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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1856
([1856])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. [3]-24 PDF (10.1 MB)


Page 23

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN       AFFAIRS.            23 
weaker, he is eminently entitled to the kind consideration of the 
stronger race. 
The wonderful emigration to our newly acquired States and Terri- 
tories, and its effect upon the wild tribes inhabiting them and the 
plains and prairies, is well calculated at the present period to attract
special attention. Not only are our settlements rapidly advancing 
westward from the Mississippi river towards the Pacific ocean, and 
from the shores of the Pacific eastward towards the Mississippi river, 
but large settlements have been made in Utah and New Mexico between 
the two. Already the settlements of Texas are extending up to El 
Paso and spreading into the Gadsden Purchase, and those of California 
have reached into the great valley of the Colorado, whilst the settlers 
of Minnesota are building cities at the very head of Lake Superior, 
and villages in the remote valley of the Red river of the North, on their
way to Puget Sound. Railroads built and building, from the Atlantic 
and Gulf cities, not only reach the Mississippi river at about twenty 
different points, but are extending west across Louisiana, Arkansas, 
Missouri, and Iowa. Roads of that character have also been commenced 
in Texas, looking to El Paso, and in Iowa, looking for the great bend of.
the Minnesota river for a present, and for Pembina for a future termi- 
nus. The railroad companies of Missouri and Iowa are even now seek- 
ing aid from Congress to enable them to extend their roads to New 
Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah, and thence to California, Ore- 
gon, and Washington. California has actually commenced the con- 
struction of a railroad leading up the Sacramento valley toward Utah. 
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that in a few years, in a 
very few, the railroads of the east, from New Orleans to the extreme 
west end of Lake Superior, will be extended westwardly up towards 
the Rocky mountains, at least as far as good lands can be found, and 
that roads from the Pacific coast will be built as far east as good 
lands extend; and that in both cases an active population will keep 
up with the advance of the railroads-a population that will open 
farms, erect workshops, and build villages and cities. 
When that time arrives, and it is at our very doors-ten years, if 
our country is favored with peace and prosperity, will witness* the 
most of it-where will be the habitation and what the condition of the 
rapidly wasting Indian tribes of the plains, the prairies, and of our 
new States and Territories ? 
As sure as these great physical changes are impending, so sure will 
these poor denizens of the forest be blotted out of existence, and their
dust be trampled under the foot of rapidly advancing civilization, 
unless our great nation shall generously determine that the necessary 
provision shall at once be made, and appropriate steps be taken to 
designate suitable tracts or reservations of land, in proper localities,
for permanent homes for, and provide the means to colonize, them 
thereon. Such reservations should be selected with great care, and when 
determined upon and designated, the assurances by which they are 
guarantied to the Indians should be irrevocable, and of such a charac- 
ter as to effectually protect them from encroachments of every kind. 
Before bringing this annual report to a conclusion, I desire to repeat 
the statement made in the first one which I had the honor to submit, 
that: " There is no absolute necessity for the employment by Indian


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