Klamath Reservation

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Klamath Agency

The Klamaths came from Klamath reservation, west Klamath Lake, and Linkville, the Modocs from Tule Lake and Lost river, and the Snakes from Goose Lake, Silver Lake; Warner Lake, and Harney Lake, all in Oregon. These tribes have been on the reservation since the treaty in 1804. They are not divided into bands. There are no chiefs among them. None of these Indians were ever located on any other reservation except a few Warm Springs Indians from Warm Springs agency, Oregon, who came here since the treaty of 1864.

All the Indians of the various tribes here have intermarried, so that the Klamaths and Modocs are completely blended with each other and partly with the Snakes. There are a few Pitt Rivers here from Pitt River, California, who were brought as slaves by the Modocs. The Modocs were originally seceders from the Klamath tribe. – D. W. Matthews, United State Indian agent.

Klamath Reservation

This reservation is situated in the high plateau country of south central Oregon east of the Cascade Range of mountains, where the valleys have an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level. The climate is delightful during the summer months, but in winter it is very cold, and snow falls to a depth of 4 or 5 feet. The reserve covers an area of 1,056,000 acres, 60,000 acres of which is fine agricultural land and about 125,000 acres is marsh, but around its borders is fine meadow land, covering thousands of acres, from which the Indians cut large quantities of hay. The balance of the land is well covered with pine timber of fairly good quality. The soil is mostly derived from the disintegration of basaltic rocks, though sometimes for a considerable area it is composed wholly of volcanic ash. The real agricultural land lies in the western portion of the reserve, and extends from Modoc Point to Fort Klamath. The area in cultivation is small, probably about 2,000 acres, and the crops are poorly tended. Very little grain was sown this season, but there was a “volunteer” crop of wheat of some value.

Klamath. Marsh, which occupies the northern portion of the reservation and covers an area of about 90,000 acres, is the ancient harvest field of the Klamath and neighboring tribes, who visit it during the months of July. and August, camping along the margin and gathering the seeds of the pond lily, which they call wokas and use for food. The seed pods are gathered by the younger women in canoes, and it devolves on the older women to extract the seeds, from which is prepared the several dishes, spoke-wus, so-leases, and slul-bolts. To prepare spoke-wus the ripest pods, those that have burst open on the plant, are gathered and placed in a canoe filled with water, where they are allowed to remain for 2 or 3 weeks, during which time the seeds have fairly well loosened from the pods, but the separation is completed by rubbing between the hands. The seeds are then laid on mats in the sun for a few hours and afterward tossed with hot coals into a mat or shallow basket made of tube. They are then placed on a flat rock and the hulls loosened by lightly rubbing with a small stone mailer and separated from the seed by winnowing. The seed is then parched in a hot frying pan, where it swells, pops, and bleaches like pop corn, and is then ready to be eaten, either dry or with cold water. When served with cream and sugar it is an acceptable dish. So-leases is prepared by first roasting the pods over an open fire, then breaking them open and further drying them in the sun, and separating the seeds from the hulls with the mailer, as before. Slul-bolis is simply the sun-dried seeds removed from the pods by beating with the paddle and winnowing. To prepare it for use it is roasted, crushed on a fiat stone with a heavy muller, and the hull separated from the crushed seed by winnowing. This is generally boiled in water like rice or oatmeal and served with cold water. Hundreds of bushels of this seed. are annually gathered by these Indians, and constitute, with dried stickers, the principal part of their subsistence.

Stock raising is really the only pursuit that can profitably be engaged in. Late frosts are liable to freeze out the grain and kill all but the most hardy of the vegetables. The report of the agent contained in the annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1889 stated that the number of cattle owned by the Indians was 2,620 and of horses 6,460. The number of each now owned by the Indians can only be estimated by an approximation of the loss last winter. The agent estimates that the loss of horses will reach 70 per cent and of cattle 60 per cent. One Indian reports his loss as 250 out of 300 horses, and another 155 out of 170. One man lost 58 out of 78 head of cattle and another 40 out of 70. These losses were not wholly due to improvidence, as the winter was unusually severe.

The houses occupied by the Indians are generally frame, having from 1 to 4 rooms and presenting a neat appearance from the outside. The lands enclosed about their habitations are usually poorly protected from the cattle on the range, as the fences are generally insufficient to prevent any animal entering the inclosure.
The Klamaths are, generally speaking, rather above the average Indian in intelligence. Most of them speak English and show a disposition to adopt the manners and customs of the whites. They have abandoned all their heathen rights and ceremonies and discarded their ancient dress.

