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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1883
([1883])

Report of Hampton school,   pp. 165-179 PDF (8.0 MB)


Page 174

174                 REPORT OF HAMPTON         SCHOOL. 
pain much more stoically and are more unwilling to acknowledge themselves
sick than 
their Southern brethren; and among the latter, the small boys seem to have
more 
courage than the larger ones, and are much less inclined to give up for trifles.
During the first part of the school year, lung trouble, sore eyes, and other
mani- 
festations of a scrofulous condition were the diseases m-ist prevalent. One
boy went 
to Massachusetts apparently in perfect health, and came home far gone in
consumption, 
having already been told by his Massachusetts physician that he must die.
Coming 
back all worn out by the trip, and finding a stranger in the place of his
former nurse, 
he wanted to be sent home; but after a few days of rest and acquaintance
with his 
new nurse he said he wished to die here. He was a most patient and even cheerful
sufferer, responding to all attention with a grateful smile; and although
he lived but 
about seven weeks after his return, he was much missed for some time. His
has been 
the only death that has taken place during the year. Most of the sickness
during 
the spring and late winter has been of a malarial type. Those among the Indian
boys 
who have been subiect to chills and fever at home, have been the sufferers.
We have 
had few cases of chills, and no severe cases at all. Malarial headache has
been the 
most common form of the disease. 
The Indians may be divided into two classes-those who have lived in houses
and 
are accustomed to the white man's clothing before they conie here, and those
who 
come directly from the tepee and wear the blanket. The first are more easily
trained 
to good physical habits, and, as some northern people say, "know enough
to go in 
when it rains ;" the others usually disregard all warnings, and only
learn to take 
care of their health under that bard schoolmaster, experience, through whose
object 
lesson our wise Father teaches us when we are not willing to learn in any
easier 
way. One boy came to me for medicine for a severe sore throat and was perspiring
profusely. " Too much water" said he, passing his hand over his
dripping face. I 
administered the medicine, and about two hours afterwards having occasion
to visit 
another part of the Wigwam, found the boy-it was now twilight-sitting on
the fence 
in his shirt-sleeves and bare feet allowing a raw November wind to dry the
perspira- 
tion. This spring this same careless boy has suffered from an attack of pneumonia
brought on by wearing moccasins in wet weather. 
The Indian boy is not accustomed to working at home, and some of the least
docile 
among them try to evade the rule by malingering. These are soon found out,
how- 
ever, and if a rigorous course of. disciplinary treatment is followed up
they soon get 
tired of nauseous medicine and go manfully to work. 
When a new physician or nurse first comes it is almost impossible to get
a patient 
to speak a word to them, or even to show their faces. They keep themselves
tightly 
roiled up in their blankets and lie like so many mummies, but there is no
difficulty 
after gaining their confidence, and I have found but one little boy who was
unwill- 
ing to do one of the many little things they are frequently called upon to
do for each 
other. 
Taking the year as a whole, and considering their general condition on arrival,
and their carelessness, the amount of illness-is surprisingly small. The
greatest 
number under treatment at one time has been 17; the smallest 2; and I think
the 
average is somewhere from 6 to 8. We should keep in mind, in connection with
the 
health question, the fact that when the Indian comes here he changes his
climate, 
generally his clothing, his food, and all his habits, and begins a more confining
life; 
works and studies nearly all day, and entirely gives up the free, indulgent
life of the 
plains; and yet, in spite of everything, their general health has been constantly
im- 
proving year by year; and our report compares more than favorably with the
health 
report of the agencies. 
The danger which now threatens to annul the effect of the Indian's education
is his 
relation to this Government. The sin which lies at the door of the American
people 
is not robbing the Indian of his lands. It is robbing him of his manliness.
There is 
almost no incentive and no reward for an Indian's labor on a Government reserva-
tion. It is heart-sickening lo think of students, after years of training
in habits of 
hdustry and self-help, thrown back into an atmosphere of miasma. 
We acknowledge with the deepest gratitude the private enterprise and generosity
which has made the appointment possible of wise efficient men in charge of
three im- 
portant agencies in Dakota, who will do what is possible to stimulate and
support 
Hampton boys and girls who return to their care. 
We do not claim that the Indian character furnishes no difficulty in the
problem 
of his civilization. He is weak. He adapts himself now with ease to the public
spirit of the school and readily accepts its training, but this does not
prove his ability 
to resist the spirit and traditions of his own people when he shall return
to them. 
His mind is unenlightened. An Indian whose intelligence we have learned to
respect 
surprises us sometimes by a darkness of mind and superstition which is appalling.
It is revealed only to one he trusts, after most patient and sympathetic
effort. He is 
so dependent on others for moral support that those who teach him feel a
strong sense 
of personal responsibility for his failure. But there is a clear sense of
right about 
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