A New Reservation in Utah

In 1880, many of the Ute Indians were removed from Colorado and resettled on reservations in Utah. This was a result of the public outcry over the Meeker Massacre.  The land they were given was shockingly barren compared to their Rocky Mountain homeland. The Ouray Agency was a new reservation established for the Tabeguache Utes near the existing Uintah Agency.
          The 1885 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs offers a glimpse into life on the Utah reservation, three years after the Tabeguache Utes were relocated from Colorado. Of course, the report was written by the Indian Agent, J.F. Gardner (a white man).
          On August 12, 1885, Agent Gardner filed his second annual report. The agency office had been moved across the Green River to the former site of Fort Thornburgh. There were eleven buildings on the four-acre site, built of round logs (called stockade-built). Roofs were logs covered with dirt. Special Agent Leuders had repaired the buildings.
          Gardner said the buildings were fine in dry weather but “untenable in in the rainy season.” He had built a new agent’s house – a lathe and plaster dwelling 28 by 44 feet. The cost of the building was $1,994.54.
          A frame school house was also built at a cost of $800.00. It was 16 by 30 feet in size and needed to be plastered before ready for use. The school could accommodate thirty “day-scholars.” (There were no facilities for students to live at the school.)
         When the facility had been used by the Army, soldiers slept in tents surrounded by dirt embankments for protection. The embankments were removed and the flattend area seeded with grass.

<em>Content from “Reports of Agents in Utah,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885</em>

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Limited English Proficiency Not So New

On June 12, 1865 Kirby Benedict, Chief Justice of New Mexico, wrote to W. P. Dole, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C. He reported the installation of Lorenzo Labadi and others as Indian Agents. They had posted bonds and taken the oath of office before the judge.
          Benedict noted, “I will state that neither the lately appointed superintendent, nor either of the four agents recently commissioned, can keep their accounts or report to you in the English language. Labadi can nearly keep his accounts in English, and in Spanish can keep them in good form and style. He understands much of the English when he hears it spoken. [Labadi was being reappointed.] Salazar speaks a very little English. The superintendent and agents will necessarily have to depend upon clerks or friends to make out their accounts and reports for them. Much, therefore, will rest upon the integrity and good faith of the clerks or friends who may be trusted in a confidential relation with the officers in this portion of the Indian affairs.”

Quoted text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1865

Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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“We Won’t Go,” said the Utes

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

When Alexander Cummings became Governor of Colorado Territory, he quickly discovered the Ute Indians were not happy.
          “When I arrived in the Territory in October 1865…my predecessor had but just returned from his interview with the Tabeguache, to whom he had given annuities of goods and stock. He was under the impression that the Indians…had resolved to go across the mountains toward or into their reservation.”
          To his surprise, Cummings found “that the Tabeguaches never had much idea of going to their reservation, or, if they had, they very soon abandoned it.”
          Cummings reported that he met with the Uintah and Yampa (Green River) bands of Utes. His purpose was to convince them to give up their current land and to join the Tabeguaches on a reservation agreed to in the 1863-64 treaty.
          “I took with me to this meeting…a quantity of provisions and cattle, and part of the goods which had been stored in Denver for a year or two past,” Cumming reported. “I met with Indians under very favorable circumstances; found them in a very good humor…but I soon learned that they were utterly averse to parting with the lands in question, and also unwilling to even entertain the proposition of permitting roads to be made through their grounds.”
           Drawing a map in the dirt, Cummings showed the Unitah and Yampa leaders certain areas of land they claimed to be theirs which the Tabeguache had sold to the government in the recent treaty. “This exasperated them very much…They said the Tabeguaches had never sold these lands, but if they had done it they had no right whatsoever to do so. They said the country that they were now occupying was their own hunting ground…and that no power should disturb their possession of it.”
          Cummings attempted to convince the Uintah and Yampa to “abandon their claim and go over to the White River to a reservation in the immediate vicinity of the Tabeguache reserve.” The Uintah and Wampa (sic) leaders refused. Cummings pushed this idea so hard that he began to fear for his own safety.
          “They are quite intelligent,” Cummings said of these Utes, “and point with great earnestness to the condition of all the places where the whites have obtained a foothold. And they say with great force that if roads and settlements are allowed to be made in their present hunting grounds, which is all that is left to them, the game will vanish and they will soon be left to starvation.”
          “These bands, the Uintahs and the Wampas (sic), are a quiet, peaceably-disposed people: say they want to live on friendly terms with the whites…”
          Cummings did make a treaty with the Uintahs and Yampas in August 1866 but it was never ratified by Congress.

