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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1864
([1864])

Montana superintendency,   pp. 293-303 PDF (4.8 MB)


Page 296

296 
MONTANA SUPERINTENDENCY. 
were a less grasping disposition shown by steamboat men; the want of water
certainly cannot be put forward this year in extenuation of this failure.
I 
remained at Cow island till July 4, when the steamer Effie Deans, Captain
Labarge, came up and took the passengers of the Yellow Stone and landed them
on the 8th at the mouth of the Morias, twelve miles from Fort Benton; here
the freight and passengers were discharged, and I arrived at this place the
same 
day. "I confidently expected Captain Labarge would bring up the annuity
*oods at Fort Union and cancel his contract for their delivery here, and
was 
most sadly disappointed when I learned he had not the goods. This failure
is 
an outrage of the most flagrant character, and in my opinion demands the
most 
thorough investigation without fear or favor. Some one has assumed a respon-
sibility that should subject him to the full penalties of the law for such
trans- 
gressions. I know not the cause that produced this failure; I only know the
annuities were left at Fort Union; the reason they were left I leave for
those 
to answer who were instrumental in producing such a result. 
I hope Agefit Reed has fully reported this outrage and put the department
in full possession of the facts. If it is possible to secure trains to haul
these 
goods from Fort Union, I shall most certainly do it and see them distributed
this fall. My opinion is that the interest of the Indians will not be promoted
by storing them at Fort Union another season. It is now two months since
the annuity goods for this year were landed at Cow island, and as yet no
part 
of them have been delivered at this place. As I write, however, a train of
twenty wagons is leaving the fort for the goods, and probably by the 20th
of the present month they will be here. 
Word having reached me that the Gros Ventres had all assembled within 
two days' travel of Cow island, I deemed it advisable to go down and distribute
their annuities to them, and on the 16th of August, in company with my inter-
preter, started for Cow island, where we arrived on the 18th, having travelled
on horseback one hundred and twenty-five miles in two days. I immediately
sent my interpreter to inform them that I would distribute their annuities
to 
hein at that place, and on the evening of the 22d I had the pleasure of seeing
the whole Gros Ventres tribe encamped in their lodges about a mile above
the 
freight pile. On the 23d I distributed their annuities to them, and although
the 
amount was small in comparison with what they bad been accustomed to receive,
they took it Willingly and were well pleased and all satisfied. No disposition
was shown to steal from or pilfer the baggage or in any way molest it, and
on 
the morning of the 25th the camp broke up and left, all in the best of spirits,
and at sundown not an Indian remained in camp. From an actual count made
in person, I, find this tribe have two hundred and thirty-three lodges, with
an 
average of eight in each lodge, including women and children, making in all
one 
thousand eight hundred and sixty-four (1,864) souls. I consider this the
best 
governed tribe in the Blackfeet nation; their head chief appears to have
com- 
plete control over them, and his word is implicitly obeyed. This chief is
called 
the Far-ma-see, or the " Sitting Squaw;" he is a fine-specimen
of the red man, 
tall, powerful, athletic, and said to be the bravest man in the nation, and
he is 
a great friend to the whites. He had learned that the whites were on the
Yellow Stone fighting the Sioux, and just before he left he came -to me and
offered his services and those of his braves to go to General Sully and fight
the 
Sioux. I told him I had no authority to accept his services, but if he wished
to go to General Sully's camp to see him on the subject, I would send a letter
by him to the general, stating his wishes. He said he wouldgo, and expects
me 
to send him the letter in October, when he will start. I do not anticipate
any 
trouble from this tribe; they occupy the extreme eastern portion of the Black-
feet lands, in the vicinity of Milk river, near its mouth. They speak a different
language from the other tribes of the nation and appear to be an entirely
differ- 
ent  ae of people. 


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