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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1892
61st ([1892])

Report of special agent, Indian school service,   pp. 600-609 PDF (5.2 MB)


Page 601

REPORT OF SPECIAL AGENT, INDIAN SCHOOL SERVICE. q01 
given soon, how much can be counted upon the results of his education ? What
fruitful chances and what responsibilities has a field matron in the midst
of such 
cases! 
The number of educated young people has slowly but steadily increased in
the 
tribes, though nowhere are they yet in sufficient numbers to form an influencing
community: but the possibilities of remunerative labor on the resdrvations
has 
not increased, while the hardships and persecutions in many places are just
as 
difficult to bear now as they were years ago, and now, as then, the girls
have 
the hardest chance. 
In 1887 Agent Williams, Pueblo Agency, wrote as follows: 
Some of the pupils educated at the East have returned and are pursuing the
trades learned 
there, and are doing well. while others, notAbly the girls, are not doing
so well. They returned 
to the pueblos with good clothes and rather higher ideas of life than the
average Indian has, 
hence they are rather looked upon as strangers and derided by their people.
No suitable occu- 
pation is opened to them in the village, and as soon as the clothing they
had upon arrival is worn 
out they relapse into the habits of their associates. 
Gen. Armstrong said in a report made several years ago: 
There is not the regular employment for girls there is for boys. The lot
and chance of the 
former are much harder than of the latter. The intelligent, decent Indian
girl is a problem. 
Again Gen. Armstrong said: 
There is absolutely no position of dignity to which an Indian [girl], after
three years of 
training, can look forward with any reasonable confidence. There is nothing
for her but to 
enjoy and suffer as best she may. 
And how much she may suffer no one save those acquainted with reservation
life may know. While under present conditions there is some improvement,
the 
following testimonies tell a sad tale. A bright young Pueblo boy, who from
ex- 
perience and observation understands the trials and hindrances which beset
the 
pupil returning to his village, said to me, "You think it is haral for
us boys, 
but I tell you it is much harder for the girls." 
A day-school teacher who also does the work of a field matron writes: 
The question of what to do with the girls troubles me greatly. The boys as
they grow out of 
the school will find employment among white people. But the girls, what can
they do for a 
living? I could get a place for them in -  or -, but that would never do.
There are always 
bad men on the watch for such girls, and to send them to the city would be
to send them to ruin. 
I can think of nothing better than to teach them some work they can do in
their own homes. 
They must have something to do by which they can earn money, or they will
be tempted to 
follow in the steps of their older sisters. 
One of the impressions made upon Mr. Philip C. Garrett, while visiting sev-
eral reservations during last year, is given in the follo wing words:   
Z 
It is true to a much greater extent than we had hoped that young Indians
returning to the 
reservation after a thorough education relapse into a barbarous mode of life;
especially is 
this so of the girls, who are bought of their fathers by some admirer for
so many ponies, and 
not entirely loath, accept marriage under the old conditions, and soon become
nothing but 
drudges to some lazy young buck. * * * The difficulty is, how can it be prevented
? Boys 
and girls go back to their parents in tepees and huts, with few of the accompaniments
of civil- 
ized life. They have in the camps absolutely no application of the industries
they have learned. 
Their parents will not let them introduce the better way, and deride them
as "white folks." 
After awhile they despair of carrying out the life they were taught to live
at school, and in 
utter discouragement give themselves up to the barbarism around them. They
know better, 
but are unable in this environment to apply their knowledge. 
In the April Word Carrier, under the title " Needs of the Indian Home,"
a 
description of such a home is given, from which I will condense: 
The first need is the home. The houses in which the Indians live can scarcely
be called by 
that name. Since the roving life was given up the tent has given'place to
the log house-a 
small, sod-roofed, floorless hut, with one or two dirty windows. In the center
of the room is 
the stove, nearly red hot. Around the sides are bedsteads, boxes, trunks,
and parcels of all 
descriptions. On the walls hang all the clothing the family are not wearing.
In the corner is 
a cozy place for a family of puppies. Near by the ration of meat is piled
on the floor and cov- 
ered with a dirty blanket. 
At night each person takes his pillow and blanket, if he has a pillow, and
curls up in his own 
corner on the floor. Instead of undressing each one rolls up in a blanket.
The air in these 
houses day and night can scarcely be imagined. Itis vile in the daytime,
but frequent passing 
through the door admits some oxygen. But at night the atmosphere is nothing
but poison. 
Pack eight or ten comparatively clean people in a small room for an hour
and you notice the 
impoverished condition of the air. But think of the consequences when the
room is full of 
people who have seldom if ever bathed, who sleep in garments worn for weeks,
in bedding 
stiff with grease and dirt. and between walls that have never been washed.
Then heat this air 
to 800 and you have a combination which makes one wonder how any Indian ever
lives. Be- 
sides, a large per cent of the people are consumptives and add their disease-laden
breath to the 
stench of the room. 
Can we help these women to realize what the word "home" really
means? Can we teach 
them the need of soap and water and fresh air? Is there anything that an
Indian home does not 
need to make it what it should be *.- 
IS there not need of scores and hundreds of field matrons sent by Government
or by Christian societies for this work of educating the mothers, uplifting
the 
-j 


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