United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1874
[Montana], pp. 259-270 PDF (6.0 MB)
260 REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. in defense of his father's life ; this occurred at or near Badger Creek, and I hold the killing under any code of laws to have been entirely justifiable. Near the mouth of Sun River, in March last, a white man was killed; this was a clear case of unprovoked murder, and was done by a war party consisting of thirteen Northern Blackfeet. Notice of the murder was soon communicated to the military authorities at Fort Shaw, and they seemed as powerless to arrest and punish the murderers as were the friendly Piegans and their agent to prevent it. The law approved April 15, 1874, No. 37, entitled "An act to establish a reservation for certain Indians in the Territory of Montana," is an act of gross injustice to the Indians, and ought to be so amended as to make the south bank of the Teton River the southern boundary-line of the reservation, and the powerful influence of the Christian and humane organizations of the United States should be enlisted in behalf of such an amendment. To take from peaceable, friendly Indians a very large portion of their best hunting and pasture land without consultation or remuneration, is a violation of the wise and Christian policy of the Government. Farming this year has been discouraging, and an almost total failure. Nearly 40 acres were seeded to oats and planted in potatoes, roots, and other products of the garden. Nearly everything was destroyed by grasshoppers that were hatched upon the farm in the early season. Two old Indians tried the experiment of cultivating each an acre in potatoes and other vegetables, but the grasshoppers have left them little or nothing to stimulate to another effort. The present generation of the tribes of this reservation will never take much interest in agricultural pursuits. The hunt is too attractive and game too plentiful. There is a school here which had an average daily attendance, during the quarter ending June 30, 1874, of twenty-six children. The teacher, B. W. Sanders, must have the entire credit of organizing this school, and in view of the exceedingly crude material with which he had to work, he has cause to congratulate himself upon his success. Many of the Pie- gan parents are willing and anxious to have their children taught ; still no great progress can ever be made in educating their children unless a home can be provided for them. They must be removed from life in the lodge. Children living in lodges are compelled to go to the hunt when their parents do, and, as a consequence, nearly all those enrolled as scholars are fuily half of the year roaming over the prairie. I respectfully ask for an appropriation, in addition to the $1,500 per year already allowed for teachers, of $3,500 to erect and furnish suitable buildings for maintaining a boarding-school, with the capacity for furnishing a home and educational facilities for twenty-five to thirty children. The great enemy of the Indians is whisky. The only possible way of putting an end to this traffic is for the Indians to commence warfare upon the traders by destroying all the whisky that is brought among them, and sending these trafficking fiends away on foot. I have advised them to this course, but they hesitate to adopt it, for fear they might have to kill the traders. May 1 I accompanied the chiefs and head-men of the Piegans, to the number of 36, to Fort Benton, where I met Special Agent William H. Fanton, who was accompanied by the leading men of the Gros Ventres and Assinaboines. A separate treaty of peace was entered into between each of those tribes and the Piegans, and so far all concerned are faithfully carrying out their treaty stipulations. Since assuming the duties of agent here I have made many efforts to ascertain the number of souls composing the three tribes. As to the Black- feet and Bloods. I have no reliable information. I am led to believe, however, that they do not number over fifteen hundred each, though some accounts place the numbers much higher. Certain it is, that during the past four or five years they have fearfully diminished in num- bers, and have become very poor. The unrestricted intercourse they have enjoyed, on British soil, with the worst and most reckless class of white men on earth, has brought its attendant evils-whisky, powder and ball, disease and death. I have arrived at a more accurate knowledge of the numbers and population of the Piegan lodges; they number about as fol- lows: No. of lodges. .No. of Indians. Piegrins. ...--------------------------------------------- 350 2,450 Blackleet-............................................. 225 1,500 Bloods-................................................ 225 1,500 Total-.......................................... 800 5,450 Other estimates place the number of each tribe higher, but I am of the impression the above is high enough. On August 1 I commenced taking the census of the Indians-at least of all entitled to draw rations-with the intention of forwarding the same to your office when completed, but find it slow and tedious. Many of the Indians are averse to giving their names, and in many cases they have not named their younger children. To meet this difficulty I avail myself of the ingenuity of the interpreter, H. Robave, in assisting the parents in naming them. To complete this census it will probably take four to six months' time. R. F. MAY, Uaited States Indian Agent for Blackfeet and others. Hon. EDWARD P. SMITH, Commissioner of indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.
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