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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 267

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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