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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 19

COMNISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.                   19 
alone; that the tribes are to be protected and remain undisturbed 
within the limits of their reservations, and that this policy will be 
inflexibly adhered to by the government. The condition and interests 
of the white border population would thus be improved and promoted, 
and the main cause for strife, disorder, outbreak, and murder, so 
common between the frontier settler and the Indian, being thus re- 
moved, these atrocities would occur but seldom. 
Many of the Indian tribes are now in the annual receipt of large 
sums of money, in consideration of their cessions of territory. With 
the exception of a few of the tribes in the southwest who have regular 
organized governments, and who, by their legislative enactments, ap- 
propriate a good portion of their funds for educational and national 
purposes, the payment of money annuities to the Indians entails upon 
them evils which, in most cases, far outweigh the good resulting 
therefrom. A large proportion of the individuals of the tribes to 
whom these annuities are payable seem to rely upon their per capita 
for support, and drag out a miserable existence from payment to pay- 
ment, depending solely on it. And the notice for the Indians toj 
assemble to receive their annuities seems to be the watchword to sum-1 
mon to the pay-ground a miserable class of men who deal in spirit-i 
uous liquors, games, and other vices, and who, in despite of the vigi-' 
lance of the officers, are enabled to carry off large amounts of the 
funds of the Indians, obtained by the most shameful, dishonorable, 
and unlawful means. 
Combinations of men, too, as powerful -as they are unscrupulous, / 
keep constantly on foot systematic and organized plans to deceive andi 
corrupt the chiefs and principal men, and thus they often obtain the! 
signatures of these ignorant, deluded, and corrupted people to powers 
of attorney and other instruments, appropriating and assigning to 
them and their confederates in such nefarious practices large amounts 
of the funds of the Indians without any valid consideration therefor. 
These last named parties have frequently been enabled, with instru- 
ments and powers of attorney, obtained by means as degrading to 
them as injurious, demoralizing, and corrupting to the Indians, to 
obtain the sanction and approval of Congress and the executive de- 
partments, and thus the government, instead of protecting, has, in 
some instances, been the oppressor of its wards. On this subject the 
developments which have transpired since the last report induce me 
to repeat the suggestion "that all executory contracts of every kind
and description, made by Indian tribes or bands with claim agents, 
attorneys, traders, or other persons, should be declared, by law, null 
and void; and an agent, interpreter, or other person employed in, or 
in any way connected with, the Indian service, guilty of participation 
in transactions of the kind referred to, should be instantly dismissed 
and expelled from the Indian country; and all such attempts to injure 
and defraud the Indians, by whomsoever made and participated in, 
should be penal offences, punishable by fine and imprisonment." I 
do not see how the obligations of the government to its Indian wards 
can be fully met and faithfully discharged without the aid of penal 
statutes to protect them from the evils referred to ; and under a full 


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