilation process to move slowly. 


1. Congress prohibited the further making of Indian treaties in 1871. Francis Paul Prucha, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, 2 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), 1:527–33. The Malheur reservation in eastern Oregon was abandoned after the Bannock war of 1878. Spokane, the last of the agencies to be founded, was created by executive order in 1881.

2. Robert Winston Mardock, The Reformers and the Indian (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1971), 1–7, 47–8; Frederick E. Hoxie, A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the Indians, 1880–1920 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), 10–29, 38–9.

3. For a handy compilation of post-1790 legislation, see Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1892, 14–23.

4. Salaries paid subordinate employees were, of course, substantially below the rate due agents. T.J. McKenny to N.G. Taylor, June 10, 1868; Giles Ford to C.H. Hale, Sept. 30, 1862; J. Hill to McKenny, Aug. 12, 1867, all Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1853–1874, M5, National Archives, Washington, D.C. [hereafter NA]; R.H. Fay to Commissioner of Indian Affairs [hereafter CIA], Feb. 2, 1883, Umatilla Indian Agency Records, RG 75, National Archives and Records Service, Seattle [hereafter NARS]; E.E. Benjamin to CIA, Feb. 1, 1894; P. McCormick to Secretary of Interior [hereafter SI], Nov. 2, 1895, both Reports of Inspection of the Field Jurisdictions of the Office of Indian Affairs, 1873–1900, M1070, NA; H. Linville to E.S. Otis, March 7, 1874, Malheur Agency Papers, University of Oregon Library, Eugene [hereafter UO].

5. Milroy was removed from his Shenandoah Valley command for failing to impede Robert E. Lee’s march north prior to Gettysburg. He was considered by professional officers to be incompetent. E.H. Kemble to E.P. Smith, Oct. 15, 17; Nov. 7, 8, 15, 1873, Reports of Inspection.

6. Otis to Assistant Adjutant General, March 15, 1874, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs, Letters Received, 1824–1881, M234, NA; Charles C. Cresson to W.R. Parnell, May 30, 1874, Malheur Agency Papers; Wm. Vandever to CIA, Sept. 15, 1897; E.D. Bannister to SI, Feb. 2, 1886, both Reports of Inspection; J.B. Lane to Jno. D. C. Atkins, May 2, 1889, Grand Ronde/Siletz Indian Agency Records, RG 75, NARS.

7. Bartholomew Coffey to CIA, Feb. 12, 1889, Umatilla Indian Agency Records; R.H. Milroy to Ezra A. Hayt, May 9, 1878, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; to Hiram Price, Sept. 3, 1883, Yakama Indian Agency Records, RG 75, NARS; John Meacham to Alfred Meacham, March 8, 1871, Klamath Indian Agency Records, RG 75, NARS; Jay Buford to T.J. Morgan, May 6, 1890, Grand Ronde/Siletz Indian Agency Records; McKenny to Taylor, July 26, 1867, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs.

8. European priests and nuns, though usually conscientious, were often unable to speak English. Morgan to Thos. N. Falconer, April 30, 1890; Buford to David Dorchester, July 5, 1890, both Grand Ronde/Siletz Indian Agency Records; E.C. Watkins to J.Q. Smith, Sept. 1, 1877; Robert C. Gardner to SI, Dec. 20, 1882; McCormick to SI, April 5, 1894; March 22, 1895; Frank C. Armstrong to L.Q.C. Lamar, July 19, 1887; C.C. Duncan to SI, Aug. 29, 1894, all Reports of Inspection; E. Applegate to Binger Herman, March 21, 1890; to Morgan, March 21, 1890, Klamath Indian Agency Records; George Paige to Hale, Nov. 18, 1863, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Alonzo Gesner to CIA, Jan. 12, 1885, Warm Springs Indian Agency Records, RG 75, NARS; H. S. Webster to CIA, March 18, 1889, Umatilla Indian Agency Records.

9. Henry E. Fritz, The Movement for Indian Assimilation, 1860–1890 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1963), 76–9, 87–91; Robert H. Keller, Jr., American Protestantism and United States Indian Policy, 1869–82 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), 35–9; Francis Paul Prucha, American Indian Policy in Crisis: Christian Reformers and the Indian, 1865–1900 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976), 46–54.

