Indian Reservations of Washington

The Indian reservations of Washington occupy land as follows: There were five reserves belonging to one agency, the Puyallup, covering altogether about 29,000 acres. The reservation situated on this river contained over 18,000 acres, for the most part heavily timbered. The aggregate of land under cultivation was in 1885 less than 1,000 acres, though over 150 homesteads had been taken, chiefly in forty-acre lots.

Nisqually Reservation, on that river, contained 4,717 acres.

The Chehalis Reservation, half of which was good agricultural land, contained 4,224 acres. On Shoalwater Bay were reserved 340 acres.

The Squoxin Reservation covered an island in Mason County, containing about 1,500 acres, little of which was improved.

Tulalip agency embraced the reservations of Tulalip Bay, Muckleshoot prairie, Port Madison, Swinomish River, and Lummi delta, at the mouth of the Nooksack River, comprising 52,648 acres.

The headquarters for these various reservations was at Tulalip Bay, where there were between 15,000 and 20,000 acres of the richest land. This agency was in charge of the Catholics, who had a chapel on each of the reservations. Schools were taught, and about three fourths of the Indians cultivated gardens or farms. The Indian town was built in a triangular form around a flagstaff and crucifix.

Neah Bay Agency, located in the extreme northwest corner of the county of Clallam, contained 23,009 acres for the use of the Makahs, who numbered between 500 and 600. The land was chiefly mountainous and heavily timbered, and the Indians, who were a sea-going tribe and lived by seal hunting and otter-fishing, had not adopted a civilized mode of living to any extent. These Indians had a Methodist teacher.

The Queniult Agency comprised the Queniults, Queets, Hobs, and Quilleliutes, none of them numerous tribes, and only the first two living upon the reservation, which contained 224,000 acres of heavily timbered land, inaccessible for half the year. Only about twenty acres were cultivated in 1885, but these people, like the Makahs, lived on the products of the ocean fisheries, and were by no means poor, their houses being comfortable and themselves well-fed. Little progress was made in changing their mode of life.

The Skokomish Agency on the Skokomish River comprised something over 5.000 acres, of which about 1,300 were suitable for tillage and pasturage, the remainder being either in heavy forest or valueless. The tribes located here were the Sklallams and Twanas, later making considerable progress toward comfortable living. The Twanas resided on the reservation and sent their children to school, also clearing and planting, and cutting saw-logs for sale to the mills. But the Sklallams lived in a number of villages some 50 or 75 miles from the agency, often near milling establishments. At Jamestown, the largest of their towns and the residence of the chief, the Indians had purchased the land, 200 acres and erected a schoolhouse and church. Their habits were temperate and industrious.

East of the Cascade Mountains the Yakima Agency extended over a reservation containing nearly 900,000 acres, with a population of 3,600, which would give to every man, woman, and child belonging to the agency some 250 acres. The actual amount under any kind of improvement was about 5,000.

Large herds of cattle and horses roamed over the remainder, all of which was good farming and grazing land.

The Colville Agency had nominal control of eight different tribes, aggregating over 3,000 persons, including the Colville, Okanagan, Spokane, Kalispel, Sanpoil, Mithow, Nespilem, and Lake Chelan, bands mainly of non-treaty Indians, and some of them refusing to admit the authority of the U. S., though peaceably disposed. Daring mining times in the following years the Yakima War, the supt made use of the officer in command as a local agent to regulate their intercourse with the white population and preserve the peace. It was not until April 8, 1872, that a reservation was set apart for them by executive order, including the Colville Valley, and with which they were pleased. Against including this valley, in which there were about sixty white settlers, there was an immediate protest, which led the president to issue an order on the following 2d of July confining the reservation to the country bounded on the east and south by the Columbia, on the west by the Okanagan, and north by B. C. Olympia Transcript, July 27, 1872; H. Misc. Doc., 1873-4, 122, 43d cong. 1st sess. This caused a counter protest from agents and Indians. The change was, however, adhered to but the Colville Indians continued to occupy that valley in common with white settlers, the Jesuits taking charge of their spiritual affairs, as they had done since 1842. A further grant was made on the west side of the Okanagan in April 1870, whereby the reservation was extended on the west side of the Okanagan to the Cascade Range, making the reserved land comprise all the country in east Washington west of the Columbia and north of about 48° 30′, containing about 4,000 square miles, or between two and three million acres. On the 6th of March, 1880, a tract bounded on the cast by a line running south from where the last reservation crossed the Okanagan to the mouth of said river, and thence down the Columbia to the junction of the stream which is the outlet of lake Chelan, following the meanderings of that lake on the west shore to the source of the stream which feeds it, thence west to the 44th degree of longitude, and north to the southern boundary of the reserve of 1870, containing about 600,000 acres, was allowed for a reservation for the non-treaty Indians under Chief Moses, who claimed it by virtue of services rendered the U. S. in preventing an Indian War. Walla Walla Statesman, April 10, 1880; Ind. Aff. Rept, 1879, i. 80. There were in all about four and a half million acres of land set apart for the use of some 14,300 men, women, and children remaining in 1870, giving 323 acres to each individual, tuition and other benefits being free. Of this land some was very poor, more particularly the Colville Reservation, but there was much good land.

Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890.

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