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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1874
([1874])

[Minnesota],   pp. 195-198 PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 198

198     REPORT     OF  THE    COMMISSIONER       OF  INDIAN    AFFAIRS. 
braves are setting, in this respect, a worthy example, laboring diligently
with their hands. 
Already good results are coming to light, in the inquiry made for such articles
as chairs and 
stoves, by those hitherto content with sitting on the floor and warming their
wigwams by 
c'av fire-places. One improvement naturally suggests another, and a strong
desire for them 
will stimulate the efforts to obtain them ; hence we may properly look for
increased habits 
of industry and thrift. 
The very decided opposition to the sale of their pine, and the manner especially
of distrib- 
uting the avails thereof, manifested by a considerable faction of this band
last winter and 
spring, has very nearly subsided, with a feeling of acquiescence therein
at present. 
I have labored unler serious difficulties ever since entering upon my duties
here in conse- 
quence of the excessive cost of transporting freight over one hundred and
fifty miles of road, 
conceded by all who have seen it to be the worst in the State; but with the
completion of 
the new route via White Earth, now in process of opening, our freights will
be reduced at 
least $30 per ton, will arrive more promptly, and we confidently anticipate
the establishment 
on this new route of a weekly mail, in place of our present arrangement,
by which we get a 
mail when we send a messenger seventy-five miles to the nearest post-office
for it. Some- 
times we are deprived of all knowledge of the outer world for four and five
weeks together. 
The plan adopted by the Department and approved by Congress, of givin g supplies,
&c., 
only to those who, if able, help themselves, who are willing to labor, is
working well here so 
far as tried, and, indeed, I attribute a considerable share of the above-mentioned
improve- 
ments in the habits of the Indians to the application of that principle on
this reservation. It 
fosters industry and thrift, it breaks down the prejudice to manual labor,
and aids in devel- 
oping in the Indians the self-reliant element so greatly needed in lifting
them to a higher 
plane of life and usefulness 
In farming operations some improvement should' be reported, more land cultivated
this 
year than last, and better cultivated, with the following proximate result:
The Indians 
have secured this year 40 bushels of wheat, and it is no longer an experiment
as to the 
feasibility of raising wheat, as the yield per acre did not fall short of
12 bushels of very 
nice plump 'wheat; and those who raised it this season, as well as their
neighbors, seem 
delighted with the idea of raising their own wheat, and their example will
be followed 
by many more next spring. Of corn, the yield is about the same as last year,
say 
4,500 bushels, while the potato crop was cut short by the bug and drought,
yielding 
only about 2,000 bushels, being some 500 bushels short of last year's yield.
In catching 
fish they have been ordinarily successful, taking about 1,000 barrels during
the season, 
gathering 500 bushels of berries, mostly the blueberry, cutting for their
own use about 100 
tons of hay, and weaving by hand 1,000 yards of rush matting. They own about
75 horses 
and ponies, some 30 head of cattle, 2 hogs, &c. 
In educational affairs I can report the completion and occupancy of a neat,
commodious, 
and comfortable school-house, the maintenance of a day-school, with an average
attendance 
of about S. The attendance is very irregular, the pupils coming to school
or not, as they 
choose, many living so remote that attendance on a day-school is out of the
question. This 
suggests the great need of this agency, educationally considered-a good boarding-school,
suipplemented perhaps by day-schools at some of the other points; and until
we have such a 
boarding-school the educational work here will be of little use or benefit.
In a boarding- 
school a more wholesome restraint can be secured, better and more punctual
attendance, more 
careful guardianship of habits, manners, &c., of the pupils than can
possibly be secured in 
a day-school. Many of the best Indians themselves strongly urge the establishment
of a 
boarding-school, and have, as I am informed, pledged from their lumber fund
$1,000 toward 
securing it. 
The missionary work, under the charge of Rev. F. Spees, consists of a sermon
to the Indians 
on Sabbath morning, a Bible-class in the afternoon, a prayer-meeting out
two miles from the 
agency on Friday evening, assisting those Indians who wish to be Christians
in their efforts 
at building houses, in counseling them, &c., &c. The result, not
all visible to the natural 
eye, may embrace the gathering into the Mission church here of three Indian
womep and 
two men. The two men and their wives were baptized, then married legally,
and admitted 
to the church. Others, I am assured, are seeking that "true wisdom,"
and it is thought 
will seek to unite with the church soon. There has been added to the church
one Indian 
woman, who was many years ago connected with the church here, who has maintained
her 
Christian integrity through all these years. 
I would suggest, as a pressing need of this people, to develop in them a
sense of their own 
responsibility to the laws of the land, a respect for law and its enforcement
in the punishment 
of crime; to this end, if necessary, additional legislation should be had,
establishing some 
resident judicial authority having power to take cognizance of, try, and
punish crme com- 
mitted on the reservation. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
R. M. PRATT, 
United States Special Indian Agent. 
Hoo. E. P. SMITH, 
Coetesissioacr of Indian A4ff airs, WJashing ton, D. C. 


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