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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 physician, Pine Ridge agency,   pp. 211-212 PDF (599.1 KB)


Page 211

REPORT OF PHYSICIAN, PINE RIDGE AGENCY. 
211 
Statistical reports have been forwarded. 
Acknowledging the kindness I have received from officers of the Indian Department
and thanks to our kind Father above for his blessings upon us, 
I am your obedient servant, 
W. J. HADLEY, 
Superintendent. 
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
PINE RIDGE AGENCY, DAK., 
August 20, 1884. 
SIR: Complying with your instructions, I have the honor to submit my annual
report 
for the year ending June 30, 1884, pertaining to the health and sanitary
condition of 
this agency. 
1881-'82. 1882-'83. 1883-'84. 
Total applicants for medicines ............................................
 2, 015  3, 611  5, 013 
Total deaths............-.................................................
36  98  100 
Total births--------------------------------------------------------------21
 92  63 
A large ratio of mortality was among young children, attributable to exposure
and 
the harsh practices of their relatives, a majority of whom have not the remotest
idea 
of the indispensable nursing and ordinary hygiene; hence it is, many reliable
pre- 
scriptions fail to benefit and they return to their medicine men. Many of
the other 
deaths were those whose illness were not reported at all, or until after
their medicine 
men or women had failed, and who were then usually so exhausted that little
could 
be done for them. Regarding the births, it is very probable many are never
reported 
to the agency police, a death; however, on account of its impressiveness
or display, 
can more easily be ascertained; it is my opinion the two about balance. 
On the whole I am certain these Indians are steadily gaining confidence in
the rem- 
edies of the white inau, calling for them more frequently each succeeding
year. Though 
it is also evident they are wedded to the pernicious influence of the medicine
men, so 
often are these empirics met with in my daily rounds, that a biief s-journ
here would 
impress one with a belief that they were nearly all-men and women-of that
voca- 
tion. Sometimes I fancy the mystic creatures (generally of middle age, rarely
old 
men) are tolerated through fear of their conjury. Under such circumstances
it is 
occasionally my pleasure to administer the medicine to the sick person, nolens
volens, 
training as guides, is dangerous guess work, which, therefore, would make
any one 
an(, through the interpreter, kindly explain that doctoring, without education
and 
of them as qualified as another. The gradual decline of their vitiating dances,
an 
improvemeni in their improperly prepared food, and insufficient clothing,
and the 
rapid'adoption of log-houses for domiciles should soon show a decreased death
rate. 
It is here noticeable that contrary to a common belief, East, the Indians,
though of 
hardy origin, do not enjoy immunity from sickness any more than other races.
Their 
maladies range from simple constipation to "misery all over." Tubercular
diseases, 
diseases of the digestive system, of the respiratory organs, of the eye,
and of the 
skin (the latter in great variety), of more or less gravity, are presented
daily for treat- 
ment. With some I am able to apply routine treatment, though, in most instances,
after the medicine is once theirs, nothing more is heard from them for months,
if ever, 
so little do they appreciate the necessity of systematic treatment. No doubt
some of 
the crude drugs applied for were for combining with their own medicinal herbs.
No 
case of syphilis and only three of gonorrhea among full-bloods have been
treated 
during the year. Still births, plural births, difficult parturition, and
suicides not 
infrequently occur here, though not as often as among the whites. 
The efficiency of this branch of the service would be promoted here by one
of the 
following auxiliaries: an apothecary, an assistant physician, or limited
hospital ac- 
commodations -about 10 beds-for such of The sick or injured who come from
great 
distances (furthest Indian village 40 miles) to the agency for treatment,
and have to 
return forthwith without receiving material benefit in one visit, because
at present 
there is no provision for shelter and sustenance of the sick. 
It is a source of gratification to know that notwithstanding the unfavorable
phys- 
ical auspices with which the large boarding-school opened-an epidemic of
chicken- 
pox and many sick from sudden change of habit-no death has yet occurred there,
and now the health of the children continues remarkably good. 


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