Warm Springs Speeches 1876

It is well known that the Coast Reservation was reduced in 1865 and 1875 to make way for white settlement. A similar threat was posed by the federal government in 1876 to the tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation.  In the following speeches, they clearly did not want to remove, again. The speeches are remarkable in that they reveal that not everyone agreed with the hereditary chief of the reservation. They reveal that at least one chief colluded with the Indian agents to disempower the tribe. This would have been very easy to do in the early reservation system because many times the chiefs would be handed the annuities to allocate to their tribal people. Also in the treaty of middle Oregon the chiefs have a separate annuity that may have heavily benefited them.

As well, is noted in the statements that Christianity is well advanced in the tribe. Many of the chiefs have accepted instruction in the bible and envision themselves and their people in a very poor light. They speak of themselves as being poor and unenlightened and miserable. This is common Christian thinking about Native peoples in this time period, and we see this playing out at Warm Springs, as they are in the midst of assimilation pressures by the Federal authorities.

The Warm Springs, Tenino, and Wasco tribal leaders are very clear that they, the majority, want to remain at Warm Springs, they want to continue working in agriculture and logging, and are a little disgusted about the lack of attention by the Federal government in their situation. It may be that this set of speeches helped stop their removal from Warm Springs to Fort Simcoe (Yakima). Not only do they present nearly unanimous desires to remain, but they clearly are advancing and civilizing in the manner that the federal government wanted them to. Their “civilizing” progress suggests that the reservation assimilation policies are working, or, it could be that their lands on the Reservation are poor for agriculture, and are not  greatly wanted by American settlers.

There is little self-reflection about what they have given up by removal to the reservation, or an active sense that they are suffering on the reservation. By the 1870s, the reservations had somewhat stabilized and as they say, they are doing well, except a few pressing problems.

The following is an exact transcription of the federal transcription. The names of the leaders need to be checked against other records to determine if they are written correctly.

To the President of the United States

Sir,  I have the honor to present herewith a report of the declarations of the Indians at Warm Springs Indian Agency Oregon, made Jan, 19th & 20th, 1876, in regard to removing to some other agency. They have rendered signal service to the government in assisting to subdue hostile Indians notably so in former Modoc War. They are becoming industrious, intelligent, and are in a fair way to be self sustaining by the time their treaty expires. Any such change could hardly be otherwise then injurious, and I cannot but feel that you will not willing consent to any change that will have any tendency to undo the work that has been the result  of your humane policy here, but that you will use your influence and authority to thwart all attempts to interfere with, and promote all measures that show a tendency to increase, its efficient administration.

I trust you will esteem it worth the time and trouble to give it due consideration and to send them some message in reference to it. As indicated in some of their remarks they feel that their petitions to the government have not been properly noticed, and a direct reply to this, though, ever so brief, would give them a great deal of satisfaction and encouragement  and a still higher trust, in you as the real friend of their race.

I am sir, very respectfully, Your Obedt. Servt.

John Smith U.S. Ind. Agent

Warm Springs Agency

March 9th, 1876

Warm Springs Agency Oregon

March 8th 1876

Sir, I have the honor to transmit herewith a communication to the President, together with a report of the expressed sentiments of the Indians on this reservation regarding their proposed removal to some other  which you’ve requested to deliver to him with such suggestions or recommendations as may seem to you appropriate or desirable.

Very Respectfully, Your Obdt. Servt.

John Smith, U.S. Indian Agent

Hon. J. L. Smith, Commmisr. Indian Affairs

Washington, D.C.

It having been intimated at various times that the Government was discussion the propriety of removing the Indians now located on the Warm Springs Reservation to some other, The Yakima or Simcoe being more particularly mentioned, a Council was held on the 19th and 20th days of January 1876 to obtain from those  Indians an expression of their feelings in regard to it.

The following is the substance of the remarks made by the leading men of the different tribes present.

Pishwaw, (Warm Spring) said

I hear what has been told us of what the President says. Sometimes he gives us some money  or blankets.  He brought us here and gave us plows and the like and after a while we begun to get wagons. You, Capt. Smith have told us that perhaps after a while you would get  wagons enough for all of us. We don’t have very many yet. I am an old man and cannot speak for the young men. We signed a treaty for this land we have always lived here and can not go anywhere else. This is my home and I will die here. (Sidenote: The President is mentioned more particularly as representing all branches of the Govt. or as the govt.)

