University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863
([1863])

Extract from the report of the secretary of the Interior relative to the report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [3]-4 PDF (704.2 KB)


Page [3]

A 
Extract from the report of the Secretary oj the Interior relative to thle
report 
of the Commissioner of Indian Afairs. 
In view of the disturbing causes that have existed, our relations with the
various Indian tribes are as favorable as could reasonably be expected. The
experience of the past few years, however, clearly demonstrates the necessity
of important changes in the policy hitherto pursued towards them. 
While the regions of country occupied by the Indians remained uninhabited
by the whites, the plan of setting apart separate reservations for different
bands 
of the same tribe, or for small tribes possessing similar habits and customs,
and 
privileged to roam over common hunting grounds in quest of the means of sub-
sistence, as iti Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska, seemed
wise and to promise sccess; but as the country becomes settled, their depend-
ence upon game and the spontaneous productions of the earth becomes more
and 
more precarious, while the necessity for their keeping within the limits
of their. 
reservations increases. The Indians are thus left without their accustomed.
resources, and in the midst of a population with whose customs and arts of
life 
they are wholly unfamiliar. They consequently become discouraged, and, 
looking solely to their scanty annuities from the government, or to begging
and 
pilfering for the necessaries of life, fall an easy prey to the sharpers
and whiskey 
traders who gather around their reservations for the purpose of obtaining
their 
moneys. The smaller the reservation the greater are the facilities for the
exer- 
cise of this pernicious influence, and hence the necessity of concentrating
scat- 
tered bands and the smaller tribes of similar habits, language, and customs,
into 
as large communities as possible, and their location upon the more remote
por- 
tions of the public domain. They will soon become extinct unless they acquire
the arts of civilized life, and to this end it is indispensably necessary
to place 
them beyond the reach of any influence save that of their agents, teachers,
and 
assistants. The vast emigration to the newly discovered gold-bearing regions
of the interior has brought us into more immediate contact with large and
powerful tribes, with whom no treaties other than those of amity have yet
been 
negotiated, and all the energies which the department can possibly exert
in 
that direction will scarcely be adequate to the pressing demands that will
be 
made upon it during the next few years by the exigencies of the Indian service
in those regions. Immediate steps should be taken to prevent collision between
them and our own people, to provide suitable locations for the Indians, and
to 
induce them to settle upon them and engage in the cultivation of the soil,
and 
the rearing of domestic animals, and in the mean time to furnish them such
supplies as may be absolutely necessary to prevent starvation. The number
of 
Indians under the direct supervision of the department is thus rapidly becoming
larger than at any former period, and the wisdom of anticipating this increased
demand upon its resources by a corresponding increase in the approp~riations
for 


Go up to Top of Page