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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1855
([1855])

[Central superintendency],   pp. 68-118 PDF (20.8 MB)


Page 77

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.                   77 
derived from the principal chiefs in the different councils I have held 
with them. In that part of their country in which these Indians 
generally roam but little game is to be found, and their sufferings 
from starvation during the last two years have come under my imme- 
diate observation. In the spring of the year they subsist solely on 
the carcasses of drowned buffalo, which they find on the banks and 
sand-bars of the river; in the summer and fall upon roots and fruits; 
of the latter they have several kinds, the bullberry or mountain- 
thorn, wild cherries, several varieties of plums, gooseberries, and 
currants. 
Generally speaking, the traders, like the game, have abandoned the 
Sioux country and moved to this point, having for the past two years 
sustained heavy losses in keeping trading establishments lower down. 
Starvation must be the ultimate fate of most of the Sioux bands, and 
they plainly see it. Every inducement has been offered them to culti- 
vate the soil, but to no effect. When I have spoken to many of them on 
the subject, their reply was, C  we have been created for the chase, and
will not degrade ourselves by work;" and I am convinced that many 
of their murders and depredations are acts of desperation, caused by 
their extreme destitute situation. 
I have selected the mouth of the Yellow Stone river as a place to 
establish an agency and warehouse, considering it the most central 
point for an agent, who would have the control of the Gros Ventres 
of the Missouri, Assinaboin, Crow, and Cree tribes of Indians. I 
have sent the specifications of the buildings to be erected to the two 
trading companies to receive their proposals for building the same. 
I would again most respectfully state that this agency, as it now 
exists, is entirely two large for one agent, and propose that another 
agency be established at this place, which would embrace the Poncas, 
Sioux, Arickarees, and Mandans. 
I found it impossible to do without hiring an interpreter by the 
year, as there is no person who understands and speaks the Sioux 
language sufficiently well in this part of the country to act as inter- 
preter for the government. I have, therefore, engaged Mr. Z. Ren- 
contre, whose contract will be found herewith.     Getting an inter- 
preter at every point where I meet the Indians I know, from experience, 
creates much difficulty and dissatisfaction. 
Last winter a half-breed boy of the Sioux tribe was brought to me, 
whose father had been killed, and shortly afterwards his mother died. 
He had been left in the prairie naked to starve. I took charge of, 
clothed, and fed him. In the spring, when I went down, I took him 
with me, intending to place him at some missionary establishment. 
On my arrival at St. Mary's Mr. P. A. Larpy saw him with me, and 
after relating to him the manner I came by him, requested that I 
would leave him in his charge, stating he would raise him with care, 
and give him a good education,; when he had completed which, he 
would furnish him means for a start in the world. This is a praise- 
worthy act on the part of Mr. Larpy, who I am convinced will fulfill 
his promise. 
Since my arrival here a party of the Gros Ventres of the M issouri 
have visited me. They brought me five horses which some of their 


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