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 31

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.                 31 
25 or 30 per cent. on the amount due. In this connexion I would 
respectfully suggest that if such claims, when made known, were 
always met by a prompt and thorough investigation on the part of 
the United States, and followed by a decision to be communicated to 
the Indians, there would be very little opportunity for the interven- 
tion of the class of gentlemen to whom I have alluded. 
The bands located at L'Anse and Bad River have each more than 
100 acres of land under cultivation. They raise large quantities of 
potatoes, and at L'Anse, this year, will have a large surplus to dis- 
pose of. Their sales last year amounted to several thousand bushels. 
In selecting the goods for the annuity payment of the present year 
I procured many articles that the Indians had never been accustomed 
to receive. Among them were cooking stoves, tinware, crockery, 
tables, bedsteads, mattresses, and all such articles as are generally 
deemed useful and necessary in civilized communities. I had, besides, 
a large quantity of ready made clothing, hats and caps, as well as 
agricultural implements and carpenters' tools. A considerable sum 
was also expended for lumber, nails, glass, and other building ma- 
terials. Much care was taken, in distributing such articles, to place 
them in the hands of persons who would use them advantageously. 
I found that more than 100 families of full blood Lake Indians reside 
in houses, and have adopted, to a greater or less extent, civilized 
habits in their style and manner of living. Such persons stand more 
in need of the articles I have enumerated than they do of the goods 
usually furnished by the government, and I recommend that, to a 
reasonable extent, the policy I have adopted be continued in making 
selections for future annuity payments. 
I cannot close my report relative to these Indians without alluding 
to another subject of the utmost importance. The annuity payments 
are always attended by a set of miscreants who rob and plunder the 
Indians of their goods and money, in exchange for intoxicating drinks. 
At the late payment at La Pointe, large quantities of whiskey were 
brought to the place, and within a day or two after the distribution 
of goods had taken place I learned that some of the Interior Indians 
had been stripped, in this way, of all they had received. I had not 
yet made the money payment, but was ready to do so, and was well 
satisfied that if it was made under the then existing circumstances a 
large proportion of the $20,000 to be paid in coin would find its way 
into the pockets of the whiskey venders. There was but one course to 
take. With the aid of my assistants and some other gentlemen 
present, every suspected place on the island was searched, and all the 
liquor found was destroyed. About 1,000 bottles, put up ready for 
sale, were broken, and twelve barrels emptied into the lake. Several 
hundred dollars worth of goods, that had been taken from the Indians 
in exchange for whiskey, were reclaimed, and the traffic was effectu- 
ally broken up. In doing this I may have acted without authority, 
but the occasion was one which called for extreme measures and, as I 
believe, justified me in taking the responsibility. There should be a 
law of Congress authorizing such a proceeding on the part of every 
agent, and extending his jurisdiction for a reasonable time after pay- 
ment, and to all places necessarily travelled by the Indians on their 


Go up to Top of Page