Established on May 26 1851, Fort Miller was situated on the south side of the San Joaquin River in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in Fresno County some 150 miles above Stockton. The fort's site is now covered by Millerton Lake which is formed by the waters of the San Joaquin River and impounded by the Friant Dam. In 1944, when the dam was completed and the waters of Lake Millerton would soon cover its original site, Fort Miller's blockhouse, was dismantled and reconstructed in Roeding Park in Fresno. The post, established to protect the mining district, was primarily intended to control the area's Indians.
The first post on or near the fort's site was Camp Barbour, established purposely for the use of the three-man commission delegated to negotiate treaties with the Indians then in a state of armed rebellion. (See treaty below) Established on April 14, 1851 by elements of the Mariposa Battalion, the camp was named for George W. Barbour, one of the three commissioners. There is still controversy over where the camp was situated. Most historians locate it on the site later occupied by Fort Miller. An alternate opinion however places it on the south bank of the San Joaquin River about 10 miles below that site. The Regular Army post was established by 2nd Lieutenant Treadwell Moore, 2nd Infantry, and was originally called Camp Miller; it was designated Fort Miller in 1852, in honor of Major Albert S. Miller, 2nd Infantry. Abandoned in June 1858. it was reoccupied in compliance with an order of Brigadier General George Wright, commander of the Department of California, on August 22. 1863. It was again abandoned on October 1, 1864. except for a company of the 2nd California Cavalry, which continued to garrison the post until December 1. In 1866 the government sold the fort's buildings at a public auction
Headquarters probably greated the news with mingled sighs of relief and disappointment. According to earlier word on the Fort Miller area, it was flaming with rebellion, alive with "disloyal practices," and "had not a loyal man in the place."
The informant reported that when the townspeople received news of Lee's invasion of Maryland, "they celebrated the occasion by a public demonstration, in which all joined (of both sexes), by firing a Confederate salute ... cheering for them and groaning for the United States government and its officers."
And, in addition, he noted, "This county is the resort of bad men. The people boast they have neither a common school nor a church in the county."
As a final insult, it was pointed out, "The fort is now occupied by the families of disloyal men, with one exception, using the buildings as dwelling houses."
"In my opinion the
presence of a cavalry company would have a moral influence upon
their conduct toward the government and its officers," was
his recommendation. On August 11, 1863, orders were issued to
carry out his suggestion, and then some. The headquarters and
two companies of the
2d Regiment of California Infantry Volunteers were dispatched to the scene.
As General Wright explained to Washington, "There is a large element of disloyalty and the presence of troops in that quarter is indispensably necessary, at least until after the election."
Duty at Miller was nothing new to the military. Twelve years earlier, a detachment of 200 infantrymen under Captain Erasmus D. Keyes had camped at the site while escorting an Indian treaty commission.
"It was in the spring of the year 1851, and the San Joaquin Valley was in an absolute state of nature," Keyes later wrote in his autobiography. There was "no evidence of occupation by white men... Large troops of wild horses, many deer, antelope, and coyotes were constantly in view atmosphere was clear and wholesome."
As a forerunner of Fort Miller, a log blockhouse was built and named Camp Barbour after the chief commissioner. Here Keyes witnessed treaties being signed by 16 Indian tribes. He wrote that 1,200 Indians were assembled, "Many of whom had never seen a white man till they came to treat with us. I was impressed with the appearance of several chiefs and remembered the general aspect of all. . . while they amused themselves with football and other rough sports."
In 1858 be returned to Miller on court-martial duty and observed what civilization bad brought to the Indians. "I was told that they were nearly all dead, victims to drunkenness, and that of the whole number I then saw in such full activity not above fifty remained. I took pains to see the wretched survivors, and was shocked with the spectacle of degradation and self-abandonment they presented."
The post was abandoned about this time. Life at the fort bad been reduced to attempts by the officers to pan gold, gossiping over the quarrel between two settlers that resulted in the death of one, and the post surgeon's pickeling of the head of robber Joaquin Murietta in a barrel of whiskey.
About this time, too, in nearby Millerton a prisoner had picked his way out of the adobe jail on the same day the new edifice bad been officially accepted by the town supervisors. Apparently the builder had begged the man to postpone his jail break until the rickety building was accepted and paid for. This the prisoner did, but not a minute more!
With the return of the Army in 1863, business in Millerton picked up. In 1855 it bad boasted some 20 houses, "most of them canvas, two or three of them being shops and the majority of the rest drinking saloons and billiard rooms," wrote a visitor. It weathered floods in 1861 and 1862, and it weathered the Army's return in 1863.
