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 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Colorado,   pp. 15-19 PDF (2.5 MB)


Page 18

18                REPORTS OF AGENTS IN          COLORADO. 
Last fall 40 acres were plowed and two log buildings erected; one moved from
aboveo. 
Great delays arose from old and insufficient agricultural implements, and
from the op- 
position of the Indians to the occupancy of this valley, since its use to
them had been 
for winter grazing for their horses. 
Further work was done in constructing an irrigating canal, which was laid
out 
14 feet wide at the head gate, 10 feet wide for the first half-mile, and
6 feet wide for 
one mile, where it stops at present, since sufficient water is furnished
for several years 
to come. The survey was made, however, a mile farther to an extensive plateau,
and 
from which a water-power can be obtained of 25 feet, and altogether as many
as 3,00a 
acres of fertile, choice land can be watered. The cost of this improvement
was less 
than $2,000, and it was found so complete in its survey and construction,
that not an 
hour's work has been required to correct mistakes-a thing quite unusual;
and all the 
season an abundance of water has been furnished. 
This spring a number of the old igency bnilding6, all of logs, were hauled
down 
and re-erected ; 80 acres of land were fenced with cedar posts 8 feet apart,
which 
were sawed off at a uniform height, and heavy poles were spiked thereon,
and 2 strings 
of barbed wire were strung on two sides and three strings on the two other
Sides, making 
a first-class fence. Early in March, 20 acres of wheat were sowed on government-
ac- 
count and 3 acres on account of and for Indians, they having brought the
seed from 
Uintah Agency. Their seed, however, caused much trouble, as it was foul with
cockle. 
In these works considerable labor was performed by the Indians. In constructing
the canal, about 15 Indians worked well, and they were paid over $300 in
cash, and 
this spring they dug many fence-post holes, while a large forcet grubbed
8 acres of 
bottom land for potatoes. Further, they planted several acres in sweet corn
and 
garden vegetables. A great deal of talking and entreaty were required all
the time; 
once in about a week all would stop work without apparent cause, though evidently
in bad humor, but after a few daysthey would be at work again. When the crops
were planted they ceased to have interest in them, while some went off hunting,
evi- 
dentlyexpecting that I would direct the employ6s to cultivate and bring their
plant- 
ings to maturity. A few, however, were induced to irrigate and hoe their
grounds; 
others did so in a most imperfect manner, while those who went away have
not yet 
gone into their fields. I judge that half have done reasonably well. The
total num- 
ber who have worked has been about thirty; the number of "able-bodied"
men is 
over 200, and of this whole number, 900, not more than a quarter have remained
on 
the reservation. 
Considerable success has attended the dairy buAness, as the Indians are now
milking 
over 20 cows; but as they have no conveniences for making butter, though
they would 
like to do so, they use the milk and make cottage cheese. One Indian has
had a house 
built; he keeps three cows and he raises the calves; he has purchased a stove,
and his 
case is promising. Others would like to have houses, but as I have not sufficient
force 
to build them, and as the Indians will not work themselves to go ahead, they
live in 
their tents. Three wagons havebeen sent on this year for their use, and they
are much 
pleased with them, and they make good use of them, while they borrow all
the agency 
wagons we can spare. They readily engag6 in hauling from the old agency,
and they 
have learned the mysteries of harnessing their horses and of managing on
the road. 
As to education, they care nothing for it and refuse to send their children
to school. 
Their idea is, as they express it, that their children will cry and feel
bad. The few 
children that have been obtained are to be treated with the utmost care,
for if their 
parents hear of their being subject to any kind of discipline they take them
away. 
The truth is, the Indians have no idea of the use c f discipline o? of persistence
in 
mental efforts, and they have traditions, habits, and methods of thinking
to which 
they firmly adhere. They are weak, bothin body and mind, while their needs
are so 
few that they do not wish to adopt civilized habits, unless to wear a vest,
seeing no 
kind of use for them ; and what we call conveniences and comforts are not
sufficiently 
valued by them to cause them to undertake to-obtain them by their own efforts.
This 
applies in a great degree even to those who have labored, while the great
majority 
look upon the white man's ways with indifference and contempt. 
This general statement shows how difficult, if not hopeles4, is the task
of civilizing 
these Utes. And yet it should seem that, inasmuch as progress has certainly
been 
made during the past year, more may reasonably be expected next year, and
so on. 
Whether five, ten, or twenty years will be required to bring them even to
a low state 
of civilization I do not presume to predict. Civilization has been reached
by succes- 
sive stages: first was the savage, clearly that of these Utes; next the pastoral,
to 
which a few have now entered; next the barbaric; and finally the enlightened,
scien- 
tific, and religious. 
I am all the while conscious that temporary though powerful obstacles to
advance- 
ment stand in the way, and that if these could be removed the condition of
the 
Indians would be more hopeful. First, is the facility presented for their
leaving the 
reservation. They have long been in the habit, after receiving their annuity
goods in 
the fall, of leaving for the frontier white settlements, trading off their
clothing at the 


Go up to Top of Page