VIII. THE KLAMATH RIVER RESERVATION1858-1894* (continued)
H. THE SQUATTERS and THEIR ALLIES FIGHT BACK
The eviction of the squatters caused an outcry in Del Norte County that reached all the way to Washington. United States Representative Campbell Berry introduced a bill seeking to open the Reservation to settlement by whites. The Committee on Indian Affairs to whom the bill was referred made a study. On May 7, 1880, the Committee reported that not more than 115 Indians were living on the Reservation. These Indians were said to belong to several tribes and were continually at war with each other. Homicides and murders were frequent. It was found that in the absence of soldiers, the restraining influence of white settlers was needed to preserve the peace.
So far the Indians had failed to make any advances in the "arts of civilized life." As proof of this, it was pointed out that all of them together did not cultivate more than five acres of land, and that amount was found in small parcels around their huts. Next, the Committee assailed the configuration of the Reservation as "an injustice, if not an outrage."
According to testimony submitted, the Committee found that from the year 1862 until 1877, the reserve had been abandoned by the United States. It appeared that those Indians on the Klamath should be on "the reservation set apart for them, which is the Hoopa Reservation on the Trinity River." In view of the statement of Indian Commissioner Shuter to Representative Luttrell in 1874, the settlers were justified in believing the Government had abandoned the reserve. While the Committee would not do an injustice to the Indians, it at the same time could not sanction an "outrage to be inflicted upon the white settlers who entered upon these lands in good faith."
It was the opinion of the Committee that the United States could have no use for the Klamath River Reservation. Their study had shown that the Hoopa Reservation was capable of sustaining many more Indians than were now settled upon it. "Why, then," it was asked, should these "lands in question be kept from settlement and improvement by white citizens who are eager to expend their labor and means in the development of these resources?"
The recommendation of the Committee was that the Klamath River Reservation be "restored to the public domain, and again made free for the access of labor and capital of white settlers seeking homes and fields for their energy and enterprise." 
Although the Committee on Indian Affairs had endorsed Berry's bill to open the Reservation to settlement by whites, the legislation failed to pass. The squatters, undaunted, returned to their homes as soon as Captain Savage and his soldiers returned to Fort Gaston. Several of the settlers made arrangements with friendly Yurok to hold their land in their absence. Finally, a non-commissioned officer and several privates were posted at Requa to prevent this subterfuge. 
Again in 1884 legislation was introduced in the House by Representative Barclay Henley for restoration of the Reservation to the public domain. This legislation, as drafted, was opposed by some of the settlers and it failed to pass. 
Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004