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 1855

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

Page 18

experience of the past. But if this be so, it does not discharge the 
government of the United States and its citizens from the performance 
of their duty; and every effort is demanded by humanity to avert a 
calamity of this kind. Many of the Indians are impressed with the 
idea that they belong to a race that shall become extinct, and this 
opinion produces such gloom, despondency and even despair, as to 
wither their energies and destroy their aspirations. 
With all these drawbacks, I believe that the Indian may be domes- 
ticated, improved, and elevated; that he may be completely and 
thoroughly civilized, and made a useful element of our population. 
(But he must have a home; a fixed, settled, and permanent home. 
And I regard it as fortunate for him that circumstances intimately 
connected with our present plan of emigration to and settlement 
within the territories of the United States, although marked by great 
irregularities and cruelty and death to both races, are rapidly hasten- 
ing a condition of things which will accord with the policy of perma- 
nent homes and fixed habitations for the Indians. This wonderful 
emigration and the expansion of our population into every portion of 
our territories, where land is found suitable for cultivation, carries the
white settlers on either side of and far beyond the homes of the In- 
/ dians; and as the settlements thus made expand and grow, they will 
so have adjusted themselves as to fbrbid the removal of the red man. 
There will therefore soon be no pretext for a change, as there will be 
no place to remove the Indian population. The policy of fixed habi- 
tations I regard as settled by the government, and it will soon be 
confirmed by an inevitable necessity; and it should be understood at 
once that those Indians who have had reservations set apart and as- 
signed them, as well as those who may hereafter by treaty have, are 
not to be interfered with in the peaceable possession and undisturbed 
enjoyment of their land; that no trespasses will be permitted upon 
their territory or their rights; that the assurances and guarantees of 
their treaty grants are as sacred and binding as the covenants in the 
settler's patent; and that the government will not only discountenance 
all attempts to trespass on their lands and oust them from their homes, 
but in all cases where necessary will exert its strong arm to vindicate 
its faith with, and sustain them in, their rights. Let combinations, 
whether formed to obtain the Indian's land or to make profit by jobs 
and contracts in his removal, or other causes, be resisted; and let it 
!be understood that the Indian's home is settled, fixed, and permanent, 
and the settler and the Indian will, it is believed' soon experience the
good effects that will result to both.  The former will then regard the 
latter as his neighbor and friend, and will treat him with the consid- 
eration due to this relation. And the Indian will look upon his habi- 
tation as permanent and his reservation as his home, and will cease 
to regard the white maln with that restless doubt and distrust which 
has been so disastrous to his comfort and peace and so fatal to his 
civilization and improvement. 
All persons who emigrate to the territories of the United States, to 
occupy under the liberal land policy of the government the public do- 
main, should understand distinctly that they are to occupy and culti- 
vate the land to which the Indian title is extinguished, and that 

Go up to Top of Page