"The Union men are undoubtedly in a small minority hereabouts," the commanding officer reported, "but the copperhead element shows no disposition to obtrude its sentiments by noisy demonstrations."
He had not bad much chance to examine the situation personally, be admitted because of his broken collar bone, but "the surgeon assures me I shall remain hors de combat not exceeding two weeks longer."
This was about the only combat seen by the second generation Miller garrison. As the Fresno Expositor wrote later, "The mines of the river were rich and the county officials and officers and men at Fort Miller had a very agreeable time with the Millertonites and everything was conducted in a loose, devil-me-care sort of style."
Considering that Millerton usually conducted its official business by recessing trials so that the jury could attend the horse races, and the Board of Supervisors adjourned for 20 minutes per session for a thirst quencher at one of the many nearby saloons, it is small wonder that little came out of Fort Miller's second career!
Fort Miller lies beneath this lake today. In 1852, inspector commented, "I consider maintenance of a military post in this section of the country very important and that the garrison should consist of two or three companies'' This was agreed to in 1854 inspection. "This post is . . . well located for the present to overawe and restrain the Indians and protect the white settler, and should be retained some years. , Latter inspector had only three critical comments. He said one company "was not instructed properly . . . were mostly recruits and could not drill mounted, and had but a few horses . . . marched indifferently . . . and there were but three pistols to this company." He found the musicians at the post "were indifferent and wanted instruction." And finally' "At this post are two 12-pound field howitzers which require painting, but a limited supply of fixed ammunition for them, say 130 rounds of all kinds'' Today, Millerton Lake State Park surrounds watercovered site of Fort Miller.
TO GET THERE: In 1939 Fort Miller was described as the best preserved of the forts erected after California became one of the United States." The Camp Barbour blockhouse, three officers' quarters, most of the other buildings, and even outlines of the stone and adobe walls remained. Construction of the Friant Dam spelled the end of Fort Miller forever, and it is now beneath the waters of Millerton Lake, northwest of Fresno.
Text of Treaty Concluded at Camp Barbour, 29 April 1851 and Supporting Correspondence
A treaty of peace and friendship made and concluded at Camp Barbour, on the San Joaquin river, California, between Redick McKee, George W. Barbour, and O. M. Wozencraft, commissioners thereto specially appointed, on the part of the United States, and the undersigned chiefs, captains and head men of the tribes or bands of Indians now in council at this camp, known as the How-ech-ees, Chook-cha-nees, Chow-chil-lies, Po-ho-nee-chees, and Nook-choos, which five tribes or bands acknowledge Nai-yak-qua as their principal chief; also the Pit-cat-chees, Cas-sons, Toom-nas, Tallin-chees and Poskesas; which five tribes or bands acknowledge Tom-quit as their principal chief; also the Wa-chaets, Itachees, Cho-e-nem-nees, Cho-ki-men-as, We-mal-ches, and No-to-no-tos, which six tribes or bands acknowledge Pas-qual as their principal chief.
The said tribes or bands acknowledge themselves jointly and severally, under the exclusive jurisdiction, authority and protection of the United States; and hereby bind themselves to refrain hereafter from the commission of all acts of hostility, or aggression towards the government or citizens thereof, and to live on terms of peace and friendship among themselves, and with all other Indian tribes which are now or may hereafter come under the protection of the United States.
Lest the peace and friendship hereby established between the United States and the said tribes should be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, it is expressly agreed that, for injuries on either side, no private revenge or retaliation shall take place or be attempted; but instead thereof complaints shall be made by the party aggrieved to the other through the Indian agent of the United States in their district, whose duty it shall be to investigate, and, if practicable, adjust the the difficulty; or, in case of acts of violence being committed upon the person or property of a citizen of the United States by an Indian or Indians belonging to or harbored by either of said tribes or bands, the party or parties charged with the commission of the crime shall be promptly delivered up to the civil authorities of the State of California for trial; and in case the crime has been committed by a citizen or citizens of the United States upon the person or property of an Indian or Indians of either of said tribes, the agent shall take all proper measures to bring the offender or offenders to trial in the same way.
The said tribes or bands hereby jointly and severally relinquish, and forever quit claim to the United States all the right, title, claim or interest of any kind they or either of them have or ever had to lands or soil in California.
