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

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

Page 8

and agricultural lands given in the dispatches of the commander and 
explorers and correspondents of the expedition intensified the eagerness
of the people all along the border to take possession of this country. 
Notwithstanding the subsequent correction of these exaggerations by 
statements on reliable information that no indications of mineral wealth
were found, and that the lands were undesirable for white settlements, 
together with the strict prohibition by the War Department of any in- 
trusion into the Territory, exploring and mining expeditions have been 
fitted out at Yankton, Bismarck, and other points, and have started to 
the Black Hills. Some have been driven back by the Indians with loss 
of life and property, and others are supposed to be on their way. It is 
not believed, however, that any serious complication will arise from this
source. If neither the military nor Indians should be able to guard 
their country, the explorers themselves will probably soon become sat- 
isfied of its undesirableness to them, and will voluntarily relinquish 
their projects for mining or settlement. It is not improbable, however, 
that legislation will be sought, meanwhile, by which to procure the 
opening of this country to settlement. Such a course cannot be too 
strongly deprecated, and should be opposed in every form. Scarcely a 
greater evil could come to the Sioux people than the disturbance and 
demoralization incident to an attempt to dispossess them of their coun- 
The Minneconjou, Sans Are, and Two Kettle bands, which have made 
the Black Hills country their home and special retreat, are for 4he most
part wild and non-treaty Indians, though probably a majority of them 
have been accustomed for several years past to receive more or less 
rations during the three or four mouths of the winter at different agen-
cies, but mainly at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail. Their presence at 
these agencies causes disturbance and irregularities of many kinds, and 
the agent has not heretofore had for his support a sufficient force to 
enable him to prevent them from taking for themselves, from the Gov- 
ernment stores purchased for other Indians, such quantities of rations 
as they have demanded. This has required additional supplies and 
necessitated annual deficiency appropriations. To remedy this evil 
Congress at its last session was requested by the Department to estab- 
lish a new agency in the region of the Black Hills, and provide support 
for these Indians by themselves; but the necessary legislation was not 
secured, and these wild Indians are already coming from their partially 
successful buffalo-hunts to the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies to 
spend the ensuing winter. The presence of the military force now es- 
tablished at these points will probably prevent any serious disturbance 
or violent demands at these agencies for rations like those of the last 
winter; but it will not prevent the desperation which would come from 
starvation, and the consequent depredations upon settlements in Ne- 
braska and Wyoming. For it is not -to be supposed that wild Indians, 
numbering from seven to ten thousand, will long suffer from hunger 
.within two days' ride of the herds and granaries of white men. There 
can be no question as to the expediency of supporting Indians by regu- 
lar issues of rations when the alternative is their support by plunder. 
And as all the reasons heretofore urged for the establishment and sup- 
port of an agency for these non-treaty Sioux are still pressing, and with
the increased force which further observation and experience have fur- 
nished, I respectfully suggest that Congress be again requested to pro- 
vide such an agency, and also to make the deficiency appropriation 
necessary to provide for their subsistence during the ensuing winter. 

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