University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

Reports concerning Indians in South Dakota,   pp. 328-352 PDF (11.7 MB)

Page 334

CANTON, S. DAK., June 30, 1905. 
There has been admitted to the asylum 24 patients during the year-males 
12, females 12. The number of patients in the asylum at the close of the
year 1904 was 24-males 16, females 8. The number of patients in the asylum
at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905, is 39-males 23, females
Four females and 1 male died during the year; 1 male escaped who has not
been recaptured. Three patients, all males, were discharged June 5, 1905,
having recovered his normal mental and physical health, and being abundantly
able to support himself. 
Causes of insanity among the Indians.-I have heretofore, in my annual re-
ports, expressed the opinion, founded upon experience, reliable data, and
tion, that the American Indian may become insane; abundant proof has been
added during the year to that heretofore obtained in support of this fact.
are 22 full blood Indian patients in the asylum, representing some twelve
ent tribes from nearly all parts of the country, especially the western portion,
also represent some six or seven different types of insanity, all common
the white people of this country. 
Among these full blood patients are cases of chronic and acute mania, senile
and alcoholic dementia, religious and criminal mania, melancholia, and epileptic
insanity. Insanity among the American Indians can not be traced to mental
or physical training, but is simply a disease which afflicts, to some extent
least, all races and every condition of mankind. 
Dr. John F. Turner, physician and assistant superintendent, reports as 
Three male patients were returned to their respective homes June 5, 1905,
one of which, 
a case of angina pectoris hysteric, was cured; another, a case of acute melancholia,
also cured; the third, a high-grade imbecile, was in a much improved condition.
The 39 
patients now under treatemnt are afflicted as follows: One male, dementia
alcoholic; 2 male 
and 1 female, dementia epileptic, chronic; 3 male and 1 female, dementia
senile; 1 male, 
dementia syphilitic; 1 male, dementia, chronic; 1 male, diplegia spastica
infantilis; 1 
male and 1 female, epilepsy, grand mal; 1 female, epilepsy, petit mal; 1
female, epilepsy 
syphilitic; 1 male, idiocy, congenital epileptic; 3 male and 3 female, imbecility
Ital; 1 female, kleptomania; 1 female, mania periodic; 2 male and 1 female,
acute; 3 male, melancholia, chronic; 1 female, melancholia, hypochrondriacal;
1 male, 
melancholia, delusional; 1 female, nymphomania; 1 male, spastic spinal paralysis.
Some of these cases are rare and very interesting, and have well-marked symptoms
indicative of each individual malady. 
The case of diplegia spastica infantilis is that of a Navaho boy, who upon
here was in an extreme spastic state of paralysis. Through the agencies of
baths, massage, passive motion, and suspension this boy's spastic condition
has greatly 
improved and voluntary motion has been stimulated. 
The cases of idiopathic epilepsy are treated symptomatically, and their seizures
reduced to the minimum whereby they are enabled to live comfortable active
The senile cases are well cared for; they are kept neat and clean and nothing
required of them, excepting to take sufficient exercise to insure good health.
Of the whole number of patients now in the asylum 56 per cent are full and
44 per 
cent of mixed blood. 
The building is kept neat and clean and well ventilated in all of its apartments;
patients are provided with a suitable well-cooked diet and proper medication;
are bathed 
regularly, and given abundant fresh air and exercise, and as a rule they
sleep well. 
Our gardens are large and well kept; they supply an abundance of vegetables
for the 
patients from which they derive great benefit. On every suitable day during
the summer 
season I encourage those of the male patients who need the treatment to work
in the 
gardens at hoeing, weeding, or gathering and preparing vegetables for cooking.
they do willingly with the help of an attendant and they are vastly benefited
Condition of patients when received.-Regarding the condition of these pa-
tients when received at the asylum, I can only repeat what has been heretofore
said in my annual reports upon this subject. It is very apparent that these
unfortunate people are, as a rule, absolutely deserted and neglected by their
friends and relatives. The agencies or school officers have no proper means
to care for them, and the miserably wretched condition of many of these patients
when received can scarcely be exaggerated. 
Labor performed by the patients.-Several of the patients perform light 
manual labor, which is in fact a treatment for their mental troubles, also
the purpose of giving them proper exercise and to teach them orderly and
cleanly habits. They assist, under proper supervision, in scrubbing and cleaning
their quarters, weeding gardens, etc. 
Asylum grounds, products, etc.-There are nearly 100 acres included In the
asylum grounds, all very productive land, and divided into cultivated fields,
meadow and pasture land, gardens, lawns, etc, A sufficient quantity of corn,

Go up to Top of Page