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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 special agent, Indian school service,   pp. 600-609 PDF (5.2 MB)


Page 600

REPORT OF SPECIAL AGENT, INDIAN SCHOOL SERVICE. 
IN THE FIELD, October-, 1892. 
SIR: I have the honor to present my fourth annual report of work in the In-
dian schools, with special reference to the condition, training, habits,
etc., of 
the girls. 
A wise man, when asked, "When would you begin the education of a child?"
replied, "A hundred years before the parents are born." With this
thought 
in mind, and also the thought of the condition of the red men during the
last 
one hundred years, we ought to understand better the causes which thwart
so 
many endeavors at Indian education, and to sympathize more fully with the
re- 
sults attained. 
Until recently the factor of heredity seems not to have entered into plans
for 
the education of Indian youth, especially Indian girl youth. With little
refer- 
ence to the condition of the homes or the degree of civilization among the
par- 
ents, with few thoughts of the past and little exact knowledge of the present,
Indian educators have looked too steadily towards future reservation conditions
which loom up before the mind's eye out of ideal theories. Having given iev-
eral years of training at a good school to a few children from some reservations,
it was expected of them that they go back and introduce just such homes and
styles of living among their people as the teachings of the schools required.
When thus thrust out of civilization these pupils were just beginning to
grow 
in all those ideas which go towards making true and helpful men and women.
We forget that such growth can not mature in three or five years, and that
the 
parents and homes to which these pupils were sent had remained in nearly
the 
same state for centuries. The force of gravity between bodies of such unequal
potency, the few educated pupils, the large uneducated tribe, has drawn the
children downward while little uplift was given the parents and tribe. 
FIELD MATRONS. 
Within a few years a new method has been introduced into the work of Indian
civilization. Field matrons are now sent out to labor among the mothers and
homes of the reservation, just as for years farmers have been sent out to
help 
the fathers provide for the homes. While the number of these matrons is alto-
gether out of proportion to the multitude of the homes or even of the farmers,
still it is cause for rejoicing that the movement is inaugurated. A person
un- 
acquainted with reservation and Indian life has little idea of the amount
of 
good which may be accomplished through the efforts of a wise field matron.
There is no limit, save the strength limit, to the helpfulness of such a
woman in 
the homes, and small limit to the influence she may acquire among the tribe.
But let her not deceive the people, for no one reads character more quickly
or 
accurately than an Indian and none have better memories. With a tactful,
un- 
selfish matron, it will not be long before a perceptible change may be noticed
in 
the homes and surroundings of many an Indian family-the mother will become
a more intelligent and womanly adviser, and the tepee or cabin will begin
to 
take on the look of a neat country home. That these field matrons are a valua-
ble auxiliary to the work of civilization can not be doubted, and no one
seems 
inclined to condemn the new departure. 
But a special reason why these matrons should now be introduced into the
reservations in large numbers is seen in the fact that at present there are
many 
returned students at the agencies, camps, and pueblos, and these young people
need assistance from white people. In studying this subject an interest,d
per- 
son can not fail to notice the limited opportunities and possibilities of
the re- 
turned student, restricted as he is to the reservation by custom, by consanguin-
ity, and by lack of knowledge of the outside world. What will be the future
value of the knowledge brought from the schools ? In a few years, if help
is not 
600 


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