Photo courtesy Colorado State Archives
Text from Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1866

Colorado Territory: Indians and Agents 1861

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

The first Territorial Governor William Gilpin, like those who followed him, served as ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the new Colorado Territory. In his first annual report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for 1861, Gilpin estimated the population of white men at 30,000 and the number of Indians at 25,000.  He identified the diverse Indians and the areas of Colorado they called home,  along with names of their assigned Indian Agents.

          “The Indians belonging to this superintendency, and who may be said to revolve around this city [Denver] as round a centre:
          “Commance, Kiowas, and Sheyennes of the Arkansas Smoky Hills and Republican rivers. Arapahoes – one agency, [A.G.] Boone agent.
          “Ogallah Sioux, Half-breeds of Arapahoes, South Platte and Cadre la Poudre rivers. Sheyennes and Sioux – one sub agency.
          “Apaches of the Ratone Mountains and Rio del Norte. Utahs – one agency, Kit Carson, agent.
          “Utahs (Mohuaches) of the Parc of San Louis, Eagle rivers and San Juan Mountains. Capotes and Navajoes – one agency, F. [LaFayette] Head, agent.
          “Utahs of Grand and Green rivers, and Shoshones of the south, middle, and north Parcs, and country north and west of the Pass. Snake Indians – one agency, [Harvie M.] Vaile agent.”

Photo courtesy the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1861

Protecting Citizens in Indian Country 1859

J. L. Collins, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico Territory, believed in punishing Indians for crimes against settlers. He also thought settlers needed to protect themselves.
          “It is not practicable,” he wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1859, “to have [military] troops in every neighborhood, and it seldom occurs, when a depredation [crime by an Indian] is committed, that a notice can reach the troops in time to enable them to effect anything.”  
          “How were the frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee defended in the first settlement of those States? …[hearing] an alarm of Indians aroused every [male] citizen; they shouldered their rifles, and rallied to the rescue, leaving their noble wives and daughters to defend their homes and firesides, while [the men] followed the enemy…”
          Collins had little patience with people who complained that the military did not do enough to protect settlers in the vast New Mexico Territory. “…Now, we expect the government to do everything. In place of fighting to defend our own interest, we spend our time writing letters and newspaper editorials, condemning a policy that has been approved by the wisdom of each successive administration for the last thirty years.”

Map by M.A. Leonard

Text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1859

Government contracting in 1874

The United States government made treaties with American Indian nations to gain their cooperation – and their land. In return, the government agreed to give the Indians basic food and supplies. Indian Agents were responsible for delivering the goods. The Agent made a public notice of the opportunity for private individuals or businesses to sell something to the government.
          On October 1, 1874, the Colorado Weekly Chieftain (Pueblo) ran a notice from Agent Henry F. Bond at the Los Pinos Ute Agency requesting two proposals (bids) to supply: 

       Proposal #1                         Proposal #2

110,000 pounds flour              30 rifles
150,000 pounds beef          2,000 pounds lead
      600 pounds soda            700 pounds powder
     500 pounds soap              50,000 caps
   5,000 pounds bacon        5,000 cartridges
      5,000 pounds salt

          Bond specified flour “of the quality known as XX, subject to inspection, and to be put up in 100 pound sacks of strong material.” The order would be delivered half in November and half the following June. Bond specified beef as “steers between the ages of three and seven years, to be free of disease and to weigh not less than 900 pounds each.” The meat would be delivered on-the-hoof the following June.
          Bond would open the bids at the new Delmonico House in Denver at 10:00 am on October 13, 1874. At that time he would look at samples of goods to be supplied “as far as is practicable.” (No one needed to bring along a steer.)
          Letters from two responsible people “vouching for the ability and good faith” of the bidder were required with each proposal. A successful bidder was required to “post a bond with good sureties in the penal sum of double the amount of the bid.” A bond is a guarantee. Sureties agree to pay the amount of the bond if the bidder fails to deliver as promised. A good suretie might be a banker or other business person.
          A government contracting officer today uses the same basic process.

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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