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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1865
([1865])

Washington superintendency,   pp. 67-101 PDF (14.8 MB)


Page 67

WASHINGTON SUPERINTENDENCY.                     67 
WASHINGTON SUPERINTENDENCY. 
N.o 1. 
OFFICE SUPERINTENDENT INDIAN AFFAIRS, 
Olympia, W. T., September 7, 1865. 
SIR: In compliance with the requirements of the department, I have the 
honor herewith to submit my first annual report of the condition of Indian
affairs within the superintendency of Washington Territory. 
For the detail of operations and results among the various tribes I beg 
leave to refer you to the reports of agents and employes herewith trans-
mitted. 
From these reports it cannot fail to be apparent that the chief impediment
which retards and tends to defeat the beneficent designs of government to-
wards the Indian tribes is the demoralizing influence of corrupt white men.
Indians are a weak race, easily seduced, easily influenced to accept pro-
posals at ones injurious and disgraceful. They come into social contact 
most naturally with the lowest class of white society, and are more inclined
to take on the vices than the virtues of civilization. The first and most
im- 
portant question, therefore, to be answered is, how is this process of demor-
alization to be arrested? How are Indians to be induced to abandon their
intoxication, their ,polygamy, their prostitution and their laziness, and
ac- 
cept the better humanity which government desires, and at such immense 
cost endeavors, to give them? 
Shall we accept the prevailing heresy, that the American Indian is a hope-
less subject, doomed to extermination, bound to disappear before advancing
civilization, and the sooner he becomes extinct the better; and that the
true 
policy is to hasten his decay by giving facility to his demoralization, instead
of striving to redeem him from it ? This heresy, which is found in the mouths
not only of unreflecting and unprincipled men, but of many men of high 
social position, can never be accepted by a Christian government; but the
question must be cohtinually asked, and an answer sought, how shall the 
Ijidian be reclaimed from his barbarism and his vices, and be made to enjoy
the blessings of a Christian civilization ? To this question there is but
one 
answer to be made: Indians are like children; they require for their improve-
ment similar care and guardianship as children, and the more nearly the 
relationship of parents can be represented by those officially appointed
to be 
-over them and among them, the more likely will they be to restrain them
from evil habits, and induce them to adopt good ones. Agents and em- 
ployes should always be men of practical business experience. They should
all be married men, and should have their home on the reservations with 
their families, that the domestic habits and comforts of civilization may
be 
a constant example to the Indians, and that there may be less temptation
on the part of the employes themselves to depart from the strict rules of
propriety in their own intercourse with the natives. They should be men of
heart-men who have true sympathy in behalf of suffering and erring human-
ity-men who seek their positions not simply and solely to draw their pay,
but 
with an honest desire to be useful to a needy and an outcast race; and this
can only be expected from men of purity of character, whose personal exam-
ple is worthy of all imitation. 
With such men placed in control of Indian tribes as co-workers in the 
grand endeavor to civilize and christianize them, there would be little need
of law to restrain them from evil, or resist the encroachments of corrupt
in- 
fluences fr'om without. Each Indian, old and young, would be treated as a
child, would be looked after and protected as a child. He would soon learn
that his guardian was his true friend, and that evil companions from without


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