Gadshaw (Wasco) said

Yes, Capt. Smith you have at times told the President what kind of situation I am in here. Why do your people want to take us to Simcoe. Simcoe is not the only place where Indians can be instructed. They can be taught here too. I only ask the government to assist me here. I cannot go to Simcoe and claim a share in their land. I want to learn something without them. (Sidenote: Simcoe Indians are frequently held up as being in advance of all others and commended as examples.) Sometimes our Indians complain that we don’t get as much from the government as they do and we are hindered by it. We and they are like race horses in a race trying to see which will be ahead. (Sidenote: Referring to the Preparation to enfranchise them [ie: assimilation]) Tell our Father not to have too high an opinion of us. I am poor yet and look like an Indian. You cannot do much for us yourself without help and means. We not not want to hear anything more about  leaving. We only want our mill and other things fixed up so that they will be more serviceable to us here.

John Mission (Wasco) said

When we first made a treaty we did not want to go so far away from our homes. (Sidenote: The Wascoes originally belonged at The Dalles Ogn) We asked for some land between her and  the Dalles but the Commissioners said no, out there you will be away from the whites and there will be no whiskey there. Now I don’t want to remove again and go to Simcoe. We were promised that we should have every opportunity furnished for our improvement here. Now I see with my own eyes the children going to school. The school at Simcoe is not the only school where Indians can be taught. I don’t want to go there. I do not crave any other places; this is my country. We have some understanding of a good many things and of our wants. I don’t ask to be removed only for help here. You must not think our minds are divided between this and some other country. I want only this.

General (Wasco) said

You ask the Indians for their opinions, that is good. I will say what I thunk. I do not wish you to understand me to be angry at what has been proposed. I am glad that the Government is willing to ask me what I think. I have grown old here and cannot see why the Government should ask me to leave. Perhaps some young man has said that there is some better land than this for us. I say no; I cannot go, I must die here.

Mark Measham (hereditary Chief of the Wascoes and for a long time Head Chief of the Reservation) says

You hear what these boys are talking about. Perhaps some men will say that these Indians are like white people. I am not scolding at you, Capt. Smith, though this is the way you have expressed it. John Mission (Previous speaker) does not want to be like a white man is the reason he does not [want] to go somewhere and git some good land. You Whites have got the best of the land. The government asks us what country do you want? Where do you want to go? and says the whites will buy us out here. I see them having good land I want good land too and ask the government to help me to [make] sense of it. I have many children and if I can have the chance I want a large farm so that when I die they will have something. Perhaps people think we don’t know enough to want good land. My son has seen the Eastern states The country was all settled up, no wild lands (Sidenote: with McKay Troupe) Some whites told him he had no land and that was reason he had no money.

You have promised, Capt. Smith, that if you staid here you would ask for money to buy us sheep etc. This is what we want. The reason my people do not want to go anywhere else is because they are not posted(?). I alone want to go across (the Columbia to Simcoe) I tell my boys if they want to stay where they are they can do so, but my calculation is to go after a while. No man her will ever have a hundred head of horses no matter how long he stays here. If I ask for anything for my family it will be land. Last season I tried to raise some oats so that I could keep up a team in the winter but could not get enough and now have to turn my team out. Those who have land here can only raise barely enough wheat to eat themselves and this don’t suit me I want to go somewhere else. I am willing to wait while you, Capt. Smith, are here and when you go I will go. I cannot say whether it will be any better in five or ten years. I am afraid that if all were to be settled together like whites no one would ever be worth a hundred horses. (Sidenote: That is located and farmers were left to themselves to compete with the whites.)

Wil-wy-tit (one of the bravest warriors among the Warm Springs) said

Our hearts wishes are heavy upon us. We have been taught that if we live right here upon earth there is a home given to each by his maker hereafter. We are commanded to live in the law and raise up our children right and assist each other all we can. We are the children of the President and it is the duty of those that are able to serve him if called upon to do so. We do not want our words lost on him anymore. (Sidenote: Referring to various request made to commissioners inspectors etc which have never been answered) When his teachings came to us we will listen and then all will know their duty. We are glad when we hear from him for we trust him that he will command nothing but what is right.

