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

[Texas],   pp. 173-180 PDF (3.4 MB)

Page 177

one year ago, I found two hundred and seventy-seven Indians; they 
were wild, restless. and discontented, and it was with difficulty they 
could be induced to remain on the reservation. At that time I had 
no means of enforcing my authority, and was compelled to use con- 
ciliatory measures altogether. I had, it is true, a detachment of in- 
fantry from Fort Belknap, that gave protection to myself and the 
government employes, but were of no use in controlling the Indians, 
who, being well mounted, could come and go at pleasure. 
The arrival of cavalry about the 1st of January had a very bene- 
ficial effect indeed, and since that time I had but little trouble in con-
trolling the Indians. Their numbers have greatly increased, and 
they begin to feel that they are safe, and will be protected in all their
rights, as well from the attacks of the hostile Indians, ds from im- 
position by the whites. 
As soon as the season for farming operations arrived, having pre- 
viously had a field prepared, farming utensils, seeds, &c., procured,
called a council of the Indians and endeavored to impress upon them 
the necessity there was for at once adopting agriculture as a means of 
subsistence, and endeavored to show them the many advantages to 
be derived from i; to all of which they heartily assented, and assured 
me they were ready to be governed by my wishes, and at any time, 
when called on, begin planting; they, however, acknowledged their 
entire ignorance of even the rudest methods of agriculture, having 
never planted a seed of any kind. 
With the assistance of a farmer and laborer they soon planted their 
crops, consisting of corn, melons, beans, peas, pumpkins, &c., which
they cultivated remarkably well, and but for the extreme drought 
would have made an abundance to answer their wants. I found no 
difficulty whatever in getting them to work, and feel confident that 
in a few years they can be made a self-sustaining people. 
I would suggest that for the future, in planting, they plant a por- 
tion of their fields in wheat, instead of corn.  It requires a long 
season to mature corn, and a good deal of rain is essential; and as this
region is subject to frequent droughts, it renders corn an uncertain 
crop. Wheat matures early in the season, and is much more likely 
to make a crop than corn ; an additional reason for sowing wheat is, 
that the Indians are remarkably fond of flour, and care but little for 
corn. It is very desirable that there should be no failures in making 
crops, as it is discouraging to the Indians. 
I would also suggest that in purchasing supplies for the Indians for 
the ensuing year, that a portion of their rations consist of flour, in- 
stead of corn, as they can be supplied with flour as cheap, or cheaper, 
than with corn. One of the greatest obstacles in the management of 
the Indians under my care is the influence of those Indians who are 
bound by no treaty and who have no homes; they are constantly hold- 
ing out inducements to the Indians on the reservation to join them in 
their excursions to Mexico, and the frontiers of Texas. 
Hearing, as the Indians do, of the success of many of those parties, 
they naturally wish to join them, and in a few instances have. Many 
of the depredations recently committed on the frontier settlements 
S&e easily traced to the northern Comanches) who pretend to be 

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