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

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, November 27, 1861,   pp. [7]-30 PDF (10.3 MB)


Page 14

14                        REPORT OF THE 
From the report of the agent of the Omahas, I learn that their agricultural
labors of the present season have been eminently successful. Their crops
are 
large and they have an abundance of every description of produce to meet
their 
wants during the coming winter. They have this season made a commence- 
ment in the culture of sorgum, from which it is anticipated they will soon
be 
able to supply themselves with sugar and molasses. Although the tribe num-
bers less than a thousand souls, they have, in -addition to a thousand acres
fenced 
for pasture, six hundred and seventy acres of land under cultivation. They
have adopted a regular code of laws, established an internal police, composed
of 
their own numbers, and are evidently making rapid advances in the manners
and customs of civilization. 
The recommendation of their agent that a competent person should be em- 
ployed to teach them the art of making baskets, for which they have materials
in abundance, is timely, and if adopted will doubtless be of great practical
util- 
ity. Much of the progress observable in the condition of this tribe, is attribu-
table to their intelligent and exemplary chief, La Flesche, and to the excellent
school in their midst. I am happy to state that their loyalty is unquestionable.
In the last annual report of my predecessor, apprehensions were expressed
that the wide-spread drought of last year over the central and southern super-
intendencies would involve many of the Indian tribes in want and suffering,
and the intervention of Congress was invoked in their behalf. 
To the appeal thus made Congress replied by making an appropriation of 
$50,000 as a gratuity to the suffering and destitute Indians. Two persons
were 
appointed (their services being paid for out of the fund appropriated) to
make 
a proper distribution of this donation. One of them was despatched to the
Osage river and Neosho agencies, and the other to tribes in Kansas and Nebraska.
None of the tribes south of the Neosho agency were included amongst the ben-
eficiaries of the fund, since it appeared to the department that they were
in cir- 
cumstances competent to provide for the wants of ther own poor. Relief was
therefore confined exclusively to those Indians whose needs were most pressing,
and the horrors of famine were thereby averted from many of the tribes, 
amongst whom may be mentioned the Osages, the Quapaws, Senecas and Shaw-
nees. 
The famine pressed most heavily upon the Kickapoos, driving the poor to 
subsist for a period on the small game they could pick up on the prairies,
and 
those who were better off, to sell their cattle and horses to purchase the
means 
of subsistence. The relief furnished by the government was most opportune
in point of time, and was received by the Indians with unfeigned thankfulness.
This year they have bountiful crops, which, with their Fall annuities, will
amply 
supply all their necessities. The agricultural exertions of these people
have 
met with a success highly gratifying, and each year's experience serves to
stim- 
ulate them to yet further enterprise. Their efforts at raising wheat having
been 
satisfactory, the agent has purchased for them one hundred bushels of Fall
wheat 
for seed. The tribe numbers in men, women and children three hundred and
fifty souls, and own an aggregate of property worth forty thousand dollars,
or 
an average of four hundred dollars to each male adult. A school has been
started amongst them, but it is as yet but poorly attended. Several southern
Kickapoos, who have been leading a wandering life in the southern part of
the 
Indian territory, have returned to their brethren in Kansas, and profess
a dispo- 
sition to engage in agricultural pursuits. 
Of the gross sum appropriated by Congress for the relief of indigent Indians
$26,051 66 have been expended, leaving $23,948 34 to the credit of the appro-
priation, subject to such application as circumstances may warrant and require.
It was not deemed expedieit to invest the whole amount at once, but to expend
it as cases of meritorious character should be presented to the dei~artuteut.
The northern superintendency comprises a large extent of country, and its


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