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 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Colorado,   pp. 15-19 PDF (2.5 MB)


Page 15

REPORTS OF AGENTS IN          COLORADO.                  15- 
many instances, practiced the grossest frauds in the payment of their wages.
In some 
instances goods of one kind or other were given them in lieu of money, at
such prices 
as to make the price of a day's labor to the employer not exceed ten cents.
In- 
stances were related me in which they received their wages in intoxicating
liquor, which 
of course, resulted in a drunken debauch, from which they recovered only
when the 
supply was exhausted, to find themselves without the necessaries of life
for their des- 
titute families. 
Everywhere liquor was being sold to them in defiance of law. And, although
fre- 
quent arrests were made of the guilty parties, under State authority, few,
if any, were 
ever convicted of their crimes because of the adversc popular sentiment which
obtains 
in this locality in regard to this form of the liquor traffic. Not a few
have gained a 
competency by the traffic with these Indians, while the sentiment prevails
to a great 
extent, that "there is no more harm in selling liquor to an Indian than
to a white man." 
My first work in assuming the duties of thiis agency a year ago was to secure
just and 
honorable dealing towards these Indians on the part of employers, and to
break up 
the demoralizing traffic in liquor among them. By close and diligent inquiry
as to the 
wages they received, and the method of payment, I discovered the dishonest
tricksters, 
and by enforcing just and honest payment, when it was refused, as well as
by publish. 
ing the rascalities practiced by certain parties who employed them in considerable
numbers, I have succeeded in a great measure in securing just and fair dealing,
so 
much so that few complaints of this character come to me now. By a no less
close and 
vigilant effort in ferreting out liquor-selling, and by a vigorous prosecution
before the 
United States authorities of all parties engaged in the traffic, a reformation
has been 
wrought in this particular that is very marked. It has now come to be regarded
as 
a dangerous business to sell or furnish liquor to Indians. 
Many abuses and wrongs of this kind must necessarily go undetected, and the
high- 
est efficiency in the service at this agency will not be attained until these
Indians are. 
more directly under the eye and control of the agent. Scattered over such
a large 
extent of country as they now are, many of them remote from the agency, they
are a 
common prey to the rapacity of designing white men. The agent cannot know
every- 
thing that is transpiring within the limits of his jurisdiction. Withal,
in looking over 
the year that is past, and considering the disadvantages of the situation
at this agency, 
I congratulate myself upon the success which has attended my efforts in the
only direc- 
tion in which I could find anything to do. 
It is due, in this connection, to speak of the most excellent subehief, Captain
John, 
who is my interpreter and efficient fellow-helper at the agency; without
him'I doubt 
whether the same results would have been attained. His value to the service
cannot 
be estimated by dollars and cents; while a nobler specimen of the possibilities
of civ- 
ilization upon those of his race, under proper influences, is nowhere to
be found. He 
is indebted for what he is to the wholesome influences of a just and honorable
gentle- 
man in this vicinity in whose employ he labored for some years. 
The sanitary condition of the tribes is not what it should be. Venereal as
well as 
other forms of disease are common among them, and in the absence of a physician
they 
have always been left to such remedies as are found only in their own system
of doc- 
toring. The consequence is many die who might otherwise have been restored
to 
health. I have been notified, however, that a physician will be allowed at
this agency, 
and have sent the name of one, whose appointment I trust will soon follow.
To make his 
services available in the more distant settlements, it will be necessary
for the physician 
to accompany the agent in his visits to them. There are always sick and suffering
ones 
to be found to whom the coming of a physician would prove a very godsend,
and with 
whom medicines can be left, with directions for their use. 
Under the peculiar circumstances of their situation, it is difficult to state
correctly 
the present population of the tribes, since no actual count is possible.
With certain 
data at my command, I estinate their number at 3,000, which is 1,400 less
than the 
estimate last reported. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
S. S. LAWSON, 
United States Indian Ageut. 
The COMMISSIO.NEIR OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
Los PiNos INDIAN AGENCY, COLORADO, 
August 18, 1879. 
SiR: In compliance with instructions, I have the honor to submit the following
as 
my first annual report of affairs pertaining to this agency. 
I arrived here on the evening of the 5th of july nltimo and on the 6th entered
upon 
the duties of Indian agent, relieving my predecessor, Leverett M. Kelley.
Owing to the fact, perhaps, that my predecessor expected to be relieved at
an early 
day, together with the employds under him, I found the affairs of the agency
in a slip- 


Go up to Top of Page