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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 Wisconsin,   pp. 159-166 PDF (3.6 MB)


Page 165

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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