Industrious Utes

In his 1885 report, Agent Elisha Davis noted that some Utes worked as freighters, hauling supplies by wagon from Provo City to the agency, a distance of 150 miles. He reported they had delivered 48,148 pounds of annuity goods and supplies and earned $1,444,44. They also hauled 30,350 pounds of freight for traders, at 3 cents a pound, from Salt Lake City to the agency. Agent Davis noted the Utes did this work with their own teams of horses and “they make careful freighters.”
          The agency had a stock of three stallions and 20 bulls for breeding plus a herd of 400 cows and heifers. The agent reported some Utes had developed their own herds. One Ute had “470 head of as good stock as there is in Utah, worth $12,000; another has 300 head; and others have 50 to 100 head.” Despite these successes, the agent reported “the number who own cattle is very small.”
          A large irrigation ditch was built to support “an immense tract of land” which the agent reported was “proving a success beyond my most sanguine expectations.” He noted that many Indians had built “several quite substantial houses, mostly of sawed logs.”

From “Reports of Agents in Utah,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885

Published in: on March 18, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Food on the Reservation

In 1885 Agent Chn. F. Stollstemer reported supplies were issued weekly at his agency. According to Indian Bureau instructions, a weekly issue included about one and three-quarters pounds of beef, the same quantity of flour, a few grains of coffee and sugar, and a little baking-powder, salt and soda – not enough to keep them from starving.
          The agent noted that they received no bacon, no corn, no potatoes, no beans. He stated:

there is no game left to speak of, it is hard to see how they will manage to exist. In former years, when game was plentiful on the reserve, they were furnished supplies in abundance. Now, when the game is nearly exterminated, their supplies are systematically reduced from year to year. If no relief is granted them, they will be compelled by hunger to steal cattle, and continuous troubles, perhaps an Indian war, will be unavoidable.

From “Report of Agent in Colorado,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885

Published in: on March 11, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Farming on the Uintah Reservation

Bear Dance, Utah Reservation, March 12, 1888. General Pershing was a visitor at this event.

Bear Dance, Utah Reservation

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

Published in: on February 25, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Safety in Indian Country 1859

Colonel Philip St. George Cooke

The Department of Indian Affairs, New Mexico Superintendency, covered a huge territory and diverse Indian nations in 1859. Superintendent J.L. Collins reported, “Our Indian population numbers nearly four hundred thousand souls. They occupy the country extending from Texas to Washington Territory.”
          Collins noted improvements in the past ten years. “For thirty years before the country [bordering the Gila River] became part of the United States, nearly all communications through it had ceased on account of the Indians. Mining interests were broken up and abandoned, stock farms destroyed, trapping parties…were defeated…
          “When Colonel Cook[e] passed through the country with his command, in 1846, he was in many places unable to follow the roads; they had been so long abandoned and out of use.”
          “What is the condition of the country now? We have a weekly line of stages running through it, with mail stations occupied by two or three men, which remain unmolested. The roads are constantly travelled by men unarmed, in parties of two or three, and often by single individuals.”

From the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1859, New Mexico Superintendency, pages 334-362

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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