Ta-ko-tus (Warm Spring) said

I feel something like this. The President knows somewhat of the situation of the Indians here. We try to live according to law and are not left entirely without law This people feel as though they had a parent. By the influence of the Government Indians and they naturally look to it for assistance. Today we call upon the President for help both for ourselves and our agent, who specially needs it. We do not ask help and then get a few presents and turn against but will stay with him. Our laws and instructions are still imperfect and want more so that our people may be brought up in them. Since we have been brought here we have become attached to this land as though tied by a rope and this is first and last our home to stay in. If we are outside to run around and shift ourselves there may be trouble and bloodshed and this would be wrong. The only true light that we have is from the bible the only true book.

Isroth -pum[?] (Hereditary Chief of the Warm Springs and their acknowledged leader) said

I feel as though I could shed tears over our former neglect and carelessness in not better improving our opportunities. I cannot see what improvements we have to show for the days we have spent here. These are the persons sent us by the President and he is frequently sending messengers to us and they have brought us the book to instruct us for our benefit and happiness. In our ignorance our old people did not seek after truth and the messages were lost to us, and the curse came upon us for our neglect. I have explained my ideas thus to you all and yet I feel that I don’t know what the truth really is. The Book was set before  us and those who brought it tried to explain it to us but we did not follow and so lost the benefits. If any are trying to follow us with the gospel some day they will see the fruits; some day you will see our hearts burn for what we ought to know. The Government has told us that if we would receive its instructions it would be our friend and this is why its laws were  sent to us. The sons of men are glad to know them and they receive them freely. I have never had a chance to speak directly to the President till today, he can choose for himself what is good in my talk. I suppose he would like to see the start that has been made first before he does anything more for us. (Sidenote: To the Pres.) You have had to do this with your own people, when they erred you have had to bring them back again to the light. By our being willing to come peaceable under the law we have a share in  the treaty and its benefits, and we have always been glad that we did so.

If you will make a true agreement with me I will accept it and no law will be required to keep me in the right way for I and my people with me will follow it ourselves.

Jim (Warm Spring) said

I have never attempted to speak here before. I am not an old man like some of the rest to be able to choose well my words. I was but a boy when you, Capt. Smith came here but your work is well known to me and all the rest. You have spent the sweat of your brow for the benefit of the Indians. When I see the course the Wascoes are taking I hope they are sincere in it. You were sent by the President as it were instead of his own eyes to see what our wants were. When all come to see the will of the President they will find that they are far short of fulfilling, but if they (the Wascoes) will all follow your advice the rest of us will follow too and we can tell our children of the steps by which we were raised up.

I say to the President, I feel there is a great work resting on you to be done through your agents and they need all your help. There are but few white people who try to help the Indians. They look down on us and keep away from us. I ask you to help your agent here who does not rest day or night trying to teach us the way of righteousness and many are asking how shall I be saved. We feel that we are worthy of your notice and that you ought to look after us and let no one take away our homes from us. White people went to school in their childhood and some of them are here trying to teach us the things they have learned and found to be good.

Schooley (Warm Spring) said

I had not heard that any of the Indians were making any calculations to learn here. I only wish to stay here where my property is. If we had wanted to go away we would not have come to the government for anything here. I have done much work making my farm and I want to stay on it. I have just made a new farm on the mountain. I want you to tell the President to supply us with wagons plows and harness and we ask nothing else.

Hol-a-quil-lah (Tenino) said

There was a village of my band when we came here now I am left almost alone the rest are dead and gone. The old ones that made the treaty are nearly all gone. The government sent me here to get some land for the farm. I know the country across the river (Simcoe) it used to be my home. It is not all good land there is bad land there too. I am alright here have plenty of room- have my stock here and as it were am held here by a weight. There are too many white settlers there why should I go among them. There is plenty of room here and I don’t have to watch my stock to prevent its being driven off. (Sidenote: From the nature of the country there can never be any considerable settlements near enough to this agency to interfere seriously with the Indians.)

