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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 269

REPORT     OF  THE    COMMISSIONER       OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS.     269 
contrary to the intercourse laws; whereupon, I consulted Charles D. Hard,
detective and 
deputy United States marshal, and furnished this officer with a sufficient
force ot agency 
employds. He proceeded without delay, made a seizure of all the peltries,
merchandise, and 
ammunition belonging to these illicit traders, and took the matter into the
courts for adjudi- 
cation. This officer, however, failed to make any arrests, as the fugitive
traders made their 
escape into British territory. But this seizure was such a startling surprise
and complete 
success, that I have no apprehension of any annoyance from that quarter for
some time to 
come. 
Licenses have heretofore been granted by Indian agents to parties whose trading-posts
are at great distances from the agency, and tdso beyond the official jurisdiction
of the agent. 
This the Department can remedy, and no doubt will, in the future: but there
seems to be no 
law to prevent persons from trading with any Indians, with or without license,
no matter 
how unfriendly or hostile the Indians, provided such traders are not located
on any reserva- 
tion, and can by any possible means induce the Indians to visit their trading.posts.
On 
this, and other subjects of creneral interest, I offer the following suggestions
: that trade and 
traffic with uncivilized Indians should be wholly prohibited outside of their
respective reser- 
vations. It will be sufficient for me simply to direct attention to this
matter, in order to 
show the absolute necessity of additional legislation in reference to it.
Indian depredations may be suppressed and prevented by a more rigid enforcement
of 
existing laws, and, if necessary, the adoption of more stringent ones, compelling
all un- 
civilized Indians to remain constantly on their reservations. Such laws may
be made most 
effectual by the vigilant efforts and co-operation of the civil and military
authorities in the 
mmediate vicinity of Indian reservations. 
If possible, marauding parties should be arrested, taken before a proper
tribunal, and pun- 
ished  Individual offenders, and not the bands or tribes to which they belong,
should be 
apprehended and held personally responsible for their own misdeeds. I regard
this manner of 
procedure so manifestly just, and so vitally important to every interest
involvedlthat in my 
opinion it would justify the use of every means in the power of the Government
to bring it 
about. Indians themselves have such a wholesome fear of arrests and punishments
by civil 
authorities, that a few exemplary cases would have a more potent and salutary
effect upon 
them than any other mode of chastisement. 
Indians should also be protected on their reservations in all their rights
and privileges, 
especially against the unrestrained lawlessness of white men in killing their
game, destroy- 
ing and appropriating their timber, and permanently residing on their reservations
without 
their consent. These are sources of almost endless annoyances and provocations,
which not 
unfrequently generate into open hostilities. Thus a due regard and appreciation
of the 
rights and privileges of the North American Indian would assist materially
in the solution 
of the vexing problem, "What shall be done with the Indian race ?"
SUMMARY REMARKS. 
Considering all the circumstances, I have the honor of reporting a satisfactory
and prom- 
ising condition of affairs here. Not a single depredation has been committed
within the 
limits of my official jurisdiction since I took charge in last October, excepting
two in July 
last, namely, eight head of horses were stolen from Durfee & Peck's trading-post
at French- 
man's Creek, and one of our employes, when about a mile from the agency,
was shot in the 
hip. Both these depredations, no doubt, were committed by marauding hostile
parties from 
Sitting Bull's camp. 
We have by no means made that progress we desire. But when it is remembered
that this 
agency has been established but a short time, and that the majority of the
Indians we have 
had to manage were, less than two years ago, wholly unacquainted with the
purposes of the 
Government concerning themselves, that they belonged to one of the most powerful,
insolent, 
and hostile tribes on the continent, then constantly on the war-path, a terror
to the whole 
country. and a perplexing problem to the Government, we do feel that something
has been 
accomplished for good, and that the peace-policy is not a failure, even among
hostile Sioux. 
In elevating barbarous nations to a state of civilized life, necessarily
the work must pro 
ceed upon the principle of "making haste slowly."  I do not expect,
and certainly the De- 
partment does not, nor should the people presume, that these wild, barbarous
Indians can 
possibly be so far transformed as to be prepared for enlightened citizenship
in one, or even in 
ten years. As Blackfoot, a Crow chief, stated to Hon. Felix R. Brunot, in
a conversation 
pending negotiations last summer, that "he (Brunot) was in too much
of a hurry." So we 
might appropriately say to the people of the United States in regard to the
civilization of the 
Indian. The impatient and impetuous haste, which ordinarily is an excusable
fault, becomes 
a dangerous and hurtful influence when applied to the civilization of the
Indian race. 
That unrestrained enthusiasm and coercive determination, so often employed
in elevating 
other races, must measurably fail when applied to civilizing the Indian tribes;
for it is their 
intuitive characteristic to view with great suspicion any effort designed
to supplant or destroy 
their tribal p.eculiarities or national identity. They are best directed
and advanced by allur 
ing rather than compulsory processes. 
Hasty and demanding efforts call forth their suspicion and hatr~ed, invariably
repelling 


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