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

[Kansas],   pp. 211-218 PDF (3.9 MB)

Page 217

Ninthmonth 1, 1874. 
ESTEEMED FRIEND: In obedience to instructions from the Indian Office I herewith
mit my second annual report. 
The Pottawatmies now located on this reserve number four hundred and sixty-seven
persons, and are that portion of the former Pottawatomie Indian Nation known
as the Prairie 
band, and those who, under the fourth article of the treaty, Eleventhmonth
15, 1831, elected 
to hold their land and money in common, instead of becoming citizens, as
did the majority 
of their brethren under the provisions of the same treaty. 'There are in
Wisconsin one hun- 
dred and eighty-one persons, and in the republic of Mexico or the Indian
Territory about 
thirty persons more, whose names appear on the allotment-roll of the Prairie
band, approved 
by the Department Fifthmonth 6, 1865. Those in Wisconsin have been visited,
and encouraged to return to their homes, while several families of the Mexican
mies have already returned to this reserve, and the balance are expected.
After a careful consideration of the situation of the Indians of this agency,
as compared 
with that of the sectionized class of Pottawatomies, I cannot but conclude
that the Prairie 
band subserved their best interest by remaining as wards of the Government.
This con- 
clusion is not the result of any opposition to citizenizing, but is due to
the belief that they 
should not be clothed with such privileges until they have reached a stage
of civilization 
fitting them for the responsibilities attending the privileges. 
Until my appointment to the charge of this agency no agent had lived among
them, and 
owing to the distance of the former agency from their reserve they doubtless
suffered for that 
protection and encouragement which the presence of an agent should give to
those under 
his charge. Hearing them classed as wild or blanket Indians, I expected to
encounter diffi- 
culty in overcoming their prejudices, but soon found them anxious about their
and susceptible of great improvement. 
A mission-school building had been erected by my predecessor, and my first
effort was to 
secure children to be taught in it. Though meeting with strong opposition,
the effort was 
finally a success, anode have as a reward a premising school of obedient
and intelligt-nt 
children, who bid fair to become useful men and women. The teacher and matron
of this 
school keep the scholars continually under their supervision, taking particular
care to instil 
in their minds habits of cleanliness and industry, and the great necessity
of education. 
Every head of a family of this band has a farm or cultivated field, generally
improved by 
houses and orchards, and always by substantial fences. They have abandoned
game as a means of sustaining life, and, with the assistance of their annuity,
which is 
liberal, depend upon their fields for subsistence for themselves and stock.
Though their 
crops weie cut short last year by drought they commenced farming operations
last spring 
with more than usual energy, showing a spirit of progression well worthy
of emulation. 
Their method of farming was greatly improved through the introduction of
modern farm- 
ing-implements, and their fields gave promise of a bountiful yield, when
a succession of 
visitations in the shape of chinch-bugs, drought, and finally grasshoppers,
have destroyed 
the last vestige of vegetation, leaving the Indians entirely dependent on
their annuity, 
which will be of needed assistance to them during the ensuing year, though
I believe the 
payment of money annuities to be an obstacle in the path of the advancement
of the Indian. 
The accompanying statistical report exhibits a large excess of deaths over
births for the 
year. This was occasioned by the prevalence, during the latter part of the
winter and early 
spring, of a disease closely resembling typhoid pneumonia. Having no physician
or means 
to employ one the disease remained unchecked for some time, when, seeing
the necessity of 
prompt action, I employed a physician in some special cases and the disease
was arrested, 
and since then the tribe has enjoyed excellent health. 
The location of this reserve in the midst of a settled country, though an
advantage to 
the Indians in view of the example of good and industrious farmers, has its
drawbacks in 
the sale of whisky by unprincipled white men living contiguous to the reserve,
and in 
depredations committed on the timber and stock of the Indians. The lhairie
band are not 
intemperate as a body, some of them being strictly temperate, others occasional
and a minority of them only inclined to habitual intoxication ; yet these
few are a source 
of great annoyance to the sober Indians, and, as in white communities, the
practice is pro 
lific in evil results, as shown in the diseased bodies and impoverished families
of the unfor- 
tunate partakers of alcoholic drinks. I have found that the surest method
of withdrawing 
them from this vice is in inducing them to labor by interesting them in their
individual ad- 
vancement, thus gradually leading them to seek the accumulation of property
and increas- 
ing their resources for domestichappiness and contentment. 
The problem of the civilization of the Indian is certainly a perplexing one,
and the diffi- 
culties of its solution are increased in many instances by an assumed knowledge
of his feel- 
ings and requirements. We are inclined to associate him in our minds with
inhuman and 
horrible atrocities, and yet actual experience with many tribes proves them
to be amiable 
in temper and easily governed by kindness. We look upon him as barbaric and
in his inclinations and habits, yet niy experience has taught me that Indians
have strong re- 
ligious convictions, and that all of them are believers in the divinity of
the Creator. They, 
like ourselves, declare their belief that, in the exercise of charity, they
are practicing one of 

Go up to Top of Page