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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1884
([1884])

Report of agent in Wyoming territory,   pp. 182-185 PDF (1.8 MB)


Page 182

182         REPORT     OF AGENT     IN  WYOMING     TERRITORY. 
tion better results can bb obtained at reservation schools. In conversation
with the 
Indians they seem to realize the importance of obtaining an education for
their chil- 
dren, but it finally seems to be left optional with the children themselves
whether 
they shall attend or not, no compulsion being used to secure regularity of
attendance. 
There have been no serious acts of criminality among them come to my notice,
the 
only disturbance4 being caused by intoxication. 
Returning thanks for the kindness with which my requests for assistance have
always been met by the Departnent, and regretting that I cannot make a more
rose- 
colored report of progress, I remain, very respectfully, 
W. R. DURFEE, 
Indian Agent. 
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
SHOSHONE AGENCY, WYOMING TERRITORY, 
August 15, 1884. 
SIR: I have the honor to submit my first annual report as agent of the Shoshone
and Arapaho Indians, located up. n this reservation. 
I assumed charge on the 19th day of February of this.year, the weather inclem-
ent and very severe, thermometer registering 351, making it almost impossible
to 
properly examine the stock of nerehandise and farming machinery for which
I had 
to give my receipt. I found most of the annuity goods in order, with the
exception 
of machinery and farming implements. All the farming machinery is of ancient
de- 
sign, heavy, broken, and unfit for use. There being no possible way of housing
the 
large farming machines, such as threshers, mowers, rakes, plows, and wagons,
they 
have for years stood the summer's sun and winter's storm, until at the present
time 
the only service they are fit for is to slhow the rising generation. the
immense strides 
the American mechanic has made in improving labor-saving machinery.   Under
some of the former administrations an Indian agency was the depository of
goods as 
useless to an Indian as a Greek dictionary, and the consequence is that I
find the 
little warehouse-room I have clogged up with material utterly worthless in
this coun- 
try and in quantities sufficient to supply the whole Territory. 
Subsistence, the article the Indians needed most, was almost exhausted, and
it was 
necessary for me to at once curtail the issue of rations, and had it not
been for your 
kind and prompt action in giving me authority to purchase flour and beef
in open 
market, my Indians must have starved or left the reservation to commit depredations
on cattle roaming the hills. Such acts, I am happy to state, have been avoided,
and I 
can safely say that my 2,000 Indians, classed as wild, roving, and uncivilized,
are as 
peaceable, orderly, law-abiding men as can be found in any new territory.
No nation 
on the face of the globe can furnish 2,000 people who will submit quietly
to being 
confined between unknown lines and starved to death while cattle can be had
for the 
killing. My Indians have done it; not a complaint has reached me of their
having 
killed any white iuan's cattle. 
FARMING. 
The Indians on this reservation have, until the last year or two, been living
in a 
land of plenty; were provided by a kind Providence with food suitable to
their wants. 
The mountains were full of bison, elk, deer, bear, and antelope. The antelope
grazed 
in the valleys in herds of thousands, almost as tame as domestic cattle.
While meat 
was at the door of the tepee it was useless to ask the Indian to farm, especially
as he 
had no fondness for the food of the white man. Now the inevitable is coming
to 
pass-the wholesale slaughter of animals for their skins has driven the few
surviving 
to the fastnesses of the mountain, and days and months of laborious toil
poorly re- 
ward the Indian for the privation he has suffered. 
Some of them have listened to advice and reason, and broken small patches
of 
ground which they have fenced in a rude way, for timber is scarce in this
country, 
and have planted oats, potatoes, and garden truck. Some few planted wheat,
but at 
the time wheat should have been planted they were in a starving condition,
and, pre- 
ferring the bird in hand to two in the bush, put the grain where they thought
it 
would do the most good. No people more fully obey the injunction of the Bible,
"Take no thought of the morrow what ye shall eat." In raisiug goarden
truck some 
are very successful, and bring their produce to the agency and post for sale.
I issued 
for planting 5,500 pounds of wheat, 18,600 pounds of potatoes, 3,700 pounds
of oats, 
besides a quantity of garden seed. I issued and loaned 40 wagonS, 24 plows,
1"2 har- 
rows, 30 hoes, and 40 rakes. Unfortunately the Indian, like ma~ny white men,
starts 
out with good intention, but, lacking stability of purpose, falls by the
wayside. He 


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