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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 7

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
in which the Indian can be carried across that line is by letting him 
learn from experience that the stomach filled to-day will go empty 
to-morrow unless something of to-day's surplus is saved overnight to 
meet to-morrow's deficit. Another sense lacking in primitive man 
is that of property unseen. You will never implant in the Indian an 
idea of values by showing him a column of figures. He must see 
and handle the dollars themselves in order to learn their worth, and 
he must actually squander some and pay the penalty of loss before 
his mind will compass the notion that he can not spend them for 
foolishness and still have them at hand for the satisfaction of his 
needs. 
A further charge will be hurled, against my -programme-that it is 
premature. Such an objection is enough of itself to prove that the 
objector has sought counsel of his timidity rather than of his obser- 
vation. If we do not begin now, when shall we? I believe that the 
whole trend of modern events, to any mind that studies it sincerely, 
will commend the plan I have tried to sketch out. One day must 
come to the Indian the great change from his present status to that of 
the rest of our population, for anomalies in the social system are as 
odious as abnormalities in nature. Either our generation or a later 
must remove the Indian from his perch of adventitious superiority 
to the common relations of citizenship and reduce him to the same 
level with other Americans. I, for one, prefer to start the under- 
taking myself and guide it, and I am ready to take my share of 
responsibility for it; for I do not know who may have the direction of 
it at some later period-whether a friend of my red brother, or an 
enemy, or one who regards him and his fate with indifference. 
Perhaps in the course, of merging this hardly used race into our 
body politic, many individuals, unable to keep up the pace, may fall 
by the wayside and be trodden underfoot. Deeply as we deplore 
this possibility, we must not let, it blind us to our duty to the race as
a whole. It is one of the cruel incidents of all civilization in large 
masses that some, perhaps a multitude, of its subjects will be lost in 
the process. But the unseen hand which has helped the white man 
through his evolutionary stages to the present will, let us trust, be 
held out to the red pilgrim in his stumbling progress over the same 
rough path. 
IMPROVEMENT  NOT TRANSFORMATION. 
I have spoken of the mistake of assuming that the Indian is only a 
Caucasian with a red skin. A twin error into which many good 
people fall in their efforts to educate the Indian is taking it for 
granted that their first duty is to make him over into something else. 
If nature has set a different physical stamp upon different races of 


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