When I came to Oregon in 1852 the Indian title had not been extinguished at Salem, the very seat of government, the Senate having refused to ratify the treaties. An attempt was made by Mr. Parrish, an Indian agent, to prevent the introduction of liquor at Salem for sale to the whites. A chief justice of Oregon Territory, then embracing Washington Territory (I think it was Judge Williams), decided that the Indian intercourse act of 1834 was not applicable there in respect to the introduction of liquor for sale to the whites. The act of 5th of June, 1850, extended the Indian intercourse law 'so far as applicable" over Oregon Territory. But he argued that Congress having, by the donation act, invited the settlement of the country by the whites, that portion of the intercourse law was not applicable. It is certain that the pre-emption law does not authorize settlements where the Indian title has not been extinguished. But it is unfortunately too true that the whole early settlement of this country, both before and after the organizing of a Territorial government and the passage of the donation act, was in utter neglect of the Indian title. I lament this state of things, and know that it probably caused the former Indian wars and may cause another. I have instructed the military comanders to protect the Indians in the most efficient manner, to the extent of their power, from all aggression and violence, and from all encroachment on their grazing and agricultural lands. Our Indian relations, in their present attitude, are not according to my wishes. Far from it. They grew out of the policy of the Government in stimulating the early settlement of this country, and are also due to the gold mines and the irresistible spread of the whites int he search for gold.
I might here close, but I shall add a few words as to my personal history. In the spring of 1853, then captain Fourth Infantry and brevet major in command at Fort Dalles, I declared the country east of the Cascade Mountains not open for settlement. I sought repeatedly from the Government, in the most earnest manner, a decision as to whether that was not the Indian country under the act of 1834. That act says that the President shall, when he thinks proper, order the execution of said act. I never got any decision from Washington. I was not sustained. The only efect of my movement was the passage of the act of 17th of July, 1854, extending all of the land laws east of the Cascade Mountains. Major Lugenbeel says he repeatedly sought from higher authority and from Washington a decision as to whether the country around Fort Colville, where he then commanded, was the Indian country, but he never received any reply. My instructions to Major Rinearson, commanding at Camp Lapwai, have received the approval of my immediate commander, General George Wright, at Smmanding the Department of the Pacific. I shall most cheerfully obey anyorders on this subject which I may receive from higher authority. I desire to add, also, that I have felt a strong personal interest in the Nez Perce Indians. From their evidences of dawning civilization and their past unwavering attachment to our people and adhesion to our Government amidst every temptation, they have merited not only justice, but the kindest and most generous treatment at our hands. It is melancholy to reflect that the march of events should have caused them to have received such rough usage, and to be placed in a position so trying to their loyalty. I hope they will look favorably upon the recent offer of Congress to purchase a portion or the whole of the reservation.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding District.