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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1861

Extract from the report of the secretary of the Interior in relation to Indian affairs,   pp. [3]-[6] PDF (1.1 MB)

Page 5

worth. But this is not the only evil resulting from it. When a 
treaty is made, a large array of debts is presented, and provision 
usually made in the treaty for their payment. Witnesses are pro- 
duced who establish the debts by evidence, which cannot be contra- 
dicted by any available proof, sufficient to absorb most of the proceeds
of their lands. They are left to depend upon their annuities from 
the government for subsistence, and these find their way into the 
hands of the traders, while the Indians receive from them goods at a 
profit of from one to three or four hundred per cent. 
It is apparent to all acquainted with Indians, that they are incom- 
petent to manage their own business, or to protect their rights in 
their intercourse with the white race. It is the duty of the gov- 
ernment to shield them from the arts of designing men, and to see 
that they realize the full benefit of the annuities to which they are 
entitled. This can only be accomplished by breaking up the whole 
system of Indian trading. The power granted to agents to license 
persons to trade with the Indians should be revoked. All contracts 
made with them, and all obligations for goods or other property sold 
to them, should be declared utterly void. All future treaties should 
provide for the payment of their annuities in goods and agricultural 
implements, at the lowest prices at which they can be procured by 
the government. The department should be authorized to procure 
the consent of the tribes, with which treaties exist providing for the 
payment of cash annuities, that it shall furnish them with such goods 
and agricultural implements as their wants require, at the wholesale 
prices of such articles in the best markets, in lieu of the cash annui- 
ties provided for in the treaties. 
By such a change the Indians would avoid the payment of profits 
which are now paid to the traders, and would realize a much larger 
amount in goods for their annuities than they now receive. 

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