Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter LIX
Start for Fort Hall Agency. Meeting in Portage. In Malad. Reach the Reservation. Meet Indians. Pitched tent. With two Bishops Lorenzo visits the agent. Describes Mr. Cook. Lorenzo asks the privilege of preaching to the Indians. Prevarication. An incident. A discussion. Mr. Cook says nothing so much needed as a farmer. Brother Snow pro- poses to furnish one. Mr. Cook will not accept. Grows uneasy and will not have preaching. A grave responsibility. Mr. Cook shoulders it. The school teacher enters and brothers" Mr. Cook. The brethren start for camp. Meet Indians. Visit school. Little Chief, wife and daughter.
[E now transcribe from Lorenzo's journal, as follows: 1 started for the Fort Hall reservation, June loth, 1883, accompanied by Bishop I. E. D. Zundel, his brother, Elder Abraham Zundel, Bishop Hoskins, and Elders May and Jones, traveling with one carriage and one baggage wagon. Two intelligent Lamanite Elders joined us at our Indian colony.
We held meeting at West Portage, and three very inter- esting meetings on Sunday, at Malad City, Idaho. On reach- ing the reservation, we traveled but a short distance before we enjoyed opportunities for renewing acquaintances with our dusky brethren and sisters all manifesting the hjghest pleas- ure at this, though unexpected visit. Several who had not been baptized expressed a willingness whenever an opportu- nity presented.
We told them we were now going to visit Mr. Cook, the agent, requesting the privilege of holding meetings on the reservation, to preach, also baptize those wishing to embrace the opportunity.
We pitched our tent and camped on the banks of the
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Portneuf, seven miles from the agency. The next morning, in company with Bishops Hoskins and Zundel, I proceeded to the agency, where we found Mr. Cook in his office. After introducing ourselves, we entered into conversation, which continued nearly three hours.
Mr. Cook is about sixty years of age, affable, intelligent and prepossessing in appearance. A variety of questions were asked and answered in reference to the management and pros- perity of our Indian colony, after which the conversation turned upon general topics, carried on in a pleasant, sociable spirit. He professed acquaintance with the president and pro- fessors of Oberlin College, with whom I had formed acquaint- ance while there had traveled and done business in the vicinity of my birthplace in Ohio was born and brought up within, thirty miles of where Joseph Smith discovered the plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon. Mr. Cook said he was acquainted with the early history of the "Mormons," and had attended some of their meetings.
Having established friendly relations, I ventured to approach the subject, which, to us, was the all-absorbing pro- position, viz,: Will you allow us to preach on the reservation? I remarked that I supposed the Indians possessed very crude notions of revealed religion, having little opportunity of improving themselves in this direction ; though I think, said I, you had a minister living at the agency not long since, but none at present. Mr. Cook replied, "A Methodist minister came since I took charge of the agency remained three or four days, and having observed our surroundings and the primitive state of affairs, left in disgust, not wishing to forego the pleasures of cultivated regions and civilized societj 7 for the gloomy outlook which here forced itself upon his tender and delicate nerves. But," continued Mr. Cook, "government has now changed its policy and placed the reservation in the keeping of political men, instead of professors of religion, as formerly." I replied that I had been pleased in hearing of
this change of policy, being confident it would result in greater good to the Indians occupying the reservations ; and that no partiality would now be allowed to one religious denomination at the expense of another, and all would enjoy equal privileges in their endeavors to reform and civilize these unfortunate people.
Mr. Cook immediately changed the drift of conversation by remarking that the farming interests on the reservation were in a deplorable condition the wagons, harnesses, plows, harrows, reapers, mowers, etc., were not properly cared for, there being no suitable person to oversee or instruct the Indians in these matters, especially how to farm properly, as the government was too stingy and niggardly to appropriate means for employing a farmer; in fact, he continued, there is nothing which would conduce so much to the interest of the Indians of this agency as a good, intelligent and experienced farmer.
I then said to Mr. Cook, "We will furnish you just such a man as you have described one of large experience, and who will feel an interest in this calling, who will follow your coun- sel and observe your rules, subject to immediate dismissal upon neglecting to carry out your instructions. Of course, Mr. Cook, I suppose the man will be what is called a 'Mor- mon/ but from your remarks, I understand you are a politi- cian and not biased by sectarian influences or religious bigotry, therefore, his being a 'Mormon' will be no detriment." He hesitated a moment, then replied, he believed there might be such an opening, and that he would lay the subject before the Indian Department, to which I replied, "Mr. Cook, there is no necessity for delay in applying to the department; this man shall be furnished without expense to you or the Indian Department." At this he appeared to be much confused, and said, "Mr. Snow, the man certainly cannot afford to employ his time for nothing." Said I, "Mr. Cook, there are thousands of our people who have labored years for those less deserving
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such sacrifices than these poor, simple sons of the forest, with- out emolument, except the consciousness of doing their duty, and such a man will be furnished, as I before stated, and without expense." This closed that branch of the conversa- tion.
