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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1905, Part I

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. 1-155 PDF (58.6 MB)

Page 30

Until protective legislation shall be secured this Office and its agents
must do 
whatever may be practicable to save these remains of a vanished race from
being destroyed or from being so scattered as to be of little scientific
or educa- 
tive value. 
Much of the sale of such articles is made through licensed Indian traders,
whom the Indians bring their "finds." It seems necessary, therefore,
to cur- 
tail such traffic upon the reservations, and you will please Inform all the
under your jurisdiction that thirty days after your notice to them traffic
in such 
articles will be considered contraband. You will of course notify the Indians
also, as far as practicable. This thirty days' notice is given in order that
trader may have a fair opportunity to make sales of stock which he has pur-
chased and which he has on hand; but all purchases of such articles from
Indians must cease upon receipt of your order. A failure to comply with these
Instructions will be considered sufficient ground for revocation of license.
These restrictions do not apply to articles of present-day manufacture by
Indians. All manufacturing industries among them, such as blanket weaving,
leather and silver work, pottery, and so forth, are to be fostered if they
toward self-support, and the Indians should be helped to obtain as good a
market as possible for their wares. But traffic in prehistoric relies, which
little intrinsic though great scientific value, will enrich the Indian but
and will cause serious loss to the scholarship of this country. 
It is doubtful, however, if much of the spoliation of ruins can 
justly be laid to the charge of Indians. They will pick up bits of 
pottery or other relics which have been washed out of ruins and 
which they find in arroyos and offer these for sale; but their respect 
for tradition and antiquity, or their superstition, or both, deters them
from disturbing places of sepulture or prehistoric abodes. It is 
the predatory instinct of our own race which must be guarded against 
by legislation and by constant watchfulness if these wonderfully 
interesting monuments of the pas are to be preserved for study in 
the future. 
By reference to a table on page 61 of this report, under the title 
"Inherited lands," and also to one on page 66 of the report of
Office for 1904, it will be seen that there has been received from the 
sale of inherited lands during a period of but a little more than two 
years the large sum of $3,450,596.02. Of this the heirs of deceased 
Indians at the Yankton Agency, S. Dak., are beneficiaries to the 
extent of $620,603.80, or nearly one-fifth; $1,438,607.48 represents 
the sales at the ten agencies in Oklahoma, and $533,682.53 the sales 
at the three agencies in Nebraska. The distribution of such large 
sums of money to a people for the most part inexperienced in the 
use of money could not, of course, fail to be accompanied by serious 
evils, and it has been my aim to devise means to reduce these to a 
minimum. Up to September 19, 1904, when the rules governing 
the sales of inherited lands were amended, it was the practice to 
turn over to the beneficiaries the whole amount derived from such 

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