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

[Michigan or Mackinaw agency],   pp. 174-176 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 174

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174       REPORT OF COMMISSIONER           OF INDIAN    AFFAIRS. 
manual-labor school on such reservation; also the sum of $1,600, from the
same fund, 
for the purchase of improvements of individual Indians on eighty acres of
land, to be 
used in connection with the school.                       0 
The State of New York also appropriated $4,500 for the like purpose, but
owing to 
defects in the laws making the appropriatious, the comptroller of the State
refused to 
pay over the money, and, in June last, the acts making the appropriations
were 
amended to meet his objections. The title to this reservation is vested in
such comp- 
troller in trust for the Senecas of the Tonawanda band, and in a letter,
under date of 
the 21st instant, he signified his willingness to convey the land for the
purposes of the 
school, and to pay over the funds appropriated. 
The trustees of the school, appointed under the law, have recently qualified,
and 
have appointed an early day to select the eighty acres of land; and it is
hoped that 
the work of erecting the necessary buildings will now be speedily pressed
to comple- 
tion. 
The chiefs of this band have manifested a very commendable degree of public
spirit 
in appropriating from the annuities of these Indians such large sums for
their educa- 
tion and civilization. This appears quite remarkable in view of the poverty
of most 
of the Indians of the band. 
It is confidently anticipated that the proposed manual-labor school will,
under judi- 
cious management, be of great and permanent benefit to these people.. 
In your communication to me under date of the 11th ultimo you inquire, in
speak- 
ing of the Indians in this agency, "whether they are not prepared for
citizenship, and 
whether steps should not be taken to bring them in condition with other people
of 
New York," adding, "your long acquaintance with them and their
affairs will enable 
you to make suggestions which will be of value to this office." 
In endeavoring to answer your inquiries I respectfully state that over one-half
of 
the Indians in this agency reside upon the Alleghany and Cattaraugus reservations.
The Ogden Company, or its assigns, claim what has been termed the pre-emption
right 
to these two reservations, together with whatever right, title, and interest
the Com- 
monwealth of Massachusetts conveyed to Robert Morris by deeds dated May 11,
1791. 
It is understood that the Ogden Company claim that this is an absolute title
in fee 
simple, subject to the possessory right of the Indians so long only as they
actually oc- 
cupy the .reservations as a tribe. On the part of the Indians it is claimed,
on what 
seems better authority, that they awn the fee to these lands by their own
original 
title, and that the Ogden Company has only the right to purchase whenever
they 
choose to sell. So early as 1847 the State of New York passed a judicious
law, provid- 
ing for the allotment of these lands among the Indians, but they have been
adverse to 
such allotments, fearing that the same might prove an entering wedge to dispossess
them, as stated in my last annual report. The claim of the Ogden Company
is at least 
a cloud upon the title of the Senecas to these reservations, and I am satisfied
it is a 
serious impediment to their advancement in civilization. It produces an unsettled
feeling as to the title of their lands, and prevents them from making improvemeits.
Love of property and home being with them, as with others, among the chief
incent- 
ives to industry, the present state of things tends to make them shiftless
and improv- 
ident, and is an obstacle in the way of their becoming citizens. With this
difficulty 
obviated I see no reason why measures might not be properly instituted at
an early 
day to make the Indians of New York citizens, in case provision should be
made to 
protect them from improvidently selling or encumbering their lands for a
period say of 
about twenty years. 
I inclose the annual report of the trustees of the Thomas Asylum for orphan
and 
destitute Indian children on the Ca~taraugus reservation. This institution
continues 
under most excellent management, and is doing a practical work of great value
for the 
Indians in this agency. As will be seen from the inclosed report, the Society
of Friends 
at Philadelphia continue their humane offices in aid of this asylum. I respectfully
rec- 
ommend the continuance of the annual appropriation by the Government for
its sup- 
port. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
D. SHERMAN,      " 
Agent. 
Hon. E. P. SMITH, 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs. 
2 
OFFICE OF MICHIGAN INDIAN AGENCY, 
Lansing, Seplember 15, 1873. 
Sin: I have the honor herewith to submit my second annual report of the Michigan
Indian agency. 
This agency embraces the care of about ten thousand Indians. They sustain
treaty 
relations to the United States Government under four different names, viz:


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