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

[Dakota],   pp. 238-259 PDF (10.7 MB)


Page 258

258     REPORT    OF   THE   COMMISSIONER       OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS. 
as their peaceable conduct goes. None, to my knowledge, have gone out on
war-parties; 
no disturbance among themselves; no depredations on their white neighbors.
They have 
remained at home quietly doing their work. The only exception has been on
the part of 
those who have been called by other Indians to visit them, promising ponies.
The tempta- 
tion of receiving a pony is irresistible, and many have gone, who, if they
had remained at 
home, would have been gainers, in that they would have had better crops.
Parties have also 
gone to the red-pipe stone-quarries to obtain stone from which to manufacture
their pipes. 
With these exceptions the people have been quietly at home during the entire
year. 
FARMING AND CROPS. 
About 2,000 acres of land were plowed this last spring entirely by Indians
and half- 
breeds-a good proportion by agency-employed Indians, the rest by those who
owned the 
fields and had teams of their own able to plow with. Owing to the fact that
many are yet 
without oxen, I am compelled yearly to hire a large amount of plowing; this,
however, is 
all done by Indians and halt-breeds. If the Indians generally had cattle,
we should be 
freed from this expenditure. I would recommend that the farming Indians be
supplied 
with oxen and cows, as they would work them and milk the cows   The principal
crop 
planted, as usual, is the Indian corn. I succeeded in persuading a few of
our best farmers 
to plant wheat this year; but, unfortunately, the year has been very unfavorable
for crops 
of all kinds in this entire country, and the crops throughout the whole of
Dakota have been 
almost an entire failure. The corn-crop promised vell, but, owing to a severe
drought in 
the spring and an invasion of grasshoppers in the fall, we, as usual, shall
have but a small 
harvest. There seems to be in this locality many drawbacks to successful
farming. Year 
by year some plague is sure to destroy our hopes. I believe the small grains
are a surer 
crop here than corn. 
The great difficulty in bringing about this desirable change consists in
the fact that the 
Indian-fields have now been planted in corn yearly for the last fifteen years,
and conse- 
quently are unfit for wheat or other grain until after a year's careful cultivation.
The fields 
should all be summer-fallowed or rested for one season. I intend doing this
for the agency- 
fields the next season, to show the Indians the importance of changing crops
and resting the 
land. During last summer I broke a field of 40 acres of land on the high
lands and planted 
to wheat this spring. It promised well, but, owing to the extreme heat and
drought of 
early spring, proved almost an entire failure. I have not yet had it thrashed,
so cannot say 
what the yield wilt be-so small, I fear, that it will not pay for thrashing.
I have again 
broken another 40 acres this last summer, and intend sowing wheat in it next
spring. I 
believe, as a general thing, this land, when well cultivated, will produce
good wheat. In- 
dians cannot, however, be made good farmers at once. It will take years before
they learn 
the art of cultivating the soil as it should be. I have felt this great difficulty
for years, and 
feel it more than ever this year. The people are disconraged at these constant
failures, 
and if they are to be left dependent upon grain-culture, will always be in
distress. I 
have, therefore, endeavored to turn their attention to 
CATTLE AND SHEEP. 
The lands reserved for them by the Government are well fitted by nature to
this pursuit 
abundant pasturage, with low lands, producing good and sufficient hay for
wintering any 
number of cattle. The sheep given to these Indians a year ago are doing well,
and 1 trust 
in a few years will prove no insignificant source in clothing and feeding
these people. The - 
few cattle I have received have been distributed among those who deserved
them the most, 
and been well cared for, the oxen worked and the cows milked. Very few, if
any, have 
been killed. When I gave them out, I made a law that any person killing or
selling these 
cattle should be cut off from rations during the pleasure of the agent. This
had the desired 
effect. If, during the time rations are given by the Government, cattle could
be given them, 
and they could be taught to take care of them, as they can by means of the
restraint of cut 
ting off of rations if they are destroyed, I feel sure the increase would
in a few years be a 
great help toward their self-support. 
INDIAN HOUSES. 
The building of good substantial log-houses by the Indians is steadily going
on, not only 
for their own accommodation, but also for their animals. This is a great
improvement on 
the former state of things. It will not be long ere every Indian family on
the reserve has 
a good house for winter protection. The teepee, or cloth lodge, is usually
seen beside the log- 
house. This will doubtless continue for some time, as the people find it
for their health and 
comfort during summer to have a teepee to move into, so freeing themselves
from the win- 
ter's accumulated filth and vermin. 
APPRENTICES. 
It gives me pleasure to report that this branch of labor is progressing favorably.
I have 
during the year employed apprentices in all the shops, blacksmith, tinsmith,
carpenter, and 
grist-mill. These are ,mostly half breeds. I believe, however, the full Indian
will do as 
well as the half-breed. The day is not far distant when the entire mechanical
work of the 


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