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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 249

IZEPOIRT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 249 
which is yet undetermined. When the first school-teachers were appointed,
in December, 
1873, much time was used in the interior preparations of the buildings, which
could only 
understandingly be made by the teacher's hands. Then the Indians themselves,
with a 
petulant waywardness, held back from " the giving of their children
to the whites," as they 
expressed it, for the reason that I had hoped (as I had said to them) soon
to abolish the "day- 
school system" of tuition and substitute the boarding-school plan, which
scheme of Indian 
education, in my judgment, is the best way, as it is the only way, to thoroughly
educate the 
Indian children, secure a regular attendance, and effectually restrain the
scholars from the 
pernicious influences of that barbarism which outcrops very often from the
festering rotten- 
ness so thinly overlaid by the comparatively puny efforts of the real friends
of the Indian. 
MANUAL-LABOR SCHOOL. 
For the education of the young we cannot overestimate the advantages of a
manual-labor 
school, with the proper appointments and appliances, for feeding, clothing,
and caring for 
the inmates; including, too, all that would be considered requisite for health
and cleanli- 
ness. In my opinion it would be a wise economy to establish these manual-labor
boarding- 
schools wherever it may be found practicable, and where even a beginning
could only be 
made, trusting to the force of example in the few to find its way to the
acquiescence of the 
many. * * * * 
INDIAN APPRENTICES AND MECHANICAL ABILITIES. 
After several unsuccessful endeavors on my part to procure the proper Indian
persons for 
apprentices to the foreman mechanics at this agency, I am convinced (and
speak from many 
disheartening experiences) that I have found what was long sought, and have
ten Indians 
who are fair mechanics; two are carpenters, one is blacksmith, one engineer,
one makes ox- 
yokes, ax, hammer, and hatchet handles, plow-handles, &c; five are sawyers
and regular 
mill-hands, and supply each other's positions there in case of sickness or
absence. 
S  * *   * The uses of mowers and reapers, thrashing-machines, revolving
harrows, &c., 
horse-rakes, and other agricultural-implements, with saw and flour mill machinery,
pumping- 
apparatus, and the rest, are all handled and contrclled by Ponca Indians.
The labor super- 
intendent alone, with occasionally another white man, have'supervised and
aided in the 
work of plowing, seeding, reaping thrashing, haying, &c., since the winter
of 1873-'74, 
while in the winter, from its fine weather and open character, we were permitted
to do as 
much work in logging and lumbering, cutting and hauling firewood as ever
before, and gave 
us a large surplus, which is not yet exhausted. A large pit of charcoal for
blacksmith's use 
has been burned and housed for winter service. Our improvements have been,
until latterly, 
simply those of a necessary character and nearly indispensable. 
NEW BUILDINGS. 
The "soldiers' barracks" are assuming not only an appearance in
keeping with the mar- 
tial surroundings, but have comfortable quarters for the commanding officer
and a full com- 
pany of soldiers. We have now here about twenty enlisted men. The blacksmith
and tin 
shops were built to avoid the loss of property that must have ensued from
fire. My personal 
observation detected fire in the roof of the old shop three times in one
day, which required 
considerable care and pains-with lots of water-to subdue it. The new shops
are about 45 
by 22 feet. The trader's store, about 25 feet square, was built to supply
a want, there being 
no storehouse nor any suitable building, without discommoding others, and
is more centrally 
located in the village. The United States interpreter's house, about 30 feet
square, is nearly 
completed, and will be a model house for repetition hereafter. It contains
three large rooms 
below, and a loft, (chamber,) and is one and a half stories high. 
Except in the necessary repairs, the contemplated removal of the tribe has
prevented very 
extensive improvements beyond those mentioned and the interior fittings and
repairs of the 
" Ponca agency flour-mills." From the same causes (indefinite stay
at this location) we had 
tried, with the carpenters alone, to run the mills in an imperfect condition;
but the poor 
economy and wretched execution of the work compelled a thorough overhauling
of the ma- 
chinery. Some additions and many repairs were made, and, with care and prudence
in ex- 
penditures, there is secured a mill which has never for eight months (over)
refused to perform 
its work well; it has never stopped for repairs, and is to-day as good as
when started, eight 
months ago. 
MISSIONARY WORK. 
From the unsettled state of our affairs, we have had no missionary teac'hers
located here 
for over a year past; but with some preparations recently made by Bishop
Hare, it is expected 
that such vacancy will be soon supplied. 
MEDICAL CARE. 
No surgeon or physician, with but two exceptions, have visited this agency
or prescribed for 
the people for the last nine months h ut, with a stock of simple medicines
and other sanitary 


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