United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1874
Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, pp. -17 PDF (6.6 MB)
REPORT OF. THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFA1RS. 15 precluded from an undue supply of gunpowder and rum, and to be made as peaceable. as possible by the presence of an agent and the distribu- tion of a few annuities in cash and blankets. In my judgment, whatever of failure has attended the management of Indian affairs in the past has been largely attributable to this funda- mental failure to recognize and treat the Indian as a man capable of civilization, and, therefore, a proper subject of the Government and amenable to its laws. A judge in Idaho, who is also a United States commissioner, has decided that he had no jurisdiction, either as a ter- ritorial or Federal officer, in a casewhere one Indian had killed another, .though the murder was committed in his own county and outside of any reserve. Thus it has come to -pass that we have within our borders at the present time 75,000 wild Indians who need legislation appropriate to a people passing rapidly out from a savage tribal government into a Iegree of control by the United States Government; and 200,000 other Indians who might be readily brought within the protection and restraint of ordinary law, and yet are practically without the benefit of any suit- able government, a majority of them being property-holders, living upon their farms, having their schools and churches, and scarcely differing in their mode of life from the pioneer settlers of the country. The damage which is inevitable to the Indians from this anomalous state of things, will be more apparent if we keep in mind that no offi- cer of the Government has authority by law for punishing an Indian for crime, or restraining him in any degree; that the only means of en- forcing law and order among the tribes is found in the use of the bayo- net by the military, or such arbitrary force as the agent may have at command. Among the Indians themselves, all tribal government has been virtually broken down by their contact with the Government. The chiefs hold a nominal headship, depending for its continuance on the consent of the most turbulent and factious portion of the tribe. If a white man commits depredations upon the Indians in their own country no penalty is provided beyond that of putting him out of the country, a penalty which he readily takes upon himself when escaping with his booty. INeither is there any provision of law by which an Indian can begin to live for himself as an American citizen. Being by the fiction of sov- ereignty, which has come into our Indian relations, citizens of a "1do- mestic dependent nation," contrary to the American doctrine upon this subject he is not allowed to change his nationality at will, but required first to obtain consent of both parties to his tribal treaty. As a result of this restriction, many Indians are kept with the mass of their tribe who otherwise would strike out for themselves. The case of the Flan- dreaus, a small band of Sioux in Dakota, hereafter detailed, who availed themselves of a special provision to this effect in their treaty, is inter- esting as illustrating the advantage of a privilege which should be provided for all Indians. Neither is there any provision under existing law by which an Indian desiring to continue his relations with his tribe is allowed to receive an allotment of his portion of the laud owned in common; thus individual enterprise and self-support are materially repressed. Many of the appropriations, in accordance with treaty stipulations, provide that annuities should be paid cash in hand, or in goods dis- tributed per capita, to be accounted for to the Government on the re- ceipts of the chief. All bounty of the Government bestowed in this form is worse than wasted, tending to perpetual poverty by providing for idleness and unthrift.
As a work of the United States government, this material is in the public domain.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright