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Camp Harney, Oregon, 1872
(Oregon Historical Society)
(not in original book)
Samuel B. Parrish, Agent at Malheur Indian Reservation, was one of the few agents helpful to the Paiute (Grant County, Oregon Historical Museum)
(not in original book)
“Now you are my children. I have come here to do you good. I have not come here to do nothing; I have no time to throw away. I have come to show you how to work, and work we must. I am not like the man who has just left you. I can’t kneel down and pray for sugar and flour and potatoes to rain down, as he did. I am a bad man; but I will try and do my duty, and teach you all how to work, so you can do for yourselves by-and-by. We must work while the government is helping us, and learn to help ourselves. The first thing I want you to do is to make a dam and then dig a ditch. That is to irrigate the land. Some of you can dig the ditch, some can build the clam, some can go to the woods and cut rails to build fences. I want you all to work while the government is helping us, for the government is not always going to help us. Do all you can until you get helped, and all you raise is your own to do with as you like. The reservation is all yours. The government has given it all to you and your children. I will do more. I will build a school-house, and my brother’s wife will teach your children how to read like the white children. I want three young men to learn to be blacksmiths, and three to learn to be carpenters. I want to teach you all to do like white people. You see the poor white man has no one to help him. He gets some land and he works it as best he can. Now you see the government is good to you. It gives you land for nothing, and will give you more—that is, it will give you clothes, and a store, and I want you, chiefs of the Piutes, to ask all your people to come here to make homes for themselves. Send out your men everywhere, and have them come to this place. This is the best place for you all, and as soon as we get started, I will write to your father in Washington, to send us a mill to grind our grain. We will raise a little something this summer. We can plant some potatoes and turnips and watermelons. We will not plant wheat, because we have no mill; but we can raise barley and oats.”
My father said to his people, “What do you all think of what this man, our new father, says?”
The sub-chief, Egan, said: “For my part I think it is very good, if he will only carry it out. There has been so much said that has never been fulfilled by our other agent. But we have no other way only to do what we are told to do. Oytes, you have your men.”
“I have my men, and our father Winnemucca has his,” said Oytes. “I am not going to work. I and my men have our own work to do,—that is, to hunt for our children. You all know we don’t get enough to eat.”
Of course I told Mr. Parrish everything each of the subchiefs said, and so did my father.
Mr. Parrish said, “All right, Oytes,—you can do just as you like.”
My father got up and said: “My son Natchez says if we do not do as we are told by the white people, we will not get along at all. My children are talking for you all, and they tell us just what our white fathers say. We will all work at whatever our white father says we must work at.”
Egan said, “Yes, we will work. I and my men will go into the timber and cut rails.”
“My father said, “I will take the rest of the men to go to work upon the ditch.”
One of the men belonging to Oytes, said, “We will work; let this man go.” He meant Oytes, who was always getting us into trouble. So my people went to work with good heart, both old men and young women and children. We were as happy as could be. They worked five days, when Mr. Parrish told me to go and call them in. I did as he told me, and they all came in. He told me to tell them how glad he was to see them so willing to do as he had told them. He said, “I don’t like to see the old men and the women work, and they must not do it. The men are too old, and the women must not work in the field like the men. They can work in another way. They can cook for their husbands, and have their meals ready at noon and at supper and early in the morning.” But the old men would not mind; they worked on with the rest of the men. My people got flour, and beef, and sometimes beans. As for myself, I had to pay for my board, as I was making a great deal of money; that is, I was making forty dollars a month. At that time I only paid fifteen dollars a month. The ditch was getting finished. It was two and a half miles long and ten feet wide, and they were getting it through nicely. They were only six weeks at it. This is quite a contrast to our Pyramid Lake Reservation. They only got three miles of ditch on that reservation, which is twenty-three years old. They have been building a darn and a ditch all this time. There have been twelve different agents there during that time, who taught them nothing. When my people had finished the work Mr. Parrish gave them to do at the Malheur, he sent for Egan to come in with his men. They came two days after. The next clay Mr. Parrish sent for all the rest to come. They did so, and after they had sat down and smoked, he said to me,—
“Sarah, you may tell your people that I am glad to see them so willing to work; your other agent told me that you would not work, that you were lazy.” My father broke out laughing; they all laughed and said: “What can they expect from women who have never been taught to work?” Our father, Parrish, went on talking, and said: “All my people say that you won’t work; but I will show them that you can work as well as anybody, and if you go on as we have started, maybe the Big Father at Washington will now give us a mill to grind our corn. Do all you can, and I know government will help you. I will do all I can while I am with you. I am going to have a school-house put up right away, so that your children can go to school, and, after you have cut your hay, you can go out hunting a little while and get some buckskins; I know you would like that.”
My father said to his people, “Now, don’t you think this is the best father we ever had in all our lives?” One and all of them said: “Yes, and we are all ready to do what he wants us to.” So they all went to him and shook his hands, and his brother’s hands, too, Charley Parrish, and he has a lovely wife. Mrs. Parrish is dearly beloved by my people and myself. She is a beautiful lady as well as a good one. Oh, if they had staid with us for five or six years, my poor people would not have suffered so much, and those who have been frozen to death would be living to-day.
