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 1905, Part I
([1905])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. 1-155 PDF (58.6 MB)


Page 12

12     REPORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. 
it so distinctly in her mind that she needed no pattern. Now, 4t what 
point can we break into this chain and substitute a foreign link 
without changing the character of the whole? A connoisseur in 
Navaho blankets, who loves them for the humanity that has been 
woven into them, and not merely for their waterproof texture or 
their warmth, balks when he discovers in the design one shape which 
is not Indian or one color which bears the aniline taint. The charm 
begins to fade away with the first intrusion of the Caucasian hand 
into the work. So, if we first waive the questions of Indian wool 
and native dyes, and then set up a loom of modern device, why not 
make a clean sweep of the whole business and get rid of the Navaho 
woman, too? The product of these changed conditions would bear 
about the same relation to the real Navaho blanket that Lamb's 
Tales bear to Shakespeare. 
The made-over Indian is bound to be like the. Navaho blanket 
from which all the Navaho has been expurgated-neither one thing 
nor the other.  I like the Indian for what is Indian in him.  I 
want to see his splendid inherited physique kept up, because he 
glories, like his ancestors, in fresh air, in freedom, in activity, 
in feats of strength. I want him to retain all his old contempt 
for hunger, thirst, cold, and danger when he has anything to do. 
I love the spirit of manly independence which moved a copper- 
colored sage once to beg that I would intercede with the Great Father 
and throttle a proposal to send rations to his people, because it would 
pauperize their young men and make them slaves to the whites. I 
have no sympathy with the sentiment which would throw the squaw's 
bead bag into the rubbish heap and set her to making lace. Teach her 
lace making, by all means, just as you would teach her bread making, 
as an addition to her stock of profitable accomplishments; but don't 
set down her beaded moccasins as, merely barbarous, while holding 
up her lace handkerchief as a symbol of advanced civilization. 
The Indian is a natural warrior, a natural logician, a natural 
artist. We have room for all three in our highly organized social 
system. Let us not make the mistake, in the process of absorbing 
them, of washing out of them whatever is distinctly Indian. Our 
aboriginal brother brings, as his contribution to the common store of 
character, a great deal which is admirable, and which needs only to 
be developed along the right line. Our proper work with him is 
improvement, not transformation. 
PRESERVING INDIAN MUSIC. 
It is in pursuance of the general idea of saving instead of crush- 
ing what is genuinely characteristic in the Indian and building upon 
this, that with your approval . and authority I have taken steps 


Go up to Top of Page