This is the full document I mentioned yesterday. It’s a transcript of Jim Buchanan testifying before some Congressional reps visiting Chemawa in 1932. Frank Drew acted as interpreter. In 1990 Dr. Beckham added some editorial notes in square brackets (this document is in the Beckham archives):
I, James Buchanan, the sole and only survivor of the three Confederated Tribes of Indians of Oregon, viz: Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaws, offer the following testimony, the same being from my own personal knowledge and observation of the treaty of 1855, made between the United States Government and the three Confederated Tribes of Indians.
In the beginning Gen. Joel Palmer, acting for the Government, accompanied by two men, called the Indians together to hold a council. In this meeting General Palmer told the Indians that the whites were already settling on lands in the Coos Bay country, and that two sawmills had already been built, one at Empire City and one at North Bend. I have personally heard and I was present when General Palmer said that the United States Government had authorized him to make a treaty with us and to hold some terms with us. As part of the conditions of this treaty, we Indians were to be moved from our Coos Bay country to the Umpqua. General Palmer at that time said: “You will leave a valuable country, but the United States Government will pay you for it as soon as you Indians move. You Indians will be paid for the timer, for the land, the river, coal and gold.”
An Indian whose name is hard to spell but when translated means “smart man,” came from the audience and brought and placed an old basket in front of General Palmer saying: “If this big man or United States Government fills this basket with gold as it is a big thing for you white men-and we might learn the value of ths land and how to use it, then I will move.”
Then General Palmer said: “Sure the United States Government will pay as soon as you move to Fort Umpqua. And on that same morning General Palmer said he was instructed by the United States Government. He also said that a schoolhouse would be built for us and our children, so that the children would be taught the words of he white brothers, and after learning the ways of his white brothers a land of 160 acres would be given to each Indian for his own use. Also that an Indian agent would be appointed to look after and provide for the welfare of the Indians. Then General Palmer said that later on he would visit us to see what progress the Indians were making and to see how they were treated, and that they should be treated well.
Just about this time a war, or Indian war broke out in southern Oregon, or better known as Rogue River War and the Government fearing that we might join with the Rogue River Indians put us under guard of soldiers at Fort Umpqua, and we became prisoners. We never had any intentions of joining with the Rogue River Indians, but have always been peaceful. We have never had any trouble with the whites.
Then a schooner came into the Umpqua River, bringing a cargo of foodstuffs and clothing for us, and we received rations each month. We were placed on the north side of the Umpqua near the mouth of the river, right in the open sand.
Doctor [Edwin P.] Drew was our first Indian agent. He held the position four years and treated us pretty good. Doctor Drew built schools for our children and about 50 scholars attended the school. The children learned rapidly. We were pretty well satisfied with Doctor Drew’s administration. At the expiration of his terms another agent was appointed; his name was Ben Sampson [Simpson]. [Simpson did not assume duties until April 1, 1863]. As soon as Ben Sampson became agent he went to Doctor Drew and told him that he got orders from the United States Government to move us to Yachats. Doctor Drew did not like the idea of moving us, and at his suggestion a council was held with the Indians, when it was agreed to send four Indians with Ben Sampson to look over the lands at Yachats. They were gone about two weeks, and on their return they reported that the land was good and would be suitable for raising produce. Ben Sampson promised that we Indians would receive instructions in farming and that schools would be maintained there and that we would continue to receive our monthly rations. The Indians who made the trip were Joe Scott, Tyee Jim, Smart Man, and Go Back Charley, the latter being my brother, and who did the interpreting. They all reported in favor of making the move.
Ben Sampson was good to us after making the move to Yachats. But we failed to receive our monthly rations and no school was built nor any school held. He was agent four years. He did not do us any good.
Sampson was succeeded [in 1861] by a man named [Linus] Brooks. While he was good to us, he never did anything toward improving the welfare of the Indians. Brooks was agent for four years. He was succeeded by George Collins [in July, 1864]. He allowed the Indians to fish and hunt, but he did nothing toward bettering conditions, claiming he was powerless to do so. For two years he carried on gold mining, with Indians to do the work. I was one who helped and received $4 per day for what time I worked.
