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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1855

[Minnesota superintendency],   pp. 48-68 PDF (8.7 MB)

Page 56

No. 16. 
WINNEBAGO AGENCY, September 13, 1855. 
SIR: In reporting the condition of the Indians under my charge, I 
regret to say that they have become an element in the political excite- 
ments of the day, or rather are brought into the excitement of elections
in this Territory, and if legitimately so, it might. be proper that their
agent should define their position, and .speak of their present and 
prospective influence in territorial and national affairs ; but as their
connexion with the movements of politicians is without their own 
consent, I will only express the hope that the good sense and fairness 
of their 'vhite brethren will protect them from the consequences of an 
excitement as prejudicial to their interest as it is foreign to their 
The Winnebagoes are good judges of land; they have owned and 
occupied some of the best tracts of country now included in the State 
of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, some of which they left with reluc- 
tance, and were obtained from them with great difficulty, and after 
repeated attempts at negotiation. The selection of their late home, 
north of the Watab, they allege was not made in accordance with'the 
wishes of a majority of their tribe, and they repeatedly solicited to 
exchange it for a home with which they could all be satisfied. In 
1853 permission was granted, and a treaty was negotiated giving them 
a tract of country which they desired onCrow river, on which tract, 
at the time said treaty was made, not a single white family resided. 
Against this treaty a clamor, originating from motives and movements 
foreign to the interest Of the Indians, the territory and the govern- 
ment was raised, which resulted in its rejection. By the treaty of the 
27th of February last these Indians exchanged their said country 
north of the Watab for a 'home of their own selection on the Blue 
Earth, with which they are all well pleased, and where, if permitted 
quietly to remain, they will, with proper management, under the pro- 
visions of the said treaty, soon become an industrious, thriving, and 
happy people. By the operation of this treaty some twelve or fifteen 
resident citizens, a part of whom are single men, will be dispossessed 
(not necessarily without remuneration) of their claims ; on only three 
or four of which improvements of considerable value had been made 
at the time said treaty was concluded, and the reservation selected. 
For these improvements a fair compensation has been offered on 
behalf of the Indians. Still an indignation meeting was held, a 
petition to the President has been signed, and movements are being 
made, the object of all which is to oust these Indians from their dearly-
purchased home, and move them, of course, to some section of country 
undesirable and unfit for the residence of white men. The tendency 
of all these movements is to discourage industry among the Indians, 
by causing them to apprehend that they will not be permitted long to 
remain here, and that consequently they will not be individually 
benefitted by labor and enterprize in making improvements. 
From the consideration of a prospect so gloomy for the Indians in 

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