To promote the settlement and improvement of said tribes or bands, it is hereby stipulated and agreed that the following district of country in the State of California, shall be, and is hereby, set apart forever for the sole use and occupancy of the aforesaid tribes of Indians, to wit:Beginning at a point in the middle of the Chonchille river, near an old Indian rancheria, called Ta-ha-leel, and immediately at the junction of the two first main forks of said river, in the foothills; running thence a straight line in a southwesterly direction, to the top of the point of the Table mountain, on the San Joaquin river, being the first high hill or mountain
above and adjoining the valley in which the camp known as camp Barbour is established, on the south side of the San Joaquin river, continuing thence on the top of said mountain a straight line in the same southwesterly direction to the eastern base of what is known as the lone or lost mountain, on the south side of King's river; continuing thence a line in the same direction to the middle of the Cowier river, generally known as the first of the Four creeks; thence down the middle of said stream to a point fifteen miles in a straight line from where the first line strikes it, thence back to the middle of the Chonchille river to a point fifteen miles distant, on a straight line from the starting point, as aforesaid, on said river; the said line from the Cowier river, or first of the Four creeks, to be so run to cross King's, San Joaquin, and Frezno rivers at the distance of fifteen miles in a straight line from where the first line herein mentioned crosses each one of said rivers, and from where the last mentioned line strikes the Chonchille river, up the middle of said stream to the beginning: To have and to hold the said district of country for the sole use and occupancy of said Indian tribes forever: Provided, That there is reserved to the government of the United States the right of way over any portion of said territory, and the right to establish and maintain any military post or posts, public buildings, school houses, houses for agents, teachers, and such others as they may deem necessary for their use, or the protection of the Indians: And provided further, That said tribes of Indians, or any portion of them, shall at all times have the privilege of the country east of the aforesaid district, and between the waters of the Chonchille and Cowier rivers (or first of the Four creeks) to the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to hunt and to gather fruits, acorns, &c.; but in no event are they or any of them to remove or settle their families beyond the limits of the first described district or boundary of land without the permission of the government of the United States through their duly authorized agent; and also that the said tribes shall never sell or dispose of their right or claim to any part thereof, except to the United States, nor shall they ever lease to, or permit white men to settle, work, or trade upon any part thereof, without the written permission of the Indian agent for the district. And it is also expressly understood that the mona or wild portion of the tribes herein provided for, which are still out in the mountains, shall, when they come in, be incorporated with their respective bands, and receive a fair and equal interest in the land and provisions hereinafter stipulated to be furnished for the whole reservation; and the tribes above named pledge themselves to use their influence and best exertions to bring in and settle the said monas at the earliest possible day; and when the Yo-semi-te tribe come in they shall in like manner be associated with the tribes or bands under the authority or control of Nai-yak-qua.
To aid the said tribes or bands in their subsistence, while removing to and making their settlement upon the said reservation, the United States, in addition to the numerous and valuable presents made to them at this council, will furnish them free of charge, with five hundred head of beef cattle, (to average in weight five hundred pounds) and two hundred and sixty sacks of flour, (one hundred pounds each) during each of the years 1851 and 1852, to be divided among them by the agent, according to their respective numbers.
As early as convenient after the ratification of this treaty by the President and Senate, in consideration of the premises, and with a sincere desire to encourage said tribes in acquiring the arts and habits of civilized life, the United States will also furnish them with the following articles, to be divided among them by the agent, according to their respective numbers and wants, during each of the two years succeeding the said ratification, viz:
Two pairs strong pantaloons and two red flannel shirts for each man and boy, one linsey gown for each woman and girl; three thousand yards calico, and three thousand yards brown sheetings, thirty pounds Scotch thread, six dozen pairs scissors, assorted, one gross thimbles and five thousand needles, assorted, one two and a half-point Mackinaw blanket for each man and woman over fifteen years of age; three thousand pounds iron, and five hundred pounds steel. And in like manner, in the first year, for the permanent use of the said tribes, and as their joint property, viz:
Seventy-five brood mares and three stallions, one hundred and fifty milch cows and three bulls, twelve yoke of work cattle, with yokes, chains, &c., twelve work mules or horses, thirty ploughs, (ten large and twenty small) thirty set harness for plough horses or mules; seeds of all proper kinds, for planting and sowing; one hundred chopping axes, one hundred hatchets, thirty mattocks or picks, three hundred garden or corn hoes, one hundred spades, fifteen grindstones, three United States flags, (one for each principal chief).
The stock enumerated above, and the product thereof, shall be marked or branded with such letters as will at all times designate the same to be the property of the said tribes, and no part or portion thereof shall be killed, exchanged, sold, or otherwise parted with, without the consent and direction of the agent.
The United States will also employ and settle among said tribes, at or near their towns or settlements, one practical farmer, who shall act as superintendent or director of agricultural operations, to reside at some central point, and to have two assistants, also men of practical knowledge and industrious habits; one carpenter or worker in wood, to direct and aid in the construction of houses, repairing plows, &c.; one blacksmith, to reside at some central point; three principal school teachers, and as many assistant teachers as the President may deem proper, to instruct said tribes in reading, writing, &c., and in the domestic arts of sewing, housekeeping, &c., upon the manual-labor system; all the above-named workmen and teachers to be maintained and paid by the United States, for the period of five years, and as long thereafter as the President shall deem advisable. The United States will also erect suitable school houses, shops, and dwellings for the accommodation of the schools, teachers and mechanics above specified, and for the protection of the public property.
