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Grass Valley residents defend Fishlake Indians against charges of waste

(Deseret News, 19 April 1894)

"A Just Criticism" Criticized.  

Koosharem, Piute county, Utah, April 14, 1894.

Editor Deseret News:

In the Semi-Weekly News of April 6 there appears an article entitled "A Just Criticism," wherein the writer declaims against persons unlawfully taking fish from Fish Lake and also in wasting them by the tons. We, the undersigned residents of this town and vicinity, do know that some of the statements in said article are untrue; first "that hundreds of dollars are wasted every year." Some of us are engaged in the dairy business at Fish Lake every summer since 1877 and others are in the stock business which necessitates visiting that locality a number of times during the summer season.

The writer also states that "the Indians have destroyed the most," "and seeing as many as five or six tons piled up." The writer must have read pretty freely of Munchhausen and also drawn upon an over-excited imagination to have penned such outrageous and exaggerated stories as the above; and why should this defender pounce upon the poor, despised Indians, who have been driven and scattered from one end of the continent to the other; this magnanimous "speckled jewel" defender pours out his vials of wrath upon them in the shape of statements which are well known to be utterly untrue. They are known to be economical in their habits of living and do not waste provisions of any kind.

It is the usual custom of a few Indians to catch fish at intervals during each season and sell them for calico and groceries; and what fish they don't sell they cure by drying for winter use. There has not been any person in either valley who has seen tons of fish piled up to rot.

The people of this valley and Rabbit Valley are much displeased with the above false statements and do not wish to be accused wrongfully. We suppose that the article, "A Just Criticism," applied to us, as we reside in the immediate vicinity of Fish Lake and have taken this method to vindicate us from an unjust accusation. As to the fish commissioner we can truthfully state that he is doing his duty.

William Niswanger,

John Jorgenson,

George A. Hatch,

John Christensen,

J.J. Mclellan,

W.F. Wright,

E. Torgerson,

N.C. Schaugaard,

Geo. L. Schaugaard,

Richard Brown Jr.

The ten signers of the above communication must not be too technical. "A Just Criticism" did not apply to them or their neighbors if none of them are guilty of the offense named. Neither is it pertinent to drag in the drivings and scatterings of the Indians in extenuation of the charge of wasting fish at Fish Lake. We do not know anything personally about "tons being piled up" to rot, but that is the way our correspondent wrote it. We do happen to know, however, that hundreds and hundreds of pounds have been wasted and left to rot along the shores of that beautiful lake and its outlet, and that not only Indians but white men have been guilty. This is not hearsay evidence at all; it is actual observation.

The News is glad to be assured by the above communication that the good people of Grass and Rabbit valleys condemn such practices; but in denying all blame--which no one has attached to them--they must not altogether deny the facts. In every endeavor to preserve their charming little lake and their own character from the tongue of slander, this paper will gladly help them. We are ready to go still further -- we are ready to make war upon wasteful and inhuman violators of the fish laws, and in that we only as the good people above referred to to help us. Ed. News.

Copyright 2006 by Ardis E. Parshall

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