Tule River Reservation

Report of Special Agent I. P. Fell on the Indians of Tule River reservation. Mission-Tule Consolidated agency, Tulare county, California, January 1891.

Names of Indian tribes or parts of tribes occupying said reservation: (a) Kawai, Kings River, Monache, Tehon, Tule, and Wichumnni. The unallotted area of this reservation is given at 48,551 acres, or 70 square miles. Tho outboundaries have been surveyed. It was established, altered, or changed by executive orders January 9, October 3, 1873, and August 3, 1878. Indian population in 1890: 162.

The Tule River reservation is situated about 20 miles southeast from the town of Porterville, in Tulare County, California” and is reached by private conveyance from that point. For fully 15 miles of the way the road winds around the foothills and mountains, and in the winter is in very bad condition. The tract of land included in the reservation is exceedingly rough, with occasional small patches of ground in the mountain gorges or valleys suitable for cultivation. There is one tract containing some 30 or 40 acres, but most of them run from 1 to 10 acres. In all about 200 acres are fit for farming. On these tracts, stretching along the south branches of the Tule River, which is but a mountain stream, the Indians have very comfortable frame houses, with summer sheds adjoining or attached, together with more or less accommodations for horses and mules. Seventeen of the 25 houses on the reservation were found to be in good condition. Some families have small vineyards and fruit orchards, and all of them raise more or less wheat and other grains. These little arable patches of land situated in the valleys are very productive, and are better protected from frosts than the land in the level valley country.

Tule women making bread from acorns
Tule women making bread from acorns

The Tule River Indians have a language of their own, but most of them talk English very well, and all appeared in good condition and health. They number 162 (increasing during the past three years), as reported to me by the subagent. The men work for the farmers in harvest time, prune vines, and are expert sheep shearers. All dress like white men, have good clothes, and their general appearance is that of thrifty Mexicans. At present they have no school, as the schoolhouse burned some months ago. They are somewhat superstitious, and are very suspicious of white men. About once a, year a priest visits and preaches to them. They have no occupations outside of those indicated, and spend considerable time visiting each other, riding over the bills on their horses. They are looked upon by the whites as very reliable workers, and are peaceable, except when they obtain whisky.

These Indians are practically self-sustaining and live well. Their location will not afford very much arable land to each, but there seems to be considerable very good timber and pasture lands, particularly for sheep raising, which industry, however, they do not follow to any extent, having but few sheep. They have a few swine, some horses, and raise some excellent mules, which they sell, The timber lands belonging’ to these people are valuable.

These Indians have been removed twice from good lands prior to coming to this reservation in 1873-1874. This is their third reservation.

The presence of the subagent of the Mission-Tula Consolidated agency it Colton, 200 miles south, is of service, to the Indians in protecting them.

Tulare County CA,

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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