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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1892
([1892])

Report of the agent in North Carolina,   pp. 348-350 PDF (1.6 MB)


Page 348

348           REPORT OF AGENT IN NORTH CAROLINA. 
REPORT OF THE AGENT IN NORTH CAROLINA. 4 
REPORT OF EASTERN CHEROKEE AGENCY. 
EASTERN CHEROKEE SCHOOL AND AGENCY, 
Bryson City, N. C., October 25, 1892. 
SIR: In accord with your directions of the 27th of September, 1892, I herewith
submit, in lieu of the annual report of my predecessor in the agency work,
the 
following statement of the condition of the Indians who have been under my
charge for the past three months. 
Location, land, and support.-A remnant of the main body of Cherokees, who
were 
removed to the Indian Territory under the treaty of 1835, the Eastern Cherokees,
yet cling to their ancestral home among the mountains of western North Caro-
lina, northern Georgia, and eastern Tennessee. But it is only those of the
first- 
mentioned State that retain any tribal organization, or who have remained
so 
far unmixed with the whites as to retain any of the distinctive peculiarities
of 
their race. The main part of their land, rebought as it were with the interest
and principal of the moneys to which they became entitled under the treaty
spoken of above, is held by the band in common. But to his portion of the
land 
the individual has a fairly stable tenure from the written constitution by
which 
they. are govirned, and through which each member is given the ownership
of 
any improvements that he may make on the land with the right to sell such
im- 
provements to any other member of the band. In the midst of their fertile
val- 
leys and on their partly fertile but precipitous mountain sides, they have
builded 
tAeir log huts, and by a rude agriculture procure a rather scanty living.
Personal characteristics.-In feature and act they appear to be persons of
rather 
light and cheerful disposition. A joke and a laugh are as common with them
as with any people. Quiet and inoffensive, the white people of the section,
with 
whom they have been on the best of terms until within the past three or four
years, give them the reputation of being good neighbors and excellent citizens.
They possess the right to vote and their ballots are eagerly sought, of ttimes
by 
exceedingly questionable means, by the politicians of both parties. 
Failings-Though they have the characteristic love for the excitement of alco-
holic stimulants, the fact that they live in the midst of a large territory
with 
prohibitory laws, prevents liquor from often finding its way among them.
Aside 
from this, their two most prominent failings are idleness and failure to
fulfill 
their agreements. But their idleness is largely the idleness of not having
work 
to do, and not the idleness of neglect. Practically their only crop is corn.
As 
a result, they are necessarily unemployed for a large part of the year. They
will promise almost anything, I am told; but what they will do, is just as
uncer- 
tain after they have promised as it was before. The first fault can, I hope,
be 
easily cured; the second will require, of course, years of careful educational
work, of unceasing effort to develop and encourage in them truthfulness and
integrity. 
Finances.-No people can advance in civilization unless they at the same time
advance in wealth. New needs, created by advancing intelligence, must be
met 
by new supplies and the question arises, would these people have the means
to 
supply such needs ? I see the following ways by which their financial condition
may be improved as they advance in civilization. 
A few years of school work ought to bring to each family at least one individ-
ual who can speak and read English. At present their inability to speak or
read 
causes a lack of knowledge of prices and crops which leaves them at the mercy
of the buyer. Hence there is little variation in pric . They receive the
same 
price per pound or bushel whether the general crop of the country is good
or 
almost or entirely a failure. Better and more equitable prices will stimulate
them to harder and more effective work on their crops. 
More modern and better methods of culture should give them much better 
crops than they now raise; and especially they should be induced to raise
a 
greater variety of crops in order that their work may be distributed over
a 
greater part of the year and that they may not be dependent for their support
upon the success of a single crop. 
Timber.-Added to these means of increasing their wealth, they will have their
vast timber interests, which will not only give them employment for any part
of 
the year when they can not do farm work, but will also supply the band with
funds needed for the common purposes. 


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