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

[Dakota],   pp. 238-259 PDF (10.7 MB)

Page 242

have been built of logs. Some have improved their old ones. They have a strong
desire for 
better houses, but must wait for greater resources. They have cut and sold
about 200 cords 
of wood, hauling some of it forty miles to market, and they would have cut
more, but they 
have little more wood than they will need themselves. They have made considerable
freighting with their teams, going sometimes a hundred miles away. But they
have made 
the most catching small fur, because they knew the best how to do that. In
this way they 
have earned, perhaps, $3,500. This resource will soon fail, as the fur is
nearly caught out 
in this region. One Indian has the contract for carrying the mail through
Flandreau, for- 
which he receives $1,0C0 a year. It is but a few miles from Flandreau to
the far-famed 
pipe-stone quarry, and these Indians make many little sums by selling pipes,
rings, ink- 
stands, &c., made from this beautiful red stone. The manufacture of cloth,
baskets, and 
mats they know nothing about, but have expressed a desire to learn. Also
some of the young 
men have asked to learn the blacksmith and carpenter trades, and, if a suitable
place could 
be found for them, it would be an excellent thing. 
The progress which these Indians have made in the last few years already
places them 
nearer the civilized than the savage being. The chief causes of their improvement,
as I 
view it, are : 1. The lesson they learned from the massacre in Minnesota,
that peace is bet- 
ter than war. 2. The eternal truths of the gospel which were sounded in their
ears in a 
language they fully understood. 3. The feeling of manhood gendered by individual
sessions and the responsibility of caring for one's self. 
For their future development it is necessary that the plan f assisting each
farmer with 
an outfit should be carried out. A little over thirty families Lave been
supplied with the 
most necessary things. The other forty should have the same. And they all
need a few 
more articles, one of which is a cow. Furnishing them an outfit is helping
them to earn 
their own living instead of supporting them. It may cost more on the start,
but how much 
better in the end. Wherever Indians will take care of their stock and implements,
and use 
them as these do, let the Government furnish them liberally. It is a kind
of sowing that 
will bring a rich harvest. 
The matter of education must be carefully looked to, as the parents have
little or no edu- 
cation themselves. Although the school now in progress might answer for the
children near 
by, a large number at a distance will grow up in ignorance unless something
further is done. 
I recommend, therefore, the eiection of a plain boarding-hall, in connection
with the present 
school, where scholars from a distance may receive their meals and lodging.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
Ho. E. P. SMITH,                            United States Special Indian
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washingion, D. C. 
Fort Bcrthold, Dak., August 31. 1874. 
SIR: In compliance with the requirements of the Department, I have the honor
to make 
the annual report of the affairs of this agency for the year ending August
31, 1874. 
My acquaintance with the agency began November 1, 1873, at which time, in
obedience to 
office instructions, I relieved my predecessor, Mr. John E. Tappan, of its
duties. The con- 
dition of agency affairs at that time, briefly, was as follows : 
There were, according to the estimate of the late agent, about twenty-one
hundred Indians 
belonging to the agency. Nearly one-half or them, however, were away serving
as scouts 
at military posts hereabouts, hunting for game, visiting friends among other
tribes, or mak- 
ing winter-quarters at various places between Forts Buford and Peck, where
the conditions 
for getting a living during the winter are more favorable than nearer home.
The sanitary 
condition of the agency was sad to contemplate. At least one-tenth of those
remaining at 
home were seriously sick, while a majority were suffering more or less from
depressing dis- 
ease. About one-half were living in log houses of native construction, and
the other half 
in their old-fashioned dirt-lodges. The former are for the most part small,
close, and over- 
crowcded, while the latter are large, damp, and cold, both of them poorly
adapted to the needs 
of these people in such a climate as this. But little had been attempted
in the way of civil- 
ization. No missionary or teacher had been provided, and but few male Indians
had under- 
taken to work. Tle'squaws, from time immemorial, have been industrious workers.

Go up to Top of Page