United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1874
[Minnesota], pp. 195-198 PDF (1.9 MB)
198 REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. braves are setting, in this respect, a worthy example, laboring diligently with their hands. Already good results are coming to light, in the inquiry made for such articles as chairs and stoves, by those hitherto content with sitting on the floor and warming their wigwams by c'av fire-places. One improvement naturally suggests another, and a strong desire for them will stimulate the efforts to obtain them ; hence we may properly look for increased habits of industry and thrift. The very decided opposition to the sale of their pine, and the manner especially of distrib- uting the avails thereof, manifested by a considerable faction of this band last winter and spring, has very nearly subsided, with a feeling of acquiescence therein at present. I have labored unler serious difficulties ever since entering upon my duties here in conse- quence of the excessive cost of transporting freight over one hundred and fifty miles of road, conceded by all who have seen it to be the worst in the State; but with the completion of the new route via White Earth, now in process of opening, our freights will be reduced at least $30 per ton, will arrive more promptly, and we confidently anticipate the establishment on this new route of a weekly mail, in place of our present arrangement, by which we get a mail when we send a messenger seventy-five miles to the nearest post-office for it. Some- times we are deprived of all knowledge of the outer world for four and five weeks together. The plan adopted by the Department and approved by Congress, of givin g supplies, &c., only to those who, if able, help themselves, who are willing to labor, is working well here so far as tried, and, indeed, I attribute a considerable share of the above-mentioned improve- ments in the habits of the Indians to the application of that principle on this reservation. It fosters industry and thrift, it breaks down the prejudice to manual labor, and aids in devel- oping in the Indians the self-reliant element so greatly needed in lifting them to a higher plane of life and usefulness In farming operations some improvement should' be reported, more land cultivated this year than last, and better cultivated, with the following proximate result: The Indians have secured this year 40 bushels of wheat, and it is no longer an experiment as to the feasibility of raising wheat, as the yield per acre did not fall short of 12 bushels of very nice plump 'wheat; and those who raised it this season, as well as their neighbors, seem delighted with the idea of raising their own wheat, and their example will be followed by many more next spring. Of corn, the yield is about the same as last year, say 4,500 bushels, while the potato crop was cut short by the bug and drought, yielding only about 2,000 bushels, being some 500 bushels short of last year's yield. In catching fish they have been ordinarily successful, taking about 1,000 barrels during the season, gathering 500 bushels of berries, mostly the blueberry, cutting for their own use about 100 tons of hay, and weaving by hand 1,000 yards of rush matting. They own about 75 horses and ponies, some 30 head of cattle, 2 hogs, &c. In educational affairs I can report the completion and occupancy of a neat, commodious, and comfortable school-house, the maintenance of a day-school, with an average attendance of about S. The attendance is very irregular, the pupils coming to school or not, as they choose, many living so remote that attendance on a day-school is out of the question. This suggests the great need of this agency, educationally considered-a good boarding-school, suipplemented perhaps by day-schools at some of the other points; and until we have such a boarding-school the educational work here will be of little use or benefit. In a boarding- school a more wholesome restraint can be secured, better and more punctual attendance, more careful guardianship of habits, manners, &c., of the pupils than can possibly be secured in a day-school. Many of the best Indians themselves strongly urge the establishment of a boarding-school, and have, as I am informed, pledged from their lumber fund $1,000 toward securing it. The missionary work, under the charge of Rev. F. Spees, consists of a sermon to the Indians on Sabbath morning, a Bible-class in the afternoon, a prayer-meeting out two miles from the agency on Friday evening, assisting those Indians who wish to be Christians in their efforts at building houses, in counseling them, &c., &c. The result, not all visible to the natural eye, may embrace the gathering into the Mission church here of three Indian womep and two men. The two men and their wives were baptized, then married legally, and admitted to the church. Others, I am assured, are seeking that "true wisdom," and it is thought will seek to unite with the church soon. There has been added to the church one Indian woman, who was many years ago connected with the church here, who has maintained her Christian integrity through all these years. I would suggest, as a pressing need of this people, to develop in them a sense of their own responsibility to the laws of the land, a respect for law and its enforcement in the punishment of crime; to this end, if necessary, additional legislation should be had, establishing some resident judicial authority having power to take cognizance of, try, and punish crme com- mitted on the reservation. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, R. M. PRATT, United States Special Indian Agent. Hoo. E. P. SMITH, Coetesissioacr of Indian A4ff airs, WJashing ton, D. C.
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