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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 268

268     REPORT    OF THE     COMMISSIONER       OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS. 
The sanitary condition of these Indians has been very much improved under
the success- 
ful treatment of the agency physician. Dr. Stone, by his judicious management,
uniform 
patience, unremitting attention, and almost unerring treatment of diseases,
has not only 
gained the confidence and respect of a majority of the Indians of this agency,
but he has 
also measurably destroyed their faith in their own"medicine-men."
 For further particu- 
lars under this head see the physician's report. 
Valuabie improvements have been made, during the year, for agency purposes,
in the con- 
struction of the following log-buildings, mostly hewn inside and out, viz:
1 large ware- 
house, 20 by 80; 1 bastion, attached, 20 by 20; 1 blacksmith-shop, 15 by
20; 1 stable, 20 
by 28; 1 coal-house, 12 by 15; 1 slaughterhouse, 15 by 24; and I cattle-corral,
70 by 100. 
These have been built by the agency employes, and at no other cost to the
Government 
than what has been expended for materials for doors, windows, gates, &c.
We have com- 
pleted several buildings erected by my predecessor, putting in the doors,
floors, and win- 
dows, and have also made extensive repairs on other agency buildings. In
the construction 
of these buildings I have been necessitated to use dirt-roofs. This I regret,
for it is impos- 
sible to make them water-proof, but I could do no better, as we have neither
saw-mill nor 
shingle-machine, and lumber and shingles could not be obtained without much
expense and 
great delay. With this exception the buildings are all good, substantial,
and sufficient to 
meet the agency requirements at present. 
This agency app~ears to be very unfavorably located in many respects. It
is situated at the 
base of a high barren bluff, very close to the Missouri River, and furnishes
no opportunity 
for farming operations in its immediate vicinity, and no inducements for
permanent im- 
provements. I do not question the wisdom or reasons which led to its present
location, yet, 
whatever those reasons may have been, I am decidedly of the opinion they
do not now exist. 
The only thing that can be stated in favor of this location for an Indian
agency is a con- 
venient and superior boat-landing, but this may be found in other localities
more desirable. 
I would urgently recommend the removal of this agency were it not for the
following 
reasons. viz : first, it has been built but recently at considerable cost
to the Government; 
second, we have neither saw-mill or shingle-machine with which to prepare
suitable material 
for building a permanent agency; third, the appropriation for the Indians
of this agency for 
the present fiscal year is entirely insufficient to supply these Indians
with the actual necessi- 
ties of life after paying such expenses as are indispensable to the existence
of an agency; 
consequently we could not reasonably expect to expend a part of that amount,
for the con- 
struction of agency-buildings, which is needed for other and more necessary
purposes. 
The arms and ammunition question has been one of great annoyance and perplexity
to 
us, and very vexatious to the Indians of this agency. The Department, no
doubt, has re- 
ceived reports and information from various sources in regard to amounts
sold and traded.to 
these Indians. I am convinced these reports and information in great part
are incorrect, for, 
upon the c'osest investigation, I find that, although an inconsiderable amount
of ammunition 
has been traded by half-breed traders from British America, and a limited
quantity by 
parties from other localities outside the reservation-limits, and a small
quantity by friendly 
Indians from posts east of this agency, yet the aggregate amount obtained
from all these 
sources would nt, in my opinion, seriously embarrass the Department in the
management 
and control of these Indians. I have taken special pains at different times
to ascertain 
definitely to what extent the Indians belonging to this agency were provided
with arms and 
ammunition, and have invariably found them poorly supplied with arms, and
these a very 
inferior class, and usually almost entirely destitute ot ammunition. Very
few breech-loading 
guns are to be found in theisr possesion, yet those owning such contrive
to obtain cartridges 
for them by some means. 
The rules and regulations of the Department in regard to the sale and traffic
of arms and 
ammunition to Indians have been strictly observed by the licensed traders
on the reservation, 
yet no other subject has given me so much care and anxious solicitude. This
law, as applied 
to the Indians of this agency, is truly a great hardship, for, while a majority
of them are as 
peaceably disposed and as friendly to the whites as those tribes who are
allowed to trade 
without restriction, these are prohibited not only from trading for improved
guns aDd fixed 
ammunition, but also for loose ammunition in sufficient quantities to meet
their actual neces- 
sities. The Assinaboines and Santees feel this restriction very oppressively,
and say "they 
think the Great Father is not treating them as well as he is treating other
Indians, nor as 
well as they deserve. He sends them word that he wants them to live, but
won't let them 
have enough ammunition to kill game with." One of two things is apparent:
either these 
Indians must be allowed to trade for ammunition in sufficient quantities
to kill game, or 
their appropriations must be increased, for these alone are now wholly inadequate
to subsist 
them continuously. 
The utmost vigilance has been exercised in preventing illicit traffic in
intoxicating liquors 
with these Indians, and I am happy to state that our efforts in this regard
have been very 
successful. Only one Indian has been known to be under the influence of this
dangerous 
"poison," and the party trading it was soon apprehended and arrested,
and turned over to 
the military authorities at Carroll. 
Early in May last, I received information that several paItties were near
Medicine Lodge, 
on the north side of Milk River, trading liquors, ammunition, and merchandise
to Indians, 


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