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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Dakota,   pp. 19-52 PDF (15.7 MB)


Page 46

46                 REPORTS OF AGENTS IN          DAKOTA. 
STANDING RocK, DAKOT1, August 21. 1879. 
SIR: I have the honor to submit this my first annual report of the condition
of 
affairs at this agency. 
On the 21st day of October, 1878, 1 assumed my duties as Indian agent, and
on the 
26th day of December following an accurate census of the Indians was taken,
and the 
enumeration showed 2,583 souls, men, women, and children, all Sioux, divided
in four 
bands, viz: Upper Yanktonnais, Lower Yanktonnais, Uncapapas, and Blackfeet.
During the severe winter but little could be done by the Indians in the industrial
arts, except chopping wood for the contractor for the military post at this
agency. 
This labor the Indians performed-choppiag 2,500 cords, for which they received
one 
dollar per cord. The Indians evinced a strong desire for this class of work,
and would 
have performed five times the amount of labor could they have found sale
for their 
wood, but the demand for it was limited to the amount of the contract-2,500
cords. 
FARMING. 
When spring opened, the Indians exhibited a commendable inclination to go
to farm 
ing more extensively than they heretofore had done. On the agency there was
by 
actual measurement 706 acres of land that the prairie sod had been subdued
on, and 
was in a fair state of cultivation. These 706 acres mentioned were wholly
inadequate 
to furnish employment or raise a sufficient crop to feed so many mouths.
I requested 
the Indians, in a general council, to settle down on separate farms. One
hundred and 
twenty-two beads of families agreed to break up their tribal relations and
take claims 
of 80 acres each. Authority was obtained from the honorable Commissioner
to break 
additional 1,200 acres of prairie sod in tracts of ten acres each; this breaking
to be 
done on the site where the Indians had laid out their claims and indicated
as their 
future homes. Of these new farms 36 extend on the north toa point about 16
miles 
above the agency, and 86 to a point south twenty miles below the agency,
on the Mis- 
souri River bank west. 
On 60 of these farms a good substantial log house has been built and completed
with 
panel doors and windows, and 32 more are in rapid progress of completion.
These 
houses were in part built by the Indians, for which they received remuneration
; but 
of a necessity much of it had to be done by white labor, as the Indians were
deficient 
in tools, strong teams to haul the logs, and without knowledge of a workmanlike
job 
or an idea of dispatch in performing work. 
All the old land has been planted, and with but few exceptions the new land
; seeds 
being furnished by the department. About 1,000 acres or the plowed surface
is in 
Arickaree corn, probably 100 acres in potatoes, and the balance in beans,
beets, car- 
rots, turnips, melons, squash, and pumpkins. As all the land, with the exception
of 
corn, is so subdivided among families and planted in patches it is difficult
to estimate the 
exact acreage of roots. The Indians who took claims planted most of their
root crops 
in old land in order to insuro a good crop. The season has been favorable,
and the 
crops are simply magnificent. The corn will average fully 30 bushels per
acre on the 
old land, and 20 on the new, which will harvest 25,000 bushels of corn at
least. A 
great deal of this corn the Indians prepare for winter use by boiling it
in the cob, 
when it is in its milky state, then cutting it off the cob and drying it.
In this way it 
not only makes a very nutritious but a so a very palatable article of diet.
Their root 
crop is, as I have before stated, planted in so many patches, and not yet
having been 
gathered, it is hard to estimate; but they have all with therlimited facilities
they can 
take care of. Pumpkins, squash, and melons can only be estimated by the wagon-
load, as the crop is immense, and squash and pumpkins are a great favorite
with the 
Indians; easily prepared for cooking and easily taken care of for winter
use. The 
Indians are very busy at present in slicing and drying pumpkins and squashes
for the 
coming winter. Farming operations of all kinds have been very suocessful
this season. 
Indians are more than repaid for their labor, and a great stimulus given
them for future 
exertions. The success attending farming operations this year has demonstrated
fully that these Indians can in a short time be made not only self-supporting
but pro- 
ducers. 
I am informed by credible authority that the rain-fall in this section is
constantly 
increasing, and for the past 7 years there has enough rain fallen during
the grow- 
ing season to insure any kind of a crop. Three years ago there was a visitation
of the 
grasshoppers, but none for the past two years. The success attending wheat-growing
in the Red River Valley, scarcely 200 miles east of here, coupled with the
success met 
with at Bismarck, 50 miles north of here, where oats are averaging 60 bushels
to the 
acre, and wheat '25 bushels, clearly shows that this is a country pertectly
adapted to 
the cereals, and I would respectfully suggest that these Indians be furnished
with more 
farming implements, more draught animals, and cows for rav~ing stock. 
To encourage them in their enthusiasm for farming they must be shown the
stern 
necessity, and have a complete understanding, that they must depend on tilling
the 


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