Indian Agent Regulations 1855

Transcript of Original Document

Background

Indian Superintendent Joel Palmer negotiated treaties with Oregon Indians which placed them on reservations. The U.S. Senate delayed ratification of the treaties, however, and Indian-white tensions increased. On Oct. 8, 1855, a band of white volunteers surrounded a camp of reservation Indians and killed 23 men, women, and children. These men then scalped their victims and returned to Jacksonville. Indians began to attack whites the next day. At the same time, Superintendent Palmer finished these instructions to his agents. The instructions treat male Indians on reservations who are over age 12 as prisoners, while Indians off the reservation were to be treated as outlaws. Palmer was willing to permit Indians to work for white settlers if the whites would guarantee good conduct. These instruction show how whites regarded all Indians as potentially hostile.

For Further Discussion

  1. How do these regulations restrict Indian freedom of movement?
  2. Why do you think Indian females were excluded from this enrollment?
  3. How would you feel if you were required to live by similar rules? if you were required to enforce these rules?
  4. Can you think of situations similar to the system of temporary reservations Superintendent Palmer is establishing?
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