When Treaty Annuities End – Federal Austerity in 1876

In the Oregon Territory of 1853-1855, the United States set about writing and negotiating treaties with the Oregon tribes.The first treaties were made with the tribes in western Oregon. upon the ratification of the seven western Oregon treaties the United States promised to make payments for some 20 years in payment for upwards of 14 million acres of land (all lands from the Crest of the Cascades to the crest of the  Coast Range). The Coastal lands, partially covered by the Coast treaty, did not ultimately fall under treaty as the treaties for the coast were never ratified (1855 and 1851 treaties were never ratified). Those lands in Eastern Oregon fell under a different set of treaties.

Most of the treaties required that the annuity money for professional services, annual expenses, schools and building of structures. The majority of annuity payments ended for the tribes by 1875. A few provisions were open-ended and allowed for the  payment of professional help indefinitely.  The following table addresses two Kalapuya treaties, those of 1855 and 1854.

Title begins payments Purpose Additional additional
Treaty with the Kalapuya Etc.

Jan, 22, 1855

 September 1855 1. $10K-  5yrs years, (1855-1860)

2.$8K – 5 yrs (-1865)

3. $6.5K – 5yrs (-1870)

4.$5.5K – 5 yrs (-1875)

All of which several sums of money shall be expended for the use and benefit of the confederated bands, under the direction of the President of the United States, who may, from time to time, at his discretion, determine what proportion thereof shall be expended for such objects as in his judgment will promote their well-being, and advance them in civilization, for their moral improvement and education, for buildings, opening and fencing farms, breaking land, providing stock, agricultural implements, seeds, &c.; for clothing, provisions, and tools; for medical purposes; providing mechanics and farmers, and for arms and ammunition. $50K


horses, oxen, and other stock, wagons, agricultural implements, clothing, and provisions, and- homes, mills, shops, school-houses, a hospital, and other necessary buildings, and making improvements; for seeds, stock, and farming operations- removal, expenses of settlers, subsistence in first year Pay for five years


Physician, school-teacher, blacksmith, superintendent of farming
Umpqua and Calapooia


September 1855 1. $3K- 5 yrs (-1860)

2. $2.3K – 5 yrs(-1865)

3. $1.7 K -5 yrs (-1870)

4. $1K – 5 yrs (-1875)

advance them in civilization; for their moral improvement and education; for buildings, opening farms, fencing, breaking land, providing stock, agricultural implements, seeds, &c.; for clothing, provisions, and merchandise; for iron, steel, and ammunition; for mechanics and tools, and for medical purposes.




Removal, subsistence for 1 yr, survey and fencing 50 acres, erection of buildings, purchase teams, farming utensils, other purposes President will pay for;



 erect for said Indians a good blacksmith-shop, furnish it with tools, and keep it in repair for ten years, and provide a competent blacksmith for the same period; to erect suitable buildings for a hospital, supply medicines, and provide an experienced physician for fifteen years (-1870); to provide a competent farmer to instruct the Indians in agriculture for ten years (-1865); and to erect a school-house, and provide books, stationery, and a properly qualified teacher for twenty years (-1875)


in 1869, for the quarterly budgets


The Umpqua and Calapooia annuity in 1869 according to treaty for the 3rd and 4th quarters was to be $850.00 ($1700 /2)and that is what was stated  in the report.

1869-1In addition, the federal government was paying for a Physician at $750 for his six month salary and a teacher for 725 for the same period.

For the Kalapuya Etc Indians, their annuity was a flat  $3250, half of the requisite annuity of $6500. Their treaty  did not pay for doctors or teachers.


The gradual declination of the annuity payments was designed to encourage the Indians to become self-sufficient. The government imposed education on the younger tribal members designed to assimilate them away from being culturally Indian.  The assumption was that in 20 years the tribes would be assimilated and there would be no further need for payments to them

Overall the annuity and miscellaneous  payments in this era were about $66.5K for all tribes in Oregon

1869 COIA funding request for Oregon

By 1871 these payment grew to $74.3 K with the addition of payments for the Shoshonne and Bannock tribes at the Malheur Reservation.

1871 COIA funding request for Oregon

This figure still kept the tribes living in abject poverty. Most of the reservations had not been allotted yet and tribes were very insure if they would be able to keep their lands. the Coast Reservation had faced a major loss of land and was again decreased in 1875, with the remainder being what is now Lincoln County.

In 1875, most of the funding ended, and the government began to tighten its belt. From 74K the whole of the Oregon budget reduced to $15K. The following Letter of orders from the Acting Commission of Indian Affairs must have brought feelings of doom to Oregon Indian Superintendent William Bagley.

August 21, 1876

William Bagley, US Indian Agent, Toledo, Benton, Co. Oregon

… The whole amount appropriated for incidental expenses of the service in Oregon is $10,000.00. Out of this amount must be paid all expenses if Alsea and Siletz Agencies, all of the Grand Ronde except school and the incidental expenses of the other four agencies. You will see at once the imperative necessity for cutting down expenses. the $4,000.00 allowed you must cover all employees ( except interpreter) from July 1st 1876 to June 30th 1877, including indebtedness already incurred on this account and you are directed (if you have not already done so) to at once discharge employees and reduce salaries, so that your total expenses on this account will not exceed the sum above named. In addition to the above a small sum will be allowed you for the incidental expenses of your agency for the current fiscal year, not exceeding $1,000.00, making a total of $15,000.00 for all purposes except salary of agent and interpreter. You will exercise great prudence and economy in the management of your affairs and are charged to incur no indebtedness whatsoever which said $5,000.00 will not cover,as that is the outside limit at the disposal of this office for the service at your agency. This necessarily puts an end to further improvements at your agency this year and while regretting the necessity this office can furnish no remedy…

S.A. Galpin, Acting Commissioner

The  80 % decline in funding after 1876 must have caused tribal members to decide to leave the reservations, as many tribal people left the reservations to return to their home territories (Tolowa, Cow Creek Umpquas, Coquille, Coos,etc). There was malnutrition, lack of access to basic services, like health care. Even educational services must have suffered. Just after this the religious schools on the reservations, now unsupported, could not remain open and closed. The federal government still had responsibilities to provide education and  began its boarding school programs, concentrating services in remote locations to presumably save money. While  many people had assimilated, the reservations still had thousands of people living there as rural farmers and ranchers. This must have caused people to leave the reservations to seek work elsewhere, even if it was illegal to do so.

The work of tracking the effects of this new policy of austerity in Oregon reservations has now begun.

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