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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 12, No. 3
September, 1934
DOCUMENTS FROM THE CORNERSTONE OF THE NEZ PERCE AND PONCA INDIAN SCHOOL.

Page 359

On the twentieth day of October, 1880, the employees and the chiefs of the Nez Perce and Ponca tribes of Indians were collected for the important event of laying a cornerstone in the school building, erected for the education of the youth of the two tribes by the United States Government. The site of the school was seven miles northeast of the present town of Ponca City. This dedication was well attended and practically every person present contributed something of value to himself to the dark recesses of the stone, where the objects remained until they were removed when the building was torn down.

Through the kindness of the superintendent, P. W. Danielson, all the objects, pictures and documents that had been in the cornerstone—that could be found—were delivered to the representative of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The two documents quoted here were written in 1880 for the purpose of placing them within the cornerstone. The history of the Poncas was written by the Acting Agent, A. R. Satterwhite, while the history of the Nez Perce was written by James Reuben, a member of the tribe.

M. B.

THE PONCA INDIANS

Ponca Agency, I. T.
October 20, 1880

The Ponca Indians were removed West from the Mississippi river about 1830, and for many years occupied a reservation in the South East corner of Dakota, just north of the Nebraska line, immediately upon the banks of the Missouri river.

The Sioux a very powerful tribe of Indians made frequent incursions into the Ponca camps stealing their ponies, and killing their people. The Poncas being a small tribe of about 800 people were powerless to resist these invasions and petitioned the Government to move them to the Indian Territory. The Government finally consented to their request, and appropriated money for their removal. In the meantime the Poncas and Sioux

Page 360

had become friends and when the time for their removal, arrived the Poncas were loth to leave their old home. But in the summer of 1877, they were moved overland to the Quapaw reserve, three miles south of Baxter Springs, Kansas, arriving there June 12, 1877. The Poncas were not satisfied with the location and the President gave them permission to select any unoccupied land in the Indian Territory, and the Chiefs under the leadership of Standing Bear selected their present reservation at the confluence of the Arkansas and the Salt Fork Rivers, containing over 100,000 acres.

The Poncas were mover to their present reservation from Baxter Springs, Kansas, by their Agent, William H. Whiteman, who arrived here July 29, 1878.

Immediately upon his arrival, Agent Whiteman, commenced the erection of suitable agency buildings, and box and log houses for the Indians. The Poncas were under the charge of Agent Whiteman a year and a half, and he retires from the service December 31, 1879 and from January 1, 1880 to April 7, 1880, A. H. Satterwaite had temporary charge of Ponca Agency. Col. William Whiting of Illinois, having been appointed Agent for the Poncas, he assumed charge, April 8, 1880, and has conducted the affairs of the Agency up to the present time.

During the past summer Agent Whiting obtained authority to erect an Industrial school building as a cost of $10000.—to accommodate the children of the Ponca tribem and those of Chief Joseph's Band of Nez Perces. About forty Indians are employed in the construction of the above names building.

The Poncas at this time number 530 in the reservation and 115 among the agencies of Nebraska and Dakota.

During the first two years of their residence in the Indian Territory, a large number of the were sick and many died, but for the past year, the health of the Poncas has been very goof for the three months ending September 30, 1880, there were seventeen births against three deaths, a gain of fourteen. All deaths that have occurred, during the past year, have been young children and aged people.

Quite a number of the Poncas were citizen's dress but the larger portion of the tribe still cling to the Indian cistume. (sic)

photo

Page 361

The principle chief and headmen of the Ponca tribe are, White Eagle, Black Crow, Rush in the Battle, The Chief, Big Bull, Big Soldier, and Child Chief.

Big Smoke, a prominent Chief of the tribe, was shot dead in the office of the Agent, October 3, 1879 by United States Soldiers, who were attempting his arrest for alleged threats against the life of the Agent. The progress of the Poncas toward civilization has been very much retarded the past two years by officious persons living in the vicinity of their old home, who have kept them unsettled, by making extravagant promises of aid, if they would run off and return to their old reservation. At the present time, the Poncas express themselves as satisfied with their present location and say that they intend to live and die here.

The Poncas at the present time have 80 good houses a good cooking stove for each house, and many of them are supplied with chairs, dished, and other necessary articles to enable them to better their condition in life.

The Poncas have in their possession about 350 head of cattle, and over 600 ponies.

It is the intention of Agent Whiting to complete this school building at the earliest possible time and inaugurate a system of education, that will lift the children of the tribe up to a higher level, and fit them for a life of usefulness, to themselves and their people.

THE NEZ PERCES INDIANS

Okland Agency
Indian Territory, Oct. 20, 1880

History of Nez Perce Indians from 1805 up to the present time. Nez Perces formerally lived in Idaho Territory where they were discovered by Lewis and Clark in 1805. At that time the tribe numbered from 6000 to 7000 and conquered all the surrounding tribes of Indians. Nez Perces lived by hunting expeditions east of the Rocky Mountains in large numbers sometimes, as high as 4,000 and leave the rest of the tribe to remain at their own country to protect it from being invaded by some other tribe of Indians.

They lived and enjoyed the happiness and freedom and lived just as happy as any other Nation in the World.

Page 362

But alas, the day was coming when all their happy days was to be turned into day of sorrow and moening Their days of freedom was turned to be the day of slavary. Their days of victory was turned to be conquered, and their rights to the country was disregarded by another nations which is called "Whiteman" at present day.

In 1855 a treaty was made between the Nez Perce Nation and United States.

Wal-la-mot-kin (Hair tied on forehead) or Old Joseph, Hullal-ho-sot, or (Lawyer) were the two leading Chiefs of Nez Perce Nation in 1855. both of these two Chiefs consented to the treaty and accordingly Nez Perce sold to the United States part of their country.

In 1863 another treaty was made in which Lawyer and his people consented but Joseph and his people refused to make the second treaty from that time Joseph's people were called None-treaty Nez Perces.

The treaty Nez Perces numbered 1800

None-treaty numbered 1000

The Nez Perse decreased greatly since 1805 up to 1863. The smallpox prevailed among the tribe which almost destroyed the tribe.

Lawer's people advanced in civilization. and became farmers ec. They had their children in schools. While Joseph's people refused all these things and lived outside what was called Nez Perce Reservation. In 1877 Government undertook to move Young Joseph people on the Res. At this date Young Joseph was the ruling chiefs son of Old Chief Joseph who died in 1868, and left his people in charge of his own Son to take his place, as above stated in 1877, Joseph and his follower's broke out and there was Nez Perce War bloody one. nine great battles were fought, the last battle lasted five days which Joseph surrendered with his people with his people 1000. Indians had went on the war path but when Joseph surrendered there was only 600, 400 killed during the wars or went to other tribes. after the capture Joseph was brought to this Territory as captives. at present Joseph people numbers 350 out of 600, all are suffering on account of this Southern climate, result is he and his people will live and die in this country exiled from home

Page 363

For the the last two years Joseph's people though in strange land, yet have made some progress in civilization. But take it in the right light—Nez Perce have been wrongly treated by the Government and it cannot be denied, not Nez Perce only but all other Indian Nations in America.

I wrote this about my own people. I am a member of Nez Perce tribe and Nephew of Chief Joseph at present I am employed by the Government Interpreter and Teacher for my People. as before stated there are 1650 Nez Perce living now in Idaho Territory of which I belong that's where I got my education.

When this is opened and read may be understood how the Indians have been treated by the Whiteman.
     Writer
          James Reuben
          "Nez Perce Indian"1



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