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tend 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 small pox 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 sieze 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,* 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.
III. The third article in my commission relates to Indian trade.
“ The moral condition of the Indians," my commission states, " will necessarily be very dependent on the character of the trade with them; and a subject so important will, of course, claim your attention. You will report such facts as may come within your knowledge, as will go to shew the state of the trade with them, and the character of the traders, and will suggest such improvements in the present system of Indian trade, as in your opinion will ren
der it better calculated to secure peace between them and us, and will contribute more efficiently to advance their moral condition."
On this topic, of primary importance, I shall simply state the information received in answer to my enquiries, and at the close make such suggestions as have occurred to my own mind, in reflecting on this information.*
Three alternatives, only, appear to present themselves to the the choice of the Government.
1. Whether the present miced plan of conducting trade with the Indians shall be continued, partly by the government, on the capital deposited in the hands of the Superintendant of Indian Trade, and partly by licensed traders; or,
2. Whether the Government will increase their capital to a suitable sum for the purpose of furnishing a full supply of goods for the Indians, and take the whole trade into their own hands; or,
3. Whether the Government will withdraw their capital, and give up the trade wholly to licensed traders, under suitable regulations and restrictions; leaving this species of commerce, thus regulated by law, like all other branches of trade, to be carried on by those who shall engage in it, in their own way.
Among the evils resulting from the present mixed mode of conducting the Indian Trade, Col. Bowyer, late Indian Agent at Green Bay, stated to me verbally, the following:
1. The Traders, generally, and their Engages, particularly, are without good moral character, which, in the way of example, is injurious to the morals of the Indians.
2. Nearly all the Interpreters, and Engages, (boatmen) employed by the Traders, are British subjects, under British influence, which, as they are our rivals in this trade, must operate unfavorably to the interests of the United States, so far as relates to the Indian Trade.
* It is considered proper to publish this part of the Report, as it was presented to the President and Congress, previously to the abolition of the Factor system, as it exhibits some important facts on this subject, which, what. ever influence they may have had in producing the above anticipated meagure, go to justify it, and to shew the necessity of a radical change in the system of Indian Trade.
3. Discharged soldiers from Mackinaw have been employed to cover British property, to a considerable amount, by deceptive sales. Two or three instances of this kind, of soldiers dismissed from Mackinaw, were known to Col. Bowyer.
4. The impossibility, on the present system, of preventing the introduction of spiritous liquors into the Indian country. The Traders obtain their license at Mackinaw; make their entries at the custom house, and get their clearance. Their whiskey, of the highest proof, so as to take up but little room in their boats, is privately conveyed to some spot on the shore of the island, which they are to pass, where, under cover of night, it is taken on board their boats and carried into the country.
5. The custom, universal among the Traders, of giving a credit to the Indians, in its operation, is injurious both to their interests and morals. A considerable number of those who are credited never pay
This loss, the Traders take care to make up, by an increased charge on the goods sold to those who do pay. The consequence is, injustice to the honest Indian, and temptation to him to become dishonest in return. Finding that his neighbor is benefitted by not paying his debts, he refuses to pay. The evil proceeds farther. One trader, who knows that an Indian has already obtained credit to the full amount of his means of paying, will yet trust him still farther, on his promising, that he will not pay his first creditor but will pay him. When this debtor, the next season, comes to pay his debts, his second creditor invites him to his house, makes him drunk, and takes possession of his furs, in payment of his debt. The first creditor, in such a case, has no remedy.*
* A person, I was informed, who occasionally traded with the Indians, in the fall, sold one of them, whiskey and goods to the amount of $100, to be paid in furs the next Spring. In the Spring a number of Indians came with furs for sale, and camped near the house of the man, who had given the credit. Finding that they had furs, the creditor alleged, that one of these Indians was brother of the one he had trusted, and on this ground, of mere suspicion, arbitrarily seized a pack of his furs, and kept them in payment of his debt!! Complaint was made of this fraud and robbery to the Indian Agent, who promised to prosecute the opprossor, but did not do it; and the poor Indian, thus robbed
6. No quar
Col. B. was in favor of the plan of Government's taking the whole Indian trade into their own hands, and stated what he considered would be the benefits resulting from such a course.
1. The destruction of British influence among the Indians, which is now diffused through the traders.
2. The Indians might get their goods 200 per cent. cheaper, than they now give the traders.
3. It would destroy the system of credit, so pernicious to the Indians.
4. It would entirely do away the still more destructive practice of introducing spirituous liquors among them, a practice which is the source of most of their calamities. rels, disturbances, or murders, (said Col. Bowyer,) have been known among the Menominees, (Indians,) during the four years of my residence among them, except such as have had their origin in whiskey."*
As an improvement in the Government Factories, Col. B. recommends, that they should not be confined to one spot, as they now are but that sub-factors, or agents, should be planted in suitable stations to accommodate the Indians, and to sell them, in their own villages, goods at prices fixed by the government Factor. In this way, the Indians, would not only have their goods cheaper, and with more convenience to themselves; but these stations would be adapted to the establishment of schools for the instruction of the the Indian youth. Some of these situations might be centres, around which the Indians might be induced to settle, and cultivate the earth, under the instruction of these sub-agents, who must always be good men, fitted for their business, a part of which should be to instruct them in agriculture. Thus far Col. Bowyer.
of all his furs, his gains of a year, and unable to obtain redress, was constrained to put up with the loss of them. This happened in the Spring of 1819.
The name of the man who was guilty of this black deed, and of him who informed me of it, who was personally knowing to the fact, and a credible witness, have been communicated to the President of the U. States.
* Maj. Irwin, and many others, long resident among, and near, the Indians, testify to the same fact, as applicable to other Indians. If it be so, should not laws be made to punish those, who introduce this poison among the Indians, with the severity, which a crime of so deep a dye, deserves ?