10. Peter J. Rahill, The Catholic Indian Missions and Grant’s Peace Policy, 1870–1884 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1953), 42–75; Fritz, Movement for Indian Assimilation, 89–90, 92–108.

11. The Eells money apparently came, as inspectors eventually determined, from a fortuitous inheritance. Rumors of corruption nonetheless persisted, suggesting that negative public opinion extended to ministerial as well as secular agents. Charles L. Willoughby to CIA, May 15, 1878; J. Hill to J. Smith, Oct. 6, 1877, both Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; to Watkins, Dec. 29, 1877; Watkins to J. Smith, Sept. 22, 1877; William J. Pollock to Samuel J. Kirkwood, March 28, 1881; to Carl Schurz, Jan. 19, 1881; Bannister to SI, Feb. 20; March 28, 1886; William Newell to Henry Teller, Jan. 12, 1885; Gardner to SI, Oct. 28, 1882, all Reports of Inspection; George P. Castile, “Edwin Eells: U.S. Indian Agent, 1871–1895,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 72 (1981): 65–6; Robert L. Whitner, “Grant’s Indian Peace Policy on the Yakima Reservation, 1870–82,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 50 (1959): 137–9.

12. Milroy to J. Smith, June 1, 1877, R. H. Milroy Letterbook, University of Washington Library, Seattle [hereafter UW]; to E. Smith, March 13, 1874; Edmond Mallet to Hayt, Oct. 22, 1877; Samuel Parrish to E. Smith, Sept. 2, 1875; John Simms to CIA, Nov. 1, 1877, all Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; to Milroy, March 29, 1874, Colville Indian Agency Records, RG 75, NARS; McKenny to Taylor, Aug. 1; Oct. 26, 1868; James A. Smith to Samuel Ross, Oct. 29, 1870; H.C. Hale to McKenny, Aug. 20, 1868, all Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Mary Ann Royal to Stanley Olin Royal, Jan. 15, 1877, Royal Family Papers, Oregon Historical Society, Portland [hereafter OHS]; Lane to Atkins, Nov. 10, 1887, Grand Ronde/Siletz Indian Agency Records.

13. Simms to Hayt, June 24, 1879, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; to Price, June 26, 1883, Colville Indian Agency Records.

14. John W. Wells to Lewis V. Bogy, Feb. 5, 1867; O.C. Knapp to Meacham, Nov. ? 1869, both Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Watkins to J. Smith, Sept. 1, 1877; George R. Pearsons to Lamar, Nov. 3, 6, 1886; James H. Cisney to John W. Noble, Oct. 21, 25, 1889; M.A. Thomas to SI, Nov. 24, 1886; Lane to SI, June 23, 1886, all Reports of Inspection; Wesley Gosnell to E.R. Geary, Jan. 26, 1861, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; C. Aubrey Angelo, Sketches of Travel in Oregon and Idaho (New York: L. D. Robertson, 1866), 47–8.

15. McKenny to Bishop Blanchet, March 18, 1867; to Taylor, Nov. 25, 1867, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Willoughby to CIA, April 27, 1878; Wells to Bogy, Jan. 21, 1867, both Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Pearsons to Lamar, July 19, 1887; T.D. Marcum to SI, May 22, 1889; Armstrong to Lamar, July 19, 1887; Benjamin H. Miller to SI, Feb. 10, 1892; McCormick to SI, Feb. 4; April 5, 1894; May 5, 1895; W.J. McConnell to SI, Dec. 7, 1898; Feb. 10, 1899, all Reports of Inspection.

16. John T. Knox to Hale, May 24, 1864; Edwin Eells to Marshall Blinn, Jan. 20, 1874, both Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; to Milroy, Aug. 31, 1872; to E. Smith, Dec. 2, 1873; Jan. 25, 1875; to F.H. Smith, Sept. 10, 1874, Edwin Eells Papers, Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma.

17. Mallet to Hayt, Oct. 28, 1878, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Kemble to E. Smith, Sept. 29, 1873, Reports of Inspection.

18. Watkins to J. Smith, Sept. 11, 15, 1877; to CIA, Sept. 28, 1877, Reports of Inspection; Eells to H.R. Clum, June 21, 1871; to Milroy, Aug. 31, 1872; to E. Smith, Dec. 2, 1873, Eells Papers.