His looks of uneasiness plainly indicated the idea was not relished. I then concluded to bring him directly to the point, and said, "Mr. Cook, Mr. Zundel is here to talk with the Indians, desirous first to obtain your consent." He was puz- zled for an answer; finally said, "Mr. Snow, I do not know how I can allow you to preach on this reservation without exposing myself to censure and jeopardizing my position." "Are you forbidden," I asked, "to allow ministers of the Gos- pel to preach to these Indians?" "O, no," said he, "our school teacher, who is a Presbyterian, preaches occasionally." "Yes," said I, "ministers of every denomination are allowed this liberty on all the reservations." "That, I suppose is true," said Mr. Cook, "but your people are made an exception the government is jealous and suspicious that the influence which you might gain over the Indians would be employed against the interest of the nation, on some future occasion ; and fur- thermore, you teach plural marriage, which the government now is exerting itself to suppress among the Indians."
I then said, "Mr.
Cook, when we use such influence against
the government, we will then talk about it; as yet it never has been done, and there are no grounds for such suspicion. And as to teaching plural marriage to the Indians, it never has been done, and we do not now propose to begin; there is no occasion even should we wish, as they already practice it from the influence of long established customs before the white man \vas known upon this western continent."
Mr. Cook then drew a paper from his secretary, contain- ing instructions, in which he was required to assess a fine of twenty dollars and twenty days' work against every Indian on the reservation guilty of second marriage, and upon a repeti-
tion of the offense, a deprivation of their portion of meat, flour, sugar, tea, coffee and clothing in fact of every gift and advantage which they received from government. He said he employed Indians as policemen, but suffered no polygamist to occupy that or any other official position that he had just discharged a polygamist from officiating as policeman, and, "in fact," said he, "I furnish no employment for that class of Indians."
I said, "Forbidding the preaching of the Gospel to people living in a land over which float the 'stars and stripes' of our boasted republic, looks to me to be a grave responsibility. Will you allow us to see those instructions in which our people are denied this privilege?" He said it would require some time to find the paper, as it was mixed with many others in his secre- tary, but was reading it not long since that those instructions were given to Mr. Danielson, former agent, against some grave accusations against the "Mormons," for having influenced the Indians to leave the reservation ; and complaints of this seri- ous nature have been entered against you since I came: one in the case of an Indian boy, another (mentioning the name) was influenced to leave this reservation, I have been informed."
Bishop Zundel explained that the Indian boy referred to had come to his colony voluntarily, saying there was no school at Fort Hall agency, and begged admission to his school, but stopped only three or four weeks. Concerning the other case the Indian was a transient, roaming here and there, as fancy led. Respecting the charges made by Mr. Danielson, they were unfounded, as he had proven to his entire satisfaction by visiting the colony and finding none of his Indians; and he left a written statement to that effect, which he, Bishop Zun- del, now had in his possession.
I then said to Mr. Cook, "Will you oblige us by looking over that paper again, for I am satisfied those instructions relate only to those groundless charges of inducing the Indians
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to leave the reservation; and as to any fear of our influencing them to abandon their reservation, we have no place for them, nor can we imagine where they could live any length of time away from the agency."
"Well, Mr. Snow," said he, "I will write to Washington for more explicit instructions, and inform you of the result ; but, in the meantime I cannot feel authorized to permit you to preach; I was told to be careful regarding this Mormon question relative to the Indians, etc., etc."
At this point Mr. Bristol, the schoolmaster, alias Presby- terian minister, entered the office. After introductions, he turned to our political (?) friend, saluting him, "Brother Cook," which brothering being constantly repeated, surprised us and exceedingly annoyed Mr. Cook, who, as he asserted, owed his position solely to his political status. This circumstance anni- hilated all hopes of obtaining favor from that quarter.
I spent a few moments in pleasant conversation with Mr. Bristol asked him permission for myself and party to visit his school the next day, which was cheerfully granted. We then repaired to our carriage and proceeded to camp.
We had gone but a short distance when we were met by a large party of Indians, mounted upon fine horses ; they were chiefs and head men, and very happy to meet us, and their hearts warmed in clasping our hands in theirs. They turned and accompanied us to our camp, where we enjoyed an inter- esting conversation. They were exceedingly incensed at Mr. Cook's refusal to allow us to preach, insisting persistently that we should return and talk the matter over in their presence. We pacified them as best we could, saying, Mr. Cook promised to write to Washington, asking the authorities to grant us the privilege; when he received a favorable answer, we hoped to have an opportunity of returning of stopping and preaching. They stayed until dark and some remained until the next day, when they were joined by many others, some of whom were also chiefs and head men.
According to appointment, we visited the Indian school, composed of four girls and six boys (a sufficient number to cheat Uncle Sam out of a fat salary), who were put through their exercises with considerable credit. Their copybooks were neat, and their acquirements in arithmetic exhibited mental culture.
While encamped at the Portneuf, Little Chief, with his wife and daughter, visited us. He stated that while at the agency the day before, with many other Indians, for the pur- pose of drawing their rations, Gibson Jack, alias Weiragan, one of their principal chiefs, asked Mr. Cook, that inasmuch as he had refused to allow us to baptize their men and women, would he permit us to baptize their children? He answered, No, they must have nothing to do with the Mormons ; if they did, their fate should be as ours: when ive were sent to prison, they should be sent to prison; when we were killed, they would be killed; if they wished to be safe, they must neither follow or listen to us for a moment.
Little Chief said it made the Indians feel bad when Mr. Cook threatened them in that way and talked of shedding blood.