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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1864
([1864])

Montana superintendency,   pp. 293-303 PDF (4.8 MB)


Page 293

MONTANA SUPERINTENDENCY. 
293 
In reply, I have to state that I regret exceedingly that the crops planted
at 
so great expense to the Indians for their use and support in time of want
have 
failed to bring forth their accustomed yield of seed and harvest, and that
it 
becomes necessary now to supply the deficiency occasioned by such failure
by 
diverting funds appropriated for specific purposes to the more pressing wants
of 
the Indians in the purchase of necessary supplies and provisions. 
I am fully aware of the responsibility and care you will have during the
win- 
ter in guarding against the many urgent appeals that will be made upon you
for charity to alleviate the suffering and prevent starvation among your
In- 
dians; and while there may be some doubt, under the law, as to the right
of 
diverting appropriations from the channels for which the same were intended,
I 
see no other practicable course for me to pursue than to adopt your suggestions.
The old adage, "necessity knows no law," I think justly applicable
in this 
ease. Therefore you have my consent, if you find it absolutely necessary,
to 
apply the fands of the Poncas, mentioned in your letter, viz: "manual
labor 
school" fund now on hand, $1,918 93, and " building at agencies
and repairs 
thereof," $2,113 40, to the purchase of such provisions as may in your
judg- 
ment seem best, provided that the Indians will consent to the money being
so 
expended, bearing in mind the importance of buying such articles of food
as 
will do the most good to the greatest number. 
You are at liberty to make the purchases at whatever time you deem the most
economical. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
WM. P. DOLE, Commissioner. 
NjEWTON EDMUNDS, Esq., 
Governor and ex-offlcio Sup't, Yancton, Dakota. 
MONTANA SUPERINTENDENCY. 
No. 137. 
BLACKFOOT AGFNCY, FORT BENTON, 
Montana Territory, September 1, 1864. 
SIR: I have the honor to submit, herewith, my first annual report of the
condition of the Indians within this agency. In accordance with instructions
issued from the Office of Indian Affairs, October 13, 1863, I left Washington
and proceeded, by way of Salt Lake, Bannock City, and Virginia, to Fort 
Benton, arriving on the 21st of December last, and entered immediately upon
the discharge of my official duties. I found the affairs of the agency in
a most 
deplorable condition, and the feelings of the Indians inclined to war and
open hostilities-actual war existing among a poition of them; in fact, the
whole field presented the appearance of unutterable confusion, wild chaos,
and 
a medley of unharmonious discords. No agent having been in the country for
over eighteen months, the Indians began to feel as though they were forgotten
by their " Great Father," arnd expressed themselves to that effect.
This feeling 
was fostered and increased by the failure on the part of the contractors
to de- 
liver their annuities last year, arid, to a certain extent, led the Indians
to be- 
lieve that the government was unable, or did not in good faith intend, to
carry 
out the treaty obligations. The peaceful pursnits of the chase were, in a
measure, discarded, and the scalping-knife and war-dance substituted in;
their 
place. War parties were continually roaming the prairies, passing and repass-
ing the agency, and hardly a week passed that a fight did not occur between
these hostile parties. The most prominent in these encounters were the Gros
Ventres and Piegans, owing to their close proximity to each other, though
I 


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