Tah sy mp (     ) said

Why should the Govt. ask us if we want to leave here. Merhaps it is from something that Mark has said at some time. (Sidenote: Mark told Com. F.R. Brunnet that he wished to go.) I think we have land enough here some 40 miles square. We gave up our country on the Columbia for this and now that we have it we want to keep it. Last Summer you went up to the mountains and saw how much land there is. The Govt. surely does not know how much there is and that if that we are now on gives out we can go to the new out towards the mountains. (Sidenote: There are no better bodies of land in Middle Oregon than the one spoken of and a mistake was evidently made in not locating the agency there instead of here.) The Govt gave us this land and I agreed to take it and now I must die here. We were told that it was ours and no one should take it away from us. We did not propose to try it a while and if it did not suit us, to go somewhere else. We took it to keep and now see us. We live comfortably and some are Christians. This is our home and we will die for it. Only this I ask help us to school our children and raise them up right and soon there will be no Indians left they will all be equal to the whites. We live well here-have plenty of grain and the like to love on but we want our saw mill moved to the timber so that we can get what lumber we need for our houses and barns and fences. Finally this is my only answer I want no other country only this.

Hoto (Warm Springs) said

I am persuaded in my own mind that I want no other house but this. Simcoe is small. The Whites are too near. We would be fenced in and combined to close. It must have been Jeff Davis people who proposed the idea. We must not be double minded about it. My father helped make the treaty and took this country and died here and now I must die here too. We have a church here and do not want to change from it. We have a schoolhouse and school and live well enough here and do not want to go to another place.

Wm. C. Parker (Wasco, Commonly known as Chinook Billy, a companion of Fremont on his travels through this country) said

I believe we are prospering and advancing. I would not for anything go back to what we once were. My father did not teach me to what I am not what property I should own, but if I have come up myself and no man has any rights to say that I have not land enough for my children. No one should be anxious to have severe laws put upon his people and we do not know what laws the government may want to put upon us. (Sidenote: referring to the proposition to enfranchise and make them equal before the laws and amenable to them) I know that much of this country is dry and rocky but I don’t believe that when the old people die off the young ones will starve. This is our home and it is as dear to us as anyone’s home can be to them. When the treaty was made between us and the whites what was done was represented as being intended for our good. Ehen the treaty runs out, which is not far off, and the young ones are too poor to take care of themselves they can then call on the government for help but we will see our treaty out first. I cannot feel as though I need fear any want coming to me. I believe there is gold in this country. I have seen indications of it and some day it will be found. (Sidenote: He was in the California mines)

All Indians are interested in the government and those who most appreciate this will be most benefitted by it.

I ask the President to have our mill moved to the timber it is too far to haul logs, ten miles or so. We ought by good rights to have a steam circular sawmill but if it cannot be afforded we can get along with the other. One thing is certain we are entertaining no intentions of leaving here whatever.

Tellux (Tenino) said

We have not been divided in our minds in regard to fulfilling our treaty. We were put here by the government knowing that we were liable to be plundered by our enemies. We met our enemies here and had to take up arms ourselves to secure our peace and there was bloodshed before it was done, and now we do not wish to leave the land for which our blood was shed.  (Sidenote: The hostile Snakes then infested this country and they suffered severely from their incursions.) I trust you will respect our wishes and not compel us to go. A few years ago we would be found in huts and half the time almost ready to starve but now we are different, we live in houses like men and have plenty. I think we have shown ourselves worthy of help from the President and I call upon him for it that we may be supplied with those things we need. (Sidenote: Plows harness farming utensils schools etc)

Sirnentire (Wasco) said

We  were not boys when our treaty was made. We know of Simcoe and other places and were allowed some choice and we came here. We here today are the ones who made the treaty and their children. We knew our duty to the Government. The fathers who made the treaty are mostly dead and buried here and the place is dear t us because their bones are in the dust here and our kindred also.   It must be some outsider who has said that we wanted to go. It is right that you ask us what our will is and we make it known to you. The daylight has come to us and we know what we need. We need the same things that white people do. Do not entertain any doubts as to remaining here permanently. We have asked for help, What help? First we want farming utensils and our mill rendered more serviceable, and then for our school we need a boarding school for our children. We have not been indifferent or negligent about farming but we are too poor to provide the things necessary for farming properly. We have been compelled to live close together on small farms because we have not implements enough to scatter out we have to stay where we could borrow from one another and several get the use of the same articles. It it had not been for that we should have scattered out and farmed more extensively.