These articles to be binding on the contracting parties, when ratified and confirmed by the President and Senate of the United States.
In testimony whereof, the parties have hereunto signed their names and affixed their seals, this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one.
REDICK McKEE. [SEAL.]
G. W. BARBOUR. [SEAL.]
O. M. WOZENCRAFT. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the How-ech-ees:
NAI-YAK-QUA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
NO-CHEEL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
CHAL-WAK-CHEE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
PAR-SA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
PO-YAI, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Chook chanees:
CO-TUM-SI, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TI-MOH, his x mark. [SEAL.]
SA-WA-LAI, his x mark. [SEAL.]
A-CHAT-A-NA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
MI-E-WAL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Chow-chil-lies:
PO-HO-LEEL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
E-KEENO, his x mark. [SEAL.]
KAY-O-YA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
A-PEM-SHEE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
CHO-NO-HAL-MA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Po-ho-nee-chees:
PO-TOL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
CHEE-KO, his x mark. [SEAL.]
MOOCH-CAT-E, his x mark. [SEAL.]
HO-HAS-SEE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
COW-WAL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Nook-choos:
PAN-WACH-EE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
KET-TA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
MUL-LU-CE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TAW-WICH, his x mark. [SEAL.]
WAL-LIN, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Pit-ca-chees:
TOM-QUIT, chief, his x mark. [SEAL.]
YA-KO-WAL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TOO-TRO-MI, his x mark. [SEAL.]
CHO-LUL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
NE-SA-PLO, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Cas-sons:
DOMINGO-PEREZ, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TOM-MAS, his x mark. [SEAL.]
JOSE-ANTONIO, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Toom-nas:
HAT-CHU-LOO, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TAP-PA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
PO-SHA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Tallinchees:
CHO-KETE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
PAL-LO-KOOSH, his x mark. [SEAL.]
HOW-IL-ME-NA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
SO-KUCH, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of Pos-ke-sas:
KO-SHISH, his x mark. [SEAL.]
KO-ITCH, his x mark. [SEAL.]
COP-PI, his x mark. [SEAL.]
WO-WAL, his x mark.
For and in behalf of the Wacha-ets:
PAS-QUAL, chief, his x mark. [SEAL.]
WA-KEEN, his x mark. [SEAL.]
JOSE ANTONIO, his x mark.
For and in behalf of the Itachees:
WA-TOO, his x mark. [SEAL.]
A-POR-TRIA, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TO-NAI-CHEE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Cho-e-nem-nees:
WAU-TOE-KI, his x mark. [SEAL.]
HO-LET-TEE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TA-WEEN, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the Cho-ki-men-as:
KO-HEEL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
TRA-TRA-IT-SE, his x mark. [SEAL.]
WOH-TON, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the No-to-no-tos:
PAS-QUAL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
For and in behalf of the We-mal-ches:
PAS-QUAL, his x mark. [SEAL.]
Signed sealed and delivered, after being fully explained, in presence of
JOHN McKEE, Secretary.
JOHN HAMILTON, Interpreter.
ADAM JOHNSTON, Agent.
E. D. KEYES, Captain third artillery, commanding escort.
W. S. KING, Assistant surgeon, U. S. Army.
I. M. LENDRUM, First lieutenant 3d artillery.
H. G. J. GIBSON, Second lieutenant 3d artillery.
N. H. McLEAN, Second lieutenant 2d infantry.
I. F. A. MARR.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, May ,22, 1852.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith, sundry treaties negotiated with various Indians in California, together with a report from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, accompanied by a mass of documents relating to the subject.
It was my wish to bring these treaties to your notice at as early a day as practicable, but most of them, it will be perceived, were not received until after the middle of February; and as they involved important principles and large expenditures of money, and as I learned that there was much opposition to them among the people of California, I did not feel justified in submitting them to you officially, until I could inform myself as to their merits, and be prepared to express myself with some degree of confidence as to the propriety of recommending their ratification or rejection. A slight examination of the treaties and accompanying documents will suffice to show that it is impossible to form such an opinion from the information now in possession of the department.