Many of the men on this reservation are 6 feet and upward in height and weigh from 175 to 225 pounds. Their features are generally good, and collectively they dress as well as the same number of whites in many of the farming communities of this state. Some of them are short of stature, but heavily built, and most of them appear muscular and healthy. The prevalent diseases are consumption and scrofula, which destroy many of the young people. The young and middle-aged women are fairly good looking, but the elder women are generally unprepossessing. There is not a case of venereal disease on the reservation. Licentiousness among the young people is common. The married women, as a rule, are true to their husbands, but occasionally there is a case of adultery, which is generally punished by the husband beating his wife, although some cases have been referred to the agent, who inflicts a fine on both the guilty parties when the evidence of their guilt is conclusive.

License to marry is granted by the agent when the contracting parties are of an age to realize the importance of the step they are about to take. No license is granted when either of the parties is attending school and has not completed a prescribed course. The ceremony is performed by the agent or one of the resident preachers, and no instance is known in late years of two persons living together as man and wife who have dispensed with the formality of the regulation marriage ceremony. Divorces are granted by the agent when the complaining parties can bring sufficient evidence to justify such a decree. Brutality and adultery are generally the grounds of corn plaint.

Prior to the treaty made with these Indians in 1864 the bodies of the dead were burned on funeral piles together with all their belongings. This custom was forbidden by the first agent appointed for them, and since that time they have buried their dead, and are now very particular to provide as expensive a coffin as their means will allow, and a ceremony at the grave is conducted by one of the Indian preachers or a missionary. A custom prevails to prepare the coffin and burial raiment as soon as they think that a person can not recover from an illness. It has happened that after everything had been got in readiness for burial persons have recovered health, and their friends have the coffin and other things left on their hands.

Controversies of every nature are brought before the agent for adjudication, and his decision is accepted by the parties as just and final. No Indian court is held on this reservation, but in the adjudication of certain difficulties the agent often consults the most intelligent Indians who may be present when the case is under discussion and metes out punishment in accordance with their advice.

The allotment of lands in severalty to these Indians does not seem advisable. The considerable altitude of the reservation and rigorous character of the climate preclude all hope of making them self-supporting and independent through agricultural pursuits. No dependence can be placed on the certainty of crops, either cereals or vegetables, and for this reason the: only profitable industry that can be engaged in is stock raising. To be successful in this business the prerequisite is an extensive range, which is essentially true of this reserve. It will never be fit for anything else until the climate becomes more temperate and cereals will grow and ripen oftener than once in 3 years.

There is a vast range along the north and east boundaries of the reservation which is now encroached on by the whites, who drive in their cattle daring the summer and pasture them on the lands of the Indian. On the north and east boundary, along the Klamath and Sican marshes, is a vast area of level land that will furnish pasture for thousands of cattle.

The women manufacture a very good twine from the fibers of the nettle and use it for making fish nets, with which the men catch. great numbers of suckers, which are dried in the sun without salt and used for food. The women also make hats and baskets of a very neat pattern of grasses and tale.

The different tribes are so intermarried that it is almost impossible to separate them. There are Klamaths, Modocs, Snakes, Warm Springs, Moleles, and Spokanes, and to further complicate the matter there is an infusion of white, Negro, and possibly some Chinese blood among them. None of the tribes recognize any chief, although there are a number of former chiefs still living on the reservation.

The Klamath agency is situated near the western boundary of the reservation, and it is here that the larger of the 2 schools on the reserve is located. The building occupied as the school boarding house is a well constructed frame structure, but the accommodations are insufficient for the number of pupils in attendance. The house contains 4 dormitories, 2 of which contain 13 beds each and 2 have 9 beds each. The average attendance at the school is 110, and it is often found necessary to put 3 of the smaller children in one bed. The average age of the pupils in attendance is 12.7 years; none younger than 6 are admitted. The school enjoys a summer vacation as a whole, but details of 35 pupils each are ordered by the superintendent. The pupils of one detail remain at the school and perform the necessary work in and about the buildings, farm, and garden, and at the end of 2 weeks service are relieved by another detail of pupils, who come in from their homes. The schoolrooms are detached from the boarding house, are in fairly good condition, and are large enough to accommodate the pupils in attendance. The school term commences September 1.