Now we wanted a road, because our flour must be hauled here for the winter. My people went to work with good heart; in this way we lived for five months. We were happy and contented. In the month of September we had some visitors. They were Columbia River Indians, and they came to trade with my people every summer. They said, “We come to trade with you for your furs and your buckskins. We will give you horses for them.”
My people said they would ask their father before they would trade with them. The Columbia River Indians were angry at this, and went off. These Indians knew the value of the furs. They did not want our white father to know about their trading with us. The Indian who said he would not work (Oytes) went off with them, and they stopped about thirty miles away. Then the Columbia River Indians gave Oytes three horses, telling him to come back, and get some of his men to come and trade with them; they would wait there for them. So Oytes came back, and told our people to go with him to the Columbia River Indians and trade. He said: “Take everything; your furs, and blankets, and buckskins, too.”
My father and Sub-chief Egan came to me and said: “We have come to tell our father, Parrish, what Oytes is doing. He wants us to go to those bad Indians and trade with them.” Egan said, “Yes, they are our enemies, and we must not have them coming here, for they will bring us trouble. We are afraid of Oytes; he is a very bad man.” I told Mr. Parrish everything that father and Egan had said about Oytes. Our good white father said the same thing as my father did. He said the Columbia River Indians were always making trouble, and it was best that they should never come to the reservation at all. Father and Egan said, “Our good father, we are afraid of Oytes, because he says he can make us all die here. Last winter we had some kind of sickness, and a great many of our children died. He said it was he who was making us sick, and he told us to pay him, or else we would all die. Every one of us paid him, but a great many died anyhow.”
“Well, I will talk to Oytes; you must not be afraid of him; I will see to him,” Mr. Parrish said.
He told Egan to tell Oytes to come over, but while my father and Egan were talking with our agent, Oytes took thirty men off with him to the Columbia River Indians.
Everything went along very nicely, and Oytes came back with his men about twenty-one days afterwards. Our agent sent for them all to come to him. After my people gathered together, he got up and said:—
“Now, my children, I am glad that you have been so obedient. You have all done well but one, and I am sorry for him, but I think he will be good also. I know he will be ashamed of himself by-and-by.”
“I want the men who cut the hay to come and stand on one side.” They did so, six in number. “Now these that cut grain.” There were ten of them. “Now there are two stacks of hay. How many stacked the small stack?” “Two.” “And the big stack?” ”Four.” “All right. The small stack will be mine. I have two horses, and I will pay you for that stack. The big one is yours. There are six horses and two mules that work for you, and if it is a hard winter you can feed your ponies, too. And I will also pay for part of the grain. I want you all to understand me. The two horses are mine, and the six horses and two mules are yours. The government has given them to you. That is why I will pay you for what you cut, and the money I give for the grain I will give to your two chiefs; that is, to your father Winnemucca, and to Egan.” He stopped and asked, “Is that all right?” My people, one and all, said, “Yes, all right.” He then asked the two men how many days they took to cut and stack the hay. The men said eight days. “Very well, I will pay you one dollar a day. Now I want to tell you something more. If you work for me or any of my men, we are to pay you for it. If you cut or pile wood, we will pay you for it. If I send you to Canyon City for myself or my men, you shall be paid for it.” He asked them if they liked his law. They all got up and said, “Truckee, Truckee.” That means very well, very well. Then he paid eight dollars apiece to the two men for the hay, and gave my father twenty dollars and the same to Egan. He then said, “How many of you want to go out hunting?” They said, “We would all like to go.”
“Well, you can go, and don’t stay too long, because your potatoes will be ready to be dug.” So he gave each man a can of powder and some lead and caps, and also to each one a sack of flour. Oh, how happy my people were! That night we all got together and had a dance. We were not so happy before for a long time. All the young people went on the hunt, and the old staid and drew their rations right along. The carpenter went on with the school-house till he had to stop on account of having no lumber to go on with. At last my people came in with their ponies laden with dried venison. My father did not come in. He sent word by Egan to me that he would go to Pyramid Lake Reservation to see the rest of our people there. So I was left all alone. I felt very badly because he went away. I was afraid of Oytes, I don’t know why. Oytes did not get any powder to go hunting with. Some of his men gave him some after they all got in. Mr. Parrish told me to tell all my people to come next day to get their rations. While I was there, talking to Egan, Oytes came and said, “I want you to talk to your father, as you call him. Tell him I and my men are going to live with our brothers; that is, the Columbia River Indians. I cannot call that white man my father. My father was black, like myself, and you are all white but me, and, therefore, tell him I quit my country.”
I said to Egan, “I will go.” Egan said, “I will go with you.” When we had got over the river we looked back and saw Oytes coming. I said to Egan, “I am so afraid of that man.” “Oh,” he said, “he is nobody. Don’t you mind him. If he can make you afraid of him that is all he wants, but if you are not afraid of him he will be one of the best men you ever saw. We will tell our agent what he said to us.” Oytes came riding fast, and overtook us. “You are our good teacher; don’t you think our agent has treated me badly, and do you blame me for wanting to go away?” I said, “Oytes, I have lived a long time with the white people, and I know what they do. They are people who are very kind to any one who is ready to do whatever they wish. You see the agent is kind to all but you. Why, can you tell me?” I said to him. He said, “I don’t know.” “You want me to tell you?” He would not say, and I would not tell him until he said he knew why. We got off our horses and went in to talk with our agent. I told him everything that Oytes had said. Our good white father said to Oytes, “I am heartily sorry that you have such a bad heart. Let me tell you, Oytes, if you want to get your young men into trouble, you can. I have not come here to make you do what you don’t want to do. I came to tell you all that government is willing to do for you, and if you will not do it I cannot help you. I have men here to teach you all how to work, and now you wart to take your men away with those bad Columbia River Indians. They are just like you. They don’t want to work like other people. Now the sooner you go the better. I don’t want to say anything more to you. Go, now.”