Hence it seemed to be proper, considering the importance of the subject, and the serious consequences likely to result from mistaken action, that the treaties should be committed to some suitable agent of the government, with instructions to examine them thoroughly, and make full report upon the expediency of ratifying, rejecting, or amending them. This course, I was gratified to believe at the time, met the approval of a portion at least of the delegation in Congress from the State of California. The duty of making the desired examination and report devolved on the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California; but he has been prevented from attending to this and other important business of his office in the manner contemplated, in consequence of the unexpected delay in passing the deficiency bill, now before the Senate. He has, however, made a report, predicated on his general knowledge of the Indians of California and of the country, in which he expresses himself decidedly in favor of the ratification of the treaties: and inasmuch as the department has no present means of obtaining further or more reliable information, and as one of the senators from the State more immediately interested has complained in his place, that the treaties have been improperly withheld from the Senate, I now submit them for your consideration, and respectfully recommend that they be communicated to the Senate, to be disposed of in such way as that body in its wisdom shall direct.
I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,
ALEX. H. H. STUART, Secretary.
P. S. The treaties herein referred to are particularly described in the annexed schedule.
TO the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
A. Treaty at Camp Belt, May 13, 1851, made and concluded by George W. Barbour and the chiefs and headmen of the Ta-ches, Cah-wia, Yo-kol, Ta-lum-ne, wic-chum-ne, hol-cu-ma, To-e-neche, To-huc-mach, In-tim-peach, Choi-nuck, We-mil-ches, and Mo-ton-toes of California.
B. Treaty at Camp Keyes, May 30, 1851, made and concluded between George W. Barbour and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Ko-ya-tes, Wo-la-si, Nu-chow-we, Wack-sa-che, Pal-wisha, Po-ken-welle, and Ya-wil-chine tribes of Indians in California.
C. Treaty at Camp Burton, June 3, 1851, made and concluded between George W. Barbour and the chiefs, captains and head men of the Chu-note, Wo-wol, Yo-lum-ne, and Co-ye-tie tribes of Indians in California.
D. Treaty at Camp Persifer F. Smith, June 10, 1851, made and concluded between George W . Barbour and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Castake, Texon, San Imirio, Uvas, Carises, Buena Vista, Sena-hu-ow, Holo-cla-me, Soho-nuts, To-ci-a, and Hol-mi-uh tribes of Indians in California.
E. Treaty at Dent's and Vantine's Crossings, May 28, 1851 made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft and the chiefs and headmen of the Iou-ol-umne, We-chilla, Sucaah, Co-to-plammis, Chap-par-sims, and Sage-wom-nes tribes of Indians in California.
F. Treaty at Camp Union, July 18, 1851, made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft and the chiefs, headmen and captains of the Das-pia, Ya-ma-do, Yol-la-mer, Wai-de-pa-can, On-o-po-ma, Mon-e-da, Wan-nuck, Nem-shaw, Bem-pi, and Ya-cum-na tribes of Indians.
G. Treaty at Bidwell's Ranch, August 1, 1851, made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft, and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Mi-chop-da, Es-kuin, Ho-lo-lu-pi, To-to, Su-nus, Che-no, Bat-si, Yut-duc, and Sim-sa-wa tribes of Indians in California.
H. Treaty at Reading's Ranch, August 16, 1851, made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft, and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Noe-ina-noe-ma, Y-lac-ca, and Noi-me-noi-me tribes of Indians in California.
I. Treaty at Camp Colus, September 9, 1851, made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft, and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Colus-Willeys, Co-ha-na, Tat-nah, Cha-doc-duc, Cham-net-co, and Toe-de tribes of Indians in California.
J. Treaty at the fork of Cosumnes river, September 18, 1851, made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Co-lu, Yas-si, Loc-lum-ne, and Wo-pum-nes tribes of Indians in California.
K. Treaty at the village of Temecula, California, January 5, 1852, made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft and the chiefs, headmen and captains of the San Luis Rey, Kah-we-as nations, and the Co-com-cah-ras tribe of Indians.
L. Treaty at the village, of Santa Isabel, California, January 7, 1852, made and concluded between O. M. Wozencraft and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Diequinos nation of Indians
M. Treaty at Camp Fremont, March 19, 1851, made and concluded between Redick McKee, George W. Barbour, and O. M. Wozencraft, and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Si-yan-te, Po-to-yun-te, Co-co-nood, Apang-as-se, Aplache, and A-wal-a-che tribe of Indians in California.
N. Treaty at Camp Barbour, April 29, 1851, made and concluded between Redick McKee, G. W. Barbour, and O. M. Wozencraft, and the chiefs, captains, and headmen of the How-ech-ees, Chook-chances, Chow-chil-lies, Po-ho-nu-chus and Nook-choos, which five tribes acknowledge Nai-yak-qua as their principal chief: also the Pit-cat-chees, Cas-sons, Toom-nas, Tallin-chees, and Pos-kesas, which five tribes acknowledge. Tom-quit as their principal chief: the Wa-cha-et, Itachees, Cho-e-mem-nees, Cho-ki-men-as, We-mal-ches, and No-to-no-tos, which six tribes acknowledge Pas-qual as their principal chief.
