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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1879
([1879])

Reports of agents in Dakota,   pp. 19-52 PDF (15.7 MB)


Page 20

20           REPORTS OF AGENTS IN DAKOTA. 
No. Gi 
Band or tribe.            N   Io o  r  Men  Women. Boys. Girls. Number. 
Blackfeet bandNo. I---------------------- 431  50    84    58     45    
 2-37 
Sans Arc band No. 2..    ..               70    87     122    85     68 
    362 
Minueconjou band, No. 3 .....................  103  137  174  102   118 
    531 
Two Kettle band, No. 4 .......................  152  179  269  179   178
    805 
Total..................................    453     649   424    409    1,935
From the above arrangement it must not be inferred that each tribe or band
main- 
tains itg exclusiveness and acknowledges the authority of a chief. On the
contrary, 
tribal organization may now be said to be broken up, save in name, and there
are no 
lon~ger any recognized chiefs. 
An effort has been made since the 1st of April, 1878, to keep a careful record
of births 
and deaths among the Indians. This record, which is believed to be quite
accurate, 
shows that during the period from the date mentioned to the 31st ultimo,
there were 
in all 79 deaths and 106 births, and consequently, that in 16 months' time
the latter ex- 
ceeded the former by 27. It would thus appear that although these Indians
have now 
fairly entered.upon the critical period of tranlsition from the savage to
the semi-civil- 
ized state-a condition generally believed to be unfavorable to longevity
or fecurdity- 
they are nevertheless more than holding their own so far as numbers are concerned.
DISPOSITION, HABITS, AND CIVILIZATION. 
It is gratifying to nCte the fact that the Indians are steadily2 if slowly,
improving in 
their habits and disposition. The old medicine and head men who formerly
led in 
counsel, and strenuously opposed reform and progress of every kind, are beginning
to 
lose their hold upon and influence with the bulk of their people ; particularly
with 
the young men, who prefer to look for advice rather to those of their seniors
of who are 
foremost in farming aLd general industry. Councils and feasts are less frequent
than 
in former years, and are discouraged b- the more progressive. Dances still
occur which 
are more or less immoral, and therefore objectionable in their tendency ;
but the most 
barbarous and odious dance of all, the sun-dance, has not been practiced
for more than 
a year. Whun in June last a deputation of twelve Spotted Tail Indians brought
the 
Cheyenne River Indians an urgent invitation to attend a grand sun-dance of
the Sioux 
Nation, to be held, with the agent's approval, at the Rosebud Agency, the
mere refusal 
of the agent here to grant permission, together with an insignificant show
of force at 
the camps (at which a few scouts and policemen were stationed), was sufficient
to pre- 
vent the attendance of a singlA one of our Indians. 
In other respects, too, there is some progress. The Indianq are more cleanly
in their 
habits and the preparation of their food; a majority have discarded the use
of paint 
on their faces, and with few exceptions all wear the clothes which are issued
to them 
as long as they last. Drunkenness is almost an unknown vice among them, but
.polyg- 
amy and gambling continue, though to a less extent than formerly. Scaffold
sepulture 
is falling more and more into disuse, and our mode of burial is in most cases
followed. 
They are acquiring greater skill in building log cabins, in which a majority
now live, 
and although the most of these structures are still very rude, there are
sonie that are 
more substantial and afford better shelter than many Texas ranches, built
and occu- 
pied by whites, that I have seen. The interior, too, of their cabins presents
in most 
cases a more civilized aspect. The beds are generally raised from the ground;
there 
are shelves and pegs on the walls; occasionally a clock, some chairs or benches,
a table, 
and even writing material, are seen ; and kerosene lamps, standing on brackets
fastened 
to posts supporting the roof, are quite common. 
But notwithstanding these changes for the better, there is much room left
for im- 
provt ment, and it will still take some years of unremitting effort on the
part of those 
in charge of these Indians, to raise them to the level of the lower order
of whites. 
Many drawbacks and discouragements are experienced by an agent and those
acting 
under or with him, and it is only by an unyielding firmness, and at times
by an utter dis- 
regard of 'the many whims and silly notions cf the Indians, that progress
can be con- 
tinued and results already accomplished maintained. Want of perseverance
in what- 
eer work be undertakes, heedlessness of and indifference to his future wants
and wel- 
fare, an undue estimation of the value of his own judgment, and insufficient
respect for 
that of those sent to instruct him, are the characteristics of the Indian,
here as else- 
where, that are among the great obstacles to his progress, and which the
agent must 
ever seek to combat and overcome with all the means at his command. 
STOCK-RAISING. 
About the close of the Sioux hostilities of 1876, and subsequently, the military
seized 
from the Cheyenne River Indians a number of ponies, from the proceeds of
the sale of 
which in all 9 bulls and 643 cows were furnished them. A year ago these cattle,


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