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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Montana,   pp. 89-100 PDF (5.6 MB)


Page 98

98 
REPORTS OF AGENTS IN MONTANA. 
the habits and customs of these Indians, to furnish you with a more detailed
annual 
report. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
N. S. PORTER, 
United States Indian Agent. 
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAmS. 
FORT BELKNAP AGENCY, MONTANA, 
August 1, 1879. 
SIR-: I have the honor to herewith submit my first annual report of the Indian
serv- 
ice at this agency. 
I arrived at this post June 22, 1878. This agency was abandoned in the year
1874, 
and. the buildings had in the intervening time become much dilapidated. 
The Indians I found in a very demoralized state, and very much scattered,
some of 
them being at the Cypress Mountains, some of them on the Marias River, and
some of 
them across the Missouri River. A part of the Gros Ventres and other Indians,
however, 
were camped near the fort. I found them quite destitute, and there being
a quantity 
-of flour and pemmican on hand that bad previously been purchased by Captain
Will- 
iams, and left in charge of H. Poner & Bro., I at once proceeded to issue
a part of it to 
them, and a week later I issued to them the balance. Some weeks later I also
received 
permit to purchase $3,000 worth of subsistence stores, which relieved their
wants for 
the time, and placed them in condition to move out in pursuit of buffalo.
HOSTILITIES. 
At the time I arrived here the Yanktons were in close proximity to the fort,
and 
were nightly engaged in stealing horses from my Indians. It finally culminated
in a 
battle, in which the Gros Ventres and other Indians were victorious, and
from that 
time on up to this spring they were practically unmolested by the Yanktons.
This 
past spring and summer the country again appears to be full of war parties,
and a 
number of horses have been stolen from tite vicinity of the post belonging
both to 
whites and Indians. 
My Indians have started several times to go to the Lower Milk River country
in pur- 
suit of buffalo, but have invariably been frightened back by hostile Sioux;
but since 
General Miles has arrived in the country, they have succeeded in finditrg
buffalo, and 
are at this time procuring a supply of meat. 
NUMBER OF INDIANS. 
My instructions contemplated the presence at this post of about 800 Gros
Venires 
and 100 other Indians, and that nuruber has been continually increased by
the return 
of scattered bands, until now they number 1,135 Gros Ventres and 977 other
Indians 
(A8sinaboines). There are probably as many as three or four hundred Assinaboines,
who were on the rolls at this agency in the year 1874, who, upon the abandonment
of 
this agency, joined the British Indians at Cypress Mountains. They are generally
anx- 
ious to rejoin their people at this agency, and as a matter of fact, all
those northern 
or British Indians who in their travels to and from the buffalo country,
and who all 
make it a point to camp near the fort for from two to four and six days,
express the 
same desire, and they are unable to comprehend why the stores here should
not be 
dealt out to them, as they are so eminently friendly to the whites. I judge
there have 
been at least 2,000 British Indians camped here at different times this spring
and sum- 
mer, and now, as I write, there are two camps of Crees near by and another
expected 
soon. They are on their way to the British country. With one exception, they
have 
conducted themselves in a proper manner, and in that case they did no particular
harm, although their intent was evident. Their hostility arose from the fact
that I 
refused to accede to their demands in way of stores. 
SUPPLIES. 
I have found the stores for so many Indian wholly inadequate to th6ir.wants;
but 
by the most careful economy and purchases afthorized by the department I
have been 
able to get them through to this time without actual suffering. 
MORALS. 
The disposition and conduct of my Indians, with some minor exceptions, has
been 
uiformly good, and I am pleased to say that they have conduted themselves
much 


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