O. Treaty at Camp Lu-pi-yu-ma, August 20, 1851, made and concluded between Redick McKee, and the chief, captains and headmen of the Ca-la-na-po, Ha-bi-na-po, Da-no-ha-bo, Mo-al-kai, Che-com, How-ku-ma, Cha-nel-kai, and the Me-dam-a-dec tribes of Indians in California.
P. Treaty at Camp Fernando Feliz, August 22, 1852, made and concluded between Redick McKee and the Sai-nell, Yu-ki-as, Mas-su-ta-ka-ya and Pomo tribes of Indians in California.
Q. Treaty at Camp Klamath, October 6, 18:51, made and concluded between Redick McKee and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the Poh-lik, or lower Klamaths, Peh-tsick, or upper Klamath, and Hoo-pah or Trinity river tribes of Indians in California.
R. Treaty at camp in Scott's Valley, November 4, 1851, made and concluded between Redick McKee, and the chiefs, captains and headmen of the O-de-i-lah, I-ka-ruck, Ko-se-tah, I-da-kar-i-waka-ha, Wat-sa-he-wa, and E-eh tribes of Indians in California.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS,
May 14, 1852.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th instant, requiring me to report any information in my possession in relation to the treaties negotiated with the Indians in California, transmitted to you on the 13th ultimo, when they were respectively received here; the causes which induced me to delay their transmission; whether they embraced any new principle; whether, in my judgement, the public interests would be promoted or impaired by their ratification, and any facts within my knowledge tending to elucidate the merits of these treaties.
In reply, I would most respectfully state that the correspondence already sent to you, and the copies and extracts herewith of communications since received from the agents in California, and the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for that State, contain, it is believed, all the material information in relation to the treaties which has reached this office.
The dates at which the treaties were respectively received here are as follows:
1. Those negotiated by the board of commissioners
were received February 18, 1852.
2. Those negotiated by Agent McKee were received on the same day.
3. Those negotiated by Agent Barbour were received February 2, 1852.
4. Those negotiated by Agent Wozencraft were receivedone July 9; two September 22; three November 3. 1851, and two on February 18, 1852. The one received July 9 was represented in the letter enclosing it as a "copy," and it was not until recently that it was discovered to be an original.
The treaties were not transmitted to you at an earlier day because it was desirable to consider them all in connexion, and some of them, as above shown, were not received until recently, and because it was believed that further information was necessary to enable the department to judge correctly as to their merits and the action required in regard to their final disposition. It was known that the delegation in Congress from California were opposed to the treaties, and that there was violent opposition to them in the legislature of that State, where they were undergoing investigation. The final action of that body on the subject has not yet been ascertained. Under these circumstances it seemed to be prudent to take full time for inquiry and deliberation, especially as there was, and is, in my judgment, good reason to apprehend that the hasty rejection of the treaties would be followed by a general Indian war in California, disastrous to the interests of that State and the country at large.
Some of the stipulations of these treaties are regarded as new, the most important of which is that providing for an entire relinquishment of title by some of the tribes, and their permanent settlement within the limits of a State on lands not previously owned by them. This provision, as far as I know, is without precedent; but I am by no means prepared to say it is wrong. On the contrary, I am inclined to consider it both necessary and proper in consequence of the impracticability of removing the Indians beyond the limits of the State, and of the expediency of withdrawing them from their intermixture with the white population. Another peculiarity of these treaties is that they stipulate for no annuities to be paid in perpetuity or for a series of years, according to the common practice heretofore. In view of the probable necessity for future negotiations with these Indians, it is fortunate that a knowledge of the annuity system has not been introduced among them. It is a system fraught with evil, and when once adopted it is impossible to get rid of it.
The treaties also provide that all difficulties between different tribes or members of the same tribe shall be adjusted by the agent of the Government, and that controversies between Indians and whites shall be settled by the civil tribunals of the State. Should these provisions be energetically and faithfully enforced they would doubtless be productive of the most salutary results.
There are some other features of these treaties that might be characterized as novel, but they are not of sufficient importance to require particular notice.
With respect to the question whether the public interest would be promoted or impaired by their ratification I would respectfully refer to the accompanying communication from Superintendent Beale, whose remarks on this point appear to me to be reasonable and just. I entirely concur with him in opinion that a rejection of the treaties without the adoption of precautionary measures guarding against a general outbreak on the part of the Indians would be hazardous and unwise.
