Round Valley Reservation

Report of Special Agent I. P. FELL on the Indians of Round Valley reservation, Round Valley agency, Mendocino County, California, January 1891.

Names of Indian tribes or parts of tribes occupying said reservation: (a) Koukan, Little Lake, Pitt River, Potter Valley, Redwood, Wailakki, and Yuki.
The unallotted area of this reservation is 102,118 acres, or 159.5 square miles. The outboundaries have been surveyed. It was established, altered, or changed by acts of Congress approved April 8, 1801 (13 U. S. State, p. 39), and March 3, 1873 (17 U. S. Stats., p. 631); executive orders March 30, 1870, April 8, 1873, May 18, 1875, and July 90, 1876. Indian population June 1, 1890: 581.

Round Valley reservation is situated in Mendocino County, California. A level tract of rich valley land, surrounded by a cordon of mountains, whose foothills afford the best grazing lands, presents a remarkable combination of facilities for agricultural pursuits. It is 25 miles from the nearest town of any size, and almost 80 miles by stage from Ukiah, the terminus of the San Francisco and Northern Pacific railroad. There are 581 Indians living on the reservation in comparatively comfortable, wooden shanties, built for them by the government, which are scattered over the level land and extend up the foothills. In addition to these shanties some have built for themselves small huts, made of loose boards without nails, having more the appearance of piles of wood and lumber than habitations. In some of these shanties they crowd more people than is conducive to health or decency.

The 3 schools on the reservation are in good condition and accomplishing fair results. Some of the children are quite bright, but it would be exceptional to find a pupil with beyond the barest rudiments of an education.

They have little furniture in their houses, sleeping upon the floor and squatting to eat. They use, where possible, white people’s cooking utensils.

The men generally work in the fields, where they raise wheat, corn, barley, hops, of the very best quality, and some are engaged in herding their cattle in the mountains; others work for some of the farmers in the valley, mating good hands when they are kept at work. They are naturally indolent, and if left to themselves do little or nothing. One trouble at present is the difficulty and expense, of reaching a market for their produce. There is a 15-foot vein of coal on the south side of the reservation. During the year to June 1,1890, rations were issued to 147 Indians, old, feeble, or indigent.

The curse of these ‘Indians is in the intermingling of the races, thus bringing forth a class that is of neither race. Under their loose family arrangements it is quite common for either the squaw or the man, when inclined, to leave the other and take up with another partner. Another pitiable fact is the immorality of the girls it is a common thing for them to be considered women when they are only from 9 to 12 years of age, frequently being mothers when only 11 or 12 years of age. The girls seem to have no idea at all of shame in this matter. A large number of the young girls of mixed blood are incapable of being mothers. There is a mixed race of Indians, Negroes, half-breeds, and white men, of whom it is almost hopeless to expect any advance toward order and civilization. The Round Valley Indians in general are in comparatively good physical condition, with comfortable clothes and abundant food, but are gradually decreasing in numbers. They are great meat and root eaters.

Though there are regular religious services on the reservation, it is a question whether the Indians are at all influenced thereby, as the ‘older ones seem incapable of any great degree of either mental or moral advancement. They hang to their old Indian faith and superstitions. They have some dances and amusements, but harmless ones, and the medicine Mali has some influence still. Their only hope seems to lie in giving them for the future their lands in severalty as now provided, making them understand that they must work on it for themselves; and that they are amenable to the laws of the land.


Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

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