Text for Letter from J. C. Frémont to Orlando Brown, 1850


O.I.A. California F. 189

J. C. Fremont
Wash. June 17 '50

Replies to inquiries contained in letter of 14th instant, relating to Indians in California, their number, division of the country, agents, salaries, &c.

Recd June 1850

[Letter P. 1]

Washington City, June 17. 1850 

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 14th. instant, and take pleasure in replying to your enquiries, according to my information. 

Within the State of California, to which exclusively I understand your letter to refer, there are probably forty thousand indians. These consist of very numerous, and small tribes, speaking many different languages and dialects of the same language; are much broken up and probably intermixed; so that, in making a distribution, the agencies cannot now be assigned to particular tribes. Leaving the tribes entirely out of consideration, the country should be divided into sections, to be placed under the control of respective agencies. Of these there should be three, having at their disposal eight subagents; all under the direction of a superintendent, and to be distributed as follows, viz: 

The superintendent to reside at Sacramento City, or some other central point, from which the agencies could be conveniently furnished with supplies. 

A principal agent to be stationed at or near "Readings rancho" in the head of the lower Sacramento valley, having under 

[P. 2]

his supervision the entire Sacramento valley, comprehending all the country drained by its numerous branches; and having at his disposal three subagents. These could be pushed into the Upper Sacramento valley, among the mountains below the Sierra Nevada, and across that range into communication with the Indians of the Basin. 

The Indians of the coast country lying north of San Francisco Bay might be placed under the care of a subagent, resident at Sonoma, 
and reporting directly to the superintendent at Sacramento City. 

A second agent should be established at or near King's river of the Tulare lake, having under his supervision the entire valley of the San 
Joaquin river & the lakes, and including the mountains, within the State, on both sides of the Sierra Nevada. Within this section the In
dian population is large, and would require that three subagents be placed at the disposal of the agent. 

The remaining country, extending to the southern line, should be under the supervision of a third agent, resident at Los Angeles, and 
having at his disposal two subagents, with whom he would be able to control the strong mountain tribes of that section, and extend his su
pervision to the Colorado river & mouth of the Gila. 

For his services the superintendent should receive a salary of three thousand dollars, each agent two thousand and upwards, and each 
subagent fifteen hundred dollars. 

These indians are generally

[P. 3]

docile, in greater part already disposed by missionary teaching and their mode of subsisting, to agricultural labor. Simple farming materials; grain and other seeds; stock, horses & cattle; provisions, blankets and light readymade clothing, would be among the presents most suitable to them at the present time. 

These suggestions appear briefly to meet the points of your enquiries. They grow out of my knowledge of the country, and may indi
cate to you a plan best suited to the condition of the Indians and the character of the country. 

With this note I send you a map on which you will find marked the boundaries of the state and the sectional divisions recommended for the location of agencies. 

Very respectfully, 

Your obedt. servt. 
J. C. Fremont 

Orlando Brown, Esqre., 
Commissioner Indn. Affairs, 
Washington City.