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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1879
([1879])

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [unnumbered]-XLIX PDF (19.0 MB)


Page VII

REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. VII 
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled,
That the President of 
the United States is hereby authorized and requested to take such measures
as, in his judgment, may 
oe necessary to prevent such metallic ammunition being conveyed to such hostile
Indians, and is further 
authorized to declare the same contraband of war in such district of country
as he may designate during 
the continuance of hostilitiest 
To carry into effect the above-cited resolution, the sale of fixed ammunition
or me- 
tallic cartridges by any trader or other person in any district of the Indian
country 
occupied by hostile Indians, or over which they roam, is hereby prohibited;
and all 
such ammunition or cartridges introduced into said country by traders or
other per- 
sons, and that are liable in any way or manner, directly or indirectly, to
be received 
by such hostile Indians, shall be deemed contraband of war, seized by any
military 
officer and confiscated;. and the district of country to which this prohibition
shall ap- 
ply during the continuance of hostilities is hereby designated as that which
embraces 
all Indian country, or country occupied by Indians, or subject to their visits,
lying 
within the Territories of Montana, Dakota, and Wyoming, and the States of
Nebraska 
and Colorado. 
U. S. GRANT. 
The foregoing resolution is, at best, only a specimen of very loose legis-
lation. In lieu thereof a well-considered penal statute should have 
been enacted forbidding such sales not only in the Northwest, but wher- 
ever there are non-civilized Indians, whether on or off reservations. 
The danger always is that such trading will be carried on just outside 
reservation limits, where all sorts of contraband sales are effected and
where Indian agents are powerless. 
Again, the joint resolution prohibits the sale of "metallic ammunition"
only, and not of arms as well. The right of purchasing arms ad libitum 
is the evil complained of. Without arms, ammunition would be of no use, 
and the latter can be traded in to any extent with little danger of de- 
tection, since it can be easily carried concealed about the person. The sale
of arms, on the other hand, could be readily detected and exposed; and 
it is against such sales that legislation should especially be directed.
It 
would almost seem as if the very men engaged in this murderous traffic 
had framed the above resolution to protect their guild and to enable them
to ply their trade with impunity. When it is considered how many 
lives have been lost during the time which has elapsed since the pas- 
sage of this resolution (which virtually permits this unhallowed trade 
in the implements of death), it is strange that no adequate legislation 
has been had for the protection of human life. A law by Congress pro- 
hibiting under severe penalty the sale of both fire-arms and fixed ammu-
nition to non-civilized Indians, is the only common-sense and practicable
method of putting an end to this dangerous traffic. 
INDIAN EDUCATION. 
The work of promoting Indian education is the most agreeable part 
of the labor performed by the Indian Bureau. Indian children are as 
bright and teachable as average white children of the same ages; and 
while the progress in the work of civilizing adult Indians who have had 
no educational advantages is a slow process at best, the progress of the
youths trained in our schools is of the most hopeful character. During 


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