The papers heretofore and now communicated contain, I believe, all the facts within my knowledge calculated to elucidate the merits of the treaties. In considering this important and perplexing question it should not be forgotten that our Indian affairs in California, like everything else pertaining to that country, are in an extraordinary and anomalous condition.
Those entrusted with their management have had to contend with manifold embarrassments and difficulties. That they have made mistakes or fallen into errors is by no means a matter of surprise; it would be strange if they had not. Their conduct in some respects has been improper; I allude particularly to their making contracts for fulfilling treaties in advance of their ratification. In this they certainly acted without authority, but it is equally certain that they did not act without precedent. How far precedent and the pressure of the circumstances by which they were surrounded should excuse their unauthorized proceedings it is difficult, without more perfect information than I possess, to determine; nor is it material to the present inquiry, as the merits of the treaties can not be affected by the subsequent action of the agents by whom they were negotiated.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. LEA, Commissioner.
Hon. A. H. H. STUART, Secretary of the Interior.
WASHINGTON CITY, D. C., May 11, 1852.
SIR: In compliance with your directions of yesterday to report to you at my earliest convenience my views as to the merits of the treaties recently negotiated with the Indians of California, and particularly as to the expediency of ratifying or rejecting them I have the honor to submit the following statement:
With reference to my views as to the merits of the treaties I state that I regard the general line of policy pursued by the commissioners and agents in negotiating with the Indians as proper and expedient under the circumstances. My own personal knowledge and experience in Indian affairs, and particularly in reference to the tribes within the State of California, incline me to the opinion that to secure their peace and friendship no other course of policy, however studied or labored it may have been, could have so readily and effectually secured the objects in view. My experience in Indian affairs has also convinced me of the fact that those who best understand the Indian character are exceedingly cautious and deliberate in their negotiations with them, and that precipitate counsels are invariably the results of ignorance, and generally terminate deplorably to both parties. The Indian by nature is suspicious, and although easily governed when his confidence has been obtained, it becomes almost impossible to treat with him after his suspicions have been aroused. A wise reference to these facts and considerations has doubtless influenced the commissioner in their negotiations, and it is proper that they should be duly considered on the present occasion.
The system of reservations as adopted in these treaties, is but the natural result and consequence of the policy pursued throughout, and may be stated to involve two important considerations, viz: whether the Indians are to have any lands set apart for them, and if so, whether those already selected for them may be justly considered as suitable and appropriate. Humanity and justice alike urge acquiescence in the former, while the following considerations suggest themselves to our attention in connection with the subject.
It is evident that if allowed to roam at pleasure, their early extinction is inevitable, and I am slow to believe that the Government, recognizing as it does, their possessory right to all the soil inhabited by them, would deny them the occupancy of a small portion of the vast country from which such extraordinary benefits are in progress of receipt.
The impracticability of removing them east of the mountains, or so far north or south as to avoid the evils which their proximity to the whites may induce, is apparent from the following considerations.
Much has been said of late in relation to an entire removal of the Indians to the eastward of the Sierra Nevada, and this fact is a painful proof of the entire ignorance of those who advocate the practicability of the measure. When we consider that our topographical knowledge of the interior of Africa is quite as extensive and definite as that which we possess of the eastern slope of this range, it is not difficult to imagine how vastly mistaken are those who look only upon the level surface of a map for information. It is vain to expect that they could be forced in this direction, since all the information which we have of that region of country (and theirs is presumed to be more extensive than our own) is directly opposed to the idea of assigning them to a location supposed to be at best a waste and barren desert. Those individuals who have attempted the exploration of this country have but partially succeeded. They report it as abounding with vast deserts, almost unrelieved by verdure of any description, and that any spot boasting any species of vegetation is already occupied by other Indians. The only known river of any size within this section of the country is the Colorado. The valley of this river is reported by the few bold and hardy trappers of the Rocky Mountains, from whom our only information is derived, as abounding with Indians as far as any have had the courage; to explore it, and it is this valley, already filled with an Indian population, which has been suggested as a location for the Indians of California.
To move them north would be but to add one hundred thousand Indians to the already overflowing Indian population of the territory of Oregon. To remove them south is but to place them directly in the line of our southern emigration; thus exposing the lives and property of our citizens, for it requires no vivid imagination to picture the results of a meeting between savages, infuriated by a forcible removal from the homes of their fathers, and an emigration wearied by a march of two thousand miles over a trackless wilderness. In addition to this, it may be well to consider that our treaty stipulations of 1848 with Mexico, forbid our colonizing them on her borders, and to move them in this direction would, to some extent at least, impair the obligations thus solemnly imposed. It may also add insurmountable difficulties to those already existing in opposition to the projected railroad to the Pacific in this direction.
