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

[Colorado],   pp. 271-276 PDF (3.0 MB)


Page 272

272     REPORT    OF THE     COMMISSIONER      OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS. 
Frequent applications are made to me for the treatment of such complaints
as rheumatism, 
pneumonia, dysentery, and, occasionally, syphilis. The first two are common
among the 
Utes, and pneumonia-especially, without prompt and persistent treatment,
proves almost 
invariably fatal. Wherever I have noticed a case of the last-named loathsome
disease 
among them, it has been of such a nature as to baffle completely the treatment
of their own 
medicine-men, and nothing but the attention of a skilled physician has afforded
relief. The 
expense attending the employment of such a physician*at this post is so slight,
and the 
amount of suffering he could allay so great, that it seems to me the Department
should not 
hesitate to make this provision. 
The subjects of agriculture, education, missionary work, Indian industry,
&c., upon 
which information is asked through office circular dated August 7, 1874,
cannot be statisti- 
cally considered in this report, for the reason that no effort is, or ever
has been, made at this 
agency by the Bureau to educate, christianize, or stimulate to industry the
band of Indians 
of which I have the honor to be in charge. 
The disposition of the Utes remains, so far as I can learn, perfectly peaceable;
and while 
they do not manifest the least desire to adapt themselves to the pursuit
of any of those 
peaceful industries by which a majority of our white population obtain a
livelihood, they 
are fortunately lacking in those fierce and predatory instincts which characterize
so many of 
the western tribes. They are generally quiet in demeanor, decent in dress,
remarkably 
free from the vice of drunkenness, considering the opportunities they have
to obtain liquor; 
and they seem contented to share with their white neighbors the occupancy
of what was, a 
few years ago, their exclusive hunting-ground, provided the superior race
allows them to 
travel back and forth between mountain and plain, and take their just proportion
of the 
game with which our forests and prairies abound. During my experience of
five years 
among these Indians I have never heard of such a thing as one of them making
an unpro- 
voked assault upon a white man, nor has there been, to my knowledge, during
that time, 
a well-authenticated instance where any individual of the band under my charge
attempted 
to appropriate to his own use the property of another without the consent
of the rightful 
owner. On the other hand, I have known the Indians to be robbed in the streets
of Denver 
of many articles of value to them, such as buckskins, buffalo-robes, lariats,
and revolvers; 
and during the past summer one instance of assault upon an Indian by a white,
with intent to 
commit murder, has come to my knowledge, the circumstances of which have
been made known 
to you through my telegram of July 31, and my official letters dated August
13 and 26. This 
attack was entirely unprovoked, and if the ruffian who did the shooting had
not, to his 
other numerous failings, added that of being a miserable marksman, the telegraph
lines 
would next day have been burdened, and the newspapers would have teemed with
details 
of "the latest Indian outrage on our borders," as the Utes, like
any other plucky people, 
would no doubt have taken summary vengeance upon the slayer of one of their
number. 
(Cu-ra-can-ti, war-chief of the Muaches, was the Indian shot at.) In this
connection I 
desire to publicly commend the action of Mr. W. D. Burns, of the Kenosha
House, in dis- 
arming and chastising the miscreant, Taylor, before he had time to fire the
third shot. If the 
latter had been allowed to continue his miscellaneous pistol-practice, he
might accidentally 
have hit somebody. 
The dangerous practice of giving whisky to Indians has been carried on to
a limited 
extent here during the past spring and summer. I have the honor to inform
you that I have 
succeeded in apprehending an individual who was engaged in this nefarious
business, and 
I hope to secure his conviction. It is extremely difficult to procure the
arrest of these per- 
sons, and almost impossible to convict them after indictment. They are extremely
cautious 
in their management of the traffic, and the average Indian is loth to testify
against the 
friend who furnishes him with the devil's dose. In order to induce information
that will 
lead to the apprehension and Conviction of persons giving, sellingr, bartering,
or exchanging 
spirituous liquor or wine to Indians, I would suggest that the agent be authorized
to offer a 
reasonable reward, to employ detectives, if necessary, and to be instructed
to send for and 
compel attendance of Indian witnesses. 
In July last a portion of Pi-ah's band, who were hunting buffalo on the Republican,
sur- 
prised and killed three Sioux warriors near the Sand Hills, east of Fremont's
Butte. They 
brought the scalps of the slain to Denver in great triumph, and desired to
be allowed to 
make a public display and indulge in a parade on the streets. This, of course,
I could not 
sanction, yet I could not prevent their celebrating their victory in their
own way at their 
camp. They, consequently, held nightly dances near Denver during an entire
week, and 
until reports reached me that many white persons were in the habit of visiting
the pow- 
wows, and clandestinely giving the Utes whisky, to make them  "sing
louder."  I at once 
summoned Pi-ah to my office, and informing him that I thought his followers
had sufficiently 
recuperated after the hardships and dangers of their campaign against the
Sioux, I ordered 
him to break camp forthwith and start for the mountains. The next morning,
at 9 o'clock, 
I found that he had obeyed my order. In view of the fact that repeated acts
of murder by 
the Utes upon their plains enemies, the Sioux, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, and
Kiowas, have 
occurred during the past four years, and have invariably been followed by
reprisals on the 
part of the latter, in some of which white citizens have suffered, I would
suggest that, here- 
after, whenever the Utes are permitted to visit the buffalo-range, a competent
and trustworthy 


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