United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1883
Report of Hampton school, pp. 165-179 PDF (8.0 MB)
REPORT OF HAMPTON SCHOOL. 179 the 3,000 Sioux Indians at Crow Creek and Lower Brul6 to have a chance to im- prove, they urged a competent man and provided extra salary. But the best of agents can do little while Indians are indiscriminately fed. The 1,000 Sioux at Devil's Lake Agency, Dakota, have, in thirteen years, been all brought near to the point of self-support, because (by a special provision) they were fed and helped only as they worked. The rest of the Sioux are worse off than ever, for the lazy and intractable among them fare as well as any. The treaties that provide food and clothing, &c., for the Indians state emphatically that education and ultimate self-support are their end. By an indiscriminate supply of their bodily wants, the result, is put off further than ever; one provision of a treaty is made to defeat its real and declared purpose. Is this right ? It would, I believe, be right to deny at once to lazy and intractable Indians at least sugar, coffbe, and tobacco-the luxuries, let- ting them have beef, flour, &c., the staff of life, till they should do better. Remark- able results, which I have personally witnessed among the Shoshone and Bannack Indians on the Fort Hall Reservation, in Idaho, were brought about in this way. The Government has for many years been maintaining among some 60,000 Indians a great pauperizing system, which has no parallel in modern civilization, no excuse in reason or common sense. It would soon make a mob of the poor of our cities, and is ruinous to the red man, depriving him, by agreeing to feed him until he is ready to feed him- self, of the real inspiration of all human activity, which is necessity. The Indian question is, more than anything else, an executive one. The first thing, I believe, is to give them competent agents by providing better salaries, appoint- ments being based on qualification for the duties. The second thing is to bring to bear the strongest argument that man can feel-the argument to the stomach. Those who know Indians agree that this more than anything else will influence them. I understand that the Indian Department has already authorized agents to withhold the luxuries from lazy Indians. The following, suggested by an Indian agent, would, I think, go fir towards rais- ing the entire plane of Indian civilization in one year: Let any Indian fed by the Government be notified that unless he shall have, say, two acres of land under culti- vation by another year, he will be deprived of his rations wholly or in part; he to have reasonable assistance. Willful neglect will then be followed by hunger. This fact saves the Anglo-Saxon from anarchy. Give the Indian the same motive to work as we have. I believe that the right to do this is implied in the treaties. An inter- pretation which makes them a curse to the Indians is preposterous. The Indian cannot long keep his millions of unused acres. He must give the same excuse as the white man for his land, which is use. What he uses he can keep; what he cannot or will not use, he must give up. The "philanthropists" see this, and are trying to teach him the various arts of self-support; but they insist that he shall have fair pay for his land, and that the proceeds shall be guarded from the consequences of his own hunger and folly, so that he shall not soon be brought to vagrancy. In- dians are being ground between the upper and nether millstones. Settlers are press- ing around them. As fire is fought by fire, so civilization must be met by civilization. They must soon select and occupy their lands, or there will be no land to take, and be protected from the rapacity of whites and from their own extravagance by hav- ing made them inalienable for, say, thirty years. Only efficient and vigorous effort can save them. There are more births than deaths, I am informed, among the Sioux; dying out will not settle the question. If neglected, they may yet vex us more than they have ever done before. The people are ready to help. Never was public sentiment stronger than now in favor of generous aid to the Indian. It favors the liberal support of competent agents; it calls for a wise and helpful rather than a destructive use of the ration; it favors liberal appropriations for education. Last year, while about five times as much was appropriated for Indian education as ever before, which, so far as all Government work is concerned, was great gain, it was, so far as private benevolence goes, so quali- fied and limited as not to, as it should, encourage and build up more schools. I re- spectfully submit the propriety in this matter of education, as in that of supplies, contracts, &c., for other things, that the value of the article furnished, of the work done, be considered in fixing the price. Why should not the charitable be allowed to fix the amount of their charity in training Indians? This has not been done. I recommend that a conference be called in order that satisfactory rates may be estab- lished, methods agreed upon, and more institutions be thus led to introduce Indian students. The people are ready to do much more; public sentiment is the result of individual effort and sacrifice, and is at the bottom of all our questions. I regard ex- isting legislation on Indian education, while a great improvement on the past, as still in many ways obstructive of popular co-operation, and while of course well meant, yet a lamentable preventive of Indian progress. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, S. C. ARMSTRONG, Prin cipa l. The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
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