19. E.A. Swan to Price, Jan. 16, 1882, Grand Ronde/Siletz Indian Agency Records.

20. Milroy to J. Smith, June 11, 1877; to Berry, July 18, 1877, Milroy Letterbook; to R.B. and W.J. Milroy, April 12, 1883, R.H. Milroy Papers, OHS; to Price, March 27; April 2, 18, 1883, Yakama Indian Agency Records. See also Brad Asher, Beyond the Reservation: Indians, Settlers and the Law in Washington Territory, 1853–1889 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).

21. Milroy to Edwin C. Axtell, Nov. 8, 1875, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; to Hayt, April 3, 1878, Milroy Letterbook; to Price, March 5, 1883, Yakama Indian Agency Records. “In lieu of sticks, agents needed carrots to coax people into federal Indian enclaves,” Alexandra Harmon has explained; Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities around Puget Sound (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 113.

22. Meacham to Jo. Smith, Aug. 31, 1871, Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1845–1873, M2, NA. Meacham, the Oregon Indian superintendent, was famous for surviving, partially scalped, the failed peace conference in which General Canby and another government representative were murdered by Captain Jack and other Indians during the Modoc War.

23. See Francis Paul Prucha, ed., Americanizing the American Indians: Writings by the ‘Friends of the Indian,’ 1880–1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973), 193–292.

24. J.W. Perit Huntington to W.P. Dole, Sept. 12, 1863; to D.N. Cooley, Sept. 17, 1865, Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs; to Oliver Applegate, March 5, 1868, Lindsay Applegate Papers, UO; A.C. Fairchild to James Wilbur, Oct. 31; Nov. 30, 1867; Frances Barlow to Ross, Aug. 31, 1870, all Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Jo. Smith to E. Smith, May 14, 1874; Wells to Bogy, Jan. 7; Feb. 5, 1867, all Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Indian Reservations Journal, 1:32–3, OHS; Watkins to J. Smith, Sept. 15, 1877, Reports of Inspection.

25. James G. Swan Diary, Nov. 17–19, 26, 1863; March 4; April 24; Nov. 16; Dec. 26, 1864; Jan. 5, 1865, UW; J. Huntington to Cooley, Sept. 17, 1865; Meacham to CIA, Oct. 25, 1871, both Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Thomas Prather to Ross, Sept. 30, 1867, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; C. Huntington to E. Smith, Sept. 20, 1875; F.F. Royal to Hayt, Feb. 10, 1878, both Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Milroy to Price, April 27, 1883, Yakama Indian Agency Records.

26. A visitor to the Umatilla reservation in 1873 found barely a dozen of the over one hundred school-age children in class. At Medicine Creek in the late 1870s, Robert Milroy reported enrolling only one in eight potential Puyallup and Nisqually students. Kemble to E. Smith, Aug. 22, 1873, Reports of Inspection; Milroy to Hayt, Feb. 4, 1877, Milroy Letterbook.

27. Gosnell to W.W. Miller, Aug. 1, 1861, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs.

28. C. Huntington to E. Smith, Sept. 13; Nov. 6, 1875, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Sydney C. Waters to Price, June 26, 1884, Colville Indian Agency Records; L.S. Dyar to Thomas Odeneal, Aug. 31, 1872; Jos. Emery to Atkins, April 9, 1888, both Klamath Indian Agency Records; Fay to CIA, May 12; Aug. 31, 1881, Umatilla Indian Agency Records.

29. Milroy to Wilbur, Dec. 25, 1877, Milroy Letterbook; to Price, Dec. 2, 1884; Jan. 2; Feb. 2; March 2; April 2, 1885, Yakama Indian Agency Records; W.H. Rinehart to CIA, Jan. 2, 1878, Malheur Indian Agency Letterbook, RG 75, NA; C.H. Walker to CIA, April 3, 1883; Jo. Smith to CIA, June 1, 1883, both Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; Willoughby to Wesley Smith, June 24, 1885, Charles L. Willoughby Papers, UW.

30. Pollock to Schurz, Feb. 4, 1881; Newell to Taylor, Nov. 28, 1884; Pearsons to Lamar, Nov. 6, 1886, all Reports of Inspection; Meacham to H.C. Corbett, Dec. 3, 1870, Alfred Meacham Papers, Western Americana Coll., Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn. Farming was thought “the shortest route to civilization for the Indians”; Brian W. Dippie, The Vanishing Americans: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), 108.

