University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1905, Part I
([1905])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. 1-155 PDF (58.6 MB)


Page 3

COM1[ISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
Again, in dealing with these boys and girls it is of the utmost 
importance not only that we start them aright, but that our efforts 
be directed to educating rather than merely instructing them. The 
foundation of everything must be the development of character. 
Learning is a secondary consideration. When we get to that, our 
duty is to adapt it to the Indian's immediate and practical needs. 
Of the 30,000 or 40,000 Indian children of school age in the United 
States, probably at least three-fourths will settle down in that part 
of the West which we still style the frontier. Most of these will 
try to draw a living out of the soil; a less-though, let us hope, an 
ever increasing-part will enter the general labor market as lumber- 
men, ditchers, miners, railroad hands, or what not. Now, if anyone 
can show me what advantage will come to this large body of manual 
workers from being able to reel off the names of the mountains in 
Asia, or extract the cube root of 123456789, I shall be deeply grate- 
ful. To my notion, the ordinary Indian boy is better equipped for 
his life struggle on a frontier ranch when he can read the simple 
English of the local newspaper, can write a short letter which is 
intelligible though maybe ill-spelled, and knows enough of figures 
to discover whether the storekeeper is cheating him. Beyond these 
scholastic acquirements his time could be put to its best use by 
learning how to repair a broken harness, how to straighten a sprung 
tire on his wagon wheel, how to fasten a loose horseshoe without 
breaking the hoof, and how to do the hundred other bits of handy 
tinkering which are so necessary to the farmer who lives 30 miles 
from a town. The girl who has learned only the rudiments of read- 
ing, writing and ciphering, but knows also how to make and mend 
her clothing, to wash and iron, and to cook her husband's dinner 
will be worth vastly more as mistress of a log cabin than one who 
has given years of study to the ornamental branches alone. 
Moreover, as fast as an Indian of either mixed or full blood is 
capable of taking care of himself, it is our duty to set him upon his 
feet and sever forever the ties which bind him either to his tribe, in 
the communal sense, or to the Government. This principle must 
become operative in respect to both land and money. We must end 
the un-American absurdity of keeping one class of our people in the 
condition of so many undivided portions of a common lump. Each 
Indian must be recognized as an individual and so treated, just as 
each white man is. ) Suppose we were to enact a law every year, one 
paragraph of which should be applicable solely to persons with red 
hair, another solely to persons with round chins, another solely to 
persons with Roman noses?   Yet this would be no more illogical in 
principle than our annual Indian legislation making one sweeping 
provision for all Osages, another for all Pawnees, another for all 
Yankton Sioux, as if these several tribes were not composed of men 
...-Nd 


Go up to Top of Page