Archives West Finding Aid
Table of Contents
Register of Indian Families at the Nez Perce Agency, 1884-1909
- Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham), 1838-1923
- Register of Indian Families at the Nez Perce Agency
- 1884-1909 (inclusive)18841909
- 3 volumes
- Collection Number
- MG 221
- Record of land allotments and register of families on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
Historical NoteReturn to Top
In February 1887, Congress enacted the General Allotment Act of 1887, providing for the allotment of Indian lands for individual Indians and families. The primary provision of the Allotment Act (known commonly as the Dawes Act, for the bill's chief advocate Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts) granted 160 acres to each family head, 80 acres to each single person over 18 years of age and to each orphan under 18, and 40 acres to each other single person under 18.
These tracts were called "allotments" and were based on the assumption that the Nez Perce people would all become small farmers, even though (after about 1730) livestock grazing had been a more common agricultural occupation. These allotments, sometimes with changed owners and boundaries, still exist today.
Section 3 of the Allotment Act called for the appointment of special agents appointed by the president of the United States to make the allotments. Ethnologist Alice Fletcher was charged with allotting Nez Perce lands. According to Joan Mark in her book, "A Stranger in Her Native Land: Alice Fletcher and the American Indians," the full allotting party included Fletcher, surveyor Edson Briggs and his wife, Nez Perce interpreter James Stuart (or Stewart) and his wife, Fletcher's companion Jane Gay, and an "ever-changing gang of four Nez Perce chainmen who ran out the boundary lines."
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
This collection consists of three separate items. One is a contemporaneous copy, believed to be accurate, of the record of allotments made by U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs special agent Alice Fletcher on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, Idaho. This item is a bound volume consisting of 448 photocopied pages on which allotment assignments were recorded in handwriting probably by surveyor Edson Briggs. Imprinted on the spine of the volume are the words "Nez Perce Indians Land Allotments Register." The first 31 pages of this volume appear to be an index to the remaining pages. The original is in Record Group 75 in the National Archives in Washington, DC.
A second item is a collection of photocopied pages from National Records and Archives Administration Record Group 75: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Entry 572. Enrollment Records, 1884-1909. Registry of Nez Perce Indians. Volume 6 of 12. This item is titled "Register of Indian Families at the Nez Perce Agency, 1884-1909," in its record in the University of Idaho Library catalog. This record also contains a note that the "register was compiled by special agent Alice Fletcher." This item consists of 437 pages and is, essentially, a list of the families that Fletcher felt were entitled to allotments.
The third item is a collection of photocopied pages from National Records and Archives Administration Record Group 75: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Entry 571. Enrollment Records. Registry of Nez Perce Indians. This item is titled "Index to Register of Families in the Nez Perce Agency, 1909?" in its record in the University of Idaho Library catalog and does appear to be an index to the item in the collection titled "Register of Indian Families at the Nez Perce Agency, 1884-1909". This record also contains a note that the "register was compiled by special agent Alice Fletcher." This item consists of 56 pages and includes a second copy of the pages.
This collection has been digitized and is available on the Idaho Harvester.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Register of Indian Families at the Nez Perce Agency, MG 221. Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Nothing is known of the provenance of the bound volume labeled "Nez Perce Indians Land Allotments Register." Dennis Baird donated the collection of photocopies titled, "Register of Indian Families at the Nez Perce Agency, 1884-1909" and the collection titled "Index to Register of Families in the Nez Perce Agency, 1909?" in 2003.
In 2021, the bound volume was unbound to accomodate the digitization of the collection.
Mark, Joan. A Stranger in Her Native Land: Alice Fletcher and the American Indians. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln and London. 1988.
Otis, D.S. The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian Lands. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1973.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Register DocumentsReturn to Top
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Allotment of land
- Indian allotments
- Land tenure
- Land titles
- Nez Percé Indians
- Nez Perce Tribe
- Nez Percé Indian Reservation (Idaho)