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 1892

Report of agent in Iowa,   pp. 264-269 PDF (3.2 MB)

Page 264

TAMA, IOWA, August 05, 1892. 
SIR: I herewith submit my annual report from this agency for fiscal year
Location.-The Indian land, which is owned by the Indians in tribal form,
chased with their own money from time to time, and held in trust for their
and benefit by the governor of Iowa, is located about 2  miles west of the
of Tama, Tama County, Iowa, and about 4 miles from Toledo, the county seat
Tama County. The agent's headquarters and post-office are at Tama. The 
drive from the agent's office to the Indian villages is over a very pretty
and can be made in from fifteen to thirty minutes, according to the condition
the roads. 
The Indians own about 1,250 acres of land. (This has been given as 1,450,
it is a mistake, as I can only find a record of former number.) About two-thirds
of their present landed possessions is unfit for cultivation, as the Iowa
flows directly through it from west to east; the other third, or perhaps
in the 
neighborhood of 500 acres, is very good farm land, though at present a good
many acres would have to be cleared of underbrush before a plow could be
put in 
it. This year the Indians have taken the necessary steps for the purchase
about 1,700 acres of land, all but 520 acres adjoining their present land,
and all 
of it but a few acres (which had to b-, purchased in order to get the other
being splendid farm and grazing lands. The money for the purchase of this
land came from the proceeds of the sale by United States of their interest
in the 
Sac and Fox land in Oklahoma. 
The Milwaukee and Northwestern railways cross their present land; conse-
quently numerous eyes are attracted to their condition of backwardness and
uncivilized manners and customs, and many unfavorable comments drop from
the lips of those unacquainted with their history, customs, traditions, and
Houses.-There is only one Government building on the land, a two-story frame
with a one-story addition, erected for a schoolhouse, tut now utilized as
a resi- 
dence for the agency farmer, the addition being used for a council room,
most of the large councils are held and the important business affairs, which
require the presence of a majority of the chiefs, council men, and headmen,
transacted. Here, also, the annual annuity payment, about $42 per capita,
made. There are three more frame houses on the laiid, one in which John 
McIntosh, the official int-rpreter, resides; another belongs to Joseph Tesson,
former interpreter, and the other to Peter Soidier, a progressive Indian.
McIntosh and Tesson are civilized, own land aside from the tribal land, and
have adopted many of the white man's ways, methods, and customs. Peter 
Soldier has also adopted some of the white man's ways. There are about forty
Indian houses on the land, some fifteen of which have been newly erected
or re- 
built this year. A few years ago nearly all their houses were built of poles,
bark, and rushes, but they are now built, as a rule, entirely of boards,
which is 
a great improvement over the old style, and I believe that they will continue
improve in the matter of building houses until nearly all of them will be
in frame houses. The houses are erected by placing four large posts, one
each corner and one or two posts in the center, on which rests the ridge
The sides and roof are boarded up. One or two have doors, but usually a 
blanket is hung up for a door; no windows, a board being hung on hinges on
each side to let the light and air in. They are of various sizes, according
the number of persons in the family or families to be housed. Along each
of the interior a platform, about 3 feet high and 10feet wide, extends the
length, upon which they sleep and eat and under which is stzred the family
possessions, wood, etc. The yards are inclosed with a wire fLznce and are
usually kept quite clean. The cooking is done over open fires at each end
the house and their home life is not materially changed from years ago, except
that they used modern cooking utensils, dishes, knives, and forks-the only
of advancement to be detected in their homes. The women around the house
show more signs of a desire for progress than the men; and yet I take it
as an 
encouraging sign that the men have a desire for something better, more com-
fortable and durable, when the better grade of houses which they are now
building is considered. It is evident that there is some progress in that
being slowly created in their minds. 

Go up to Top of Page