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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1874
([1874])

[Indian Territory],   pp. 218-238 PDF (10.2 MB)


Page 226

226     REPORT     OF   THE   COMMISSIONER       OF   INDIAN    AFFAIRS.
of the Indian horses. There are seventy-five yoke of oxen, nine span of mules,
and ten 
head of horses in the service, in addition to which many teams are owned
and used by the 
Indians. 
ARE THE OSAGES CIVILIZING? 
During the winter the Osages met and made peace with the Pawnees, who had
always, 
been their enemies, and also prevented them and the Cheyennes from fighting,
and induced 
them to make peace. This desire to live in peace is a marked characteristic
in this strong 
and powerful tribe, as they have not been at war with the Government since
their first 
treaty, to which fact they frequently refer with pride. 
No depredations havebeen committed by them during the year to my knowledge,
and our 
facilities for knowing all of their movements have been good. The trail-agent,
B. K. Weth- 
erill, has gone with them on the plains, and was there during the exciting
times this sum- 
mer, visiting their camps, and obtaining information of their actions and
communicating the 
same to this office. Edwin Andrews, an efficient missionary, was also with
one of the wilder 
bands during the same period, and reports equally favorable of their conduct.
Other peaceable tribes of Indians who were on the plains at the commencement
of hostil- 
ities by the plains Indians this summer bear testimony to the commendable
efforts made by 
the Osages to prevent an Indian war, even resorting to the use of physical
force themselves 
against those with whom they were friendly to drive them back to their agency
and to obe- 
dience to the Government. The chiefs brought all of their young men back
to the reserva- 
tion, where they now are, anxiously waiting for peace to be restored. These
actions com 
mand our admiration, and should receive an expression of commendation from
the Depart- 
ment,.and a deeper interest in administering the sacred trusts assumed by
the Government. 
A system of retaliation has prevailed between the Osages and border-men in
stealing horses, 
but now does not exist. Occasional stampeding of droves of cattle by the
young men for 
sport and beef; but no cases of that for more than a year. 
Mourning parties, who committed depredations occasionally of a serious character,
have 
been so modified in their object that no harm has been done by any of them
known to us. 
Only.one such party has gone off their reservation duiing the year, and that
at the time the 
Indians were going on their usual summer hunt. 
Spirituous liquors were often used by them. Only one case of intoxication
known this 
year, and no mefmber of the tribe is now regarded as a drinking man. 
Also a marked improvement in the character of the mixed bloods, most of whom
professed 
to be religious, but were not moral. 
Those blanket Osages who last year were content with small fields for corn
only were 
anxiously at work this spring enlarging them, and are now very importunate
to have seed.. 
wheat to sow all their ground and make new fields for corn next spring. 
Men who have heretofore made sport of the rail-splitters are now splitting
rails them- 
selves. In numerous other ways there are striking evidences of progress.
There are no 
instances of the Indian going back after "taking hold of the plow,"
but a cheerful, hopeful 
spirit prevails even now, after the failure of their crops by drought and
grasshoppers. 
There is no reason why we should wait through the slow process of educating
their chil- 
dren to civilize the tribe. Intelligent Osage men quit the chase and become
as skillful in 
harnessing and driving a team, plowing, planting, and other duties of the
farmer as the 
white man, raised in a large city, or on the sea, to middle age, without
knowledge of farm- 
life, would in the same time. 
If the means had been at our command last spring to provide teams for breaking
prairie 
equal to the demand, I believe all the heads of families would have selected
claims, and held 
the plow or drove the oxen while breaking their fields, which is their custom.
THE MEDICINE LODGE MASSACRE. 
The treacherous and cowardly murder of four Osages on the 7th of Eighthmonth
last, near 
the town of Medicine Lodge, in Barbour County, Kansas, requires a notice
in this report. 
Upon hearing of threats and preparations made by some of the plains Indians
to make war 
on the whites, I anticipated the order of the Department by sending runners
to the plains, 
where the Osages had just gone with their women and children and herds of
ponies. In 
order to find buffalo they scattered over that vast country, and it was impossible
to reach all 
the parts of lands with the information. One party of twenty-nine persons,
including ten 
women and children, wandered to the State-line of Kansas. Asking some white
men who 
came to their camp if they knew of any buffalo, they were directed forward
into the State 
to a sandy and uninhabited portion of the country, where they at once proceeded,
and found 
buffalo, a number of which they killed and dried the meat. They had no thought
of doing 
wrong, as this was on their former reservation, where they reserved the privilege
of hunting 
as long as game could be found there and the country remained unsettled.
The party was 
preparing to start home, when they dscovered a company of people in the distance.
They 
decided to await their arrival and learn who they were. They proved to be
about forty white. 
men, mounted, and armed with breech-loading guns and revolvers. They stopped
when 


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