Justice to Be Accorded to the Indians: Agent Peter Ronan Reports on the Flathead Indian Reservation,
Peter Ronan (1839–93) was the government agent for the Salish and Kootenai tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana from 1877 until his death. It was a period of rapid cultural and economic change for the tribes as hunting and gathering resources declined and the surrounding white population exploded in western Montana. As an ex-newspaperman, Ronan provided reports to the commissioner of Indian Affairs with unusually full and detailed information about Flathead Reservation events during a critical time for the tribes. Ronan was a unique federal Indian Agent in the nineteenth century both because of both the length of his tenure and his ability to work with tribal leaders.
Justice to Be Accorded to the Indians includes Ronan’s letters during the 1888–93 period covered by this second volume of Ronan’s letters, the tribes navigated growing economic and legal crises. Tribal farms and cattle herds expanded to make up for declining traditional hunting and gathering resources. Ronan and Kootenai chief Eneas worked hard to avoid open conflict with white settlers encroaching on the northern boundary of the reservation. Despite repeated provocations, Eneas was able to keep the peace and struggled to get equal justice for Kootenai victims of white criminals. The letters also detailed Ronan’s efforts to relocate the Bonners Ferry Kootenai and Lower Pend d’Oreille Indians on the Flathead Reservation and make off-reservation allotments to those tribal members who chose to remain in Idaho and Washington. This volume includes biographical sketches of Salish chiefs Arlee, Charlo, and Louison; Pend d’Oreille chief Michel; and Kootenai chief Eneas.