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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 13

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
for the preservation, through the schools, of what is best in Indian 
music. This is a subject which has never been sufficiently studied 
in the United States. Eminent musicians in all parts of the world 
express astonishment that our people should have left so noble a field 
almost unexplored, particularly in view of the beautiful themes 
derivable from certain native songs and dances which are rapidly 
passing into oblivion through the deaths of the old members of the 
tribes and the mistaken zeal of certain teachers to smother every- 
thing distinctively aboriginal in the young. 
As a matter of fact, the last thing that ought to be done with the 
youth of any people whom we are trying to indoctrinate with notions 
of self-respect is to teach them to be ashamed of their ancestry. As 
we Caucasians take not only pleasure but pride in reviving the 
musical forms in which our fathers clothed their emotions in religion, 
war, love, industry, conviviality, why should the Indian be discour- 
aged from doing the same thing? Our German-born fellow-citizen 
makes no less patriotic an American because he clings affectionately 
to the songs of his fatherland; why should the Indian, who was here 
with his music before the white conqueror set foot upon the soil? 
The Indian schools offer us just now our best opportunity to retrieve 
past errors, as far as they can be retrieved, on account of the variety 
of tribal elements assembled there. The children should be instructed 
in the music of their own race, side by side with ours. To this pur- 
pose an experimental start has been made, under intelligent expert 
direction, by the creation of the position of supervisor of native 
music, to which Mr. Harold A. Loring of Maine has been appointed. 
Although he has been at work only a few months, signs are already 
visible that the idea is spreading favorably among the teachers; and 
its popularity outside of the service is attested by the enthusiastic 
reception given by mixed audiences to the performance of genuine 
Indian music by a well-drilled school band, as a change from the con- 
ventional airs it has been in the habit of playing. 
DEMAND FOR A REFORM SCHOOL. 
The best provision which it has been possible to make for the care 
and instruction of children of normal disposition has left still unsup- 
plied the needs of the class whom ordinary teachers find unmanage- 
able. To group together the well-meaning and the vicious is not a 
wise practice if it can be avoided, because the tendency of such asso- 
ciation is rather to lower than to raise the average moral level of a 
school. And yet the Government owes a duty even to the children of 
perverted instincts. There is hardly a large school in the service 
which does not contain its modicum of an element that requires the 
discipline of correction as much as of guidance. It would be an 
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