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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1884
([1884])

Reports of agents in Montana,   pp. 106-117 PDF (6.0 MB)


Page 116

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. 


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