After he was gone, Mr. Parrish said to Egan, “You will all get your rations, and day after to-morrow is Sunday. On Monday I want you all to come here. We will dig our potatoes, and some of you must make a place to put them in.” On Monday came men, women, and children, and they went to work to dig potatoes, and everything was put away for winter. They were told to come and get their potatoes whenever they wanted to, and soon my people were called again. This time women and children were to come too. What a beautiful time we had all day long issuing clothing to all,—ten yards of calico to every woman, ten yards of flannel for underwear, and unbleached muslin also to every woman. Pantaloon goods were given to the boys, handkerchiefs, shoes, stockings, shawls, and blankets. Men got shirts, pants, hats, looking-glasses and shoes; some red shirts, some got red blankets, some white. They got whatever color they liked. It was the prettiest issue I had ever seen in my life, or have seen since. Everybody got something but two,—one man and one woman. He would look at me and smile, but he did not say anything till it was all over. Mr. Parrish did not say anything to him. Everybody was gone but Oytes and myself. He came to me and said, “You and I are two black ones. We have not white fathers’ lips.” I said, “No, we are two bad ones. Bad ones don’t need any pity from any one.” He laughed and went away. That same night my cousin came over and said, “Oytes is coming over to kill our agent. We have said everything to him; we have given him our blankets, but that won’t do. What will we do?” I said, “We will tell Mr. Parrish.” So I ran and told him, and he told his brother and all his men, six altogether, and three women, the doctor’s wife, C. W. Parrish’s wife, and her servant girl, and three children, twelve white persons, among seven hundred Indians to come. Our good agent sent for Oytes to come over the next morning. Egan brought him, and Mr. Parrish said to him, “Oytes, I have three hundred dollars. If you will let me shoot at you, if my bolt won’t go through your body the money is yours. You say bolts cannot kill you.” Our agent shook him, and Oytes cried out, “Oh, my good father, don’t kill me. Oh, I am so bad. Oh, I will do everything you say. I never will say no to anything you will say. I will do just as my men are doing. I will not go away if you will forgive me.” Our agent said, “All right, Oytes; don’t let me hear any more of your talk, do you hear? You shall not fool with me, and don’t say any more to your own people.” “No, good father, I will not say anything more.” So they shook hands, and were good friends afterwards. Our good agent gave him a red blanket, and red shirts and hat, and pants and shoes. He gave him everything he could think of, and told him to give back all the things belonging to his people. So we got along happily afterwards, and Oytes was the first one to be ready with his men when our agent wanted work done. We were all good friends, and our agent liked my people, and my people loved him. All his men were good men. My people did some work during the winter. There were three miles of a ditch to make, and they all worked on it. There was only half a mile to be finished, when a very long letter came one day, and Mr. Parrish called all the men to come in the evening. He told us that we had two hundred and ninety-two enemies in Canyon City. He said the name of the captain of these men was Judge Curry. This man wanted the west end of our reservation, and our Big Father in Washington wanted to know what we thought about it. “These white men,” he said, “have talked to your Father in Washington, saying that you are lazy, and will not work.” Leggins and Egan said, “Our Father, you are here to talk for us. Tell our Big Father that we don’t want to give up any of our reservation. We want it all. The Pyramid Lake Reservation is too small for us all, and the white people have already taken all the best part of it. We cannot all live there, and in case they take it all we can have this to live on. There are a great many of our people, and we do not want to give up any of our land. Another thing, we do not want to have white people near us. We do not want to go where they are, and we don’t want them to come near us. We know what they are, and what they would do to our women and our daughters.” Our white father told us he would write and tell all we said to our Big Father in Washington, so we lived along happy all winter. At last our school-house was done, and my people were told that it was ready, and for the little children to come to school. It was the first day of May, 1876, Mrs. Parrish was to be teacher, and I was to help her, and get the same pay for teaching the children English. I had given up my position as interpreter to my cousin Jarry, because he was almost blind. I asked Mr. Parrish to give it to him, because he had a wife and daughter, and no way of making a living for them. So Mr. Parrish sent for him to come and take my place.
On the first of May Mrs. Parrish and I opened the school. She had her organ at the school-house, and played and sang songs, which my people liked very much. The school-house was full, and the windows were thrown open, so that the women could hear too. All the white people were there to sing for them. I was told to tell the children to sing. All of them started to sing as well as they could. Oh, how happy we were! We had three hundred and five boys, twenty-three young men, sixty-nine girls, and nineteen young women. They learned very fast, and were glad to come to school. Oh, I cannot tell or express how happy we were! Mrs. Parrish, the dear, lovely lady, was very kind to the children. We all called her our white lily mother.