Sky tus Cree (Wasco) said

This land was given to us and is now first and last our home and where my home is there my heart is fixed and not only that but many of our brothers have shed their blood and lost their lives here and for that reason we are attached to it. Even if ordered to go some where else we would resist with all our ability. However if there is any man who wants to go let him do as he pleases.

Johnson (Wasco) said

During the first year of our stay here under our first agents it was like winter with us all the time. Huntington lied to us from the time we first heard of him till he died and stole our fishery. (Sidenote: Huntington was a number of years Supt. of Indian Affairs in Oregon.) And our chief was with him. Then the Snake Indians came upon us and we were nearly ruined. But now that is all gone by and we are experiencing some summer. We have met today to ask if anyone wants to leave here. All but one say no! We have now a different Chief. The one who was in the way and caused this disturbance is chief no more, he is out. This land was given us by treaty and it is ours and will remain so. Capt Smith is our agent but his operations have always been hindered by lack of means. Our children cannot be properly educated as long as they stay with us when out of school. We have a sawmill but the timber is too far away and it should be moved to it. (Sidenote: It is the work of weeks to get in logs enough for a small house when if properly located as many days would suffice.) As Billy has said we should have a circular sawmill. We are ready and willing and know how to work but we have not the tools to work with. We hear that it is proposed to make citizens of us but we are not ready yet. I do not say that we would reject the offer but we feel that we are not qualified. Only one man says he wants to leave and he cannot speak for all. He can only speak for himself he is no better than any one else. In our old Indian ways he ruled us absolutely but we don’t respect him now. He wants to render futile all our efforts to advance but we have learned to stand up for our own rights and say for ourselves what we will do.

Shy-ats (Wasco) said

I have not forgotten the covenant I made with the Government. The Government appears before us as a great power to keep men at peace. The Presidents desire is to be a father to all his people and try to bring them all up to be brothers. We made our treaty and came out here, and have lived here since and expect to as long as we live anywhere, and by fulfilling his wishes become brothers with the whites. We expect to stay her always and look to you for instruction and help, and I will always maintain my part of my agreement. He told us we should be instructed in the laws both men and of God and now we have some knowledge of them and our happiness here is in proportion as we respect and obey them and we alone are to blame if we do not accept of them and receive the benefit of them. But if there is one who is a thief or liar or murderer and cannot live here it is his own consciousness of guilt that drives him away.  I say to the President that Mark has been in our way as much as he could because he could not have a position he wanted. (Sidenote: See Mark Meacham’s remarks, Defeated for Head Chief) He has ruined himself by his own acts and now he is ashamed to show his face among us anymore.

Olonax Pipps (Wasco) said

We came here, at the call of the Government, peaceably because we were peaceably spoken to, and this is the land set apart for us. Many things that were promised us we never got, and we are behind hand on account of not having them and we need them. It is nothing but what is right to teach Indians but there must be teachers and we cannot work without tools therefore we have asked for help. If any one wants to go of course he is free to go that is as far as we are concerned. It would not be right to go without the consent of the President nor to be sent without our [agreement?]. In our worldly affairs we are behindhand but in spiritual knowledge we are in advance of very many in the world. Our great need is something to work with.

Skamonie (Wasco) said

I do not remember that I ever said I wanted to leave this place. We mean no offense to the President by what we are saying. We do not know that he has ever done anything to find fault with. I am an old man and when I made the treaty I did not say I would live on this side of the river awhile and when I got tired go to the other. I have been in the service of the government but would not have gone if I had not known of your good intentions to us. Those who made the treaty are mostly dead but their children are here and calling on you today. We expect to stay here always and die here. Our farms are small but we will not leave them we have nothing to gain by a change. How could I build up another home now I am old.

I ask you as a friend to furnish us farming utensils so that our young men may be at work.

Pianoose (Wasco) Head Chief said.

