University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

[Dakota],   pp. 238-259 PDF (10.7 MB)


Page 241

REPORT OF      THE COMMISSIONER         OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS.     241 
kota, where they selected claims of 160 acres each, upon which they filed
homesteads, putting 
in a declaratory statement that they had thrown up tribal relations and purposed
taking upon 
themselves the honor and responsibility of citizenship. The cause of their
leaving Santee 
agency was not any dissatisfaction with their agent, or quarrel with their
tribe; but a desire 
for rapid advance in civilization, which they believed could be much better
secured by break- 
ing up the semi-communism of tribal life and throwing every man on his own
responsibility. 
They were, furthermore, a Christian community, nearly all members of the
Presbyterian 
church, and believed their Christian growth would be much more rapid if they
were cut 
loose from all heathen associations. Having no capital, their progress in
opening their farms 
was slow. Without plows they had to dig the sod with their hoe., and at the
same time make 
their living by hunting. Driven out in all weather for subsistence, they
suffered severe 
hardships, and a number of their best men perished in snow-storms. Believing
they were 
carrying out the wish of the Great Father, as expressed in the treaty of
1868, to which they 
were parties, they were disappointed when three years had elapsed before
any notice was 
taken of them. Nevertheless they persevered, and their hardships did not
deter others from 
coming and joining them, so that they have increased to seventy-five families,
containino 
three hundred and twelve persons. In the mean time they were encouraged by
the visits of 
Presbyterian missionaries, who built a good meeting-house for them and assisted
in the sup- 
port of their native preacher. After three years the Government came to their
help ; sent 
Agent M. N. Adams. of the Sisseton agency, to inquire into their condition,
and, through 
him, stocked thirty farms with a pair of oxen, a wagon, plow, and smaller
implements to 
each. Soon after I was appointed by the honorable Secretary of the Interior
special agent 
to have charge of them for the time being, and entered upon the duties of
my office the 1st 
of last January. Since then they have been furnished six pair of oxen, a
number of tools, 
and other supplies. 
OBJECT OF THE AGENCY. 
In the establishment of this agency it has not been contemplated to make
any depot of 
supplies upon which the Indians might depend for a living, but to encourage
them by coun- 
sel and the gift of farming-implements t) rely upon their own efforts for
their support. And 
being surrounded by white neighbors under very similar circumstances with
themselves, it 
is believed their example will do more to show them how they must labor if
they would 
succeed than an employed instructor, and therefore a superintendent of farming
and other 
employ6s are not needed, especially while there are so few Indians. There
being no em- 
ploye's, there is no call for agency buildings, an-I thus a great expense
is saved. An excep- 
tion to this is made in the case of a school-house, which has been purchased
by Government, 
and a teacher employed, who, however, lives in his own house. This is the
onlj employd 
devoting his whole time to Government service. The agent, being also missionary
for this 
and other tribes, devotes but a small part of his time to agency duties,
and receives a pro- 
portionally small compensation from Government. 
REVIEW OF THE PAST YEAR. 
It is with great pleasure we report that peace and harmony have prevailed,
both among 
the Indians themselves and toward their neighbors, white and red, so that
they have not 
been connected with a single murder or criminal act of any magnitude. The
cause of this I 
believe to be the moral power engendered by the Christian religion. 
The mortality the past year has been very great, being 33, which is over
one-tenth of the 
population, while the births have been only 13. The principal cause of the
mortality was 
the whooping-cough, which visited them early in the winter. Their ignorance
of the proper 
management of sickness is very great, and we need to use every effort to
enlighten them. 
These Indians all live in log houses and wear citizen's dress. The men especially
are 
hard to distinguish from their white neighbors until you catch the color
of their face. Tie 
women, mingling less with the whites, change appearance more slowly. The
same tenacity 
of the Indian tongue is apparent here as elsewhere, but is loosening more
than among any 
other Sioux Indians. 
The school, which is a day-school, is doing a good work, though not largely
attended. 
The number on the roll is generally about 40, while the average attendance
is a little over a 
dozen. The small attendance is not altogether from want of interest in education.
Tae 
children, many of them, live too far away to come regularly. About 119 Indians
can read 
their own language fluently, and 15 can read in English with more or less
understanding. 
The most interesting sign of enlightenment is the church-going habit of the
people. They 
all go to church regularly. 
I had hoped last spring to report a large increase in farming-products. But
these Indians 
have shared in the calamity which the grasshoppers have brought to so many
communities 
this year. From the statistics which I have carefully taken, I find not one-fifth
of what 
might reasonably have been expected, so that many families are on the verge
of starvation. 
'he Indias have done more work this sumer than ever before. They have broken
for 
themselves 177 acres of new prairie, making in all 370 acres now under cultivation.
A 
number have already plowed their fields to sow in wheat next spring. Twenty
new houses 
10 .IND 


Go up to Top of Page