We had not been teaching but about three weeks when very bad news came. Our white father, Parrish, told me to tell all the people to come to the school-house. They all came with sad faces, because I had already told them that our white father was. going away to leave us. Then he told us that he had received a letter from our Big Father in Washington, saying another man was to come in his place,—a better man than he. “I am sorry to leave you,” he said, “because I know I can make a good home for you. The man who is coming here to take care of you all is a good man. He can teach you better things than I, and maybe he will do more than I can. You must do just as he wants you to do. Go right along just as you have done while I was with you. You all know who he is. He used to live in Canyon City, and have a store there.” My people began to say to one another, “We know him, then.” The mail-carrier said, “I know him, for I know he had a store there.” Egan, the sub-chief, said,—
“Our Father says he is going away. Now I have been thinking that some of you may have said something against our father. You might have done it without thinking that something would come of it. You all know that white men make a mountain of little things, and some of them may have heard something and told it on him.” They all said, “We have had nothing to say against our father. Why should we do so when he has been so good to us?” Oytes got up and said, “We will not let our father go; we will fight for him. Why should we let him go? We have not sent for another father to come here. He has been doing everything for us, and we have made no complaints against him. We will all stand by him. He has taught us how to work, and that’s what we want, and the white lily is teaching our children how to talk with the paper, which I like very much. I want some of the young men to go and tell our father Winnemucca to come here as soon as he can. I know he will think as I do. I say once more, we will not let him go.”
I told our agent everything that was said by my people. Then he told me to say to them that it was not because he had done anything that was not right, that he must go away. It was because they said he was not a Christian, and all the reservations were to be under the Christian men’s care. “Before I go,” he said, “I am going to plant for you, and help you all I can. I will give Egan and Oytes land for peas; Oytes, just on the other side of the river for him and his men, and Egan at the Warm Spring, which is just half a mile away on the east, and to Jarry Lang, and Sarah Winnemucca, and others, on this side of the river. Come right along, just as before, and we will plant whatever you want for the winter. Your new father will not be here until the first of July.” He asked each one of us what we wanted planted. Egan said, “I want potatoes and a little wheat.” Oytes said the same. My cousins asked me what I wanted. I said, “We have horses enough to need oats and barley.” Mr. Parrish said, “Just as you like.” I said, “I will have wheat, and you oats, and we will have all kinds of vegetables.” Then our white father said to Egan, “There are eight ploughs. Some of your men can help to plough, and we will get everything in.” He also told Egan that he could not keep Jarry any longer as interpreter. My cousin was married to Egan’s niece, and Mr. Parrish gave me back my place as interpreter. All my people went to work just as before. In a very short time everything was put in.
During that time, Gen. O. O. Howard and his daughter and Captain Sleighton came to visit us. We were all very glad to see him. He came to see if my people would allow him to build a military post at a place called Otis Valley, ten miles from the agency. He wanted to move Camp Harney to that place. The sub-chief, Egan, said to him, “I like all the soldiers very much. We must see first what our brother Winnemucca says. We have sent for him, and we look for him every day. When he comes he can tell you whether you can build there or not.” General Howard said, “All right, you can tell Mr. Parrish, and he will write to me. I am very glad you are getting along so nicely here. I like to see all the Indians get along in this way. Go on just as you are doing; you will soon be like the white people.”
Egan got up and said to him, “You are our Big Soldier Father. We would like to have you come and see us, and see that no bad men come and take away our land. You will tell your soldiers to keep them off the reservation.” He promised he would see to it, and he staid all night. The school stopped at this time. Our names were put each on our grain-field or garden. My father came and told him all, and we went to see the agent. My father took his hands in his, and said, “My good father, you shall not leave me and my people. Say you will not go.” He answered: “It is not for me to say. I would like to stay, but your Big Father in Washington says that I must go, and that a better man is coming here. You will like him, I know.”
Father said: “I do not want any one but you. I am going to see the soldier-father to-morrow. I know they will keep you here for me, or I think they can if they wish to.”
Mr. Parrish said, “They can do nothing against the government.”
My father sat a long time without saying a word.
At last Mr. Parrish said:
“Come with me, Winnemucca, I want to give you some things. Come with me.” So we went to our store-house. After we got there father stood in one corner of the room, like one that was lost.
Mr. Parrish said, “What kind of clothes do you want?”
Father said, “I don’t want anything if you are not going to stay with me. I don’t want anything from you, because it will make me feel so badly after you are gone.”
It is the way we Indians do. We never keep anything belonging to our dearest friends, because it makes us feel so badly, and when any of our family die, everything belonging to them is buried, and their horses are killed. When my poor mother was yet living every time we went near the place where my poor grandfather was buried she would weep. I told father the way white people did if they were to part for a long time was to give each other something to remember each other by, and they would also keep another’s picture, if he was dead. “Father,” I said, “you had better take what he gives you, for he will feel badly if you don’t.” So father took everything he gave him, and the next morning, father, Egan, Oytes, and myself started for Camp Harney, to see the officer there. We arrived at Camp Harney, distant fifty miles, at about five o’clock. We rode up to the commanding officer’s quarters, and I said:—
“Major Green, my father has come to see you, and to have a talk with you.” “Well, Sarah, tell your father to come at ten o’clock to-morrow. Have you a place to stop at while you are here?” I said, “Yes, I have a lady friend here. Father and I can stop with her.”
“And where will those two men stop?”
I said, “I don’t know.” “But, let me see,” he said, “They can stop with my men. I will will give them a note to the sergeant.”
