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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Dakota,   pp. 19-52 PDF (15.7 MB)


Page 19

REPORTS OF AGENTS IN DAKOTA. 
19 
Indian stores, and of rambling hither and thither over a vast exteat of country,
half 
as large as their reservation, living by hunting, trading horses (perhaps
horse steal- 
ing), racing, gambling, and begging. It is true that the whites having families
dread 
their appearance, but other whites make them welcome, that they may barter
and 
associate with them, and while this state of affairs lasts I cannot bring
influences to 
bear on them. 
In close connection with this is the fact they have large bands of horses,
w hich they 
carefully increase; and, to find fresh and wide pastures, they are induced,
P-erhaps 
compelled, to roam. While they possess these horses, the care of them jrev(-nts
their 
working, and it calls for the help of all the children who can be of service.
Twenty 
or thirty hdges are under my coatiol, becamue there is pasturage for their
b orss in 
the vicinity, but no more can occupy the ground. At the same tim, ther.-
horses, 
worth not exceeding an average of $15 a head, crowd out the cattle, (and
man-aP  their 
care more expensive and difficult. If government would take away all thuo
horses 
except such as could be useful, the Indians would not go abroad; and if cattle
were 
given instead they would, or could, or should engage in a profitable industry,
and one 
to which they take ieadilly and naturally. To permit any class (If human
being  to do 
as they please, and, at the same time to le supplied with food, inevitably
leads to 
demoralization. After I get hold of these Indians I can tell a great deal
better what 
can be made of them. I should like to have plenty of land in cultivation,
with tools 
all ready; take away their horses; then give the word that if they would
not work 
they should have no rations. As to how much they would work and produce in
such 
a case, and as to how fast they would adopt a civilized life, is merely to
specnlate, but 
my impression is they would not starve. 
This reservation comprises about 12,000,000 acres. Within 20 miles of this
agency 
are at least 20,000 acres of excellent land that can, be irrigated and mdle
to yield 
bountifully of vegetables and grain, while the adjacent area is well suited
for summer 
and winter grazing. The agency herd numbers nearly 1,-00 head, and notwithstand-
ing the Indians have full supplies of beef the increase last year was over
"200 head. 
Coal is in such vast quantities, and in visible outcrop, as to astonish the
beholder. 
The winters are milder than on the eastern slope, and although the elevation
here is 
6,000 feet, we now have all kinds of vegetables in profuion, tomatoes included,
and 
our wheat crop, though on sod always a short one, ii fully up to the average
of 
the crop of the wheat-growing States. So great is my confidence in this section
for 
fruit-growiing that apple, peach, and plum trees have been planted, and all
the small 
fruits are growing. If these IndiaIs will only half improve their opportunities
they 
may become rich and happy. 
Respectfully, 
N. C. MEEKER, Indian Agent. 
The COM.MISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
CHEYENNE RivER AGENCY, DAKOTA, 
Aegust 20, 1679. 
Sim: In accordance with your circular letter of June 18 last, I have the
honor to 
submit the following as my annual report of the affairs of this agency: 
There has been no change in the location of the principal Indian camps during
the 
past year, but a number of families have followed my advice and have moved
from 
the two villages on the west side of the Missouri River, below the agency,
where the 
land is strongly alkaline and unproductive, to the more fertile Cheyenne
River Valley. 
Here they are trying to establish separate and independent homes for themselves.
In 
all, there are now *34 Indian families occupying separate locations on the
reservation, 
a mode of living which, though at variance with past custom, seems to grow
in favor 
with the better ciass; and it is confidently believed that in the course
of another year 
the number who will cut loose from village life, with its attendant councils,
feasts, aid 
dances, will greatly increase. With a view of stimulating this tendency the
Indians 
have been intornied that hereafter wagons. harness, cooking-stoves, and all
other com- 
modities, other than the absolute necessities of life, which the government
may pro- 
vide, are, as a rule, to be reserved for those of their people who have sufficient
self- 
reliance to isolate themselves from the villages. 
On the occasion of the annuity issue last fall all Indians were assembled
and counted 
at the agency, save those physically unable to come, whose presence was verified
by 
sending scouts or policemen to their houses. The result of the count showed
a reduc- 
tion of 70 from the number previously borne on the rolls, the diminution
being prob- 
ably due to the concealment of deaths prior to April 1, 1878, and to the
desertion of 
women. The following table exhibits in detail the present strength of the
four bands 
of the Sioux Nation located at the agency: 


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