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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [5]-40 PDF (14.2 MB)

Page 20

20                         REPORT OF THE 
ing Indians, was only able to proceed to a point about sixty miles above
Pierre, and was therefore prevented from inflicting any considerable damage
upon or crippling the power of the hostile Indians; nor can I learn that
campaign under General Sibley has been productive of any very favorable re-
sults, the probability being that another campaign will be indispensable.
No military posts have been established upon the Upper Missouri. The 
friendly Indians and the few whites are left without protection, and it is
to be 
feared that many thousands of the Indians, who under other circumstances
would have continued faithful to their amicable relations, will be compelled
side with those in hostility, to escape the consequences of their well-known
policy of treating as enemies all who are not identified with them. 
The boat conveying the annuity goods was unable to ascend the Missouri be-
yond Fort Union, in consequence of the extremely low water, so that the goods
designed for the Blackfeet agency were.necessarily stored at that point,
cannot be distributed before spring. Most of the goods designed for the In-
dians, under charge of Agent Latta, were distributed, but with the character-
istic perfidy of Indians in hostility, it is believed that a majority of
the Indians 
receiving them were afterwards engaged in an attack upon the boat with the
design of murdering the crew and passengers, and :capturing the goods designed
for the Blackfeet agency. 
It will thus be seen that-the: failure to establish military posts upon the
Missouri, together with the severe and almost unexampled drought, have re-
sulted in an almost complete loss of the controlling influence we have heretofore
held upon the Indians of that country, and that, as a consequence, the impor-
tant and most direct route of the emigration setting in upon Idaho, by reason
of the newly discovered and immense gold-bearing districts of that Territory,
is cut off. 
I am not without hope that the immense sacrifices of life and treasure which
will result from a general war with the numerous and powerful tribes of that
country may yet be averted by timely and peaceful negotiation, and am confi-
dent that at least the proportions of the struggle may be very materially
duced; and to this end I respectfully recommend to you, and through you to
Congress and the War Department, the importance of establishing military
posts along the Missouri, from the western limits of the State up to and
cluding Fort Benton, at the earliest practicable moment, and that adequate
measures be adopted to enable this department in the-early spring to effect
negotiations with the tribes in hostility as may be found practicable and
tent with a just and honorable peace. 
This is by far the most important of our various superintendencies, whether
it be considered with reference to its numbers, wealth, geographical position,
to the present condition of the Indians within its limits, their wants, their
prospects, and the careful consideration required in adopting a policy which
at the same time prove just, generous, and humane: towards those who have

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