I then told Egan and Oytes to go to the place, and father and I went to Mrs. Kennedy, and she and her husband were very glad to see us. I told her all about our trouble at the Malheur Agency. In the morning, at the appointed time, we went to the office. There were all the officers in waiting for us, to hear what father had to say. They thought we had come to tell something against our agent, for they were the same officers that had the other agent sent away. They were all astonished when my father said to Major Green:—
“My great soldier-father, I am in great trouble, and want you to help me. You can if you will. I come to you in my trouble, knowing that you are our best friends when I and my people are good. Your soldiers have always stood by us. You took us as your prisoners. You know how the white people are always saying Indians are bad and steal cattle. They tell you these things so you can kill us all off. Now they want my reservation. They are sending away my agent. My men and I have not sent for another agent. We all like our good agent Parrish. We don’t want him to leave us. He gives us everything we want. He and his men are all friendly. They are teaching us how to work, and our children are learning how to read, just like your children. What more do we want? There can be no better man than he, and why send him away? Oh, my good soldier-father, talk on paper to our Big Father in Washington, and tell him not to take him away. I tell you I never saw white men like them in all my life. I have a reservation at my birth place called Pyramid Lake. For so many years not one of the agents ever gave me or my people an old rag. I am just from there. My people have nothing to live on there but what little fish they catch, and the best land is taken from them. I saw a great many of my people. They say they will come here to make homes for themselves.”
He stopped, and then said:—
“Will you help me, Major Green?”
“I will send all you have said to your father in Washington. I am sorry Mr. Parrish is to leave.”
He then asked me all about it. I told him everything I knew and our new agent’s name. Mr. Parrish called him Major Reinhard.
Major Green told father he would do all he could for him and his people. The next morning we went back. I told Mr. Parrish what my father said to the officer, and he laughed.
William V. Rinehart, last Indian Agent at Malheur Indian Reservation. He favored extermination-style warfare and opposed General Howard’s lenient policy toward Indians.
(not in original book)
I was now all alone, as my father left the next day after Mr. Parrish went away. One day Egan and Oytes came to me and said, “We know this man who is going to be our father. He is a bad man. He used to be over at Canyon City. He has sold me many bottles of firewater.” “Yes,” said Oytes, “we know him well.” Just then he came along towards us. He held out his hand to the two sub-chiefs, and said, “How do you do?” He said to me, “Sarah, tell them I want them to come to me to-morrow. I want to have a talk with them. Tell them to tell old Winnemucca to come, too.” I said, “My father is gone.” “Where is he gone?” ”To Pyramid Lake Reservation.” “Will he be back soon?” ”I don’t know, sir.”
Next morning Egan and Oytes came with their men. “Now, Sarah,” he said, “tell your people that the Big Father in Washington has sent me here. He told me how I must make you all good people. This land which you are living on is government land. If you do well and are willing to work for government, government will give you work. Yes, government will do more than that. It will pay you one dollar per day; both men and women will get the same. Boys who can do a day’s work will get the same. This is what the Big Father in Washington told me to tell you.”
All the time he was talking, my people hung their heads. Not one looked at him while he talked. He stopped talking. My people passed some jokes, and laughed at him because he was trembling as if he was afraid. Egan said to Oytes, “You had better talk to your father. I don’t want to talk to such a man.” Oytes said, “I am not a boy, I am a man. I am afraid he will die if I talk to him.” I said, “Say something to him.” Then Egan got up and said, “Our father, we cannot read; we don’t understand anything; we don’t want the Big Father in Washington to fool with us. He sends one man to say one thing and another to say something else. The man who just left us told us the land was ours, and what we do on it was ours, and you come and say it is government land and not ours. You may be all right. We love money as well as you. It is a great deal of money to pay; there are a great many of us, and when we work we all work.”
Our Christian agent got mad and said, “Egan, I don’t care whether any of you stay or not. You can all go away if you do not like the way I do.”
“Our good father does not understand me. I did not say I would not work.”
Oytes said, “Don’t say any more; we will all go to work, and then see how much he will pay us.” Then the agent said, “When I tell you to do anything I don’t want any of you to dictate to me, but to go and do it.”
When I told them what he said, they all jumped up and went away. The next morning men, women, and boys went to work. Some went into the fields to. cut the grain, some to mow hay, and some to cut rails for fences. Some went to cut wood, and some to haul it in. Everybody was busy all the week. Saturday, at half past six o’clock, my people came right from their work to get their pay, men, women, and boys; thirty-eight women, forty-three boys, and nineteen hundred and nine men. We all went to the agent’s office. I went in first and said, “All my people have come to get their pay.” “Well, tell them to come in.” Then he began to write: Blankets, six dollars; coats, six dollars; pants, five dollars, shoes, three dollars; socks, fifty cents; woollen shirts, three dollars, handkerchiefs, fifty cents; looking-glasses, fifty cents; sugar, three pounds for one dollar; tea, one dollar per pound; coffee, two and a half pounds for one dollar; shawls, six dollars; calico, ten yards for one dollar; unbleached muslin, four yards. “The rations they have had are worth about four dollars a week, and then they have two dollars left to get anything they want out of the storehouse.” Some of my men said, “Let us go; why do we fool with such a man?” A good many got up and left. Egan, the sub-chief, got up and said, “Why do you want to play with us? We are men, not children. We want our father to deal with us like men, and tell us just what he wants us to do; but don’t say you are going to pay us money, and then not do it. If you had told us you wanted us to work for nothing, we would have done it just as well if you had said, ‘I will pay you.’ We did not ask you to pay us. It is yourself that said you would see that government paid us, and we would like to have you pay us as you said. You did not say anything about the clothing nor about what we ate while we were working. I don’t care for myself, but my men want their pay, and they will go on with their work just the same. Pay them m money, and then they can go and buy whatever they like, because our Big Father’s goods are too dear. We can go to our soldier-fathers, and get better blankets for three dollars than yours.”
