United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1884
Report of physician, Pine Ridge agency, pp. 211-212 PDF (599.1 KB)
REPORT OF PHYSICIAN, PINE RIDGE AGENCY. 211 Statistical reports have been forwarded. Acknowledging the kindness I have received from officers of the Indian Department and thanks to our kind Father above for his blessings upon us, I am your obedient servant, W. J. HADLEY, Superintendent. The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. PINE RIDGE AGENCY, DAK., August 20, 1884. SIR: Complying with your instructions, I have the honor to submit my annual report for the year ending June 30, 1884, pertaining to the health and sanitary condition of this agency. 1881-'82. 1882-'83. 1883-'84. Total applicants for medicines ............................................ 2, 015 3, 611 5, 013 Total deaths............-................................................. 36 98 100 Total births--------------------------------------------------------------21 92 63 A large ratio of mortality was among young children, attributable to exposure and the harsh practices of their relatives, a majority of whom have not the remotest idea of the indispensable nursing and ordinary hygiene; hence it is, many reliable pre- scriptions fail to benefit and they return to their medicine men. Many of the other deaths were those whose illness were not reported at all, or until after their medicine men or women had failed, and who were then usually so exhausted that little could be done for them. Regarding the births, it is very probable many are never reported to the agency police, a death; however, on account of its impressiveness or display, can more easily be ascertained; it is my opinion the two about balance. On the whole I am certain these Indians are steadily gaining confidence in the rem- edies of the white inau, calling for them more frequently each succeeding year. Though it is also evident they are wedded to the pernicious influence of the medicine men, so often are these empirics met with in my daily rounds, that a biief s-journ here would impress one with a belief that they were nearly all-men and women-of that voca- tion. Sometimes I fancy the mystic creatures (generally of middle age, rarely old men) are tolerated through fear of their conjury. Under such circumstances it is occasionally my pleasure to administer the medicine to the sick person, nolens volens, training as guides, is dangerous guess work, which, therefore, would make any one an(, through the interpreter, kindly explain that doctoring, without education and of them as qualified as another. The gradual decline of their vitiating dances, an improvemeni in their improperly prepared food, and insufficient clothing, and the rapid'adoption of log-houses for domiciles should soon show a decreased death rate. It is here noticeable that contrary to a common belief, East, the Indians, though of hardy origin, do not enjoy immunity from sickness any more than other races. Their maladies range from simple constipation to "misery all over." Tubercular diseases, diseases of the digestive system, of the respiratory organs, of the eye, and of the skin (the latter in great variety), of more or less gravity, are presented daily for treat- ment. With some I am able to apply routine treatment, though, in most instances, after the medicine is once theirs, nothing more is heard from them for months, if ever, so little do they appreciate the necessity of systematic treatment. No doubt some of the crude drugs applied for were for combining with their own medicinal herbs. No case of syphilis and only three of gonorrhea among full-bloods have been treated during the year. Still births, plural births, difficult parturition, and suicides not infrequently occur here, though not as often as among the whites. The efficiency of this branch of the service would be promoted here by one of the following auxiliaries: an apothecary, an assistant physician, or limited hospital ac- commodations -about 10 beds-for such of The sick or injured who come from great distances (furthest Indian village 40 miles) to the agency for treatment, and have to return forthwith without receiving material benefit in one visit, because at present there is no provision for shelter and sustenance of the sick. It is a source of gratification to know that notwithstanding the unfavorable phys- ical auspices with which the large boarding-school opened-an epidemic of chicken- pox and many sick from sudden change of habit-no death has yet occurred there, and now the health of the children continues remarkably good.
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