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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1855
([1855])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. [1]-21 PDF (9.4 MB)


Page 17

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
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directed that this policy be carried out, in those cases to which it is 
so peculiarly appropriate for the Indians and not inconvenient or ex- 
pensive for the government. As was anticipated, some complaints 
against the policy have been made, and some few tribes have been 
induced, through sinister influences, to hesitate, and even to refuse to
accept money tendered to them, because the full annuity of the year 
was not 'offered. These complaints could probably be traced to un- 
principled individuals who hang around Indian payments in order to 
take advantage of the characteristic improvidence of the Indians, and 
fleece them of their money by means of gaming and drinking; or in 
order to corrupt the leading men, and obtain money on fraudulent 
claims against the tribe. Some persons also, more honest, but still 
pecuniarily interested, have probably joined in these complaints and 
helped to sow distrust in the minds of the Indians. The successful 
establishment of the policy is intimately connected with the prosperity 
of the Indians, and indeed, in my judgment, quarter yearly payments 
would be even better than semi-annual ones. Opposition may be ex- 
pected from the influences referred to, and even from other quarters, 
but where the local agents act with energy and fidelity these must 
soon give way, and the practical effect of the policy will quickly com- 
mend it to the Indians, and it will be approved by them. 
From the organization of the government, it has been liberal in the 
expenditure of money to civilize the Indian and better his condition; 
and the benevolent and philanthropic have appropriated of their means 
freely for his instruction in the principles of Christianity. Efforts 
have been constant and unremitting to reclaim him from a savage 
state, and to induce him to cultivate the soil and to embrace the arts 
of peace. But how could the Indian become a cultivator of the soil 
without a permanent and fixed home and habitation? While the 
government embraced every opportunity to purchase his home and 
remove him from his land, was it not in vain to enjoin on him to 
abandon his wandering life? How could he be expected to abandon 
his savage customs and habits and take up with the pursuits of a race 
whose approacb was only a notice to him that he must leave the graves 
of his family and friends, and surrender his home to the pale faces? 
His contact with the white race was, under circumstances like these, 
calculated, it seems to me, to cause him to distrust the efforts of the 
government and the benevolent to reclaim him, and to confirm him 
in his savage habits and pursuits; and the policy of throwing him 
back into the wilderness beyond the outer circle of civilization, as the
settlements approached him, while it excluded him from the benefits 
of the example and influence of the industrious pioneer and frontier 
man, did not protect him from another class, whose contact has been 
demoralizing and whose influence has always been exerted to confirm 
the Indian in his wild and savage habits. 
Without a fixed, permanent and settled home, in my opinion, all 
efforts to domesticate and civilize the aboriginal race will, hereafter,
as they have heretofore, prove of but little benefit or advantage. 
Many think that, with all the efforts and means that may be put into 
requisition, the extinction of the race cannot be prevented, that it 
must decay and waste away; and this view is strengthened by the 
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