United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1879
Reports of agents in Wisconsin, pp. 159-166 PDF (3.6 MB)
REPORTS OF AGENTS IN WISCONSIN. 165 ODANAIT, BAD RIVER RESERVATION, WISCONSIN, Augu8t 1, 1879. DEAR SIR: As you will soon'be making your annual report, I take this opportunity of forwarding you a few items respecting matters on this reserve. For over six years now I have labored in the capacity of a missionary under the Presbyterian Board of For- eign Missions among this people, and during all this time I have witnessed a steady upward tendency. During the past year, particularly, drunkenness and the coarser vices incident to a semi-barbarous race have not been nearly so frequent. For the most part, as good order and quiet are maintained here as in any country village or settlement where they have all the'machinery of law, courts, officers ofjustice, &c., to procure it. In material wealth there is vast improvement over five and six years ago. There is now, comparatively, little absolute poverty and suffering. The great majority are, for an Indian community, in comfortable circumstances. It is true that there is a consid- erable of time squandered in drumming and dancing, but as long as their pent-up wild natures only find vent in such a harmless way to their white neighbors, no one need be much troubled. As long as there are Pagans among them, so long will the drum- ming and dancing likely continue. Let Christianity but get a little deeper root and broader hold among this people, and very soon they will slough off those old heathen rites and ceremonies. I do not think it advisable to attempt to suppress drumming and dancing by any coercive measures whatever; better far let these old heathen rites die out of themselves, and then there can be no hard feeling or cause for reproach. By steadily following up the present policy, i. e., by giving the most help to those who do the most work on their own lands, thosp old Pagan rites will be steadily and surely undermined, and will soon topple over of themselves. In the matters of farming and industry these people have made great and rapid strides. You certainly are highly favored in having so excellent a farmer on this re- serve. It gives me very great pleasure in testifying to his eminent ability and self- denying faithfulness to promote the best interests of the Indians. Under his careful and skillful management at least twice the amount of land is cultivated, and owing to the draining and fencing that has been done the crops gathered are two and three times larger than heretofore. There are about 25 families that now live almost en- tirely off of the proceeds of their farms, when seven years ago there was scarcely one. The people are becoming thrifty, industrious, and frugal. Eight or ten years more of such management will give them a good start on the highway of civilization. In education the people have been favored with a day school and also a manual-labor boarding school. The daily average attendance in the day school, including the board- ing scholars, was 60. The average attendance of pupils in the bo.trding school for the year was 19J. The largest number present any one mouth in the last-named school, 22; and the whole number enrolled for the year, 25. The whole nu mber enrolled in the day school was 112. A principal and assistant teacher were kept very busy, besides having help from monitors. The progress made was very good indeed. The daily ration given at the close of school worked admirably, and abundantly repaid the small outlay. The religious interests of this people have not been neglected either. Two regular Sabbath services and a Sabbath school have been, kept up, as also a weekly prayer meeting. The attendance upon these services has been encouraging. Two series of protracted or camp meetings were held, one in the spring and the other in the fall. At the latter a huge amount of enthusiasm, excitement, and religious fervor were de- veloped; a considerable of good was the result, though not so permanent as we could desire. Some 18 were added to the native church (Presbyterian), a number of children baptized, and several marriages solemnized. The religion of the once despised Nazarene is finding its way to the hearts of this people, and just in proportion as they come under its purifying and elevating power do you see marked signs of improvement. It has been demonstrated to us again and again that there is no civilizer like the Gospel of Christ. The purity of its teaching, the sublimity of its matchless doctrines, and *the lofty morality it inculcates are just what is needed, energized, and vitalized by the mighty Spirit of God to change these wild savages into peaceful, law-abiding, self- supporting citizens. It is true the government can't send out missionaries or teach religion, but it only follows the dictates of the wisest economy and the highest pru- dence when it countenances and encourages the sending out of teachers and mission- aries to labor amongst its wards. Let the Indian once fairly understand the pure, holy teachings of the Great Spirit's book and embrace the same, and "Indian problems" will soon be a thing of the past. Yours, very respectfully, J. BAIRD, Dr.I. . MHAN A.upcrin '.eadent Odanah Indian Mission. Uaited 8tates Indian .Agent.
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