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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Montana,   pp. 89-100 PDF (5.6 MB)


Page 89

'REPORTS OF AGENTS IN         MONTANA.                    89 
have not engaged in agricultural pursuits, and serve a3 an incentive to go
and do like- 
wise. 
I believe that it the government shall see fit to adopt the plan of concentraing
the 
Indians of this agency upon the reservation, as herein indicated, in lesi
than a score 
of years it will be relieved from all charge on their account, and the Indians
become 
comparatively civilized and wholly self-supporting. In my frequent visits
to thediffer- 
ent reservations I have found a growing inclination among the various bands
to alto- 
gether abandon hunting and fishing, which has now become a most precarious
means 
of 'subsistence, and adopt the habits and usages of civilization with its
attendant ben- 
efits. This sentiment has been greatly stimulated by the success of those
who have 
done so now upon this reservation; and a comparison of the contentment, plenty,
and 
comfort which these enjoy with the want and indigence of the others has been
most 
potent and effective in its influence. 
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
C. A. RUFFEE, 
UAited Stafes:Indian Agent. 
The Co. nrrsSioEra OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
BLACKFEET AGENCY, MONTANA, 
July 28, 1879. 
StR: I have the honor to submit this my third annual rep:)rt of affairs at
this agency. 
This agency is located in the northwest c)rner of M,)ntana, 60 miles from
the Canada 
line. Its situation ison BAdger Creek, which is one of the tributaries of
the Marias 
River. 
The tribes under ths supervision of this agency, the Blackfeet, Bloods, and
Piegans, 
are really one people, having the same origin, language, and habits. They
are every 
year merging more and more into one tribe, known by the general name of Piegan.
This is, however, exclusive of another branch of the same family, known as
the North- 
ern Blackfeet, who roam almost entirely across the line in the neighboring
Dominion 
of Canada. 
As near as can be ascertained, the Indians belonging to this agency number
about 
7,500 persons. They are orgarized in bands, or large families, numbering
from 10 
lodges up to 100, and are governed by laws made by the band chiefs in council,
by 
whom also one or more head chiefs are elected. The agent, as the representative
of 
the Great Father, is recognized as authority above the chiefs, and his approval
is nec- 
essary for all trials and punishments, every offender being brought to the
agency for 
trial. 
It is less than ten years since these Piegans were exceedingly hostile, a
terror to the 
people of the Territory, whose lives and property were in constant danger.
The terri- 
ble retribution made upon them by Colonel Baker, in the utter extermination
of 
"Double Runner's" band, put a check upon their warring operations
against the 
whites, and since that day there has been not only no outbreak but a constantly
grow- 
ing friendly disposition, which has during the past year shown itself in
the fact that 
there has been no theft or outrage of any kind committed on white mea during
the 
year. 
The hostile Sioux under Sitting Bull are among the natural and implacable
enemies 
of the Piegans, and reliance can be placed upon their co-operation with the
whites in 
case of any offensive movements in this direction by the Sioux. Daring the
pat two 
or three years there has been a sort of armistice between the Sioux and these
In- 
dians, in order that they might hunt the buffalo over the same general range,
but even 
this truce has now ended. According to their custom, these Indians, late
ia the fall of 
last year, went on the winter hunt, dividing into two bands. The larger one,
under 
White Calf, head chief, went toward the Bear Paw Mountains, where they found
a 
moderate quantity of buffalo, and many Indians of other tribes engaged in
hunting ; 
among theqe were Sioux from across the Canada line. An understanding was
made 
that they should not, war upon nor steal from each other, but should camp
together 
peaceably; this was adhered to until near the time for breaking up camp,
'when some 
of the Sioux stole from the Piegans 35 ponies, and made for across the Canada
line, bat 
were pursued and overtaken. When called upon to stop and talk, their reply
was by 
firing on their putsuers; a fight ensued, in which the Sioux lost six warriors
and the 
Piegans one. The stolen ponies were run across the line antl reported as
having been 
received in Sitting Bull's camp. Since that time there have been other smaller
en- 
counters reported, and the old feeling of hostility against the Sioux has
been re- 
vived.' 
Another and smaller band, under Fast Bulffalo htorse, went north toward Elk
River, 
and were exceedingly unfortunate, taking few buffalo. The scarcity of food
and the 
extreme severity or the winter caused great suffering among them; both they
and 


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