Boston Aprile 7th 1843
Rev David Greene
Secretary of the A B C F M
In presenting you with a brief acount of that part of the Oregon mission to which I am attached I shall best make you understand all its parts by giving a general view of the migratory habits of the people + the maner in which these govern + modify the opportunities for religious instruction + attention to agriculture
The Months of February + March bring a return of the Indians from their winter dispersion in order to commence the agricultural year + also to avail themselves of such provisions as were stored the previous fall; of which potatoes, corn + wheat form an important part. The Months February, March + Aprile are mostly occupied with the labour of preparing + planting the ground. About fifty cultivate in the vicinity of Waiilatpu varying from one fourth of an acre to three or four. A number of others have smaller patches mostly of potatoes which still do much for a poor + often fatherless family. I have been most agreeably surprised by being called on by individuals to grind corn for them the last of June but more especially by an old man that is deprived, by a rheuumatick affection of the help of his wife; in providing food; who said to me last fall after corn harvest; I want to get four or five bags of last years corn ground as my new crop is now secured. I adduce this as evidence of growing econemy + industry. The first + second year all were furnished one or two grubbing hoes by the station who were thought likely to make a good use of them. Ploughs have of late either been lent or sold to all who were able + desired to use them. Seed was furnished for the first three years without any particular restriction not only to those near the station but to those also from a distance.
Since that time we demand pay except where we are convinced there has been no neglect to save it for themselves Our object has ever been to aid them in a way most effectually to call forth their own energy; econemy + resourse I may remark that the effort to culivate has not been confined to the station only but has had a very general introduction with more or less success among most of the Indians at their respective places of resort. At Lapwai the station of Mr Spalding + its vicinity there has been as much success in cultivation as at Waiilatpu + the number who cultivate are greater + I believe the quantity of ground is more. Near the vacant station at Kamiah a great addition was made the last year to the cultivated lands of the Indians besid the land of the station most of which was cultevated by them also
At this as also at the other stations the last season a number of cattle were brought from the Wallamette settlement in exchange for horses One horse is given for a cow of the California breed
The Indians have from fifty to seventy horned cattle mostly cows which they have obtained partly from the H B Company, the settlers + Methodist Mission on the Wallamette, the Boards Mission + then the last year from emigrants.
One Indian only has been furnished with any sheep by our mission. That was in payment for care taken of the sheep of the Mission in the winter; to guard them from wolves The number who resort to the Waiilatpu station has not greatly changed since its formation but all do not now attend our meeting as formerly; some having addopted the Papal forms.
Their migrations are much in the following order + manner. The spring return is the most general + least changing of any of their visits to the station
During this period the congregations on the sabbath have been from two to four hundred + from twenty to fifty on week day evenings. Planting commences about the middle of Aprile which is also period for commencing the Kaush harvest. To obtain this root which is a farinatious one known by travelers + Traders as the biscuit root they have to disperse along the streams coming out of the Blue Mountains. Some are not more than ten or fifteen miles from the station while others are thirty or forty. This root forms a great staple of native food + will be likely for a long time to hold in the minds of the natives a collateral station with the cultivated roots + grains.
From six to eight weeks are given to gathering drying + depositing this root. During this time from the tenth to the fifteenth of May the salmon arrive + some fruits are ripe + each receive their share of attention At this season all the smaller tributaries of the Columbia are barred by a webb or wiker work of willows for taking salmon The skill + resource of the natives is well displayed in this simple construction + their small toil amply repayed by the ease with which a very considerable number are taken. While thus occupied they visit the station in order to attend to the hoeing + cultivation of their crops a labour in most cases performed with care + neatness. The last weeks of June brings the usual period for those to leave who go after Buffalo + the same period marks the time for gathering the Kamsh.
A migration of from forty to sixty miles brings them across the Blue Mountains to the southeast into the Grand Round which is a large Kamsh plain Here also the River of Grand Round abounds with fish + the Mountains with Bear, Elk + Deer,
The wheat harvest which begins the latter part of July + the care of their other crops bring many around the station from this time to the first of October or untill the potatoe harvest is passed. During this period there are more about the station than at any period except the spring + our congregation averages from fifty to two hundred. This period is marked by a great number comeing + remaining for a short time + then going again, + others comeing; than by great numbers remaining stationary for any considerable time. During this period their attention is divided between their crops + herds, hunting + fishing + preparring dried fruit
Soon after the potatoes are secured they begin to disperse for winter quarters. From fifty to sixty only remain during the winter + thus the year comes round + February + March bring them back again As many are benefited by this station who seldom if ever bring their families to the station as there are who migrate to + from it. Individuals from these places visit the station for the purpose of being taught + to receive medicine + other favours.
