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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 179

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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