Indian Agent Elisha M. Davis reported agriculatural progress by the Uintah Utes in Utah. In his 1885 annual report he estimated the Uintah Utes had about 243 acres of ground under cultivation. At the time of the report they were cutting grain. He projected a harvest of 6,000 bushels of oats, 1,900 bushels of wheat, and 1,800 bushels of potatoes. Most of the Indians also had vegetable gardens.
Agent Davis made an interesting, and very logical, proposal. The Government purchased oats to feed livestock owned by the agency. These purchases were made through the usual government contracting process. Agent Davis proposed:
As a means of encouraging these Indians I would recommend that the oats purchased for the Government stock of this agency be purchased of the Indians—not by contract. They raise enough for all the agency demands. This plan, if once adopted, will encourage the Indians and be a matter of economy to the Department [of Indian Affairs].
For instance, the Government pays $2.20 a hundred [pounds] for oats delivered at Provo, 150 miles away, while they can be purchased from the Indians at $1.75 per hundred [pounds] delivered at the agency mill—a saving of 45 cents [per hundred pounds] in the price of the oats and a complete saving of the freight, $2.75 per hundred [pounds].
Davis went on to note that the grist mill at the agency was nearly worn out. He had arranged for a new and unused grist mill stored at the Ouray agency to be transferred to the Uintah Agency. As soon as it was installed, the Uintah Agency would be able to produce “excellent flour.”
Agent Davis estimated the Utes under his agency “raise about one-third of their subsistence; one third they obtain from hunting, trapping, and intercourse [trade] with the whites; the other third is furnished them by the Government.”
Photo Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Content from “Reports of Agents in Utah,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885