The spring hunt of muskrats was poor; but when the Indians returned from their winter and spring quarters, gardening operations were carried on, both among adults and children, as far as seed would go. Premises were also cleaned up; so that when I left there in the early part of June the reserve presented a nice appearance.
Pas Mountain Reserve. - The next reserve is at the Pas Mountain, where the band is settled in two parts, one at Shoal Lake, and the other at Red Earth. At the former place there is a school doing well under the tuition of Mr. Thomas Bear. The Shoal Lake Indians are thriving better than formerly, as is shown by some new houses which are, I think, the best in the agency, and by their attention to sanitary measures.
Hunting is not very good at this place so that when fish fail (as is often the case), they find it hard to live. It is, however, a good place for cattle, only they are not numerous.
The other portion of the band, residing at Red Earth, are progressing in whatever they put their hands to; but they find it hard at times, owing to the lack of fish which, as a rule, are very scarce up there. The Red Earth Indians are, perhaps, at the head of all the bands in this agency for keeping their premises clean and tidy, and in supplying their houses with firewood. They are good gardeners, and live largely upon potatoes and milk, having a goodly number of private animals. This year, as it was obvious they should cultivate the land to a greater extent than heretofore, they have received some assistance, and this has been an encouragement to them.
Cumberland. - This is the western terminus of this agency. Here the Indians reside but little, as their hunting grounds lie far north. The school is carried on under Mr. James Settee, jr., but the attendance is small.
It has been difficult to get these Indians to adopt habits of cleanliness, but the school teacher is energetic in carrying out my instructions. At my visit there last winter I considered it necessary to instruct one of my travellers then and there in the presence of the inmates of the house to take a spade, collect and throw away an accumulation of rubbish from the corner, at the same time I gave the occupants a good talking to.
I am pleased to be able to report that not only at Cumberland, but on all the reserves where there is a school teacher, the houses and premises generally present a better appearance than in times past. It is not now an uncommon sight to notice spittoons in the houses, whereas formerly, the Indians, as a rule, used no such article.
In conclusion I beg to report that with a view to encourage the Indians in the cultivation of the soil, I have promised them prizes for the three best gardens. And in order to get the school children interested in this industry, I have promised them also prizes for the three best gardens of small seeds. It is hoped, therefore, that thus more interest will be taken, not only in putting down seed, but in keeping down weeds. All of which is respectfully submitted.