United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1879
Reports of agents in Dakota, pp. 19-52 PDF (15.7 MB)
REPORTS OF AGENTS IN DAKOTA. 23 appears to be in a flourishing condition. Mr. Swift makes the following report in re- gard to the progress of his missionary work: "6The church gains steadily in strength and intelligence of its members. The In- dians have &-one a great deal, considering their means, in helping on the work among their people by their offerings. The services are well attended, and characterized by great heartiness and devotion. Higher notions concerning marriage are entertained among them, though we badly need some legitimate powers for regulating them in their marriage relations. A desperate effort is being made against new ideas of prog- ress and reform by the dancing fraternities, especially by the organization known as the ' grass dance.' There is and will be a constant impediment in the way of moral and material improvement as long as these and similar institutions continue. It is easier, however, to recognize the evil than to know how to overcome it." INDIAN POLICE AND INDIAN CRIMES. On the 5th of November last a squad of nine policemen was organized at this agency under the authority conferred by the Indian appropriation bill for the fiscal year 1878- '79. I confess' that at frst I was not favorably impressed with the organization. The smallness of the force and of the members' pay, the want of arms and other articles requisite for a proper equipment, rendered its efficiency extremely doubtful to my mind. Since then, arms and uniforms have been furnished the force originally organized, which has lately been increased by eleven members, who are as yet not armed or uniformed. It gives me pleasure now, after nine months' experience with these men, to give it as my opinion that, if well equipped and properly handled and disciplined, an Indian police force can be made a very effective instrument for good. There is little doubt that the want of physical power to enforce obedience and to punish refractory and criminal Indians is one of the greatest disadvantages under which agents can labor, and that often greatly impairs, if it does not totally destroy, their usefulness. An agent may order parents to send their children to school, he may admonish men and women to abstain from practicing the sun dance or other cruel or barbarous ceremonies, he may inveigh against polygamy, he may refuse to grant leaves of absence or order renegades from other agencies to return, but being without phys- ical backing, his authority is ever liable to be openly and successfully defied and set at naught. A more potent stimulus than moral suasion is frequently needed and used to bring white men to their senses, and it is therefore not surprising that coercion and punishment are sometimes indispensable in the management of a people who only a few years ago were savages. The Indian respects and readily yields to physical force, but is sometimes hard to move by arguments, however cogent, or advice, however well meant. This want of power is in a measure supplied by the police. A detachment of the force, consisting of the captain and five privates, is held ready for service atthe agency, near the office of which a cell has been built in which Indians arrested by the police are confined, if the offense, after due investigation by the agent, warrants it, the cell being guarded by policemen while occupied by prisoners. The other members of the force are stationed at the various camps, but all are assembled at the agency once a week for inspection and instruction. So far 43 arrests have been made, of which num- ber 13 were punished by short terms of imp)risonment,, not exceeding 3 days in any one case, in the cell referred to. As a rule, the policemen have proved efficient in the discharge of their duties and obedient, and the agency interpreter (Mr. Fielder), a very intelligent and valuable man, has made an excellent chief of police. AFFAIRS AT THE AGENCY PROPER. Although a number of white employds were replaced by Indians, and notwithstand- ing the adoption of a new style of voucher which makes it incumbent upon every In- dian receiving supplies to make his mark thereon-a proceeding which consumes con- siderable time-work has been so systematized at the agency within the past year that the issues are now made in one-fourth of the time that was formerly occupied for that purpose. This arrangement materially reduces the length of the Indians' absence from their camps and work; it also enables the employes to devote more time to the per- formance of necessary work about the agency, besides enabling the white employ6s to visit the villages more frequently for the purpose of instructing or overlooking In- dians in their work. A substantial two-story frame building, affording comfortable quarters for two mar- ried employ's, was erected last fall by the labor of the regular employds. All of the public buildings have been kept in good repair and are well adapted for the purpose for which they are designed. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, THEO. SCHWAN, Captain Eleventh Infantry, Acting United States Indian Agent, The COMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
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