The appointment of all school employees should be delegated to the superintendent of the school, and their tenure of office should be at his discretion, for it is only possible to conduct a school successfully and efficiently when the superintendent and employees work in harmony, and harmony is only possible when some one in authority is empowered to dismiss subordinates for incompetency or insubordination. This authority should properly be vested in the superintendent of each school.

The farms and gardens connected with the schools are tended by the boys and yield good return in the way of vegetables for the boarding house and feed for the cattle owned by the school.

The military reserve known as Fort Klamath is located on the reservation ceded to the Indians by the treaty of 1804. The fort has been abandoned as a military post, and the laud should properly revert to- the Indians. There are at the fort a number of good buildings, formerly occupied by the troops, which should be turned over to the Interior Department and an industrial school established for the Indians east of the Cascade Range. The industrial school of Chemawa is located in the Willamette valley but 187 feet above sea level. The climate during the summer months is oppressively warm and disagreeable when compared with the climate of the high plateau region of eastern Oregon. It is claimed that something in the climate or the change from a high to a low altitude affects the Indians sent from here, consumption develops, and they are sent home to die. As claimed, 25 of the healthiest young men and women have been sent from the Klamath reservation to Chemawa, and but 5 of the number are now living. For this reason the parents refuse to allow their children to attend that school. If an industrial school can not be organized east of the Cascade range, there should be appointed at each agency a wheelwright, blacksmith, and shoemaker, whose duty it should be to instruct the boys in those trades, and allow them to work on the wagons, machinery, and implements brought in by the Indians for repairs.

The buildings at the agency consist of the agent’s residence, a number of dwellings occupied by the employees; an office, 3 commissary stores, drug store, school, boarding house, 2 schoolhouses, laundry, butcher shop, sawmill, blacksmith shop, barn, jail, and a few other buildings and sheds. Many of the buildings are old. One thing that is especially needed at this agency is a hospital fitted up with a few beds.
The clothing and dry goods furnished by the contractors for the use of the school are of the most inferior quality, and are not delivered within the time specified in the contract, thereby causing great inconvenience and sometimes actual suffering by the neglect.

The road in front of the agency blacksmith shop is filled with wagons and farm machinery needing repairs, but there is no material for that purpose nearer than Montague, a station on the railroad 95 miles distant where there is lying 9;000 pounds of material that was ordered months ago, but which the contractor, for some reason other, has failed to deliver.

The Yainax School

The Yainax School is 40 miles distant from Klamath agency, and, although there are quite a number of Indians in its vicinity, they are compelled to go down to the agency for all the little articles that the government issues to them. It would seem nothing more than right that the superintendent at Yainax should be ‘permitted to draw a- certain amount of all the supplies issued to the Indians and in turn issue them as called for and take receipts for them, instead of compelling the Indians to travel such a great distance for small but needed articles.

The enumeration of the Indians on this reservation was done at a grand council called by the agent for July 4, and lasted a week. A large number of the Indians came in with their families, and all camped together. The enumeration is very complete, but there are about 250 Snakes and Modocs off the reservation in the vicinity of Big valley, Tule Lake, and Fort Bidwell, in California, and near Lakeview, in Oregon. These Indians belong on the Klamath reservation, but are not enumerated on the agent’s schedules. The number of Indians enrolled was 835. Of these, 29 were between 80 and 100 years of age, 134 between 60 and 80 years, 117 between 40 and 60 years, 212 between 20 and 40, and 343 between the ages of 1 and 20. The very large percentage of old people is remarkable.

General Remarks and Recommendations

Klamath Agency.  I inspected the warehouse at this agency and found that many of the supplies furnished were of the most inferior quality.

The quality of rations issued is excellent, and the quantity issued for the school children is the full amount allowed by the rules and regulations of the Indian department.

Butter, eggs, milk, and garden vegetables raised or produced on the farms attached to the schools may be used in addition to the rations.

The Klamath agency issues nails, building hardware, axle grease, harness, plows, axes, rakes, hoes, and many other articles. Reapers, mowers, and thrashing machines are loaned to the Indians by the agent.

Klamath, At this reservation I advise that allotments be ordered; that one-half the grazing and timber land be sold, and that the residue be retained as pasture land for the Indians stock, and desirable white settlers be induced to take land in the agricultural district in close proximity to the Indians; that the agency be continued, and that the amount realized from the sale of the lands be covered into the Treasury of the United States, to be expended for the benefit of the Indians.




MLA Source Citation:

Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 31 March 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/klamath-reservation.htm - Last updated on Nov 22nd, 2013


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