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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1865

Extract from the report of the Secretary of the Interior relative to the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. [III]-IV PDF (1005.6 KB)

Page IV

of three hundred thousand of these people, accustomed to a nomadic life,
subsisting upon 
the spontaneous productions of the earth, and familiar with the fastnesses
of the mountains and 
the swamps of the plains, would involve an appalling sacrifice of the lives
of our soldiers and 
frontier settlers, and the expenditure of untold treasure. It is estimated
that the maintenance 
of each regiment of troops engaged against the Indians of the plains costs
the government 
two million dollars per annum. All the military operations of last summer
have not occa- 
sioned the immediate destruction of more than a few hundred Indian warriors.
Such a policy 
is maniiestly as impracticable as it is in violation of every dictate of
humanity and Christian 
It is therefore recommended that stringent legislation be adopted for the
punishment of 
violations of the rights of persons and property of members of Indian tribes
who are at peace 
with the government. 
Sufficient appropriations should be made to supply the pressing wants of
these wards of 
the government, resulting from the encroaching settlements springing up in
every organized 
Territory. The occupation of their hunting grounds and fisheries by agriculturists,
and even 
of their mountain fastnesses by miners, has necessarily deprived the Indians
of their accus- 
tomed means of support, and reduced them to extreme want. If the deficiency
so occasioned 
should not be supplied, it is not to be expected that a savage people can
be restrained from 
seeking, by violence, redress of what they conceive to be a grievous wrong.
That their growing wants thus caused may not become a perpetual burden, every
able oflbrt should be made to induce the Indians to adopt agricultural and
pastoral pursuits. 
It is recommended that Congress provide a civilization and educational fund,
to be disbursed 
in such mode as to secure the co-operation and assistance of benevolent organizations,
ing an opportunity for private citizens to dispense their charities to these
children of the forest through the usual channels. It is believed that all
the Christian churches 
would gladly occupy this missionary field, supplying a large per cent. of
the means neces- 
sary for their instruction, and thus bring into contact with the Indian tribes
a class of men aid 
women whose lives conform to a higher standard of morals than that which
is recognized as 
obligatory by too many of the jresent employds of the government. 
On taking charge of this department on the 15th day of May last, the relations
of officers 
respectively engaged in the military and civil departments in the Indian
country were in an 
unsatisfactory condition. A supposed conflict of jurisdiction and a want
of confidence in 
each other led to mutual cfiminations, whereby the success of military operations
hostile tribes and the execuion of the policy of this department were seriously
Upon conferring with the War Department, it was informally agreed that the
agents and 
officers under the control of the Secretary of the Interior should hold no
intercourse, except 
through the military authorities, with tribes of Indians against whom hostile
measures were 
in progress; and that the military authorities should refrain from interference
With such agents 
and officers in their relations with all other tribes, except to afford the
necessary aid for the 
enforcement of the regulations of this department. This informal arrangement
has been 
executed in good faith, producing, it is believed, a salutary effect on the
bearing of the hostile 
tribes, and securing the desired harmony and efficient co-operation of those
charged with this 
branch of the public service. 
It is earnestly recommended that the superintendents, and also agents of
a suitable grade, 
be empowered to act as civil magistrates within the limits of reservations
where the tribal 
relations are maintained, and also on the plains remote from the jurisdiction
of the civil author- 
ities. The want of an acceptable and efficient provision for the administration
ofjustice has been 
sensibly felt in cases arising between members of the tribes, or between
Indians and the white 
men who have been permitted to reside among them. The extent of the jurisdiction
and the 
mode of its exercise should be clearly defined by congressional enactment.
The Secretary of the Treasury holds certain stocks in trust for the Chickasaw
fund, which amount, as appears by his report of the 6th of December last,
to the sum of 
one million three hundred and sixteen thousand two hundred and eighty-one
dollars and 
thirty-one cents ($1,316,,81 31.) Public securities and certificates of stock
Of the par value 
of three million fifty-three thousand five hundred and ninety-two dollars
and fifteen cents, 
($3,053,592 15,) constituting the trust fund of other Indian tribes, are
deposited with the 
Secretary of the Interior. I am not aware of any good reson for a divided
custody of these 
funds. It is suggested that Congress designate a depositary for all the securities
held by the 
United States in trust for the Indians. 
Copious details in regard to each branch of the Indian service are furnished
in the volumi-. 
nous and well considered report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. I
respectfully refer- 
to it for further information, and commend the various suggestions it contains
to the favorable- 
consideration of Congress. 

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