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

[Dakota],   pp. 238-259 PDF (10.7 MB)


Page 245

REPORT     OF   THE   COMMISSIONER       OF  INDIAN    AFFAIRS.     245 
of which about fifty have been built within ten months, and all of a better
style than for- 
merly, being larger on the ground and higher from floor to roof; besides,
instead of having 
the windows fixed immovably in the roofs, they are now inserted in the sides,
and are hung 
by stout strap-hinges, so that ventilation is possible, if not certain. While
living in their 
dirt lodges they stable their ponies in the same room with themselves, but
when they abandon 
the lodge for the log-house a stable is built outside. 
They have improved also in their habits of policing their village, but still
it is a crowdel, 
filthy place at the best, and much improvement in this respect remains to
be made. So soon 
as the usual number get away to winter-quarters there will be plenty of houses
to accommo- 
date all that remain at home, and we hope to accomplish much the coming winter
in estab- 
lishing, in at least a few families, habits of tolerable domestic neatness,
and also to do more 
than heretofore in the way of preventing and curing disease. 
I am happy to report a growing confidence in " the white man's medicine."
 Until quite 
recently the Gros Ventres and Mandans have ridiculed our ways of treating
the sick, and 
declined to take our medicine, or to submit to surgical interference, but
at present about 
half of-them when sick consult the agency physician, take his medicine, and
believe in his 
powers to heal. The Arickarees have entertained this confidence for some
time. Of course, 
as faith in our methods of treatment increases, their old fashions of medicine-poles,
incanta- 
tions, and violent manipulations, sun-gazing, &c., are in a measure abandoned.
A good 
missionary can aid greatly in this matter. 
REMOVAL. 
My faith that these people may be induced to remove voluntarily to some better
country 
is weakening. A few months ago, judging from their conversation and apparent
feelings, [ 
thought that at least the Arickarees might be induced to move to the Indian
Territory, could 
a delegation of them once visit and inspect it. They said they would move
if convinced 
that the country would prove a better one for them. Accordingly, early in
May last, in obe- 
dience to office instructions, I accompanied a small delegation to see the
country lying west 
of the Sac and Fox reservation. We spent eleven days in the Territory, and
the delegation 
admit that " the country is a very fine one;" but they decline
to go there because they fear 
it is too warm for them. And they cannot believe their aged, infirm, sick,
and children can 
endure so long a journey. Besides they love their own county; their dead
are buried here; 
the Government probably would not redeem its promises better there than here.
"The hos- 
tile Sioux have all they want from the Government without removal from their
country, 
and why cannot the Rees, who have been so friendly and faithful these many
years ?" They 
declare themselves willing to work harder and have less here, rather than
incur the risks 
of moving from the country they have so long called their home. 
It is probable that in time the Gros Ventres and Mandaus may be induced to
join the Crows 
in the Judith Basin, who are very much the same people and speak the same
language. 
Could they be persuaded to go to that country, I think the Arickarees might
then be pre- 
vailed upon, either to join the Pawnees, or accept a home in the Indian Territory;
but it is 
safer to guess what an Indian won't do than what le will. My opinion is,
that it is no 
longer well to consult their wishes, or the wishes of any tribe, to any great
extent. They 
don't know what is best for them, and are incapable of making an intelligent
aid self-pro- 
tecting treaty.  Let the Government decide what is best for each tribe, and
what it intends 
to do by it, and then let it be done, kindly, but decidedly and thoroughly.
Looking at the 
present circumstances of these Indians at this agency, and the attitude of
the Governnei-t 
toward Indians in general, it seems to me altogether probable that these
tribes will be allowed 
to remain here several years yet. If even for four or five years we must
have 
NEW AGENCY BUILDINGS. 
Those now in use for that purpose are old, vermin-infected, tumble-down,
log buildings, 
erected many years ago by the North American Fur Company. They constitute
the south- 
east portion of the village, arid as northwest winds prevail here, they are
exposed to all the 
offensive odor, dust, and noise of the camp. During the summer season the
foul atmos- 
phere, dust, smoke, fleas, flies, bed-bugs, and almost constant din of drum
and dance, at 
times make sleep or comfort almost impossible, and though the six white ladies
now here 
(wives of employ6s and the teacher) have endured it all thus far with remarkable
patience 
and self-sacrifice, it is a shame to our Government and a disgrace to Christian
culture to 
allow things to remain so another year. We must have next season new and
more comfort- 
able buildings, er~ted at a healthful distance from the Indian village, or
our women must 
return to the States, and with them our best men. The health of nearly every
employe and 
lady at the agency has suffered more or less this season; a few have been
quite si'k, and 
one is now dangerously ill. Cholera-morbus, with typhoid tendency, and kindred
diseases 
have prevailed. 
EMPLOYTS. 
The subject of employds seems to demand a few words. The recent legislation
of Con- 
gress on this matter, though doubtless in the right direction, and probably
beneficial at 


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