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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1864
([1864])

Montana superintendency,   pp. 293-303 PDF (4.8 MB)


Page 294

294 
MONTANA SUPERINTENDENCY. 
parties of Bloods and Blackfeet were frequently in the affrays. To bring
peace 
and quiet oat of this chaos and confusion was the object for which I labored.
To effect this I sent expresses to the chiefs of the different tribes to
come and 
see me. For a long time these expresses were disregarded, or did not reach
them. The 15th of January brought most of the Piegan chiefs to the agency,
and I held a council with them, 'and learned that they were willing to make
peace 
witL the Gros Ventres, but were fearful they could not control their young
men. 
After considerable talk, they agreed to meet the Gros Ventres chiefs, and
sent 
tobacco to them to show their pacific intentions. On the 13th of February
the 
Gros Ventres came to Fort Benton and met the Piegans, and peace was made
between them, which, with slight exceptions, I am happy to say, has been
faith- 
fully kept by both par-ties till the present time. The full particulars of
this 
meeting were detailed to you in my letter of February 18, to which you are
re- 
spect fully referred. I regret to state that the Blood and Blackfeet Indian
chiefs 
did not come to this place last spring. By this failure on their part, no
oppor- 
tunity has presented itself to secure a meeting betN:een them and the Gros
Ven- 
tres chiefs : consequently no peace arrangemenits have been effected between
these 
parties, and a hostile feeling still exists towards each other; though, owing
to 
the great distance intervening between them, an opportunity does not often
pre- 
sent itself to gratify their hatred and revenge. Every effort has been made
on 
my part, and these efforts will still be continued, to secure a meeting of
these 
chiefs, and I do not despair of yet succeeding. 
Among the Bloods, Blackfeet, and Piegans, friendly relations exist; but,
with 
the exception of the Piegans, all are unfriendly towards the Gros Ventres;
and 
this samefeeling is fully reciprocated by the latter. A feeling of distrust
and 
want of confidence in each other exists among them all to a certain extent,
and 
were it not for the fear of being severely chastised by the whites, open
hostili- 
ties would be frequent and bloody; but the fear of the whites keeps them
in 
their places ; and, with the exception of horse-stealing, the latter are
seldom 
molested. There is no one thing that would prove more beneficial to these
In- 
dians than the presence of troops stationed for a time at this place; its
effects 
would be electrical. It would strike terror into their midst, show them the
power of the government, and arrest their depredations in horse-stealing.
I 
earnestly hope that my previous recommendation with regard to this subject
will not be disregarded. 
In no place or department, connected with this agency, did I find a worse
state of affairs than on "Sun River Farms;" here the worst management
and 
the grossest neglect were most apparent; the property had been mostly disposed
of to pay the debts of the farm, thebuildings were in a dilapidated condition,
showing evidences of neglect and decay. But little stock remained, and that
of 
the poorest kind. A great many of the farming implements were disposed of
or 
missing, and everything showed gross neglect, and the utter absence of all
effort 
or interest in the protection of the property belonging to the farm. I found
the 
farm in the possession of Mr. Malcomb Clark, who claimed to be government
farmer by authority of one Robert Limon, who had placed him there in accord-
ance with authority delegated to the said Limon by my predecessor, Dr. Reed.
Mr. Clark united with the duties of farming those of "hotel-keeper"
and trader, 
and the farming with these combinations was carried on, no doubt, to the
entire 
satisfaction of the proprietor, regardless of the interests of the Indians
or govern- 
ment. It was evident to me that Mr. Clark was not the man for the place.
I 
therefore, on the 1st day of January, 1864, ten days after my arrival here,
placed Mr. James A. Vail in charge of the farm. Mr. Vail was highly recom-
mended to me for honesty and industry, and an experienced farmer; he was,
in 
fact, the only man that could be se2cured,,at that time, capable of managing
the 
farm. I deemed this course absolutely necessary in order to save what little
property remained, and' at the same time protect and secure the buildings
and 


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