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

[Yankton agency],   pp. 237-239 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 237

REPORT OF COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.                   237 
For the detailed accounts of their respective departments, I would respectfully
refer 
you to the accompanying reports of the physician, engineer, and farmer. 
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
*                                     JOHN E. TAPPAN, 
United States Indian Jg t. 
The Hon. COX. ISSIONER INDIAN AFFAIRS, Washington, D. C. 
32. 
YANKTON AGENCY, DAKOTA TERRITORY, 
September 20, 1873. 
Sin: I have the honor to submit this my second annual report of the condition,
pro- 
gress, and prospects of the Indians under my charge. 
GENERAL REVIEW OF THE YEAR. 
It gives me pleasure to be able to say that during the past year the Indians
under 
ray care have been peaceable, and, to some extent, industrious. All, with
the excep- 
tion of a certain number of the.young men, have been engaged during the entire
year 
in wood-cutting and hauling (when able) timber to the mill to be sawed into
house- 
logs and lumber. A great number of houses have been built during the year,
and a 
large number are under way. These houses are well built, of either sawed
or hewn 
logs. I prefer them to bring their logs to the mill and have them sawed,
as it saves 
timber and gives them the slabs for roofing. If the Yanctous had cattle and
wagons, 
I feel sure that within a very short time they would all have good log-houses,
built by 
themselves. They are now anxiously looking for oxen and wagons, as they under-
stood the Commissioner to make them a promise of these, as well as other
articles, to 
assist them in their attempt to live like white men. I trust that these things
will soon 
be forthcoming. During the spring and summer the people have remained quietly
at 
home on their reservation planting and tending their corn, potatoes, and
gardens. The 
crop this year has been for this country very large. There is scarcely any
tepee or 
house without its frames of poles loaded with corn, thus curing for winter
use. The 
potato-crop was not as large as could have been desired. The fields have
been so long 
under cultivation, and so badly tended, that it is almost impossible to make
them yield 
a good crop. New lands should be broken, and every family given their own
share or 
homestead. As far as I have been able during the last year I have worked
on this 
plan. It works well. During the early spring I had parcels of ground broken
and al- 
lotted to such Indians as would promise to live near them, plant, and fence
them. Now, 
as one travels through the reserve, these little homes and farms will be
noticed on 
every hand. Besides breaking for individual families, I have also broken
forty acres, 
in one body, on the high lands of the reserve. My object in doing this is
to try if 
wheat cannot be successfully raised on the high lands or plateaus heretofore
untried 
in agriculture. I believe this can be done. From the nature of the soil and
climate 
in this part of Dakota the corn-crop will always be precarious. The wheat,
on the 
other hand, when sown early, will mature before the great heat and drought
of August 
comes on, and yield an abundant harvest. If this proves to be a success it
will event- 
ually be of they greatest importance to these poor people. They have several
thousand 
acres of this land, high table-land, more than enough to give each family
a farm of 
eighty acres. The only serious drawback to their making their houses on these
high 
lands is the great scarcity of water and timber. The lumber, however, can
be pro- 
cured from the neighboring bottoms, a distance varying from two to ten miles.
The 
water I am as yet in doubt about. I have in several places made the attempt
to find 
water by means of bored wells, but as yet have met with no success ; then
again the 
water, when found in small quantities, is of a brackish or alkaline nature,
unpleasant 
to the taste, and unhealthful. The Indians object doggedly to living on these
high 
lands, and are all located on what is here called the bottom. This is a strip
of land 
along the Missouri River, varying from one to four miles in width, and extending
the 
entire length of the reservation. It is partially timbered, and well provided
with 
abundant hay. Farming should be checked on these lowlands, and protection
extended 
over hay and timber, or the time will soon come when they will be in want
of 
both. .During the early spring w6 were visited by a fearful three-days' snow-storm,
causing great loss in cattle and horses among the Indians. The horses have,
to some 
extent, been restored by friendly gifts from Indians above, but the cattle
are a total 
loss. The storni, however, while it did great temporary harm, has taught
these people 
the lesson greatly needed, viz, that if they intend to rai stock they must
provide 


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