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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 19

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
found their way to the agencies every year, only to be pushed to the 
back of the shelves and gather dust there because unused. In not a 
few cases physicians who took real interest and pride in their pro- 
fessional work among the Indians would go down into their own 
slender purses for the prices of remedies which they felt they must 
have; and all who try to carry modern methods into their practice 
have been obliged to spend hours of valuable time compounding 
drugs which in any large place can be bought at the nearest apothe- 
cary's, already compounded, at no greater cost than the united prices 
of the elements assembled. 
It was with a view to reforming some of these conditions that Dr. 
George S. Martin, physician to the Blackfeet Agency, was authorized 
last winter to enter into correspondence with his leading colleagues 
in the Indian medical service regarding desirable changes in their 
supply list. As a result, 20 obsolete items were stricken from the 
accustomed schedule and 65 new ones substituted, bringing the aggre- 
gate of 426 items up to a pretty close relation with the best profes- 
sional.practice of our day. At the annual letting of contracts for 
medical supplies last April, moreover, the Commissioner had the 
assistance and advice of a board of three experts to pass upon the 
samples and bids submitted. Prof. John H. Long, of Northwestern 
University, Illinois, a chemist of national reputation, and Mr. Wil- 
helm Bodemann, a prominent pharmacist of Chicago, examined each 
sample as usual with reference to its purity, general excellence, and 
value as compared with price, while Doctor Martin, in the light of 
more than a dozen years' experience in a difficult Indian field, passed 
finally on each from the point of view of its adaptation to the pecul- 
iar requirements of practice on a reservation. At the close of their 
labors in this immediate. line the three gentlemen were constituted a 
committee to go over the whole subject of supplies for the Indian 
medical service and make recommendations for the future guidance 
of this Office in its contracting and distributing functions. The 
advance made last spring, it is hoped, will prove only the beginning 
of a new era of activity in this domain, till the physicians at Indian 
agencies and schools shall stand on a footing not unlike that of their 
contemporaries in other branches of the public service of the United 
States. 
What this Office is trying to do in the matter of improving its med- 
ical supplies it is attempting also in certain other lines of contract 
purchasing, the details of which need not be rehearsed in the present 
report. Suffice it that in every category this year the samples have 
been passed upon, not only by inspectors acquainted with the trade 
standards of quality and prices, but by experienced employees brought 
in from the field who are familiar with the uses to which each article 
will be put and with the special points of excellence or the most nota- 
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