With reference to the character or quality of the land reserved by the treaties for the Indians, I can only speak from personal observation with regard to those selected in the southern portion of the State. They are such as only a half-starved and defenceless people would have consented to receive, and, as a general thing, embrace only such lands as are unfit for mining or agricultural purposes. Admitting, however, that some of these reservations contain gold enough to add a few thousands even, to the many millions taken from the soil, I ask, is it not expedient and politic to permit them to take them, especially since the rejection of the treaties will have a tendency to bring discredit upon the Government and render futile all subsequent attempts at negotiation?
The reservations made in the southern portion of the State are undoubtedly composed of the most barren and sterile lands to be found in California, and any change must, of necessity, be of advantage to the Indians. Those persons who complain of the reservations in the south have, in no instance, been able to point out other locations less objectionable or valuable than those already selected, and I am disposed to believe that, in no case of reservations under these treaties, will the lands reserved compare favorably with the agricultural and valuable portions of the State.
The necessity of reservations, and of protection to the Indians thus located, is strikingly set forth in a communication of a recent date, from R. McKee, esq., agent, addressed to yourself, and to which I have had access, in which be refers to the recent massacre of two or three villages by the whites, in which neither age nor sex were spared inhuman butchery. The communication closes with some wholesome advice on the subject of reservations, which I can not refrain from recommending to your attention.
The stipulations contained in these treaties which appear to me to be objectionable, are those which refer especially to the supply of agricultural implements, and the establishment of schools among them. With regard to the first, I am of the opinion that the tribes and bands treated with are not disposed, nor can they be induced at the present time, to engage in agricultural pursuits; and that if the articles necessary for this purpose were furnished to them as stipulated, they would find their way into the possession of the whites without a consideration of value. I would suggest the expediency, therefore, of delegating authority to the agents in whose charge they may be placed, to deliver such articles of this character at the request only of such individuals of the tribes as manifest a desire to engage in this pursuit.
I am likewise of the opinion that the establishment of schools among them at the present time would not subserve their interests: their present state of civilization and advancement being such as to preclude the possibility of their appreciating the benefits to be derived from such instruction.
I regard the other provisions of the treaties, although they may considered novel in their character, as both suitable and appropriate to the wants and desires of the Indians. The supply of beef-cattle for their present or temporary subsistence being limited, the comparative consideration given them for the extinguishment of their title to their lands, may be justly considered as trifling in amount, and especially so, if the objectionable features above stated are stricken out. Those provisions of the treaties stipulating brood-stock, have been wisely inserted, with a view, doubtless, to possess them of the means of subsisting and sustaining themselves after the period for the supply of beef-cattle shall have expired.
From the foregoing remarks you will perceive that my views of the merits of the treaties, as well as of the general policy pursued by the commissioners and agents in their negotiations are favorable.
With reference to the expediency of ratifying or rejecting the treaties, I remark that, in my opinion, it would be unwise and injudicious in the extreme to reject them, even should it be deemed expedient and necessary hereafter, without previously preparing the minds of the Indians for such an event, and the offering, at once, of some suitable and proper substitute. To reject them outright without an effort to retain their confidence and friendship, as already secured, by inducements of an equally advantageous character with those already held out to them, would undoubtedly involve the State in a long and bloody wardisastrous and ruinous to her mining and commercial interests, and affecting more or less the prosperity of our whole country.
During the Indian war of last spring, whole mining districts were abandoned, and, although unacquainted with the statistics of the State, I will venture the remark that the exports of gold were less by millions during that period than during the months immediately succeeding. If this was the result of a war with a very few tribes, what may be considered as the effects of a war with the entire Indian population of California? Popular feeling prejudicial to the treaties has been assigned as a reason for their rejection, and can not the question be properly and naturally asked, will popular feeling point out a substitute? I venture the prediction in this matter, that an entire change in popular feeling will take place, at least among such as regard the Indians as having a right even to a bare and scanty living.
To those who regard the stipulations of these treaties as novel, I would simply remark that beef and flour are but substitutes for annuities in money, powder, lead, and guns, and that while the treasury is being drawn upon annually to fulfill the obligations of other treaties, these supplies are to cease after the short term of two or three years.
In conclusion, I would remind the Department that economy may be ill-timed in the present case, and prove but the certain cause of great and extraordinary expenditure; for it is not an easy matter to estimate the cost of an Indian war in California; the late report of the Quartermaster General of the Army, however, affords a faint outline, which economy warns us not to fill.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
EDWARD F. BEALE,
Superintendent Indian Affairs for California.
HON. L. LEA, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
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