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

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

Page 37

dined to find indictments; and, in some cases, prosecutions actually 
commenced have been stopped by the counties refusing to pay the ex- 
pense. Soon after I took charge of their affairs, I notified the Sioux 
and Chippewas that they would be prosecuted for all murders com- 
mitted thereafter. The Medawakantoan and Wahpakootah Sioux were 
afterwards forced, by the withholding of annuities and provisions, to 
deliver over eighteen men who had been on war parties, and killed 
Chippewas. Means had at first been promised to be furnished by the 
general government to pay the expenses of prosecution, but were not 
provided when necessary, consequently the prisoners had to be set free 
for want of prosecution; and this effort, which I knew would, if prop- 
erly carried out, stop the atrocious warfare, was a total failure. It 
remains certain that the citizens of the counties will not expend mo- 
neys to be raised by taxation to procure the punishment of crimes, 
where Indians are the offended as well as the offenders, and that the 
means to carry on the prosecution will have to be provided for by the 
general government. I have been of the opinion that the Indian tribe 
to which the offender belongs might, with the same propriety, be held 
responsible for the expenses connected with a murder, as (in con- 
formity to the intercouse act) we hold them responsible for the killing 
of cattle, or any other depredations, and that the general government 
might replace any funds expended in carrying on criminal prosecu- 
tions, by taking the amount out of the subsequent annuity ; and this 
seemed to me more reasonable, proper, and calculated to produce a 
good effect, as no war parties are sent out against another tribe with- 
out a similar spirit of hatred pervading more or less the entire tribe ;
but others seem to think that there is no legal authority for doing so. 
Unless Congress should prefer to authorize more summary proceed- 
ings, means should be furnished, without delay, to carry on these 
criminal prosecutions before the courts of the States and Territories. 
As long as these hostilities are permitted to continue, the benefits 
derived by these Indians from the funds expended under treaty stipu- 
lations and the improvements made for them, will be but small. The 
country of the Medawakantoan and Wapakootah Sioux affords excel- 
lent locations for farms along the margin of the prairie, where it is 
lined by the strip of woods on both sides of the Minnesota and Red 
Wood rivers. A few have already made farms for themselves, taking 
about thirty rods front, and extending as far into the prairie as the 
Indian can cultivate the land. Many would follow their example, and 
extend the settlement further from the villages, if they were not afraid
of the Chippewas coming upon them in the night. Large sums of 
money have been expended for improvements for these bands, but if 
the object is to teach the Indians to be their own farmers the result is
not satisfactory. Most all the work done, except the planting of corn 
done by the women, has been performed by white employes, and it 
seems that it even had not been seriously thought of to employ In- 
dians. I found a spirit of lassitude prevailing at the agency, and was 
disposed to hold the writer of the annual farm report no less responsi- 
ble for it than others. If, since the treaty of 1851 was begun to be 
carried out, Indians had been employed to do the work as it has been 
done with the Menomonees under the treaty of 1854, not only about 

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