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

[Montana],   pp. 259-270 PDF (6.0 MB)

Page 265

I found no school or school-house at the agency. I called the Indians together,
and in 
council explained to them the excellency and the great and enlightening influence
and ad- 
vantages of education; they gave noticeable attention to my sayings, and
urged me to 
establish a school for the instruction of their children, young men, and
women. I went to 
work and built a good school-house at small expense, doing nearly all the
labor with em- 
ployc's, both white and Indian. I started the school on March 1, 1874. I
insist upon all 
entering, regardless of age or size. The children learn rapidly; they show
a susceptibility 
and desire for learning useful knowledge far beyond what I had expected.
The generation 
now growing up, if looked after and guarded with careful and intelligent
teachers who have 
their welfare at heart, can be made a useful class of people. Although the
improvement in 
learning is not as great as I anticipated, on account of the order in April
last to move these 
people to Fort Hall reservation, it seemed to demoralize them, and would
not attend school 
as before, and now, with close of quarter ending September 30, 1874, unless
further funds 
are provided, I must discontinue the school, having exhausted the civilization
There is a noticeable improvement, since my arrival here, in the moral behavior
of grown 
Indians, both male and female; also a growing desire to settle down on small
farms and 
have homes or fixed habitations, and a craving desire to improve their condition.
kind depottment and behavior to the white families is a subject of general
remark. I have 
no annoying complaints to answer, or difficulties to settle, between whites
or Indians. 
In May last, an official letter was received by me, advising me of the decision
of the-De- 
partment to remove these Indians under my charge to Fort Hall reservation,
and instructing 
me to take the necessary steps to effect the same. Immediately after receipt
of letter I as- 
sembled the Indians present and sent for Ten Doy and other headmen, then
absent, that 
I might read the letter to them, and explain to them fully the wish of the
Department. The 
Indians were much disappointed and dissatisfied to learn that it is contemplated
to take 
them away from this valley, and, in fact, positively refused to go. I have
reasoned with and 
urged them to be obedient to the wishes of the Department, as their best
interests were con- 
templated in any change that may be made. I acknowledge myself at a loss
to know what 
suggestion to make. My position is, indeed, embarrassing; the refusal of
the Indians to be 
removed on one hand, and a desire to obey instructions on the other. I assure
you, however, 
that I have done, and will continue to do, all in my power to execute and
carry out the wishes 
of the Indian Department. I have discharged all white employds, except two
and teacher of 
school, and have employed nine Indians in their stead; six of these have
been approved by 
the Department, and I trust the others will be soon, as they have worked
faithfully in gath- 
ering the harvest, and are now employed in thrashing the pease, wheat, and
oats with flail, and 
will assist this winter in cutting rails and making fence if, in the judgment
of the Depart- 
ment, these people can remain at their home on the Lemhi. 
The products of the farm have nearly been doubled this year. What we have
raised is 
estimated as follows : Wheat. 310 bushels; oats, 540 bushels; potatoes, 1,500
bushels; tur- 
nips, 900 bushels; tons of hay, 3; pease, 152 bushels; parsnips, 5 bushels;
dried salmon, 
4,t00 pounds; heads of cabbage, 1,000. 
In conclusion I have to say the first part of my report may be considered
My object in giving it is, first, that there never has been a report, to
my knowledge, of the 
former condition of these Indians; second, that their condition then may
be compared with 
the present. By so doing, all must acknowledge that they have been greatly
benefited and 
have made great advancement. They now pay great regard to their persons,
showing a de- 
sire to be cleanly and to dress in the clothing of white people. 
The general appropiiation should be increased instead of decreased. By increasing
it to 
$30,000 the Indians could be properly clothed and fed; with the present appropriation
$20,000 it is impossible to provide for all their actual and necessary wants.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
Hon. EDWARD P. SMITH,                    Special Agent for Mixed Bannacks
et al. 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs. 
Fort Peck, Montana, September 1, 1874. 
SIR: In compliance with the requirements of the Department, I have the honor
to submit 
herewith my first annual report. 
The Milk River agency is now located on the north bank of the Missouri River,
one hundred and fifty miles, by land, west of Fort Buford, a military post
opposite the mouth 
of the Yellowstone River, and two hundred and seventy-five miles, by land,
east of Fort 
Benton; about double these distances by water. Fort Benton, the head of navigation
the MIssouri River, is the nearest white settlement to this agency. 
The reservation for the Indians of this agency and other tribes w-est lies
north of the Mis- 

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