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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1874
([1874])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. [3]-17 PDF (6.6 MB)


Page 5

REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
tribes, and the occupation of the intervening country by advancing 
settlements, such an event as a general Indian war can never occur in 
the United States. This opinion finds strong confirmation in the fact 
that the highly disturbed feeling among the Sioux during the past sum- 
mer has not led to an attempt at war, and that military posts have been 
successfully established at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies, in face
of the violent declaration of the Indians that no soldier should ever 
cross the North Platte. The feeding process, which has been now con- 
tinued for six years with the Sioux, has so far taken the fight out of 
them that it was impossible for a portion of the more warlike non-treaty
bands to prevail upon their brethren, who have been sitting down at the 
agencies along the Missouri River, to risk the loss of their coffee, sugar,
and beef in exchange for the hardships and perils of a campaign against 
soldiers. As a result, the Custer expedition penetrated to the very 
heart of their wild country and returned without meeting opposition, 
and the military camps at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies are in 
safety, though surrounded by a force of fighting men from ten to twenty 
times larger than their own number. To have tamed this great and war- 
like nation down to this degree of submission by the issue of rations is
in itselt a demonstration of what has been often urged-that it is cheaper
to feed than to fight wild Indians. 
The first requisite in the management of all the Indians in this class 
is firmness. All outragesor depredations should be followed up promp)tly,
and punished at all hazards and at any cost. Any leniency which comes 
in to prevent such exercise of firmness is an expensive and mistaken 
kindness, which is sure to end in great suffering caused by the necessity
f)r greater severity. The necessity for making the present war upon 
the Comanches and Cheyennes in the Indian Territory has resulted 
largely froin a failure to observe this rule. The military force now 
stationed around and among these wild Indians is deemed sufficient for 
their restraint, there being no reason to expect that the same amount of
military service will be needed to keep the peace during the coming 
year as has been required and effectively rendered during the past. 
It is confidently believed that even the present appliances, if held 
steadily to bear upon this class of Indians, will diminish its numbers 
year by year, by inducing them, partly through increasing confidence 
and partly through stress of circumstances, to undertake some sorr of 
civilized labor. 
THE PARTIALLY CIVILIZED. 
The 52,113 people embraced in class two may be properly designated 
as Indian novitiates in civilization. They have largely broken away 
from heathenish practices, are generally abandoning the medicine-dance, 
and have come directly under the influence of religious teaching. With 
scarcely an exception, their progress in civilization seems to keep pace
with the breaking down of their pagan notions. They have furnished 
thme subjects upon which the main labor of the year has been bestowed 
by the agents, and by this labor its ranks have been largely recruited 
from those hitherto wild and intractable. A glance at almost any one 
of the reports of the agents will show the enthusiasm and hopefulness 
which have been inspired by the marked improvements they have wit- 
nessed. 
For this class of Indians the beginnings of civil government, a large 
increase of school facilities, lands in severalty, and generous assistance
in furnishing teachers cf trades and agriculture, together with farming 


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