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

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

Page 14

been harmonious, and, it is believed, mutually helpful. There can be 
no question but that, as a class, the persons thus secured for the diffi-
cult and responsible position of Indian agent are conscientious and faith-
ful men. Exceptions to this statement have been less frequent the past 
year than heretofore, owing to the increased care of the religious bodies
in their selection of nominees, which has probably resulted from a 
quickened sense of the responsibility assumed by them, and their en- 
larged information as to the requisite qualifications of an efficient agent.
Other things being equal, the character of an accurate report of an 
agen6y can be forecast by previous personal acquaintance with the 
agent. If he is a man of nerve and hard sense, who has gone to his 
agency with the ruling purpose to do good, who believes that an Indian 
is a fellow-man, susceptible to the same motives and influences as him- 
self  needing to be taught industry and individuality, the reports from 
that agency will show a steadily improving condition from the time or 
the arrival of the agent; and if the ordinary means are at hand with 
which barbarism may reasonably be expected to be cured, the indica- 
tions of such improvement shortly become marked, and the recovery of 
the tribe from barbarism is soon made to appear feasible and well begun.
Too much emphasis cannot be laid on the necessity of securing this 
class of men for agents, and by no plan likely to be adopted is it prob-
able that better men can be secured for this service than the several 
religious bodies offer on their nominations to the Government. 
Scarcely any service in the Government is more delicate and difficult 
than that of an Indian agent. On no Government post of duty is an 
officer more liable to be approached and manipulated by designing men, 
and nowhere else are the apparent facilities for undetected fraud so 
great as in many of these distant and inaccessible fields. Surely the 
Government cannot afford to appoint a man to this duty who is not both 
able and upright, and who can be kept strong in his integrity. And 
yet the Government offers for such service, requiring such qualifications,
the sum of $1,500 per annum as pay of an agent and the support of his 
family in a country unusually expensive. Can it be that the Govern- 
ment intends either deliberately to maim and cripple its service, or to 
wrong honest and efficient officers? I respectfully repeat and urge the 
recommendation of last year, that the salaries of Indian agents be in- 
creased to at least $2,000 per annum for the eastern agencies, and $2,500
for the remote. 
Frequent mention has been made in this report of the necessity for 
additional legislation on behalf of the Indians. This necessity is appa-
rent from the fact that the only statutes under which Indians are man- 
aged and controlled are substantially those enacted in 1834, known as 
the trade and intercourse laws, whose main purpose was to regulate 
traffic in furs, and prevent sale of ammunition and intoxicating drinks,
and intrusion upon an indian reservation. This meager legislation was 
in accord with the theory then prevailing, that the Indian tribes were 
related to the American Government only as sovereignties who natu- 
rally would provide their own laws; and that the red men, being a peo- 
ple essentially wild and untamable, needed only to be kept as remotely as
possible from all settlements, to be assisted as hunters, to be forcibly

Go up to Top of Page