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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 21

REPORTS OF AGENTS IN DAKOTA. 
while in possession of the Indians, had increased to 997. Upon my representation
of 
the excellent care taken of the stock, an of the snperir advantages f!)r
stoc'c-raisiag 
afforded by the reservation, the department was pleased to contract for 520
additional 
stock-cattle (20 bulls and 500 heifers) for the Cheyenne River Indians. These
cattle 
were received on the 30th of June last, and proved in every respect a most
acceptable 
lot. The heifers were, as a rule, issued according to the number in family,
a few fam- 
ilies receiving as many as four; the bulls were assigned to camps or settlements,
but 
placed under the care of individuals. Before the distribution the bulls were
branded 
on the hide with the letters "C. R. A."; and in order to make any
future disputes as 
to ownership readily adjustable, the heifers, besides receiving the same
hide-brand, 
were branded on a horn with the figure or figures of a certain number which
had been 
previously assigned as a permanent cattle-brand to every Indian receiving
an issue. 
Of these figures or individual brands, a record is kept at this office. From
a careful 
enumeration of all Indian cattle on the reservation, which has just been
completed, it 
appears that the total number now is 1,914, showing last year's increasefrom
the cattle 
furnished by the military to have been 397; and it is confidently expected
that the in- 
crease during the ensuing year will not fall short of 1,000. 
This issue of additional cattle to the Indians by the department has been
greatly ap- 
preciated, and has given a renewed impetus to stock-raising among them, It
is be- 
lieved the great majority fully realize that in the faithful prosecution
of this industry 
can be found an escape, at no very distant day, from their present impoverished
and 
dependent condition. There are, no doubt, some so utterly heedless that they
would. 
sacrifice their best interests by selling, killing, or othervise wrongfully
disposing of 
their cattle, and over such a careful supervision through the police is maintained;
but 
of these there are comparatively few. The bulk of the Indians can be relied
on to take 
the best care of their cattle, and this is evidenced by the number of stables
and corrals 
that have been built, and by the fact that nearly all are laying in a larger
supply of hay 
than ever before. The Indians are also becoming fully alive to the value
of milk as an 
article of subsistence, and a limited number of churns that were purchased
for them 
some time ago were, until the hot weather set in, kept in constant use in
making butter, 
of which all are very fond. 
Besides their cattle, the Indians own in all 4 mules and 796 horses, there
having been 
an increase of 134 in the latter during the past year. 
INDIAN FARMING. AND OTHER LABOR. 
In all, 378 acres were cultivated by 320 families, of whom 34 planted on
separate 
fields, the remainder having small patches in fields fenced jointly by several
families. 
One hundred and fifty-six acres of this land were broken by Indians during
the past 
year. Much of the bottom land heretofore cultivated has been washed into
the Missouri 
River or abandoned in favor of bench or upland, which on the whole seems
better 
adapted for agriculture. The season has been much more favorable than in
past years; 
there have been abundant and timely rains and no grasshoppers. 
The harvest, which has not yet been fully gathered, is estimuated as follows:
Corn, 
5,419 bushels; potatoes, 444 bushels; turnips, 316 bushels; onions, 66 bushels;
beans, 
51 bushels-an increase over the product of last year's crop of 2,963 bushels
of corn, 414 
bushels of potatoes, 216 bushels of turnips, 55 bushels of onions, and 51
bushels of beans. 
Considerable quantities of melons, pumpkins, and tomatoes have also been
raised. 
As has already been indicated, a strong effort is being made to break up
village life 
and to establish individual families on separate allotments. To prepare for
this much- 
needed change, eight parties of Indians, consisting of 3 men each, have been
put at 
work with the same number of ox-teams and plows in breaking three-acre lots
at such 
locations as are deemed suitable for farms, plenty of room being left for
the extension 
of the fields. The Indians are paid in beef-hides, which heretofore have
been issued as 
a gratuity, and the work is progressing satisfactorily. As long as the condition
of 
the ground will admit of it, the breaking will be continued this fall; it
will be re- 
sumed (with an increased number of men, if additional work-cattle can be
obtained) in 
the early spring. By the prosecution of this work the area, of land that
can be put un-- 
der cultivaticn next year will be at least double this year's acreage. III
accordance 
with the provisions of circular No. 30, a careful estimate of the implements
needed to 
carry out the proposed increase in farm labor was forwarded on the 7th instant,
in 
which an ample spare number of such parts of implements as are most liable
to be 
broken or rendered unserviceable by inexperienced hands was asked for. Consider-
able trouble has been experienced from the want of a sufficient number of
such parts, 
the time required to take them to rhe agency for repairs when broken causing
often 
vexatious interruptions in the work. 
Although farming operati(ns have as yet been conducted on a very limited
scale, it 
affords me pleasure to report that there is an immediate prospect for an
improvement- 
in this particular, and that the inclination of the male Indians to make
a living by 
whatever work may offer itself, or at least to add to the comfo)rts of life
by their own 


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