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

Reports of agents in Montana,   pp. 89-100 PDF (5.6 MB)


Page 96

96 
RETORTS OF AGENTS IN MONTANA. 
The tribes comprising this agency are the Yankfonai8, numbering 4,043, and
the 
A8sinaboine8, numbering 1,469. According to the census taken last October,
the whole, 
number of both tribes is 5,512: males, 2,827; females, 2,685. 
The agency buildings are located 75 miles above Fort Buford by land, on the
north 
side of the Missouri River, on a high plateau of land 30 feet above the level
of the river 
bottom and back one and a fourth miles from the river. The Poplar River comes
in 
from the north and empties into the Missouri one mile above. The agency buildings
comprise the agent's house, 38 by 40 feet, two stories high; a warehouse
33 by 100 feet, 
two stolies; a barn 27 by 72; school-house 20 by 40, tind small log blacksmith
shop, 
besides the trader's store and stables. Three or four houses for employ('s
families are 
very much needed, and should be'erected this fall if possible. 
The Yanktonais are located near the agency at Poplar River, where there are
about 
400 acres inclosed on two sides by a fence made of cottonwood posts and,
poles, the Mis- 
souri and Poplar Rivers inclosing the other sides. In this inclosure there
are 130 acres 
broken and under cultivation, 82 acres of which is divided into 93 allotments,
and as- 
signed to that many families. Seven miles below, there were 70 acres broken
last fall, 
30 of which are under cultivation and divided into 30 allotments; these 123
allotments 
have been subdivided by the Indians so that some 200 families have an interest
in 
them. They were planted in corn and potatoes principally, the ground being
plowed 
by contract and the planting beiDg done by the Indian women, assisted by
the agency 
emplos6s. Only about one-fourth of the potatoes came up; besides the crops
were 
planted too late, and did not get advanced far enough till the dry and hot
weather of 
July and August came, and the present prospect is a small yield; I would
estimate 
1,000 bushels of corn and about the same of potatoes. The corn will be used
generally 
in the roasting-ear and for drying for winter use, and will afford a small
moiety for 
some 200 families. The agency planted 56 acres in corn, potatoes, turnips,
beans, and 
pease, but owing to lateness in planting and failure in potato seed, the
yield will be 
small. The turnips are now affording some food for the Indians, and with
their roast- 
ing-ears and potatoes their subsistence is materially assisted. This is the
first attempt 
at farming among this tribe, and I think they already see the advantage of
it, and that 
next spring, if more land is broken up, a large portion of them will try
to raise crops for 
themselves. 
The Assinaboines are located 25 miles further up the Missouri River, on the
same 
side as Wolf Point. There is a log warehouse there from which the government
rations 
are issued; also a steam saw-mill, log house for the farmer, and a log school-house;
also 
the trader's storehouse. They are in advance of the Yanktonais a couple of
years in 
regard to farming, and this year they have 100 acres in crops, divided into
100 original 
allotments, besides about 15 acres in small scattered farms that they have
plowed and 
dug themselves. Their crops were got in in good season and condition and
are looking 
well at this time, and promise a good yield of corn and potatoes. I would
estimate 
their crop of corn at 2,000 bushels, and potatoes and turnips at about the
same amount. 
The kind of corn raised here is the small Ree corn, which matures early,
but does not 
yield very much per acre. 
These tribes are all living in tepees or lodges, with the exception of a
couple of fam- 
ilies, but a great many of them express a desire to have houses built, and
say they will 
cut the logs in the timber and assist in hauling them if the government will
furnish 
them flooring, doors, and windows, and assist them in building; and as there
are large 
bodies of cottonwood timber along the Missouri River from which good building-logs
can be got, such houses can be constructed very cheaply, and would afford
them good, 
comfortable houses. 
There has been scarcely anything done here yet in the way of education, nor
can I 
see that much can be done till the Indians are located in permanent bouses.
There is 
a teacher at Poplar River and Wolf Point for each of the schools, and I will
endeavor 
to carry out the honorable Commissioner's instructions in regard to education,
as I be- 
lieve that is the true and only method that will insure success. 
There are a few good workers among the men when you have white employ6s with
them, but if left alone they get tired very soon. My experience so far is
that it requires 
one white man to every three Indians of the ones that know how to work to
direct and 
keep them at it; and among the ones that are just commencing, one white man
to two 
Indians. As a general thing the female members of the families do all the
cultivating, 
the males not being able to comprehend yet that it is honorable or manly
to work. I 
have had six Indian men each at Poplar River and Wolf Point this summer that
assist 
in plowing the crops and making hay, for which I paid them fifty cents per
dayt the 
most of them wanting their money every night, a few of them waiting till
Saturday 
night. These twelve men are now capable of doing a fair day's work, but must
have 
some one to keep them at it. They do not seem to comprehend the necessity
of work 
yet; or, like a great many white laborers, more anxious about quitting-time,
that they 
may draw their pay, than anything else; but, considering theirformer life,
I think they 
do remarkably well at work. These twelve men that have been working this
summer 
will be able to plant and care for crops of their own next spring. My plan
will be, as 


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