He said, “Well, I will give you an order on a store in Canyon City which belongs to your Big Father in Washington, where you can get nice things.”
Egan got up again and said, “Our good father Sam Parrish sent for those things which are in the store for us, and you want us to pay you for them. You are all wearing the clothes that we fools thought belonged to us, and we don’t want you to pay anything.”
He tinned round to his men and said, “Go home.” Then our Christian father again forgot himself and said, “If you don’t like the way I do, you can all leave here. I an not going to be fooled with by you. I never allow a white man to talk to me like that.”
My people all went away to their camps. They sent for me during the night. I went to see what they wanted with Inc. The head men were all together. Then Egan asked me what I thought about our new father.
I said, “I don’t know. What do you think about him? Do you think what he tells us is true? Are we to lose our home? It looks that way, don’t it?” I said, “I have nothing to say. I am only here to talk for you all.” “What do you think we had better do? Where shall we go? He tells us all to go away. We have no way of getting our living. If he would only give us what we have raised, we could live on that this winter.”
Some of the women said, “Oh, our children will surely die of hunger.”
I said, “We will wait and see what he will do.”
Oytes said, “Let us go and tell our soldier-fathers about him!”
I said, “No, we must wait.”
The next day was Sunday, and there was nothing to do. Some of my people came to make a home with us who were never on the reservation before. I went to them, and they said,—
“We have come to make a home with you. We heard that your white father was so good to all, so we thought we would come here.”
I said, “Our good father has gone away, and there is another one here, and I don’t know what he is going to do for us.”
They said, “We have nothing to eat.”
I said, “To-day is the day when people don’t work. It is called Sunday. It is the day when the white people talk with the Spirit-Father, and the agent told me to tell my people never to come for anything on Sunday. To-morrow is ration-day. I will go and see him, anyhow.”
I went to him and said, “Mr. Reinhard, some of my people have come here to make a home with us. They were never here before. They say they have nothing to eat. This is why I came to speak to you. Excuse me for coming on Sunday to tell of my people’s wants.”
He told me to say to them that he was not going to issue any more rations to them.
I said, “Very well, I will tell them.”
I went and got my horse and told one of my cousins to saddle it while I went to tell Jarry, my cousin, my father’s sister’s son. Our agent and he were talking about me. I heard him say, “I shall have her go away, and if you want to be my friend, I will give you a good living if you Will do as I want you to.”
I heard my cousin say, “I will do whatever you say.”
I did not go in, but went back and got upon my horse and went to the Oytes camp, and told them what the agent told me to say to them. We all went then to the sub-chief’s camp and told them. I said, “You can talk it over amongst yourselves, and think what it is best to do.”
Egan told some of the young men to go with me and tell Jarry to come. Jarry was his son-in-law. After I got home, as I was sitting in the doorway, I heard such a scream! I looked round, and to my horror saw our agent throw a little boy down on the ground by his ear and kick him. I did not go to the rescue of the little boy, but sat still. At last the boy broke from him and ran, and the agent ran after him round the house. But the little boy outran him. He looked over at me and saw me looking at him. He then came towards me. I hung my head, and did not look up. He said, “Sarah, that little devil laughed at me, because I asked him to go and tell Jarry that I wanted him to come to my house. I will beat the very life out of him. I won’t have any of the Indians laughing at me. I want you to tell them that they must jump at my first word to go. I don’t want them to ask why or what for. Now, do you understand what I am saying?” I said, “Yes, sir, I will tell them.” I said, “Mr. Reinhard, that little boy never meant to laugh at you. He thought you were saying something nice to him, and another thing, he cannot understand the English language. I am your interpreter. Whatever you say to me I am always ready to do my duty as far as it goes.” After he went away my cousin Jarry came to me and said, “Sister, I don’t think it right that you should always tell everything to our people.” I said, “Dear brother, I have not told anything but what I was told to tell them.”
We Indians always call our cousins brother and sister, just as if they were our own fathers’ sons and daughters. Although we are savages, we love one another as well as the fairest of the land. My cousin said, “My father-in-law and all the men are coming to talk to the agent, and don’t you say a word.” I said, “Very well.” “They are going to ask him for the grain, but don’t tell anybody about Reinhard’s doings. What do we care whether he gives our people anything or not, so long as he gives us something to live on? What do you think our people care for us? Let them go wherever they like.”
I said, “Dear brother, I am ashamed of you, you talk so heartlessly. I am going to see my people dealt rightly by, and to stand by them, and I am going to talk for them just as long as I live. If you want to see your people starve, that is your own business. I am going to see that they get their wheat, and I am going to get mine too; that is, if he will give it to us. I am here to work for my people, and I am going to my work.” Just then the mother of the little boy came crying as if her heart would break. “Oh, my poor child,” she was saying, “he will die,—the only child I have left out of four.”
