University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

[Dakota],   pp. 238-259 PDF (10.7 MB)


Page 250

250     REPORT     OF  THE   COMMISSIONER       OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS. 
measures established by me, only two men and four infants have died since
Christmas last, 
and the health of the people is now excellent. The only malady that gave
me trouble was 
an opthalnic difficulty, which has now nearly disappeared from the village.
DESERTED VILLAGE. 
The Ponca people, through rumors of war and threats of annihilation at the
hands of their 
terrible enemy, the Lower Bruld Sioux, have removed into this camp, (agency
village,) and 
have mostly occupied tepees or tents here during the summer, deserting their
own village on 
the north bank of the Niobrara River; but I have taken care of their interests
there-have 
visited " Point Village" several times during the past season,
before and since the harvest, 
as we have two or three machines and several agricultural tools, it would
be difficult to 
carry backward and lorward. 
INDIAN FARMING. 
The Indians, with considerable zeal, after plowing was begun by agency hands,
followed 
up with a fair show of farming operations. They participated in the work
throughout, and 
over 300 acres of farming (arable) hnd was mainly cultivated by them, and
over 50 acres 
by agency teams and labor, (mostly Indian operators.) The promise of wheat
and corn 
was very good, and, without bombastic words or vile predictions, it was quietly
said the 
Poncas would have (D. V.) 3,000 bushels of wheat, 4,000 bushels of corn.
If we could 
have halved both I should have been glad, and have felt grateful for the
harvest of my hopes. 
But the drought, followed by three locust-raids, so completely stripped our
fields that noth- 
ing was left but a few prematurely dry stalks and straw, and this we let
the cattle-herd eat 
up. Upon the Ponca reservation, near the villages, there have been planted
for land- 
marks and betterments not less than one hundred young cotton, box-elder,
soft-maple, 
ard other tree varieties I am unacquainted with. These from the excessive
drought of 
the past summer, &c., have withered, and are mostly past recuperation,
but we propose to 
plant two for one cut down, upon our timber-lands, and place wind-breaks
in proper and cot- 
venient locations for utilizing the country in which these Indian people
have found a home. 
AGGRESSIVE INDIANS. 
The Sioux Indians, who have hitherto, in superior numerical force, and with
better arms, 
harassed and molested these Indians, have, during the year last past, (from
the date of my 
tormer annual report,) failed to make hostile demonstrations in as large
force as heretofore. 
The Sioux Indians (Ogallallas, it is said) have latterly lost two persons
in battle with the 
Poncas, and the balance of booty of late has been in favor of the Poncas,
who seem willing 
to adopt the precautionary measures suggested, and learn to regard and respect
wishes 
which evidently pay for the investment of obedience. No Poncas have been
lost in battle, 
but some property was taken by the aggressive Sioux. 
PONCA ASSETS. 
While much remains to be done for these people, and their wants keep pace
with the 
knowledge they are acquiring, yet I can look back with pleasure on the results
of my labor 
and say that it has not been in vain. Over forty wagons, fifty yoke of good
work-oxen, a 
few horses, &c., several cows, hogs, and chickens, with some turkeys,
plows of two kinds, 
shovel and subsoil, agricultural machinery and implements, the last in the
hands of nearly 
every able-bodied Indian, and all these exclusively under their own control
and manage- 
men t. 
We have eight horses and four mules, seven yoke of work-oxen, seventy breeding-cows,
including thirty heifers in calf, thirty-six yearlings and calves together,
and three breeding- 
sows and boar. Among the horses are included two stallions of the French-Canadian
stock, 
which have been operated with to some extent. Two good bulls (Durham and
Devon) are 
s ith the cow-herd. These are held by the Government for agency use and farm-stock,
and 
will be housed and wintered in the farm-sheds and corrals now building. Our
warehouses 
and other buildings are in good order and repair, and the roads and bridges
throughout the 
settled portion of the reserve have been well kept. We shall soon commeuce
the season's 
work of logging, &c., after the live stock and their provender have been
cared for. 
Respectfully submittcd. 
CHARLES P. BIRKETT, 
United States Indian Agent, Poncas. 
Hon. EDWARD P. SMITH, 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C. 


Go up to Top of Page