What I say here I would swear to before my maker. I belong to the Wasco tribe and I will speak the truth. I wait to see the truth prominent among my people. We have heard that the President has been told we want to leave this reservation and we are here today to consider the matter. We have found out from Mark’s speech that he is the one who has made the trouble and has been keeping us back; he came forward and said so himself. He has always been in the way running about and talking and his reputation is bad. (Sidenote: It has been stated that one reason why more was not done for them was, the prospect of them soon abandoning the reservation.) I say to the President do with him as he wishes.

Those who have spoken are my brethren, and they have expressed the real sentiments of their hearts. Once when we were unenlightened Indians the government promised to teach us and it is now getting to be near the end of the twenty years that we have been here. Mark and our first agents were in together, and did they look after any ones wants but their own? Not at all. They looked out for themselves and left us without anything. That part of our treaty was lost to us. Then our annuities amounted to something six and eight thousand a year but we got no permanent benefit of them. I am but a young man among older ones and have been chief but a short time. Now we get but two thousand a year and though much more faithfully applied and advantageously employed it does not supply our actual needs. I ask of President Grant more help in teaching and civilizing my brethren here. (Sidenote: They understand and appreciate the advantages they have enjoyed under Pres. Grant’s Liberal policy and the prominent part he has taken in carrying it out.) With your help a great work can be done here my desire is to bring my people up, we are poor creatures trampled underfoot by the whites and I cry to you for help for my people. Do not believe all that that the whites tell you of our misdeeds our agent knows us, our character and wants. Inquire of him. We are not going to abandon this reservation. It’s first and last our home. We want farming utensils and we want schools and also a man to teach us in spiritual things. Then we want a good sawmill and cattle and sheep that we may manufacture to supply some of our necessities. I want you to be a safe shelter for my people on which they can rely for assistance. If you will give my people these things I will see that they improve them and we will be ready to listen to your instructions.

I want to see my people brought up and governed by the law and those that are to follow us as well.

The light of day has come and their parched natures have been moistened by heavenly rains and for this I ask you to hear us. I know something of how long it takes to educate a white child and that it takes as long to educate an Indian and I want to see not one child on this reservation left without an education. There has no provision been made for supporting apprentices in the shops and we need some way to do that. We hope that this our message will not be lost but that you will answer it as soon as you receive it.

Working to match the names is difficult because of the various ways of writing their names. Many would change their name throughout their lives or adopt American names. Some of those in 1876 were not signors to the treaty in 1876, they admit to being too young and it is noted that many of the elders had died by this time.


“Mark” Meacham is noted as the first signer of the Treaty of Middle Oregon, 1855

William C. Parker who is William (Billy) Chenook is the second signer of the treaty

Gadshaw not noted in treaty

John Mission is Mission John in the Treaty, Listed in the Dog River section

General  not noted in treaty

Sirnentire not noted in treaty

Sky tus Cree not noted in treaty

Johnson not noted in treaty

Shy-ats not noted in treaty

Olonax Pipps not noted in treaty

Skamonie not noted in treaty

Pianoose not noted in treaty

Warm Springs

Pishwaw is not noted on the treaty by this name

Wil-wy-tit is not yet found in  the treaty.

Ta-ko-tus not noted in the treaty by this name


“Mark” Meacham is noted as the first signer of the Treaty of Middle Oregon, 1855

William C. Parker who is William (Billy) Chenook is the second signer of the treaty

Gadshaw not noted in treaty

John Mission is Mission John in the Treaty, Listed in the Dog River section

General  not noted in treaty

Sirnentire not noted in treaty

Sky tus Cree not noted in treaty

Johnson not noted in treaty

Shy-ats not noted in treaty

Olonax Pipps not noted in treaty

Skamonie not noted in treaty

Pianoose not noted in treaty

Isroth –pum, could be I-poth-pal

Jim is in the treaty as “Jim”

Schooley is “Scho-ley” in the treaty

Hoto Not noted in the Treaty


Hol-a-quil-lah isHa-lai-kola” in the treaty

Tellux  could be “Talekish” in the treaty


Unknown-Dog River Wasco?

Tah sy mp is “Tah Symph” in the treaty

Leave a Reply

The Quartux Journal