31. Fairchild to E. Smith, June 21, 1875; William A. Bagley to Hayt, Nov. 26, 1877, both Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; W.H. Rector to Dole, Jan. 30, 1862; to Simpson, March 17, 1863, Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs; to James Nesmith, Jan. 26, 1860, James Nesmith Papers, OHS; J. Smith to Bagley, Sept. 17, 1877, Siletz Reservation Records, OHS; Kemble to E. Smith, Dec. 24, 1873; Jan. 5, 1874, Reports of Inspection.

32. James G. Swan to Geary, Jan. 31, 1860; to Bogy, Feb. 6, 1867, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Kemble to E. Smith, Oct. 29, 1873; Watkins to J. Smith, Sept. 27, 1877; Pollock to Kirkwood, April 7, 1881; Ward to Teller, Nov. 18, 1884; Bannister to SI, March 16, 1886, all Reports of Inspection.

33. Eldridge Morse Notebooks, 16:14–15, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Although some of the other western Washington reservations had farming land — the Skokomish, for instance — none possessed suitable acreage to accommodate all residents.

34. Blinn to E. Smith, Feb. 23, 1874; John O’Keane to R.E. Trowbridge, May 18, 1880, both Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; May 3, 1880; to Hayt, April 30, 1879, Tulalip Indian Agency Records, RG 75, NARS; E. Chirouse to Blinn, Jan. 21; Feb. 2, 10, 16; June 14, 1874; to Milroy, March 10; April 10, 1874; Eells to CIA, Feb. 4, 1874, all Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs. Some agents allowed genuine logging to continue in reduced form under the field-clearing loophole.

35. Barnhart to B.F. Kendall, March 1, 1862, B. F. Kendall Papers, OHS; J. Huntington to Barnhart, July 28, 1863, Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs; N.S. Cornoyer to E. Smith, July 6, 1874, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Pollock to Schurz, Jan. 9, 1881; Gardner to SI. Oct. 31, 1887, both Reports of Inspection.

36. J. Huntington to L. Applegate, April 7, 1866; L. Applegate to J. Huntington, May 19; June 4, 1866, all Applegate Papers; Dyar to Odeneal, July 1; Aug. 1, 1872; Nickerson to Price, Aug. 1, 1881, all Klamath Indian Agency Records; Kemble to E. Smith, Dec. 2, 1873; Vandever to CIA, Sept. 15, 29, 1874; Gardner to Teller, Nov. 27, 1882; Armstrong to Lamar, May 14, 1877; Cisney to Noble, Oct. 21, 1889; McConnell to SI, Sept. 28, 1898, all Reports of Inspection; Jack Hunt, “Land Tenure and Economic Development on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation,” Journal of the West 9 (1970): 101; Simms to Milroy, Nov. 20, 1872, John A. Simms Papers, Washington State University Library, Pullman.

37. O.C. Knapp to Ely S. Parker, Feb. 28, 1870; Dyar to Odeneal, July 1; Aug. 1, 1872; to E. Smith, March 1, 1875; Nickerson to Price, Aug. 1, 1881, all Klamath Indian Agency Records; Jo. Smith to CIA, Nov. 6, 1873, Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; Feb. 16, 1874, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Kemble to E. Smith, Dec. 2, 1873; Gardner to Teller, Nov. 27, 1882; Cisney to SI, Jan. 4, 1889; McConnell to SI, Sept. 28, 1898, all Reports of Inspection.

38. “Those best informed,” officials had previously advised regarding Siletz, “believed that the rugged nature of the coast range of Mountains, would forever debar the population of the Willamette Valley from using the harbors” on the ocean. J. Huntington to J.P. Usher, Dec. 31, 1864; to Taylor, Aug. 20, 1867, Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs; to Dole, Nov. 21, 1863; March 5, 28, 1864, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs. Isaac Stevens, one should note, did establish several of the Puget Sound reservations close to existing settlements, upon land thought to be suitable for farming.

39. Kemble to E. Smith, Jan. 5, 7, 20, 1874, Reports of Inspection; John Mitchell to C. Delano, Jan. 2, 1874; CIA to Simpson, July 17, 1875; Simpson to Mitchell, Aug. 26, 1875, all Records of the Office of Indian Affairs.

