United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1874
[Colorado], pp. 271-276 PDF (3.0 MB)
REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 271 authority is too lax to enforce attendance. There is a good, though small, school-house suitably furnished and supplied with books, &c., purchased with Government funds, and a teacher well qualified who speaks their language. Still the school cannot be called a success, nor is it likely to be, until there is a home provided in connection with the school, and the children separated in a great measure from the village, and subjected to a different training. Missionary work, I am sorry to say, has not been attended to. No minister or missionary has been supplied. Perhaps there is a sufficient reason ; I can only say that attention has been time and again called to the subject. Civilizing influepce has always produced a marked effect, not only in the appearance and deportment of the 83hoshones, but in restraining their migratory habits, changing their senti- ments in regard to labor, desire to raise domestic stock, and live in houses. They have been supplied dluring the last year constantly with fresh beef, bacon, and flour, and the greater part of the time with coffee and sugar, also soap and saleratus. A fair supply of suitable annuities were furnished and used with more economy than ever before. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, JAMES IRWIN, United States Indian Agent. Hon. EDW. P. SMITH, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C. DENVER, COL., September 1, 1874. SIR: For the information of the Office of Indian Affairs, I have the honor to present the following report of the condition of affairs at this agency during the year ending August 31, 1874, and'I respectfully ask your attention to the suggestions made herein regarding certain important changes thut should be made in the conduct of this branch of the Indian service. The first departure from the present method of treatment of the Ute Indians who come to this place, to which I wish to call your notice, is to advise some immediate provision for their sustenance and comfort while here during the winter months. Numerous small bands visit Denver in nearly every week, from October to April, from the north, south, east, and west ; either on their way from the agencies, at White River and Los Pines, to the buffalo- grounds, or vice-versa; or they come for the special purpose of disposing of the furs and skins they have taken in the chase, and to supply themselves with the means of continuing their hunt. Even were they ever so well able to pay for hotel accommodations, they are not a desirable class of customers to the proprietors of any of our public-houses; and as they do not come to make prolonged visits, it is not their custom to bring with them their canvas- houses and their faithful housewives. The consequence is that they are, in a great degree, dependent upon the charity of a few white persons for food and shelter, and I am repeatedly asked by these good-natured and hospitable citizens why it is that the Government does not take care of its wards. I can only reply that they are off of the reservation, and are, there- fore, not entitled to the benefits promised their tribes by the powers that be. My answer to this statement invariably is, " then why don't the powers that be keep them on the reserva- tion ?" And just here is where the inconsistency of the Bureau is made apparent as regards its treatment of these Indians. I believe I am correct in stating that they are allowed to hunt on the buffalo-range or elsewhere on the public domain, so long as they keep the peace. They could not stay at either of the agencies during an ordinary Colorado winter with either comfort or safety to themselves or their stock, if they wanted to. They will not stay, unless forced on the reservation, where there are no buffalo, when they can find this game, as they do now, within a few days' journey east of Denver. This city is nearly in the direct line of their march from both agencies to the hunting- ground; and these hunting-parties never would miss it, going or coming, even if they had to travel many miles out of their way, for the reasons already alluded to, that they find here the best market in the Territory for what they have to sell, and the most complete assortment of goods from which to select the articles they need. As their camps are seldom nearer than twenty miles to Denver, it is something of a task for them to ride back and forth and do their "shopping" in a day; and inasmuch as these visits are sanctioned, and an agency maintained here by the Department, I would recommend that the agent be authorized to provide comfortable quarters for such parties, at a reasonable rent, and allowed to issue suffi- cient rations to preclude the necessity of their begging from the community. I would also earnestly recommend the employment of a competent physician at this agency, at least daring the period intervening between October I and August 1, during which the Utes are in this vicinity in large numbers. I take it to be the intention and the desire of the Department to make every effort to civilize this people ; and I fail to understand how this object can be accomplished or approached in this world by allowing them to die of disease. Such a consummation, I have no doubt, is devoutly wished by many of our pioneer citi- zens, who can see no good in any but a dead Indian; but I cannot believe that this senti- ment is indorsed by the officers of the Department ; because it is neither in accord with the dictates of humanity, consistent with common sense, or becoming the dignity of a great Government, pledged to the care and advancement of a harmless and helpless people.
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