University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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 12

12    REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
62,253 square miles, inhabited by more than 757000 souls, including 
50,000 civilized Indians, without the protection of law and not infre- 
quently the scene of violence and wrong. 
The necessity of establishing a government in some form, or at least 
a United States court, for these people is manifest, and I respectfully 
recommend that this necessity be again clearly laid before Congress. 
REMOVALS TO THE INDIAN TERRITORY. 
The Indian Territory has a population at present averaging a little 
over one inhabitant to the square mile. The unoccupied portions of 
this country are sufficient in extent to furnish a homestead to every 
Indian family in the United States, and it has heretofore been consid- 
ered feasible eventually to domicile a large majority of the Indians in 
this Territory. Experience, however, shows thatno effort is more un- 
successtul with an Indian than that which proposes to remove him 
from the place of his birth and the graves of his fathers. Though a bar-
ren plain without wood or water, he will not voluntarily exchange it 
for any prairie or woolland, however inviting. 
The 5,000 Pimas and Maricopas, a peaceful and agricultural people in 
Arizona, who areshut in upon a narrow strip of land along the Gila, 
whose waters are insufficient for irrigating their lands, and who often 
suffer from hunger and are hardly treated by adjoining settlers, were 
at length prevailed upon by their agent to send a delegation to the In- 
,dian Territory, with the view to the selection of a tract of country to
which the tribe should remove. The delegation reported the country 
fertile and in all respects as desirable as it had been represented to 
them; but it was not possible to gain the consent of the tribe, or any por:
tion of it, to remove from Arizona. 
The Arickarees, at Fort Berthold, in Dakota, are in a more straitened 
and deplorable condition than the Pimas. Their crops fail three years 
out of five. Their village is a long distance from wood and grass. 
They are obliged to live in dirt lodges, half underground, for fear of the
Sioux who perpetually threaten to destroy them. These were also per- 
suaded to send a delegation to the Indian Territory with a view to col- 
onizing. The country was found satisfhctory, and the agent was not 
without hope that the Arickarees would avail themselves of its fine ad- 
vantages, but after a full discussion by the tribe they decided and de- 
clared in council, "64We are willing to work harder and have less in
Da- 
kota, but are unwilling to run the risk of going away from a country 
which has been so long our home." 
Removals to the Indian Territory heretofore effected have been either 
through compulsion, like the original removal of the Cherokees, Choc- 
taws, and other now civilized tribes, and latterly of the Modocs, or have
been on the part of those tribes living just over the border in Kansas 
who had attained a certain degree of civilization and were familiar with
the country to which they were going. The Pawnees, who are of this 
class, are now in process of removing from Nebraska. From these facts 
it seems that the prospect of inducing any large number of Indians, 
and especially such tribes of Indians as would be most benefited by a 
removal, voluntarily to settle in the Indian Territory is not encourag- 
ing, and cannot safely be made the basis of any general plan for future 
relief or civilization of Indians. It is not impossible that hereafter this
Territory, if kept open, may furnish homesteads for such indians as 
have tried the ways of the white man's life and failed in the severe com-
petition to which they have been subjected. But beyond such a use it 


Go up to Top of Page