40. McKenny to Bogy, Feb. 11, 1867; Ross to Parker, Oct. 3, 12, 1869; May 2, 1870, all Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs.

41. W. K. Mendenhall to E. Smith, Feb. 27, 1874; C.B. Wright to Schurz, Nov. 3, 1877; Samuel A. Black to Schurz, Jan. 30, 1878, all Records of the Office of Indian Affairs.

42. Milroy to E. Smith, July 15, 1873; May 22, 1874; to W. Drummond, April 5, 1873; to J. Smith, April 10, 1876, all Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Eells to Henry L. Dawes, March 17, 1885, Henry L. Dawes Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Hoxie, Final Promise, 148–52.

43. Geary to A. B. Greenwood, March 1, 1860, Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Wells to Bogy, Feb. 5, 1867, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; Fay to Trowbridge, Sept. 2, 1880; to CIA, Feb. 3; March 4, 1881; May 3, 1882, Umatilla Indian Agency Records.

44. E.E. Benjamin to CIA, Feb. 12, 1894, Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; Jos. Emery to Atkins, Sept. 10, 1886, Klamath Indian Agency Records; Fay to CIA, Jan. 24, 1881; Nov. 23, 1882; E.J. Sommerville to CIA, March 17, 1884, all Umatilla Indian Agency Records; Milroy to Atkins, July 3, 1885; Thomas Priestley to R.L. Belt, July 1, 1889, both Yakama Indian Agency Records.

45. J.H. Roark to J. Smith, Aug. 21, 31; Sept. 7, 1877; Nickerson to Trowbridge, March 5, 1881; Emery to Atkins, Sept. 10, 18, 1886; June 16, 1887, all Klamath Indian Agency Records; Fay to CIA, Jan. 24, 1881; Moorhouse to CIA, Nov. 17, 1890, both Umatilla Indian Agency Records; Gesner to CIA, Sept. 1, 1885; Wheeler to CIA, Feb. 15, 1886; June 13; July 7, 1887, all Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; Preistley to Oberly, March 12, 1889; to Morgan, Dec. 3, 1889; Jay Lynch to CIA, Aug. 20, 1891; Oct 4, 1892, all Yakama Indian Agency Records.

46. McConnell to SI, Feb. 11, 1899, Reports of Inspection.

47. D.H. Butler to CIA, May 5, 1889, Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; H.S. Welton to CIA, March 9, 1889, Umatilla Indian Agency Records. See also J. Orin Oliphant, On the Cattle Ranges of the Oregon Country (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1968), chap. 9.

48. Rinehart to Trowbridge, July 12, 1880, Malheur Indian Agency Letterbook; Emery to Upshaw, Sept. 1, 1888, Klamath Indian Agency Records; Priestley to Belt, July 1, 1889, Yakama Indian Agency Records; Waters to Price, Sept. 6, 1888, Colville Indian Agency Records.

49. Gardner to SI, Oct. 15, 1887, Reports of Inspection.

50. Priestley to Atkins, May 14, 1888; to Belt, July 1, 1889, Yakama Indian Agency Records; Emery to Upshaw, Sept. 1, 1888; to CIA, Oct. 1, 1888, Klamath Indian Agency Records; Fay to CIA, July 8, 1881, Umatilla Indian Agency Records.

51. Angelo, Sketches of Travel, 47–8; Frances Fuller Victor, All Over Oregon and Washington (San Francisco: John H. Carmany, 1872), 102–3, 127–8; James Wyatt Oates, “Washington Territory,” Californian 1 (1880): 118; Henry J. Winser, The Pacific Northwest (New York: n.p., 1882), 66, 78; Wallis Nash, Two Years in Oregon (New York: D. Appleton, 1882), 250; “Washington’s First Constitution, 1878,” Washington Historical Quarterly 9 (1918): 227.

52. Milroy to Hayt, Feb. 4; March 27; July 5, 1878, Milroy Letterbook; to F.A. Walker, Sept. 3, 1872; Fairchild to W.R. Clum, Aug. 18, 1873, both Records of the Office of Indian Affairs.

53. Meacham to Joel Palmer, July 10, 1871, Meacham Papers; Milroy to Walker, Sept. 1, 1872, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs.

