The allotment of lands on the Umatilla Reservation preceded the General Allotment Act (Dawes Act) of February 8, 1887. The Dawes Act allotted lands in severalty (meaning separately and individually rather than in common ownership) to Indians, breaking up tribal interests, promoting agriculture, and declaring Indians who received allotments U.S. citizens. The assmilationist policy of allotment broke reservations into checkerboard pieces, allowing whites to purchase lands and giving them access to resources on reservations.
UMATILLA INDIAN LANDS IN OREGON.
FEBUARY 20, 1884- Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Stevens, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, submitted the following
[To accompany bill H. R. 1290]
The committee on Indian Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 1290) providing for allotment in severalty to the Indians residing upon the Umatilla Reservation in the State of Oregon, and for other purposes, respectfully report as follows:
They have had the same under careful consideration and beg to report the same back with the following amendments:
In section 1 of printed bill, between the lines 44 and 45, insert the following: "by said Secretary of the Interior"; in same section, line 50, strike out the word "patents" and insert in lien thereof the word "certificates"; and in line 66, after the word "reservation", insert these words: "hereafter provided for them"; and in section 2 strike out of lines 4, 5 and 6 these words: "or if the stakes and monuments if surveyed have become so obliterated that the lines cannot be ascertained"; and in lines 12 and 13 of said section strike out the words "or in other improvements upon his allotment as shall be determined by the Department"; and in section 3, line 10, strike out the word "four," and insert the word "three" in lieu there of' and in section 4 strike out line 2 and the word "forty" and insert in lieu thereof the word "thirty"; and in section 5, line 5, after the word "reservation" insert these words": "and of their chiefs in council assembled for that purpose." And with these amendments your committee recommend the passage of the bill.
For further information concerning the bill we quote the substance of a report made on substantially a similar bill, in the Senate of the Forty-seventh Congress, by Senator Dawes, which reads as follows:
The Umatilla Reservation was created by treaty with the Walla Walla, Cayuse, and Umatilla tribes and bands of Indians, occupying lands partly in Washington Territory and partly Oregon, which treaty was promulgated April 11, 1859. The reservation contains 268,800 acres of land, of which 150,000 is tillable; the residue is pasture and timber lands.
The Indians upon this reservation have for the most part, since their location on the same been peaceable and friendly toward civilization; cultivated in 1881, as shown by the agent's report, 4,000 acres, broke during the year 2,000 acres new land, produced 10,000 bushels of wheat, 2,000 bushels of corn, 6,000 bushels of oats and barley, 6,000 bushels of vegetables, cut 900 tons of hay, 75,000 feet of lumber, 1,000 cords of wood, and built 10,000 rods of fence. They have 10,000 head of horses 50 head of mules, 400 head of cattle, 5 head of swine, and 3,000 head of sheep. They earn by labor in civilized pursuits 65 per cent of their subsistence and support, procure 12 per cent by hunting and fishing, and receive in rations from the Government 23 per cent.
The number of Indians on this reservation, as shown by the report of the agent for 1881, is 751. Males 330; females, 421. Of the whole number 504 are wholly clad in citizen's dress, and 123 partly. Two hundred and fifty-two families are reported as engaged in agriculture, and 162 male Indians undertake manual labor in civilized pursuits.
These Indians for some years have in various ways manifested their desire to take lands in severalty, and secure titles to homes for themselves and children. In April, 1879, several of the chiefs and head men visited Washington to confer with the Indian office in respect to making a permanent settlement on their reservation, or, in lieu of such settlement, to remove to some other locality. The matter was to be left to the Indians upon their return to their reservation, which was determined by then the following November in favor of remaining upon their present reservation and taking lands in severalty.
The agent, in his annual report for 1880, referring to this matter, says: "In November 1879, I visited the different lodges of the Indians in regard to the agreement entered into with the chiefs at Washington in April, 1879, concerning their future settlement. Five hundred and thirty-nine Indians have decided to take land, thirty-six are still undecided, and nine wish to remove." (List forwarded December 8, 1879, with report.)
The agent further reports that 'on the 15th of January, 1880, a council was held for the purpose of taking into consideration any propositions compatible with the agreement entered into by the chiefs (April, 1879) that would have a tendency to improve the condition of the Indians taking lands in severalty here," at which council the following among other things were agreed upon to be requested in their behalf:
"That the laws of inheritance of the United States be extended over all Indians taking lands in severalty on this reservation. Their reason for making the request is to secure to the rightful heirs the real estate and personal property of deceased Indians, so as to prevent the Indian custom of dividing the property among friends of the deceased.
"That each person entitled to 160 acres of land be allowed, in addition, 40 acres of timber land, if they choose to take it. Their reason for making this request is that some of the best agricultural land on the reservation is devoid of timber; that many are anxious to take this land, but are unable to purchase the timber necessary for building, fencing, and firewood.
"That a sufficient amount of money accruing from the sale of land be appropriated to erect and furnish a manual-labor and boarding school for their children, and to board them; also, to employ two teachers and a matron, and to furnish the necessary books and stationery.
"To receive in cash all payments made them in money accruing from the sale of the land. They (the Indians) claim to be able to buy and sell judiciously, and prefer to receive money instead of goods.
"To have the reservation surveyed as soon as possible, so as to enable them to locate during the coming summer."
It will be seen that these requests have each and all received proper provisions in the bill now presented. In regard to timber, the bill provides in section 1 that in addition to the agricultural lands to be allotted in severalty, pasture and timber land shall also be set apart for these Indians to be used in common, and it is believed that this will better serve the interests of the Indians than to give additional timber land in severalty, as it will give each and all an equal chance for timber for building, fencing, and fuel.
The amount of agricultural lands required for allotments, upon the most liberal calculations under the provisions of the bill, cannot exceed 68,000 or 70,000 acres. An additional amount of pasture and timber land, to be used in common, is also to be set apart, the whole for all purposes not to exceed 120,000 acres. If there be any fault in the provisions of the bill in this respect, it cannot be urged that too little land is allowed, but rather that too much is given.