United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1873
[Navajo agency], pp. 270-273 PDF (2.0 MB)
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.
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