United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1884
Reports of agents in Montana, pp. 106-117 PDF (6.0 MB)
116 REPORTS OF AGENTS IN MONTANA. The buildings of the present agency (with the exception of those built by me) are in a terribly tumbledown condition, and our living houses are to a certain degree actually dangerous. I trust that measures will be taken at an early day to build new buildings, that, if not pretty, will at least be safe. There has been no missionary work here with the exception of a stay of a week or twoof a Catholic priest. They, the Catholics, intend to establish a priest here at an early day. I think it would be well for the denomination under whose supervision this agency is supposed to be to take some steps towards carrying out the work that has been alloted to them. I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant, W. L. LINCOLN, Indian Agent. The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. FORT PECK AGENCY, MONTANA. August 25, 1884. SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith my second annual report. The year has been one of poverty and plenty. During the early part of the year the limited supplies that I was allowed to issue to the Indians (in the absence of game and a total failure of the crops) was insufficient to keep them from feeling the pangs of hunger to some extent. During the greater part of the winter I had four large cal- drons in which I had a soup made and issued to the old, the sick, and little children. The Assinaboines at Wolf Joint killed quite a number of their horses to subsist upon. It is difficult to ascertain the exact number of horses killed and eaten. When an In- dian killed his own horse he sold the hide. When an Indian killed a horse owned by some one else the hide was usually destroyed. The traders purchased in all thirty- four horse hides. The newspaper reports as to the starving condition of the Indians at Fort Peck Agency were greatly exaggerated, written by parties that either did not know-the facts or were not responsible for what they wrote. During the latter part of the winter and early spring the mortuary statistics show an increase over the pre- vious months owing to this fact, disease (mostly syphilis, congenital and tertiary) preying upon the system, an insufficient amount of nourishing food, the long continu- ous cold weather, and not starvation alone, the cause of so many deaths over previous months. WORK PERFORMED BY THE INDIANS. The Indians have cut and hauled, a distance of 4 miles, logs for 200,000 feet of lumber for agency use, cut and sold 500 cords of wood, built for themselves 175 log houses, gathered and sold 150 tons of buffalo bones, and made 250 tons of hay. AGRICULTURE. Owing to the limited supply of farm and garden seed furnished only 600 acres of land was planted and cultivated by the Indians. Having a fair amount of rain-fall we now have an abundant harvest, especially of corn. WORK ON IRRIGATING DITCH. April 1 we commenced work on two irrigating ditches, one at Wolf Point, the other at Poplar Creek. At Wolf Point we constructed a dam 500 feet long, and made a ditch 890 rods long, 31 feet wide, 2 feet deep. At Poplar Creek we constructed a dam 300 feet long. The ditch is 8 miles long, 6 feet wide, 2j feet deep. We now have 6 miles of running water in the ditch, covering several hundred acres of good, arable land before it reaches the Missouri River bottom, where we have several thousand acres in one body of the very best soil. We have yet to construct an aqueduct across Poplar Creek before the main ditch will be complete. The entire work was performed by the Indians, with the assistance of agency employ6s as superintendents, the Indians working at the rate of 50 cents per day. For four days out of six they were paid in supplies; the remaining two days they were paid in cash. The actual cash outlay for the excavation was less than 8 cents per cubic yard. The Government seldom makes a better investment for the Indians toward self-support than it did when it assisted them in putting this irrigating ditch in operation. Every acre of ground covered by the ditch is worth now $25. The Indians were not slow to take hold of the pick and shovel and go to work when they once learned that if they wanted anything to eat they must work and earn it like white men. They are proud of their successful enterprise and are hopeful as to their future success in agricultural pursuits.
As a work of the United States government, this material is in the public domain.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright