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

Report of Hampton school,   pp. 189-202 PDF (7.3 MB)


Page 201

REPORT OF HAMPTON         SCHOOL.                   201 
In forwarding to you the above reports of teachers and others I have given
in every 
case their unbiased opinions, believing that such an aggregation of opinions
is likely 
to present the fairest possible views of the work accomplished and the present
situa- 
tion. While called on to report directly on the work of the Hampton school
for In- 
dians, I take the liberty of making in addition some general remarks. The
policy of 
education, the success of which is only a question of time and of well-directed
effort, 
is but a part of the programme to be carried out. The conditions of civilized
life are 
to be created, the most important of which is to settle the red men upon
lands of 
their own, which shall be made inalienable for a period of not less than
twenty-five 
years. The Indian, when his tribal relation is broken and he has become the
owner 
of the landhe lives on and cultivates, will have reached the goal of citizenship,
and 
gained the right to vote. To accomplish this end there is needed, first,
legislation; sec- 
ond, executive force to carry the legislation i'nto effect. Proper measures
were discussed 
at the last Congress, and there is hope of favorable action during the next
session, but 
this is the easiest part of the work to be done. 
When the way to citizenship is opened the wretched routine of life at the
agencies 
must of necessity be changed, and the Indians who are now merely herded or
corralled 
must be scattered in decent cabins on homesteads of their own. Then will
there be 
needed an amount of execntive ability not to be found on most of the reservations.
A dozen or two out of the sixty Indian agents will be the right men for such
work, and 
while some of the rest may do fairly well it is probable that weakness and
inefficiency 
may bring to naught much of the good contemplated by legislative enactment.
As In- 
dian agents are now paid they are as good men as we have a right to expect
them to be. 
First-class men will enter the service only when suitable salaries are paid.
To change 
the whole morale of our Indian population is no easy task, is not to be accomplished
in 
five or ten years, or even many more, and it will require a skill and watchful
care for 
which small provision has as yet been made. Neither laws nor appropriations
are the 
vital forces in the settlemnent of the Indian question. First, and above
all, men are 
needed. The Indian agent who is addressed as "Father " should stand
before the In- 
dian as the embodiment of a better life, as his guide to and the representative
of higher 
things; but when he represents only weakness or corruption, progress is impossible.
That but few of these agents are the men they should be is bad enough, but
worse 
still is the fact that when they do attempt reform they are often thwarted.
One in- 
stance of this, is the law which prohibits at any agency a pay-roll of over
$10,000; 
well enough at the smaller places, but an obstacle at the larger ones; making
im- 
possible, among other needed things, a corps of assistant farmers, at the
rate of about 
one to a hundred families, who should push and lead Indians to practical
farming and 
independence. Possible self-support of many tribes has been impossible for
want of 
means. 
As yet the only permanent personal factor in the civilization of the red
man is the 
representative of private interest or charity. Civil-service reform cannot
yet prevent 
a probable revolution in men, ideas, and policy with every change of parties.
Recog- 
nizing this fact, those in charge of Indian affairs should, I think, ally
their work at 
every possible point with this permanent force, even should it involve some
difficul- 
ties and annoyances. When the power which is supreme to-day may be changed
to- 
morrow, there is a weak point which to me seems most serious, and I believe
that it 
is too little considered by the authorities. 
A partial remedy would, I think, be the appointment of a few carefully selected
Army officers, should they consent to act, at some of the agencies, retaining
in the 
service the best civilians, for they cannot be spared. There is in the Army
a fund of 
experience and high administrative ability, combined with a noble philanthropy,
which should be drawn upon for the needs of the Indian cause. Not that all
officers 
are suited to this work; not that any overturn of the present system is needed,
but 
that the best possible men should be selected wherever they can be found,
from the 
Army or from civil life, the former being more likely to be permanent, and
that the 
Indian Office should be administered by a man of the highest ability and
standing, 
who should have full control and direction of its management; not as he is
now, a 
subordinate with clerical rather than discretionary duties. The great need
of the 
Indian is manhood, and this, by weak, inefficient, or dishonest management,
has been 
made to most of them impossible. A work of vastly increased vigor and efficiency
is needed for the red race. 
Unquestionably the great majority of Indians must be educated where they
live; 
of their 35,000 youth not over 5,000 are likely to be taught away from their
homes. 
Would to God that all of them could have the chance. But those who go to
the va- 
rious schools in the East should have every facility, the best teachers and
appliances 
for instruction, which is impossible under the meager allowance of Congress
for the 
purpose. No one advantage that the schools in the States offer is greater
than that 
which has been incorporated by Captain Pratt into the Carlisle system, viz,
the scat- 
tering of these children of nature among the best class of farmers, where
they learn 
civilization by living in it. There is no way like this. Hamptoni has for
five years 


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