Occasional visits are also made to some of these places + instruction imparted
In this way an extencive acquaintance is made and much usefull information + religious instruction given. Those who resort to this station are the Waiilatpu, Walla Walla + Numiper Indians. A general good attendanc is given to religious worship + Solem, + thoughtfull + carefull attention to instruction. Worship is maintained by the principal men morning + evening to which a general attendance is given. Those who do not attend in this way have what comes nearer family worship in their separate lodges Their migration do not form any exceptions to this practice that I know of. I have abundant evidence of the restraining power of religious truth upon the minds of the natives both from remarks + observations of their own; + from my own observation. A noted chief of great supernatural + charm notarity has often told me what he would have done in casses such as he named; intimating in what way he would taken revenge or resorted to violence, but he aded I am made weak by what I have been taught of my future accountability. Murder, violence, + revenge were a terror to him now.
The most violent + vexed states of rage I have ever seen among them have calmly yielded into kindness + perhaps submission under its restraining influence. The superstition of the supernatural agencies of Magick, Charm + Sorcery are universal + by no means easily eradicated.
Their legend is that the present race of beasts birds reptiles + fish were once a race of men who inhabited the globe before the presant race That they were doomed to their presant state from that of man, but that still their language is retained + these beasts, birds, reptiles, + fish have the power to convey this language to the people into whome they transfix themselves as they think them able to do. For the very important purpose of obtaining this transfixtion boys were required to leave the lodge + repair to the Mountains alone + there to stay for several days without food in order to be addressed in this manner by some of these supernatural agencies + receive the transfixing of some one or more beast bird reptile or fish into his body. Some returned without any assurance of the kind Others believe themselves to be addressed + are very free to tell what was said to them + what beast or bird addressed them while others profess great secrecy + claim great reverence on account of their Magick possession
At these time they profess to be told what is to be their future character + in what way to secure honour, wealth, + long life, how they will be invulnerable and if wounded by what means they may recover themselves. This generally consists in directions how to cast off the extravasated blood + then to sit in a stream of water + sing as he so teaches him to do + he will be cured they say
In this way they say one person becomes possessed of power to strike or shoot another with an invisible influence or arrow as it may be, so that disseas + death will follow. This is the foundation of the system of Sorsery as seen in the so called Medicin men, but truely conjurers -
Most of their efforts to cure the sick consist in obtaining one medicin man to counteract another, who is supposed to have caused the sickness. This is attempted by calling on one of thesse Sorcerers who calls to his aid a number of persons to sing + beat upon sticks with a horible noise, while he goes through with Singing talking contorting himself + using incoherent expression supposed to be repeating what he knows of the language of the former rase of men as delivered to him by the beast bird reptile or fish whose transfix which he has in his body is helping him to conjure
After a sufficient display of this kind + a full lecture to his coajutors about the disseas, its cause + cure he procedes to extract the evil by placing his hands on the disseased or painful spot + extracting as it were by magick power + then if sucessfull he casts himself upon the floor with his hands in water as though what he had extracted burnt his hands. He then shows what he has drawn out + afterwards drives it off int the broad space + prognosticates a cure But when he sees a prospect of death he often points out some one whom he says is causing the sickness + declares the other to be possesed by a more powerful agent than himself so that he cannot overcome him
In the event of death in such a case as this, they watch the dying person to see if any expression is made by him to confirm + fix suspicion upon the person named + all are careful to remember if any hard words had passed or any cause whatever confirms the suspision. Very often in casse of this kind nothing can save the Conjurer but one or more conspire to kill him. The number + horror of the deaths of this kind that have come under my observation + knowledge have been great In the same way individuals arrogate to themselves power over the winds, the clouds, the rain, the snow + the seasons. In short all + every desired or desirable object is attributed + looked for from this sourse. Some are loosing their confidence in such power while others are yet strong in the belief.
A young man under this influence shot himself through the body last July in order to convince his countrymen of the strength of his supernatural + protecting agent The ball entered the abdomen a little to the right + below the umbilicus + came out by an oblique line above + near the spine on the same side. This occurred sixty miles from my house at the Grand Round + the third day he encamped near me for the night + I saw him + examined his wound in the morning. He was walking rond + getting ready to move on, + rode off on horse back This was his second trial of his strength having shot himself through much the same way about two years before. The sicatrix where the ball entered was near the last wound on the right side below the umibilicus + that where it escaped was behind but near the spine on the left side + higher upon the body. This must have passed the large artery called the Aorto in its oblique cours across the body. The body was preserved from the flash by his leather shirt He will now be able to make himself reverenced + thought to be a strong mystery or medicin man
The school has been more interrupted at our station than at Lapwaii where Mrs Spalding has taught a considerable number of people + children to read + write their own language