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 1855
([1855])

[Michigan Indians],   pp. 27-39 PDF (5.1 MB)


Page 28

REPORT OF THE 
They number at Lac Court Oreille 1,012 persons; at Lac de Flambeau, 
747-total, 1,759. There are no white settlements in their immediate 
vicinity. No missionaries or teachers have ever been employed among 
them, and they are seldom visited, except by traders, who, from the 
very nature of their business and the manner in which it has been 
conducted, have been directly interested in preventing any advance in 
civilization among them. They cultivate no land, and subsist en- 
tirely upon wild rice and game. They have some furs to dispose of, 
but the enormous prices at which they are compelled to receive the 
goods they require in exchange renders their hunts of but little value. 
They are indolent, and even for Indians more than ordinarily improvi- 
dent and dissipated. From their present appearance and condition, 
as well as from the most reliable information, I am led to believe that 
for many years they have been furnished with whiskey in large quan- 
tities, with but very few actual necessaries, and that their whole ex- 
istence has been a continual contest with want and dissipation. They 
complain bitterly of their poverty and of the bad faith of the govern- 
ment in withholding their annuities, but are always ready to squander 
their goods for whiskey, the very first opportunity that presents. 
The Lake Indians, as the term indicates, reside on or near the shores 
of Lake Superior. In almost every respect they are greatly in advance 
of their brethren of the interior. They have schools and churches 
among them, and generally manifest a great desire to improve in civ- 
ilization. For a particular account of those located at each reserva- 
tion I beg leave to refer to my last annual report. They certainly 
afford most substantial and gratifying evidence that the race is not 
incapable of civilization. The improvements at L'Anse, Bad River, 
and Grand Portage, shew what has been done with my limited means, 
and under most discouraging circumstances, and certainly afford good 
ground to hope for extraordinary results from the provisions of the 
treaty of 1854, if faithfully and judiciously carried out by the govern-
ment. The Lake Indians number at L'Anse 468, at Ontonagon 88, 
at La Pointe and Bad River 540, at Fon du Lac 388, at Grand Port- 
age 175. Total 1,659. 
The third clas§,'or Mixed Bloods, are scattered throughout the whole
territory occupied by these Indians. They number 1,040 individuals, 
and are all entitled to participate in the distribution of annuities. 
Under the treaty of 1854 each head of a family and every single per- 
son over 21 years of age of the Mixed Bloods is entitled to eighty acres
of land, of his own selection, for which he is to receive a patent in the
usual form. I have prepared a list of the persons who will be entitled 
to the benefits of this provision, which will be transmitted in a sepa- 
rate communication. The whole number is about 260. They are very 
urgent that arrangements should be perfected without delay under 
which they may select their lands and receive their patents. 
The Bois Forte Indians, who are also parties to the treaty of 1854, 
occupy the country about Vermillion Lake, in the northern part of 
Minnesota. They have never before received any annuities from gov- 
ernment, and I should judge have had but very little intercourse with 
the whites. They compare very favorably with those described as 
Interior Indians, are more intelligent, industrious and provident, and 
28 


Go up to Top of Page