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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1856
([1856])

[Northern superintendency],   pp. 34-65 PDF (12.8 MB)


Page 35

NORTHERN SUPERINTENDENCY.                     35 
superintendency, the district heretofore constituting th6 Minnesota 
superintendency was placed under the supervision of this office on 
the 15th of April last. A more enlarged experience has only con- 
firmed the opinion that the impediments which we meet in our efforts 
to civilize the Indians are nearly everywhere the same, and by no 
means become less in the same proportion-in which the beneficial 
effects of civilization upon the Indians become apparent, neither is 
this to be wondered at; for the history of mankind shows, that the 
more a community rids itself of barbarism and developes the arts of 
civilization, the more it needs legislative care and more perfectly 
organized civil and political institutions. As remarked heretofore, 
the opinion so general among the public, that all efforts to civilize the
Indians and to preserve the race, are idle and will prove fruitless, is 
the greatest obstacle with which we have to contend, and it will re- 
quire hard labor on the part of those who, from philanthropic mo- 
tives or by the direction of the government, have taken charge of the 
measures undertaken for the improvement of the Indians, to obtain 
for their wards a fair experiment and trial, so as to show whether the 
Indian race can continue to exist where civilization reigns, or shall 
at least form a component part of the community to be fbrmed out of 
the national elements collected on this continent. But few instances 
can so far be shown, where the efforts to civilize different Indian 
tribes have been begun right, or where the results obtained have not 
been destroyed after a few years, by a change of location or by neglect 
in carrying out the system entered upon. Only lately permanent 
homes have been provided for many tribes, and the beginning has 
been made to carry out the provisions of the treaties entered into. 
Though many of the recent treaties contain full and well drawn pro- 
visions, it is almost impossible to provide for all the different stages
through which the Indians will have to advance before they become 
fully civilized. Generally, as soon as an Indian tribe becomes fairly 
settled down, as they give up their roving habits, and begin in good 
earnest to become agriculturists, it becomes apparent that further 
legislative action is necessary to protect them, as well against intruder&
and those who have been in the habit of making a living from their 
vices., as against the vicious members of the tribe. The government 
of the hereditary chiefs of the different bands proves at once ineff- 
cient ; and seldom sufficient tact is shown among them to make proper 
changes in their government without creating long continued disturb- 
ances. From a want of confidence in their own government they be- 
gin to look to other sources for aid and protection, and the punishment 
of crimes. The national and the State legislatures have so far failed 
to make proper legal provisions for their wants. The "act to egulate
trade and intercourse with Indian tribes, and to preserve peace on the 
frontiers," approved June 30, 1834, has become obsolete as. to most
of its provisions, and it is very questionable whether it is yet in force
anywhere within the limits of the States organized within " the Indian
country ;" and from the fact that the treaties with the Sioux of 1851
provide for its remaining in force in the country ceded thereby, it has 
been presumed by many that it is not in force in the other parts of 
Minnesota Territory. The benefits derived from this law, which is 


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