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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 56

thousands, and in some cases the whole fund appropriated ior a special 
It cannot be wondered at that the Indians are dissatisfied and con- 
stantly complaining, making the want of faith on the part of the 
government officers their excuse for misconduct of every kind, and 
leading them to be at all times inattentive to the expressed wishes of 
the agent, superintendent and commissioner of Indian affairs. There 
are always about the Indians people disposed to give them ill advice, 
and to take advantage of such circumstances as I have pointed out, to 
render them more and more disinclined to that course of lifg that has 
been enjoined them  by their Great Father, and towards which they 
advance rapidly, were it not for the just causes of complaint which I 
have named, and they often go so far as to accuse the government 
agent and other employes of the United States government of stealing 
their moneys. Nay, they have at times asserted the same thing of the 
President and all the officials under him. 
Now, no one has had such opportunity of knowing the real state of 
affairs here as myself, inasmuch as I have been the medium of com- 
munication between the government agent and the Indians for many 
years, and I have from time to time seen the letters of the Commis- 
sioner of Indian Affairs, complaining that more work was not done for 
the Indians, and shifting all blame from the department on to the 
shoulders of the agent or the superintendent. This has been very 
unjust, as far as agent Murphy was concerned, the real blame resting 
with the department. The evil at this place has arisen principally 
on the postscript of the lbtter of instructions to the superintendent 
of Indian affairs, dated April 19, 1854. By this the superintendent 
was authorized to dribble out the funds to the agent, clearly intimating
that the commissioner did not think him fit to be entrusted with the 
money, as usual. Remember, at this time the superintendent was 
not under security, whilst Major Murphy, in addition to a bond in a 
penalty of $50,000, signed by very responsible sureties, was well 
known to possess property far more than sufficient to meet all his pos- 
sible liabilities to the government; and now let us see how this new 
system worked. The expenditures were pressed upon the agent while 
the funds remained locked up in the hands of the superintendent, and 
so scantily dealt out by him that the agent was continually laying out 
his own money, and obliged to withhold vouchers for payment made 
by him from quarter to quarter, until, by repeated visits to St. Paul 
and great importunity, he could squeeze out some paltry payment on 
account from the superintendent. 
The department is now aware how often Major Murphy has been 
obliged to retain vouchers for moneys paid by him, because he had not 
sufficient department funds to cover the amounts. 
Agent Murphy has been removed, and fault has been found with 
him for not pushing on the Indian work vigorously, whereas the cause 
of the delay was the insufficient fund placed at his disposal, and the 
uncertainty he was always kept in of receiving moneys to meet his 
liabilities as agent. Laborers were employed, and after working a 
month or two had to be discharged fbr want of funds to pay their 
wages and buy provisions, &c. Under the treaty of 1851! one of the 

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