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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 8

REPORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. 
men, it is fair to assume that the variation of types extends below 
Lthe surface and is manifested in mental and moral traits as well. 
The contrast, for instance, between the negro, with his pliant fancy, 
his cheerful spirit under adversity, his emotional demonstrativeness, 
his natural impulse to obedience, and his imitative tendency, and the 
Indian, with his intense pride of race, his reserved habit, his cumula- 
tive sense of wrong, and his scorn for the antipatriarchial ways of 
the modern world, is as marked as that between shadow and sunshine. 
F Scarcely less plain is the line-not the line of civilization and con- 
Vention, but the line of nature-between the Indian and the white 
man. What good end shall we serve by trying to blot out these dis- 
tinctions? How is either party to benefit by the obliterations? 
When we have done our best artificially to turn the Indian into a 
L white man we have simply made a nondescript of him. Looking 
among our own companions in life, whom do we more sincerely 
respect-th& person who has made the most of what nature gave him, 
or the person who is always trying to be something other than he is? 
Was there ever a man with a heaven-born genius for mechanics who 
did his best possible work in the world by trying to practice law or 
to preach? However fairly he may have succeeded, by sheer force 
of will, in compelling courts and congregations to listen to him, 
could he not-have done a greater service to his own generation and to 
posterity by addressing all his energies to the solution of some great 
problem in engineering? Was there ever a woman who had the 
divine gift of home making, and whose natural forte was to stimulate 
a husband and train a family of children to lives of usefulness, yet 
who contributed a larger share of happiness to mankind by becoming 
a social agitator? These are everyday illustrations in point. Any- 
one can call to mind a dozen instances within his own experience, 
some pitiful and some amusing, which tend to the same conclusions. 
r  Now, how are we to apply this philosophy to the case of the Indian? 
Are we to let him alone? By no means. We do not let the soil in 
our gardens alone because we can not turn clay into sand: we simply 
sow melon seed in the one and plant plum trees in the other. It does 
not follow that we must metamorphose whatever we wish to improve. 
Our aim should be to get out of everything the best it is capable of 
producing, and in improving the product it is no part of our duty to 
destroy the source. What would be thought of a horticulturist who 
should uproot a tree which offers a first-rate sturdy stock simply 
because its natural fruit is not of the highest excellence? A graft 
here and there will correct this shortcoming, while the strength of 
the parent trunk will make the improved product all the finer, besides 
insuring a longer period of bearing. We see this analogy well carried 
out in the case of an aboriginal race which possesses vigorous traits 
of character at the start. Nothing is gained by trying to undo 


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