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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 20

20 
REPORT OF THE 
no obligation to treat with Indians occupying the same for the extinguishment
of their title. If this position is correct, it would seem to follow that
the policy 
so long pursued by our government in negotiating treaties with Indians, and
thus extinguishing their titles to land within our borders, has been radically
wrong; for as the Indians occupied the territory of both nations prior to
the 
advent of the European races upon this continent, it seems clear that they
held 
lands in the territory of Mexico and the United States by precisely the same
tenure. Be this as it may, the necessity that the Indians of this superintend-
ency shall be concentrated upon suitable reservations is imperative. The
rapid 
spread of our population has reached this as well as our other Territories.
INew 
settlements are everywhere springing up; the Indians in large and imposing
numbers are in their midst, leading a wild and predatory life, gaining a
scanty 
subsistence by the chase and an irregular and imperfect cultivation of the
soil; 
a constant source of irritation and vexation to the whites, and it would
seem in 
a condition utterly at variance with the prosperity, welfare, and improvement
of 
themselves or their white neighbors. To cure all these evils; to foster and
pro- 
tect our own settlements; to secure the ultimate perpetuity of the Territory,
and 
a speedy development of its resources, and to reclaim and civilize the Indians,
but one course is, in my judgment, left, and that is the concentration of
the In- 
dians upon ample reservations suitable for their permanent and happy homes,
and to be sacredly held for that purpose. To effect this desirable object
two 
methods are suggested; the one is to set apart from the public domain ample
and suitable reservations, and by liberal appropriations provide a fund whereby
the Indians may be located thereon, and enabled to commence their new mode
of life under favorable circumstances; the other is to acknowledge that they
hold the public domain by the same tenure that Indians held in other Territories,
negotiate treaties with them for the extinguishment of their title, and thus
pro- 
vide a fund for the purposes above mentioned. That the latter method is prefer-
able I have no doubt, for the reason that whichever may be adopted will be
attended with the same expense; while the latter, by a treaty, to which the
Indians are themselves parties, forever silences all claims they may have
to that 
part of the public domain not reserved by-them, for which they will feel
that 
they have received a fair equivalent. Besides, they will not feel, as would
be 
the case if the former method is adopted, that they have been removed by
irre- 
sistible power from the lands over which they and their ancestors once held
absolute dominion, and that to make room for the white man they are robbed
of 
their hunting grounds, crowded upon scanty reservations, and compelled to
subsist upon his bounty. 
It may well be suggested, in support of the plan for which I have thus ex-
pressed a preference, that while the act of transfer of the territory occupied
by 
these Indians not only reserved to them al the rights which they had obtained
by the consent of the Mexican authorities, it also placed them within the
pro- 
tection of the. general policy established by tile United States for the
govern- 
ment of other tribes. It would seem to be an anomaly to pursue that policy
as 
to a portion of the tribes and withhold it from others, and would produce
con- 
fusion in the working of the system. That one or, the other of these methods
should be adopted, not only in this but also in the Utah and California super-
intendencies, is demanded by every consideration, whether it be of prudence,
economy, or enlightened statesmanship, and I therefore trust that this subject
may be presented to Congress at its approaching session, and its consideration
of, and appropriate action upon the same earnestly solicited. One other subject
of complaint in this superintendency demands immediate attention. It is the
indemiity claims of many of its citizens for losses sustained by Indian depre-
dations. These claims are numerous, and in the aggregate large. They extend
over a series of years, and some of them are exceedingly complex and difficult
of adjustment. As each year's delay only serves to add to the difficulties
of a 


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