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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 20

20 
REPORT OF THE 
conviction of the necessity that exists, and a deep sense of duty, I re-
commend that the subject be brought to the attention of Congress. 
I refer you to the correspondence with the Menomonees and Potto- 
watomies, which will be found among the documents herewith, as in- 
dicating the boldness of parties engaged in these disreputable attempts 
to obtain the funds of the Indians, and some of whose proceedings 
have been heretofore alluded to and resisted by this office. Such cor- 
respondence is, in my judgment, in direct violation of the "Inter- 
course act." 
The appetite of the Indian for the use of ardent spirits seems to be 
entirely uncontrolable, and at all periods of our intercourse with him 
the evil effects and injurious consequences arising from the indulgence 
of the habit are unmistakably seen. It has been the greatest barrier 
to his improvement in the past, and will continue to be in the future, 
if some means cannot be adopted to inhibit its use. Humanity de- 
mands, and our obligations to this unfortunate race requires, that. 
every legal provision be adopted by the national, State, and territo- 
rial legislatures to protect the red man from this consuming fire. 
This is necessary ; it is the foundation of all permanent and substan- 
tial improvement. 
All the means and efforts heretofore adopted to ameliorate the con- 
dition of the red man have not, it must be admitted, produced results 
commensurate with the labor and money expended and the sacrifices 
that have been made. We cannot recall what has been done, and it 
would be as idle as useless to discuss the past. We have to deal with 
the present and provide for the future. And we will have only dis- 
charged a simple but imperative duty when we shall have settled the 
Indian on a permanent home and guaranteed to him its peaceable 
possession and undisturbed enjoyment; adopted the most vigorous and 
efficient means to guard and protect his annuities, and made them 
available for his moral and physical development, and brought into 
requisition all legal and other appropriate means to exclude from him 
the curse and scourge of his race-ardent spirits. He will then be 
placed in a position where the efforts of the government and the be- 
nevolent, unembarrassed by opposing forces and influences, would be 
left to adopt and prosecute the means most efficient for the elevation 
of his intellectual and physical powers, the culture of the better feel-
ings and sympathies of his nature, and the development of his capa- 
city to improve in the arts and sciences. He has noble impulses, and 
possesses in a high degree the finer feelings and affections, and there 
is no lack of evidence that he can be elevated and highly civilized. 
Erroneous opinions and prejudices in relation to the disposition, cha- 
racteristics, capacity, and intellectual powers of the race, have almost
excluded the Indian from the public sympathy. Statesmen and phi- 
lanthropists but slightly regard him.   The public enactments but 
feebly protect him, and in the discussions which abound in the politi- 
1cal and religious world in relation to the condition of races within our
)confederation, but few regard it as among their duties to make any 
,effort designed for the benefit of the red race. Such cold indifference
can only exist because error and prejudice have beclouded the minds 
of men to such a degree as to cause them to overlook the obligations 


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