Collins was agent for two terms of four years each. During his second administration a clerk of the agency by the name of [Thomas] Clark shot and killed an Indian by the name of John Winchester. Clark had been sent to Alsea Bay to instruct Winchester to give up his salmon fishing and return. Winchester asked to stay another day and finally the men wrangled, when Clark shot him dead. Clark escaped at once to Newport, where he remained about three weeks, when he returned with a body of soldiers, explaining that he feared an uprising among the Indians because of the shooting. They found the Indians peaceable and the soldiers returned at once. [Thomas Clarke became “Superintendent of Farms at Alsea Agency” on April 1, 1864.]
Conditions were very poor during Collins’s second term, and many of the Indians had but very little on which to live. Some in their desperation ran away, hoping to do better. If they returned, they were tied to a post and flogged almost to death.
Lieutenant [F.A.] Batty was the next United States Indians agent, and servied four years. He appealed to the United States Indian Department for relief for us but fialed. He never received any appropraition for our support during his administration. [Battey replaced Collins in July, 1869].
Question: What did the Indians do for a living during this time?
Answer: They hunted and fished. They hunted deer and elk. They caught perch, flounders, eel and salmon. Some fished for perch and rock cod off a rock called “Scow” and they also gathered mussels, a shellfish off this rock. It was very dangerous to fish off this rock and three women nearly drowned, being rescued just in time.
There was no school during Lieutenant Batty’s time.
The next agent was Sam Case, who served four years [commencing in 1871]. He maintained a private trading post, buying provisions from Newport and selling it to the Indians. Case started a school for the Indian children.
The last agent was George P. Litchfield, who served four years [commencing July 1, 1874, as sub-agent]. Litchfield maintained the school and gave the children some clothes. During his term the reservation was thrown open to settlement without compensation on April 28, 1876.
In 1876 the Indians were turned loose without any instruction. Some of them returned to their native homes and some just squatted on a piece of land that looked good to them. They remained on the land where they had chosen until the white men filed on it and forced them off. The Indians were ignorant of the rules nad regulations of the Land Department. The white man took it all. The Indians got nothing.
Question: Do you remember what the Yachats country looked like at first?
Answer: The country was rough, no broken ground. The Indians used oxen teams to plow the soil. They build their first houses of fir boughs. Later they used split shakes and clapboards instead of lumber promised them. They put up houses and barn for the Government. They build a barn of logs about 60 by 200 feet. They also built a lot of fences. The Indians were paid $1 per day for 12 to 14 hours work. The Indians were held at Yachats for 20 years and were turned loose without a cent. Most of the Indians who were brought to Yachats died of hunger and exposure. They were very unhappy.
The above testimony was given by me at Florence on this 14thday of October, 1931.
James (his X mark) Buchanan.
The statement was witnessed by the following; F. H. Drew, Coos; Clay Barrett, Siuslaw; Madge Drew, Coos, Hattie Martin Hatch, Coos; Mrs. Martha Johnson, Coos; Margaret Benasco, Coos; Howard Barrett, Siuslaw; A. S. Charles, Coos; Louis Smith, Umpqua; Lillian Severy, Coos.
So the man with the ‘hard to spell name’ was K’aish nbohene meaning ‘small (person) with a lot of sense’. He was a famous speaker. Jim Buchanan said he was from Wu’alach, an upper Empire village. Frank Drew had undoubtedly heard stories of him from Jim, and in 1932 he told Melville Jacobs about K’aish nbohene: “They still talk about him to this day, that was his ‘good name. He was a most remarkably able speaker-there were many sensible, able speakers, but he towered above the others in ability. This was the man who appeared before Gen. Palmer about 1855 at Coos Bay. They remember what he said that day. Aug. 14 1855 the treaty was made. There was discussion for four days. “Lot’s of sense” demanded a basketful of gold in a káwol basket (pack basket) before he’d agree to surrender his land. But the other Coos disagreed with their Speaker, wanting valuables, not gold.”