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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1873
([1873])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. [3]-14 PDF (5.1 MB)


Page [3]

REPORT 
OF THE 
COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, 
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, 
November 1, 1873. 
I have the honor, in accordance with law, to forward herewith the 
annual report of Indian affairs of the country. 
In respect to the general question of civilization of Indians, the re- 
cord of the year is a good one. In many of the agencies gratifying prog-
ress has been made, as shown in increased interest in the education 
of children, a disposition to labor, the desire for allotment of lands, and
in the increase of stock and ordinary farm products, and other personal 
property. At other agencies serious efforts in the same direction have 
developed more decidedly the difficulties which lie in the way of prog- 
ress. Among these hinderances six are specially noticeable. 
FICTION IN INDIAN RE)LATIONS. 
First. A radical hinderance is in the anomalous relation of many of the 
Indian tribes to the (overnment, which requires them to be treated as 
sovereign powers and wards at one and the same time. The compara- 
tive weakness of the whites made it expedient, in our early history, to 
deal with the wild Indian tribes as with powers capable of self-protec- 
tion and fulfilling treaty obligations, and so a kind of fiction and ab-
surdity has come into all our Indian relations. We have in theory over 
sixty-five independent nations within our borders, with whom we have 
entered into treaty relations as being sovereign peoples; and at the 
same time the white agent is sent to control and supervise these for-- 
eign powers, and care for them as wards of the Government. This 
double condition of sovereignty and wardship involves increasing dif- 
ficulties and absurdities, as the traditional chieftain, losing his hold
upon his tribe, ceases to be distingushed for anything except for the 
lion's share of goods and moneys which the Government endeavors to 
send, through him, to his nominal subjects, and as the necessities of 
the Indians, pressed on every side by civilitation, require more help and
greater discrimination in the manner of distribtiting the tribal funds. 
So far, and as rapidly as possible, all recognition of Indians in any 
other relation than strictly as subjects of the Government should cease.
To provide for this, radical legislation will be required. 
EVILS OF PAYMENTS BY CASH ANNUITIES. 
The second hinderance, growing directly oat of the first, is found in 
the form in which the benefactions of the Government reach the In- 
dian. In treaties heretofore made with many of the tribes, large sunis 


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