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

Papers accompanying the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1874,   pp. [85]-[180] PDF (27.0 MB)


Page 95

REPORT    OF THE    COMMISSIONER      OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS,      95 
search would be rewarded with success. As an agricultural or grazing country
it is 
worthless. It is high, bleak, and cold, traversed by fearful storms in winter
and spring, 
and in summer time almost truly said by the Indians to be inhabited by the
thunder- 
gods, ever angry at and jealous with hot displeasure of intrusion upon their
sanctuary 
and mountain home. The cold weather is long and severe, the summers very
short, and 
affording only time for a month or two of grazing in the parks and for the
ripening of 
the smaller berries in the ravines. When civilization comes nearer and some
railroad 
traverses these plains, the pine may be useful for rough lumber and for fuel;
but now, 
and for long time to come, its only use and value seem to be that known to
the Indi- 
ans-for poles to uphold their "teepees" on the prairie, or to make
travois for their 
ponies when they journey. An agency could hardly be located here, and to
open the 
country would be a mistaken kindness to the whites and a great and uncalled-for
wrong to the Indians. The country is theirs by solemn compact, and to take
it from 
them will be wrong and robbery-an unwarrantable use of our great power to
impose 
upon the simple and the weak. 
THE LOCATION OF THE SPOTTED TAIL AGENCY. 
Upon our arrival at Spotted Tail agency, on the 5th of September, we found
General 
King, commandant  of this military district, accompanied by his personal
staff and two 
companies of cavalry, already there, prepared to assist in the removal of
the agency to 
the newly-selected location. We immediately called upon him at his camp.
We 
learned from him that, while he acknowledged the immediate necessity of removal
from this place, and said that the troops must be taken away if some new
location was 
not found, yet that he was greatly opposed to the location selected by us,
as being, in 
his opinion and that of his officers, unfit for permanent location of a military
post. 
His objections were that, from information deemed by him to be credible,
(a,) he thought 
the water liable to be bad in summer time, (b,) the timber insufficient in
quantity, (c,) 
the distance from it too great for their limited transportation, and (d)
the location too 
far from Red Cloud agency for support from their garrison in case of any
trouble with 
the Indians. He did not say it in so many words, but I inferred it from the
tone of his 
conversation, that if we insisted upon the location without further.examination,
he 
would report the matter to the War Department as an injustice to the troops
who were 
to go there, and the Indians who did not desire to move. 
We therefore consented to make a further examination of all the streams in
the 
vicinity of the agency, to see if the location could in any way be bettered
and all parties 
satisfied with our conclusions. We did this the more willingly because we
were in- 
formed by the general of a new freight route, just opened by him from Sidney,
on the 
Union Pacific Railroad, that made the distance to these agencies only one
hundred andi 
twenty miles, in lieu of two hundred and eighty from Fort Randall and two
hundred 
and twenty-five from Cheyenne, as by the routes now used. This would lessen
the 
distance for wagon-transportation more than we could possibly do by any justifiable
move. 
We examined, first, Bordean Creek and its branches, and it was found to be
too small 
a valley for the occupancy of both the Indians and the Government for an
agency. 
We next looked at Shadron, which was desired by General King and his officers
as a 
location for their post. We thought it too narrow a valley, and very objectionable
as 
being on the upper edge of the Bruld country, and only twenty-five miles
distant from 
the agency of the Ogalallas. At Beaver Creek we found good pine for lumber
and ex- 
cellent springs of water, but a plateau far too snall for both Indians and
agency. 
The west fork was thought by General King to be admirably suited to the convenience
of a military post. We also again examined Big White Clay, our already selected
loca- 
tion. We were still satisfied with it, but General King thought the wash
from the 
hills would make the water bad in spring and summer time, and that the timber
was 
too far away, and not sufficient in quantity for both post and agency. He
told its of 
the enormous quantities required for the troops-a thousand or fifteen hundred
cords 
of wood per year-besides the amount required for building. We were also told
that 
the Brulds would not come here unless forced to do so, and that the military
could not 
be used to move them without the fatal delay of awaiting further orders from
head- 
quarters at Omaha. We therefore held a council in which the military, the
citizens, 
and the Indians were consulted, and determined to compromise the matter by
locating 
at West Beaver Creek, ten miles south from the present agency. 
Our reasons were as follows: (a) The present location is as bad as possible;
(b) 
soldiers will not live in such a place; (d) it is unhealthy for both whites
and Indians; 
if we do not move the troops will be taken away and the agency left to anarchy,
as 
last winter ; (e) we were to move towards the Missouri River, hoping to shorten
the 
distance and to pay expenses by the saving in cost of transportation ; but
we find no 
location suitable further east than twenty, miles, and the money saved by
cutting oft 
that distance, at present rates of freighting, would be only $1,800, a sum
utterly in- 
sufficient for our purposes ; (f) it is therefore economy for the "Government
to move 


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