University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

[Navajo agency],   pp. 270-273 PDF (2.0 MB)


Page 270

270    REPORT OF COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
but in every instance they have refused, preferring to remain as wards of
the Govern- 
ment,) and exercise all the rights and privileges of citizens of the United
States. On 
general principles I should be glad to have this decision sustained, but
I am aware 
that with the present simple manners and customs, the slight business knowledge
they 
,possess, and the prejudice which exists against them on the part of the
Mexicans, their 
condition would be rendered much worse if deprived of the care of an agent
and the 
special protection of the Government. I am therefore opposed to any effort
to secure 
any decision by the Supreme Court of the United States upon this question.
Agent Lewis recommends that a provision be made for supplying the wants of
desti- 
tute Pueblo Indians during the coming year on account of the general failure
of their 
crops during the past season. I believe that it would be proper to make an
appropria- 
tion of $5,000 for this purpose, otherwise there will be great suffering
and perhaps 
starvation among a portion of them. 
For other matters relative to these Indians, I respectfully refer you to
the very inter- 
esting report of Agent Lewis. 
GENERAL REMARKS. 
I desire to call your attention to the fact that it is impossible, in nearly
every in- 
stance, to procure the services of competent men as agents at the salary
allowed, fif- 
teen hundred dollars per annum. It is no economy to employ incompetent men
because 
they can be obtained for a small salary. The cost of living in this Territory
is fully 
double that in the States, and an agent who has a family must of necessity
be strongly 
tempted to engage in transactions of questionable character, in order to
eke out a 
living, however miserable. I would recommend that agents be paid two thousand
dollars a year, and then require the nomination of men of business experience
and 
capacity. I know the Government would save money by such a course. I would
earnestly request you to require the missionary board making nomination of
agents 
to look into other matters than mere piety of the persons selected for nomination.
A 
competent bad man will in the long run cost the Government less than an incompe-
tent gdod man. There are here plenty of unscrupulous men who are entirely
willing 
to do the work of Indian agencies, and relieve the agent from all trouble.
A man may 
be perfectly honest.himself, and yet allow dishonest men of more ability
than himself 
to do his work for him, and rob the Government continually. Please give us
good men 
if you can, but do let us have men of ability who can manage their own business.
Of course I have nothing to say about the pay of superintend ents; but you
will 
allow me, I trust, to suggest that a better man for the position might be
obtained if 
the salary were increased. 
The sum allowed for the salary of interpreters, five hundred dollars per
annum, is 
entirely inadequate to secure the services of men who can speak any language
with 
even the slightest degree of accuracy. I believe more troubles have arisen
from mis- 
interpretation of the language of officers than from any other cause. When
General 
0. 0. Howard was at Tularosa, the Indians received an impression through
the inter- 
preter of which General Howard was entirely ignorant, and which has caused
much 
of the trouble at that agency from then until the present. I would recommend
that 
interpreters be paid one thousand dollars per annum, and that all agents
be required 
to employ only such men as can read and write both languages correctly, saving
in 
instances where interpreters of Indian languages are required. 
I believe that the Government will save much money by making appropriations
suffi- 
cient to meet all expenses with promptness. I find it difficult to make purchases
at 
low prices, because the persons selling expect to wait a long time for their
pay. 
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
L. EDWIN DUDLEY, 
Superintendent of Indian Affairs. 
Hon. EDW. P. SMITH, 
Commissioner of indian Affairs, Washington, D. C. 
47: 
NAVAJO INDIAN AGENCY, 
Fort Defiance, N. AHex., September 4, 1873. 
SIR: In compliance with your instructions, it becomes my duty to make a report
of 
the condition and wants of the Indians of this agency. 
Were it not for my former knowledge of the agency, and my long acquaintance
with 
the Navajoes and their history, it would be impossible for me to comply with
the 
requirements of the Department, and furnish an annual report, as I have only
had 
charge of this agency for three days. " I arrived here on the 12th of
August, but was 
not permitted to assume charge until September 1. 


Go up to Top of Page