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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863
([1863])

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [5]-40 PDF (14.2 MB)


Page 18

18 
REPORT OF THE 
Their crops of the preceding season had been abundant, their hunting had
proven unusually successful; during the season quite a number of comfortable
houses had been built, and these, together with their annuities, enabled
them 
to pass the winter with a greater degree of comfort than ever before. With
this 
practical dembustration of the advantages resulting from the change in their
former mode of life, the Poncas last spring enter'ed upon the labor of raising
a 
new crop with increased confidence. Their grounds were ploughed, and their
seeds planted in due season and in good order, but unfortunately a drought
set 
in in the midst of the planting season, which in its severity and duration
has 
been unexampled for many years, and has resulted in an utter prostration
of 
their high hopes. Their crops being planted, they started at the usual season
upon their summer hunt, in which they were unsuccessful, and from which 
they returned to find their crops withered and dried, and almost nothing
at the 
reservation to relieve their pressing necessities. The agent has done all
in his 
power with the means at his command for their relief. His means, however,
were wholly inadequate to supply the unusual and unexpected demand, and 
the condition of the Indians is now pitiable in the extreme. Should their
fall 
hunt prove unsuccessful, they will seek assistance at the hands of the Omahas,
and such measures will be taken by this department for their relief as may
be 
found practicable. 
The conduct of the Poncas, as well in the times of their prosperity as in
the 
midst of the severe privations which have come upon them, has been unexcep-
tionable; they are unwavering in their fidelity to their treaty, and deserve
at 
our hands the kindest consideration. 
Amicable relations have also been maintained with the Yancton Sioux during
the pastyear. They number over two thousand, and being a portion of the 
great Sioux nation, some apprehensions were felt that they might join with
the 
remainder of their people in waging war upon the whites and the friendly
In- 
dians of the Territory. These apprehensions have thus far proven groundless,
which, with the younger and more restless portion of the tribe, is doubtless
owing to the military forces stationed at Fort Randall, in the immediate
vicinity 
of their reservation. During the summer a detachment of soldiers was sept
from the fort in pursuit of a party of hostile savages, Who had come into
the 
settlements and stolen a number of horses. Unfortunately the soldiers came
up with a party of Indians who -were out hunting, and were mistaken for the
Indians of whom the soldiers were in pursuit. The Indians were at once 
made prisoners, and while endeavoring to escape seven of them were killed.
It 
afterwards appeared that the whole party was composed of friendly Indians,
some of whom were Yanctons, the others of the Two Kettles band of Sioux.
The circumstance naturally created great excitement among these friendly
In- 
dians, but the mistake being promptly explained, and such reparation made
as 
.was practicable, the excitement subsided without a hostile outbreak, and
it is 
believed that, notwithstanding the hostile attitude of other Indians within
the 
Territory, peace will be maintained. The Yanctons, like their neighbors the
Poncas, were very successful in their farming operations of last year, and,
like 


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