In the Table is given, from the most authentic sources to which I have had access, which I believe to be the best existing in our country, a list of the Indian Tribes West of the Rocky Mountains. With the names, numbers, and places of residence, of these tribes, Messrs. Crooks &, Stuart, (to whom I am indebted for the body of information contained in the Table, as well as for that which follows it,) gave me a concise description of these Indians, and of their country, which I here insert. This description embraces several tribes, and their country, immediately on this side the Rocky Mountains, a region hitherto unexplored, through which the gentlemen above named passed, and where they spent a winter.
“The sources of Big Horn River, a branch of the Yellow Stone, of Rio del Norte, a water of the Gulf of Mexico, and of the East Fork of Lewis River, a water of the Pacific Ocean, are within half a mile of each other, in about lat. 43°.”
“From the Pacific Ocean, ascending Columbia river, 160 miles, to the Rapids, is a broken, heavy timbered country, mostly of the pine species. From this point the woods gradually diminish for sixty miles farther up the river, where timber wholly disappears, and no growth is found, but stinted pines, and shrub oaks. Except on the spurs of the Rocky Mountains, which extend west to within four hundred miles of the Pacific Ocean, the face of the country, generally, presents a continuation of rocks and sand, with very little vegetation of any kind, except a few tracts scattered along the banks of the rivers. It is in fact a barren desert. The spurs of the mountain, and the main chain, indeed, are covered with pines. From these east, to the Missouri, the same barrenness, as to the growth of timber, prevails, but the soil is better, producing grass sufficient to feed large herds of buffalo. On the west side of the mountains, no wood of any kind is found, not even on the low bottom lands.” ” I have travelled,” says Mr. Crooks, “several hundreds of miles along the Ky-eye-nam River, without meeting with any thing larger than the common willow. The Indians in this desert waste subsist on fish and roots. There is here very little game.”
“A town, called Astoria, named after John Jacob Astor, Esq. of New York, was established on Columbia river, fifteen miles from its mouth, in the spring of 1811. At this period, there were here about one hundred and twenty men. In 1813, this place was captured by the British, but afterwards given up, by treaty, in which it was stipulated, that the British, should have liberty, for ten years, to trade with the Indians in the vicinity of this coast, in common with the Americans.
“At the falls of the Columbia river, are collected Indians of different tribes, in large numbers, particularly the Hellwits. Here is an immense salmon fishery. Some of this species of fish, caught here, weigh sixty pounds, and the average is fifteen pounds, of fine flavor. These fish, dried by the sun, are the principal food of the Indians. From the Falls, to the junction of Lewis’ river with the Columbia, on the south side, are no Indians. On the north side, the first one hundred miles above the Falls, is inhabited by the Hellwitts tribe.
“East of the Rocky Mountains, scattering timber grows on the bottom lands, but not a twig on the upland.
“The eye meets with no other obstruction than it would in the midst of the ocean. There is abundance of salt in this region. Stone is not uncommon; but not a solitary indication of coal, after leaving the main stream of the Missouri.
“About the year 1802, a war party of the Pawnee Indians brought the smallpox from New Mexico, to the borders of the Missouri. It spread its ravages over a great part of this region, and destroyed more than half its population. Since this period, their numbers have slowly increased.”
An Education Family might be planted on some part of Columbia, on Wallaumut, (erroneously called Multnomah) river, with safety, and advantage to this populous region of Indians, and some of our religious Associations are directing their attention to this place, and intending to seize the first opening, for establishing here such a family of a large and respectable size. Several promising young men have offered themselves already for this service. Should the Government establish a military post here, 1Appendix H it will be very important for reasons stated in another part of this Report, that an Education Family, and an Indian Agency should be planted, at the same time, near it. These Indians, who have hitherto had but little intercourse with white people, should see them, in the outset of this intercourse, and also in continuance, in an attitude adapted to make, and to cherish, impressions favorable to civilization and Christianity. This establishment, should it be made, will be an important link in the chain of intercourse between the United States and the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
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