University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1874
([1874])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. [3]-17 PDF (6.6 MB)


Page 6

6    REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF 1NDIAN AFFAIRS. 
implements, seeds, and stock, are needed; and wherever any tribe in this
class is receiving cash annuity by treaty, that treaty should be so far 
amended or annulled as to make all bounty and aid by the Government 
come to the Indian ward in the form of payment for labor performed. 
If, according to the testimony of faithful and trustworthy agents, who 
speaking'from personal observation and contact with the facts know 
whereof they affirm, such bountiful and hopeful results have been pro- 
duced among them, in spite of the present disabilities and difficulties,
no 
candid nind can question the sure and rapid returns which will come 
if the reasonable requirements of their case cau be met by appropriate 
legislation. 
THE CIVILIZED. 
The third class, numbering 100,085, composed of Indians who, without 
violence to the term, may be called civilized, is most numerous. All of 
these have been greatly assisted in attaining to their present condition
by the direct and long-continued religious teachings and influences of 
missionaries. The great need of a majority of this class of Indians at 
the present time is a qualified citizenship, and yet most of them hesi- 
tate to take any steps which propose to lead them out of the tribal con-
dition. Pride of nationality, dread of competition with the enterprise 
of white riien, and fear of loss of property by taxation or suit for debt
cause this hesitation among the mass of the less educated; while the 
more forehanded and better educated among them, being generally the 
government dejfcto, and thus intrusted with funds and power, are in 
no haste for a change. Both classes appeal most strenuously to the 
letter of their treaties, which requires the United States to protect them
as sovereignties forever; and the question will sooner or later arrive at
this point, as in the case of cash annuities, whether the Government 
will hold itself bound forever by the literal terms of its bargain with its
wards, to the palpable damage of both contracting parties. 
Of the roamers, numbering about 14,000, little can be said except that 
they are generally as harmless as vagrants and vagabonds can be in a 
civilized country. They are found in all stages of degradation produced 
by licentiousness, intemperance, idleness, and poverty. Without land, 
unwilling to leave their haunts for a homestead upon a reservation, and 
scarcely in any way related to or recognized by the Government, they 
drag out a miserable life. Themselves corrupted and the source of 
corrtiption, they seem to serve by their continued existence but a single
useful purpose, that of affomding a living illustration of the tendency 
and effect of barbarism allowed to expend itself uncured. 
THE SIOUX PROBLEM. 
These Indians, comprising seventeen different bands, are the most nu- 
inerous tribe in the United States. Forty-six thousand seven hundred and
lifty-three have received rations from the Government at eleven different
,agencies. The wilder portions of this tribe, who have as yet consented 
to visit an agency only on an occasional raid for rations, are variously
estimated from five thousand to ten thousand, making the whole num- 
ber of Sioux not far from 53.000. As a whole, this tribe is as yet un- 
reached by civilization, except so far as their necessities and inclina-
tions have led them to receive rations and annuity goods from the hands 
of Government agents. 
The problem of the future of this tribe is a serious one; not so much 
on account of numbers or wildness as from the fact that the country 


Go up to Top of Page