I said nothing. I was feeling badly for the little boy and his mother, too. Jarry asked her what was the matter. She told him all, and said the little boy’s ear was swelling badly, and it was black and the boy would not speak. “Oh, I am so afraid he is going to die. I have come to see if the white doctor will come and do something for him.” I said, “Come with me, “and went for the doctor. There were a great many there to see the boy. Two sub-chiefs were there, and Oytes was laying hands on him as we got there.
I said, “Here is the white doctor; maybe he can do something for him.”
Egan said, “No; the white people hate us; he might poison him.” His whole head and face and neck were swollen.
I said, “They don’t want you to do anything for him.” The doctor asked me what was the matter with him. I did not say anything, for he knew well enough what it was. He asked again.
I said, “You know; why do you ask? You saw your Christian and your praying man take him by his ear and throw him to the ground.” He said, “Is that the boy?”
This doctor’s name is Shoemaker. He lived fat while he was there. He had all the fire-water he wanted to drink, which was sent there under the pretence that it was sent there for the benefit of my sick people. This doctor was there when our agent Parrish was still with us. I had a room next to the doctor’s office, and could hear everything that was said in there.
One morning, just before Mr. Parrish knew he was going away, he came into the office and I heard him say, “Doctor, how much wine and liquor have you on hand? The doctor said, “I have but a very little brandy left, and I have not any wine.” “Why, doctor, what has become of it all? I had so much of it for my sick Indians; it was here for that purpose, and I know my men don’t drink; if I knew they did I would not have them stay here.” The doctor said, “I used the wine for my table, and since the wine ran out we had to use the other.” “What are you going to do if an inspecting officer comes here?
“Oh, well, I will make some more. I have alcohol, and I know how to make all kinds of liquor.” I heard all this.
The next day was ration day. Many of my people came to get their rations. I saw our agent Reinhard and Jarry going here and there, and talking together. I went to see the farmer’s wife, who is a clear, good, Christian lady. She and her husband and son often said to me, “Our hearts ache for your people.” She said she should not stay there. I told her everything. That afternoon there came some more of my people; among them was my brother, Lee Winnemucca. They had come from Pyramid Lake Reservation. It was a long way and they were hungry, but I could do nothing for them. I had to buy everything I ate, and I told them our agent had stopped issuing rations to all. Brother said, “Is there anything we can buy?” I said, “Yes, I will go and see him.” I went to see him, and said to Mr. Reinhard, “My brother Lee is here with ten men, and they have nothing to eat. Will you sell some flour and other things to them?” He said, “Where is Johnny?” That was an Indian boy who could talk a little English. I said, “I will go for him.” So I ran and soon found him, and we went to see what the agent wanted. He came to meet us and said, “Johnny, go and get some beef; here is the key.” Johnny started off; he got only a little way when the agent called him back, but Johnny kept on. He called him again and again, and at last was so angry he ran after him. But the boy would not stop. He looked back and saw him coming; he turned round and said these words, “What in hell do you want?” He ran up to him and took him by his hair, but the boy was too quick for him and got away, the agent after him saying, “Stop, or I will shoot you.” But Johnny ran all the faster and got away from him. I went back to where brother Lee and the rest were standing. They all laughed and made all kinds of fun of the agent. He came to me and said, “Sarah, I am going to shoot him. He shan’t live to see another day.” “Mr. Reinhard,” I said, “why do you ask me? Why tell me what you are going to do?” He walked off at that. The rest of the white people were looking on. He went to the house, got his pistol, and came back and said, “Sarah, shall I shoot him? I never had any one talk to me in that way. If a white man talked to me like that, I would kill him right off.” I said, “You know best what to do.” My brother then spoke and said, “We have come a long way to hear good things from the Good Spirit man. Why talk of killing? Is that the kind of good man Mr. Parrish told us of? Of course, that is the kind of men that are called good,—men who talk to the Spirit Father three times a day, but who will kill us off as they would kill wild beasts.”
Brother stopped at that, and I said, “Brother wants to buy some things out of your store.” He took us there to get the things. As I walked along with him, he said, “Sarah, I will give the things to your brother, and you take the money, for they might think hard of me for it. It is not my fault, but the Big Father in Washington tells me to sell everything to your people.” After we went in I told them what he wanted me to do. They all laughed, and I told them when they got all the things, to go right to him and pay him. Brother bought one dollar’s worth of sugar, same of coffee, one sack of flour at two dollars. After they got all they wanted, Lee went to pay him. He took out his money and counted it out to him. When he handed it to him he pointed to me. Brother offered me the money. I said, “I am not the Big Father in Washington. I don’t own anything in the store, and why should I take the money?” At this I went out. I heard him say to brother, “Lee, you take the things; it’s all right.”
The same night he took Johnny and put handcuffs on him, saying, “I will send you to Camp Harney and have the soldiers hang you, for you are a very bad boy.” The boy did not cry or say anything, but his mother ran in crying, and threw her arms round him. She cried so hard I said, “Mr. Reinhard, I don’t know what you are thinking of, by the way you are acting. I think you had better let him go.” Then he took me out and told me that he would put him in the store-house and keep him there all night, and let him out in the morning. He then took him and locked him up. I told his mother what he had said. The next morning all Egan’s and Oytes’ men came to have a talk with him. Egan said,—
“My children are dying with hunger. I want what I and my people have worked for; that is, we want the wheat. We ask for nothing else, but our agent Parrish told us that would be ours.”
