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)
REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 267 The second class will include the different bands of Yanctonnai and Unepatina Sioux. These Indians, until very recently, have entertained a haughty disdain for the power and authority of the Government. They are now beginning to realize and acknowledge their dependence upon the Government, and apparently are endeavoring to conform to its require- ments of peace and good behavior. The marked change in the general deportment for the better in the past ten months, or since I took charge of this agency, is plainly visible. It gives me great pleasure to assureyou that I have gained the confidence and respect of these Indians to such a degree that they are solicitous of my advice in all matters of importance to them, ard appear anxious and willing to do everything in their power to please me. Many of the headmen of these bands have expressed a strong desire to engage in agricultural pur- suits as soon as practicable. Prominent among these are several Teton chiefs who visited Washington during September, 1872. The Yanctonai and Uncpatina Sioux arc powerful bands. Many of them possess noble traits of character, and, if properly directed, will un- doubtedly, not far remote in the future, justify the hopes, and recompense the labor and expen- ditures, now beig bestowed upon them. The Uncpapa Sioux constitute the third class. They are extremely difficult to'manage, perhaps as much so as any Indians in the country. They are wild, deuwnstrative, and un- grateful for favors. There is still a formidable force of hostile Indians occupying the Yel- lowstone and Powder River country. Among them are many relatives, former friends, and associates of these Uncpapa Sioux. On this account I find it almost impossible to keep them under proper subjection, or retain them within the reservation limits. They claim some right arid interest in the country through which the North Pacific Railroad is projected, and do riot propose to relinquish their claim without remuneration; consequently many of them come and go when they please. I have no doubt that some of the best disposed of these Uncpapa Indians go there with no worse intentions than to visit and hunt; but once there, they are restrained and overawed by Sitting Bull, his associate chiefs, and his formidable soldier lodge, so that they cannot return to the agency when they wish. About 250 lodges of these Uncpapa Sioux received annuity-goods last fall, and were fed and cared for at this agency until last January, when they lett for their winter's hunt, generally manifesting friendship and good feeling, but fully one-half of the number have not since returned to the agency ; however, I have reason to expect most of them here this month, and shall state to them emphatically that hereafteI the conditions of our giving them annu- ities and provisions, shall be, that they maintain good behavior and constantly remain on the reservation. The agricultural operations have been very limited. The Indians have attempted noth- ing, for reasons already stated. About four acres of ground adjacent to the agency have been fenced and cultivated by the employes. Such vegetables as we most need for kitchen an<l hospital uses were planted, grew, and bid fair to make an excellent crop until about the middle of June, when the grasshoppers visited the garden and ate every green thing close to the ground. However, since they left, the vegetables, especialty the potatoes, have so far recovered from this visitation as to proniise a moderate yield. Many have confidently asserted that neither grain nor vegetables can be raised here without resorting to irrigation; but this initial experiment, on a small scale, satisfies me that during seasons like the pres- ent, irrigation is not indispensable to the growth and maturity of crops in this locality. No schools have yet been established for the benefit of these Indians. It has been a ques- tion in my own mind whether they wore prepared for schools or not, for I have often coun- seled with them in reference to this subject, and stated the numerous advantages and bless- ings which would accrue to them and their children from educational institutions, and until recently I have failed to receive such responses as would justify me in any expenditure for that purpose. I may have been too deliberate in this matter. If so, it is attributable to the fact of my coming among these Indians but ten months ago, to them an entire stranger, knowing little of their habits, peculiarities, and prejudices, and deemed it necessary to study their character, and become somewhat familiar with their dispositions before attempting to introduce innovations which might be premature and prove a failure, and thereby riot only prejudice their minds, but also provoke their hostility to such enterprises in the future. No missionary-labor has been performed among these Indians. This is greatly to be re- gretted, for no other means is so potent in producing permanent results for good as the quick- ening power of the gospel. The missionary-labor of all the Indian agencies in Montana, except one, has been assigned to the care of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a denomina- tion whose energy and liberality are unbounded, but to the best of my knowledge they have as yet expended no money, and provided no missionaries for their Montana Indian work. Certainly it cannot reasonably be expected that the Indian agent, in addition to his many arduous official duties, shall be able to "buckle on the harness " and perform efficient mis- sionary-labor among the Indians. During July last we received a brief visit firom J. M. Reid, D D., one of the secretaries of the Board of Missions of the M. E. Church, who came to Montana, in the interests of this society, to determine the actual needs of their Montana missions. As a result of Dr. Reid's visit we have reason to hope that, as soon as possible, suitable persons will be furnished to perform missionary-labor among- these Indians. Such efforts will receive my hearty co-op- eration and warmest support.
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