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

[Montana],   pp. 259-270 PDF (6.0 MB)


Page 264

264     REPORT    OF   THE   COMMISSIONER       OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS. 
bering, actual count, at one time in camp, 960, and the Upper Assinaboines,
numbering 
properly about 1,700; but much of the time, from bands of Lower Assinaboines
camped 
with them, and bodies of Northern Crees from British America, actually counting
some 2,700 
Indians. All these Indians are from necessity dependent, in the main, for
their living upon 
the chase, and game being sufficiently abundant there was during the past
year no cause for 
complaint or fear of want. There being no provision for t1:e necessary means
of introduc- 
ing the arts of civilization or educational undertakings, none have ever
been attempted; 
still these Indians present a degree of intelligence that would seem to warrant
steps in these 
directions. 
There has been no missionary work performed among these Indians. 
The Upper Assinaboines are now at peace with all the Indian tribes in this
region; they, 
with the Gros Ventres, are friendly in all their associations with whites.
With some buildings devoted exclusively to governmental purposes, and proper
aids, I 
think considerable advancement might be made with these tribes, at least
in the direction of 
a pastoral people. 
The uncertainty which seems to pervade as to the future precludes any suggestions
on my 
part. 
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant, 
WM. H. FANTON, 
Special Indian Agent. 
Hon. E. P. SMITH, 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C. 
LEMH[ SPECIAL AGENCY, 
Lemhi Valley, Idaho, September 17, 1874. 
SIR: In conforming with request issued by circular-letter from your Office,
I have the 
honor to submit herewith my report. 
The Indians under my charge are: The mixed band of Bannacks, Shoshones, and
Sheepeaters, making a t(,tal of about one thousand of all ages and sexes,
and divided, as 
near as can be ascertained, as follows, with Ten Doy for their chief: 200
Bannacks, 500 
Shoshones, and 300 Sheepeaters. 
Many of these Indians are of mixed blood, it being difficult to ascertain
to which tribe 
they originally belonged. These Indians formed a confederacy many years ago,
and have 
since been separated from other tribes, making their headquarters in this
valley, (Lembi,) 
subsisting mainly on salmon fish and mountain sheep, sometimes venturing
on buffalo- 
hunting expeditions in the countries claimed by the Sioux and Crows. These
Indians were 
in the minority, their neighbors strong, and generally hostile, sometimes
taking all their 
stock, and subjecting theni to great hardship. 
About five years ago the attention of the Government was called to their
isolated and 
destitute condition  Their first acting or sub-agent found them in a most
deplorable state, 
living without lodges or tents, and their persons nearly naked. There were
a few excep- 
tions. Ten Doy, their chief, with some of his men, would visit the settlements
and mining- 
camps in Montana, and by his friendship and sagacity in trade, made themselves
more com- 
fortable than the majtirity of the tribe or confederacy. 
On the establishment of an agency or farm at this place, the Indians all
assembled and 
made protestations of friendship to the whites, (who had then discovered
mines in this val- 
ley,-and were coming in very rapidly,) and obedience to the instructions
of the agent and 
laws of the land, which protestations and promises they have to this hour
kept inviolate. 
Although Ten Doy, principal chief, has said in councils that the tribes with
whom he asso- 
ciated in the buffalo-country have advised him to slaughter a few whites,
&c., and the 
Great Father at Washington would think more of him, give him a greater appropriation,
and grant him a reservation, Ten Doy has always replied: "I have not
the blood of a white 
man in my camp, nor do I intend such, so long as properly treated by the
whites." 
The appropriation made by the Government was not sufficient to clothe them
as other 
tribes, or to subsist them at their agency. The agents, therefore, have found
it necessary 
to keep the able-bodied men out on hunting expeditions as much as possible.
I took charge of this agency in April, 173  I found most of the Indians on
the farm, or 
in the immediate vicinity, and but poorly clad and provided for, as the year's
appropriation 
and products of the farm were exhausted. 1 sent them out on hunting expeditions
when- 
ever the weather would admit of their going into the myuntains. They would
often return 
without game, and very hungry. I provided for them as best I could. I reasoned
with 
aiid explained to them the nature of appropriations, and told them that it
was not the 
intention of the Government they should suffer. I observed at once their
reasoning and 
intellectual capacity to be above the average of Indians. They often thanked
me for the 
kind and comprehensive way in which I explained it to them, and for removing
doubts that 
existed in their minds ; for, said they, "We have often in our councils
arrived at the con 
clusion that the Great Father at Washington did not look after our welfare,
but gave us 
presents as a matter of policy." 


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