The agent said, “Nothing here is yours. It is all the government’s. If Parrish told you so, he told you lies.”
I spoke up and said: “Mr. Reinhard, why did not you tell me right before him when he was telling you about my wheat? If you had then said it did not belong to us, I would not have told my people about it. I told them, for they asked me if Mr. Parrish said anything about our grain.”
“Why, if you take the government wheat, you rob the government,” he said.
I said, “I don’t want to rob anybody.”
Jarry, my cousin, was against us, and said we ought to be ashamed to talk about anything that did not belong to us.
Then Egan got up and said to me, “I want you to tell everything I say to this man.”
I did as he said.
“Did the government tell you to come here and drive us off this reservation? Did the Big Father say, go and kill us all off, so you can have our land? Did he tell you to pull our children’s ears off, and put handcuffs on them, and carry a pistol to shoot us with? We want to know how the government came by this land. Is the government mightier than our Spirit-Father, or is he our Spirit-Father? Oh, what have we done that he is to take all from us that he has given us? His white children have come and have taken all our mountains, and all our valleys, and all our rivers; and now, because he has given us this little place without our asking him for it, he sends you here to tell us to go away. Do you see that high mountain away off there? There is nothing but rocks there. Is that where the Big Father wants me to go? If you scattered your seed and it should fall there, it will not grow, for it is all rocks there. Oh, what am I saying? I know you will conic and say: I Iere, Indians, go away; I want these rocks to make me a beautiful home with! Another thing, you know we cannot buy. Government gave. We have no way to get money. I have had only two dollars, which I gave you for a pair of pants, and my son-in-law gave you the same for his. That is all the money the government is going to get out of me; and to-morrow I am going to tell the soldiers what you are doing, and see if it is all right.”
He sat down.
Then our agent said, “You had better all go and live with the soldiers. What I have told you is true, and if you don’t like what the government wants you to do, well and good; if I had it my way I could help you, but I cannot. I have to do government’s will.”
We started for Camp Harney the next morning, and arrived there before evening. The distance is twenty miles. We told the commanding officer everything about our Christian agent’s doings, and he told me to write to Washington, and he would do the same. I did as I was told; and when I had written it all the head men of my people signed it, and then our Christian agent discharged me from my office of interpreter, for reporting to the army officers, for which I don’t blame him. After he discharged me I staid there three weeks. While I was still there, he had another trouble with one of my people. He beat an Indian man almost to death for no cause whatever. He asked him to help him carry a sick woman. The Indian was a little too long getting on his moccasins. The agent knocked him down with a great stick, and beat him so shamefully I ran to him and caught hold of him, saying, “Do not beat him so.” The man rose up, and as he did so, the agent raised the stick again to him. At this the Indian took hold of it; then the agent took out a pistol to shoot him; but white men came to him and said, “Do not shoot him.” After this, my good friend, Mrs. Howell, went away. My cousin, Jarry, had not spoken to me all that time, and I too went away, and had to leave my stove, for which I had given fifty dollars. Mr. Reinhard used it all the time, for which I tried to get paid; but I had to lose it, because he was a Christian man. His men, Frank Johnson, the school-teacher, and his brother, the blacksmith, were the two greatest gamblers that ever lived. They played with my people, and won a great many of their ponies; and they kept the interpreter Jarry losing all the time. They carried cards wherever they went; and when I was going away, Mr. Reinhard said to me, “Sarah, I want you to give this letter to Mr. Maulrick, and he will give Captain Scott whatever he wants out of the store. Captain Scott will go with you.”
I said, “All right,” and went away; and oh, what a wicked thing I did! I read the letter. It said, “Dear friend, as I have promised you, I will send you all the Indians. You know you are to pay them not in money but in clothes. I have given the bearer of this a thirty-dollar check. Write and tell me what kind of clothing you give, so that I can report that it has been issued to him.” I kept the letter, and when we got there I gave the money-check to him, and he asked me if I wanted anything in his store. I said, “I will see afterwards.” So he gave me the money for the check, and I gave it to Captain Scott. He was so glad to get the money he went back without buying anything. I have often laughed over this. I kept the letter a long time, but I have lost it or I should put it here just as it was. I went back six months afterwards to see my cousin, but the agent sent word to me by his interpreter that he did not want me on the reservation. I said to the interpreter, who was my cousin, “I am only an Indian woman. Why does not he come himself and tell me to go away, and not tell you?” There are only two agents who have been kind to me, Captain Smith, agent at Warm Spring Reservation, and agent Parrish. It was because they did not steal. Captain Smith is the only agent who can truly say, “I have civilized my Indians.” They are a self-supporting tribe, and very rich. When he first took them they were the poorest kind of Indians. We Piutes call them snake-headed Indians, for their heads are so flat that when they are turned sideways they look just like snakes’ heads. Every year this agent gave from five to ten wagons, and the same number of farming implements, till every one of the Indians had farms. Dear reader, if our agent had done his duty like that one, there would be peace everywhere, on every agency; but almost all the agents look out for their own pockets. Every agent that we Piutes have had always rented the reservation out to cattle men, and got one dollar a head for the cattle, and if my people asked whose the cattle were, he would say they belong to the Big Father at Washington, and then my people would say no more.
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