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

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

Page 24

24                      REPORT OF THE 
tribes of attorneys or agents to attend to their business at the seat of
government," and to urge, in the most solemn manner, that "it is
duty of the government as their guardians to cause all matters of a 
business character with them to be so conducted as to preclude the 
necessity of the intervention of this class of persons." This recom-
mendation was repeated in my second and third annual reports, and 
is again urged as the result of convictions strengthened by experience. 
I also desire again to urge all that I have presented in former reports,
as well as in this one, with reference to the obnoxious and fatal policy
of removing Indian tribes, and the absolute necessity of fixed habita- 
tions and permanent homes as indispensable to their preservation, 
domestication and civilization. To preserve the small reservations 
already made, and hereafter to be made, by tribes who have or may 
resolve to settle down and till the land, and to preserve to all Indians
their annuities, I again urgently recommend such penal and other 
legislation as may be required to effect these objects. But any mea- 
sure of protection short of this will fail to guard the Indians against 
the artful schemes of those bad men, who, under more or less specious 
pretences, desire to obtain either their lands or their money, or both. 
Upon such protection depends the question of their future existence, 
for when stripped of their property, alms would only rapidly sink, not 
permanently elevate and preserve them.    Humanity, Christianity, 
national honor, unite in demanding the enactment of such laws as 
will not only protect the Indians, but as shall effectually put it out 
of the power of any public officer to allow these poor creatures to be 
despoiled of their lands and annuities by a swarm of hungry and 
audacious speculators, attorneys, and otheys, their instruments and 
coadjutors. And no officer should, for the want of such.,legislation, be
compelled, during his whole official existence, eitherto allow the Indians
to be plundered, or else have to devote his .whole energies to the main-
tenance of a conflict to sustain their rights against combinations of 
men, whose chief and first efforts are always directed towards obtaining
influence with the press, and with those supposed to be high in the 
confidence of the executive and legislative departments of the govern- 
ment. It is asking too much of a subordinate officer. It exposes him 
to unnecessary danger and unnecessary temptation ; and it is grossly 
unjust to the Indians thus to expose him to such a danger and to such 
a temptation. The security of their rights should be made as little 
dependent upon the virtue of a public officer as possible. 
To preserve their property and to give them the blessings of educa- 
tion and Christianity, is indispensable to their continuing "long in
land" which God gave to their fathers and to them. I sincerely hope
that our government  Vill have the aid of all its good citizens in faith-
fully executing its high trust, and discharging its obligations to the 
remnants of the Indian tribes now left to its oversight and guardian- 
ship, so that they shall be intelligently and generously protected and 
cared for, in all that makes life useful and happy. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
Secretary of the Interior. 

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