54. L.D. Thompson to Meacham, Dec. 11, 1871, Meacham Papers; Sommerville to CIA, April 10; May 7; Aug. 1, 1885; to E. Whittlesey, Dec. 14, 1885; Coffery to CIA, Nov. 2, 1886; Moorhouse to CIA, March 21, 1891, all Umatilla Indian Agency Records; Hal J. Cole to Morgan, March 15, 1890, Colville Indian Agency Records; David Matthews to Morgan, April 15, 16, 1892, Klamath Indian Agency Records; Webster L. Stabler to CIA, Sept. 10, 18, 1890, Yakama Indian Agency Records; Benjamin H. Miller to SI, Feb. 11, 1899; McCormick to SI, March 23, 1895; McConnell to SI, Feb. 11, 1899, all Reports of Inspection.

55. Kemble to E. Smith, Nov. 14, 1873; Pollock to Kirkwood, March 28, 1881; Gardner to SI, Dec. 4, 1887, all Reports of Inspection; J.D. Lane to Atkins, Sept. 2, 1887, Grand Ronde/Siletz Indian Agency Records; Coffey to CIA, Oct. 4, 1887, Umatilla Indian Agency Records; Gesner to CIA, March 12, 1884; July 9, 1885; Wheeler to CIA, Dec. 11, 1885; Butler to CIA, Jan. 1, 1889, all Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; Milroy to Price, July 5, 1883, Yakama Indian Agency Records; W. Milroy to Milroy, June 11, 1883, Milroy Papers.

56. Milroy to Hayt, July 5, 1878, Milroy Letterbook; Eells to Hayt, July 13, 1878, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs; to Dawes, March 17, 1885, Dawes Papers; Ward to Teller, April 24, 1884, Reports of Inspection; William T. Hagan, The Indian Rights Association: The Herbert Welsh Years, 1882–1904 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1985), 71–2.

57. D.S. Otis, The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian Lands, ed. Francis Paul Prucha (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1973), 83–4, 103–4.

58. Harper to CIA, Dec. 8, 1894; Sept. 1, 1895, Umatilla Indian Agency Records. Nationally, Indian land ownership declined from 138 million acres in 1887 to 52 million acres, approximately one-third in the form of allotted tracts, in 1934. Prucha, Great Father, 2:896.

59. Milroy to Atkins, March 3, 1886, Milroy Papers.

60. McCormick to SI, Jan. 26; Feb. 3; April 5, 1894; April 17, 1895; O’Connell to SI, Aug. 26, 1899; McConnell to SI, Jan. 2, 1899, all Reports of Inspection.

61. Lynch to CIA, March 7; Aug. 23, 1892, Yakama Indian Agency Records.

62. Newell to Lamar, May 1, 1885, Reports of Inspection. Another visitor to Warm Springs wrote that she had been served tea upon “perfectly clean” china by a dignified Indian host able to speak in “broken English.” Eunice Robbins to Uncle, Sept. 8, 1871, Kate L. Robbins Letters, UO.

63. Milroy to CIA, July 2, 1877; to J. Smith, Aug. 1, 1877, Milroy Letterbook; to Price, July 1, 1884; to Atkins, July 7, 1885; Priestley to Morgan, July 31, 1889; L. T. Erwin to CIA, July 5, 1895, all Yakama Indian Agency Records; Indian Reservations Journal, 2:65; 3:1–3; Matthews to Morgan, July 31, 1889, Klamath Indian Agency Records; Gesner to CIA, Aug. 4, 1884; Aug. ? 1885; Wheeler to CIA, Aug. 9, 1887, all Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; Miller to SI, July 31, 1890, Reports of Inspection; John W. Crawford to CIA, June 22, 1892, Umatilla Indian Agency Records.

64. Jo. Smith to CIA, Sept. 1, 1873; Gesner to CIA, March 4, 1885, both Warm Springs Indian Agency Records; Swan to Henry Webster, March 31, 1863, Records of the Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs; Rector to Dole, June 16, 1862, Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs. “It is hard work pulling Indians up from barbarism,” Robert Milroy observed in capturing both the need for patience and government attitudes toward traditional Indian culture. Milroy to R. and W. Milroy, April 27, 1884, Milroy Papers.