Indians: The First Residents of Wallowa County
Contributed by Jim Reavis
Chieftain, Nov. 5, 1855
THE INDIAN BUSINESS
Washington, October 13,’ 85.
S. A. Heckethorn, Joseph, Oregon.
SIR:--Referring to your communication, dated August 31, 1885, relative to the presence of a party of Lapwai Indians. I enclose herewith, copy of Agent Monteith’s report on the subject, dated September 28, 1885
United States Indian Service.
Nez Perce Agency, Sept. 28,’85.
Hon. J. C. Atkins, Commr. Ind. Affrs., Washington, Sir:--Referring to your communication above cited, inclosing a copy of a letter received by the Hon. Sect’y of the Interior, from on S. A. Heckethorn, of Joseph, Oregon. I have respectfully to state that the charge made by Mr. Heckethorn, is false.
About eight weeks ago (before any Indians had left the reserve) I gave notice to the effect that if any Indians left the reserve and entered either the Wallowa or the Imnaha Valley without obtaining a pass from myself. I would have them arrested and tried by the “Court of Indian Offenses.” And read to them Sections 493 and 495, “Regulations of the Indian Department 1884.”
The inclosed is a copy of a letter received from the “Deputy Sheriff,” who lives in the same place that Mr. Heckethorn does. The contents of said letter was made know to “Indian Dick”—referred to in the letter – and said Indian published the same among the Indians.
I understand that several Indians immediately left the reserve and went into the Wallowa and Imnaha Vallies, not considering it necessary to call on me for a pass so long as they were invited by a Deputy Sheriff. Others called on me for a pass. I absolutely refused to give a pass to anyone and have not issued any.
That there are Indians in said Vallies, I do not doubt, but as being responsible for their presence there. I emphatically deny the charge.
I have respectfully to request that Mr. Heckethorn be furnished with a copy of this communication.
Chas. E. Monteith,
U. S. Ind. Agt.
The above communications were received at this office a few days since. The charge that we made in our letter to the Secretary of the Interior, which Agent Monteith says was false, was to the effect that we had seen and conversed with “Indian Dick”, and that he stated that the agent had granted passes to a number of the Lapwai Indians to go into the Imnaha and hunt but they were forbidden to come to Joseph or in the settlements. We further stated that the Indians were in the settlements, and asked on behalf of the people that they be recalled to the reservation. If Monteith or the Secretary of the Interior would rather believe an Indian than our statement, they are at liberty to do so. We can procure affidavits from the person in the Imnaha that the Indians told them the same story. Whether the Indians told the truth or not, we are not prepared to answer.
As to the Deputy Sheriff inviting the Indians to this valley, he undoubtedly took a great responsibility upon himself to represent the wishes of the majority of the settlers of the Wallowa. It is safe to say that two hundred and fifty signers can be procured in the Imnaha and the Wallowa in ten days to a remonstrance praying that the Indians be kept out of the Vallies. And we hope that such a petition, by another year, will be presented to the agents of the Lapwai and the Umatilla reservations, and to the Secretary of the Interior for their consideration and we have faith that they will carry out the wishes of the people