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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 4

4      REPORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. 
and women and children with as diverse human characteristics as 
any equal groups of Germans or Italians. Thanks to the late Sena- 
tore Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, we have for eighteen years 
been individualizing the Indian as an owner of real estate by breaking 
up, one at a time, the reservations set apart for whole tribes and 
establishing each Indian as a separate landholder on his own account. 
Thanks to Representative John .F. Lacey of Iowa, I hope that we 
shall soon be making the same sort of division of the tribal funds. 
At first, of course, the Government must keep its protecting hand on 
every Indian's property after it has been assigned to him by book 
and deed; then, as one or another shows himself capable of passing 
out from under this tutelage he should be set fully free and given 
"the white man's chance," with the white man's obligations to bal-
ance it. 
Finally, we must strive in every way possible to make the Indian 
an active factor in the upbuilding of the community in which he is 
going to live. The theory, too commonly cherished on the frontier, 
that he is a sort of necessary nuisance surviving from a remote period, 
Iille the sagebrush and the giant cactus, must be dispelled, and the way
to dispel it is to turn him into a positive benefit. To this end I 
would, for instance, teach him to transact all of his financial business
that he can in his nearest market town, instead of looking to the 
United States Treasury as the only source of material blessings. Any 
money of his which he can not use or is not using for his own current 
profit I should prefer to deposit for him, in reasonably small parcels, 
in local banks which will bond themselves sufficiently for its safe- 
keeping, so that the industries of the neighborhood Will have the use 
of it, and everybody thereabout will be the better off for such pros- 
perity as may come to an Indian depositor. On like grounds of rea- 
soning I should encourage every proper measure which points toward 
absolving the Indian from his obsolete relation to the licensed trader 
and teaches him to make his purchases from those merchants who will 
ask of him the fairest price, whether near the agency or at a distance. 
In short, our aim ought to be to keep him moving steadily down the 
path which leads from his close domain of artificial restraints and 
artificial protection toward the broad area of individual liberty en- 
joyed by the ordinary citizen. 
Incidentally to this programme, I should seek to make of the Indian 
an independent laborer as distinguished from one for whom the Gov- 
ernment is continually straining itself to find something to do. He 
can penetrate a humbug, even a benevolent humbug, as promptly as 
the next man; and when he sees the Government inventing purely 
fictitious needs to be supplied and making excuses 6f one kind and 
another to create a means of employment for him, he despises the 
whole thing as a fraud, like the white man ,whom some philanthro- 


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