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 Dakota,   pp. 19-52 PDF (15.7 MB)


Page 22

22 
REPORTS OF AGENTS IN DAKOTA. 
labor is becoming daily more manifest. During the past year about 1,200 cords
of 
wood were cut by Indians and sold to the military contractors at Forts Bennett
and 
Sully and to steamboats. Thirty-nine log cabins and forty-two corrals were
built by 
the Indians during the year. A large quantity of hay has also been cut, and
they are 
still engaged in large numbers at this work. Indians have already delivered
to the 
quartermaster's department at Fort Bennett 150 tons, to the agency 60 tons,
and about 
75 tons to traders and other white persons on the reservation, and it is
estimated 
that at the end of the season, which is late this year, not less than 2,200
tons will have 
been stacked at the camps for the use of their own stock. Five mowing machines
are 
owned by Indians, having been purchased from money realized from the sale
of hay and 
wood. The Indian employis at the agency have also worked faithfully and steadily,
and are becoming more and more reliable and useful. 
SCHOOLS. 
Five day schools and one boarding school for girls, with which a day school
for children 
of both sexes was connected, were carried on mainly by contributions from
the Episcopal 
and Presbyterian churches during nine months of the past year, with an average
at- 
tendance of 123 scholars. Four of the day schools were taught by native teachers,
two of whom are almost entirely ignorant of the English language, of which
the other 
two possess only a very imperfect knowledge. The attendance, though better
at some 
of the schools than formerly, has been very irregular, except at the boarding
school 
proper. Constant attendance of the pupils of the latter, which is partly
sustained by 
the government, has been insisted upon, and in several instances the services
of the 
police were brought into requisition to enforce the return of children who
had run off 
to or had been carried off by their parents or relatives. 
It is believed to be an indisputable fact that the Indian's ignorance of
our language 
forms an almost insuperable obstacle to his civilization. The difficulty
can only be 
overcome by making the study and acquirement of the English language by the
children paramount to every other consideration in their education. English
cannot, 
however, be successfully taught at the day schools of the Indian camps; certainly
not 
when conducted by persons who are not conversant with the language themselves.
But even if competent teachers were assigned to these schools, the difficulty
of over- 
coming the irregularity of attendance and the bad effect of the home influence
upon 
the children, would still render futile any attempt to teach them English.
In order to 
learn this, the children must be separated from their own people-the greater
the sepa- 
ration the better. 
The scheme recently adopted of placing Indian children at school in the East
is a 
most excellent one, I feel assured; but as the great expense which it involves
does not 
admit of its being carried out in the case of all Indian children, the next
best plan is 
believed to be the establishment on the reservation of boarding schools (which
ought 
also to be industrial schools) of sufficient capacity for all children of
a certain age, 
say from 11 to 13. Day schools might still be carried un at the camps for
children of 
a lesser age. The boarding schools should not be located near Indian villages
or set- 
tlements, and ought to be under the charge of thoroughly practical, resolute,
and com- 
petent white teachers, amenable to the authority of the agent, who should
be respon- 
sible for the proper management of schools to the department. Attendance
at the 
school should be compulsory, and no parent or relative should be permitted
to take a 
child home, even for one night, save for some cause deemed sufficient by
the'agent. 
Of course this plan would still involve a considerable outlay, but it is
believed the 
money could not be expended to better advantage, either in the interests
of the Indians 
or the government. Moreover, as the latter already feeds and clothes all
Indians, the 
expense of maintaining such schools would not be as great as might be supposed.
At this agency the government has done comparatively little for the education
of the 
Indian youth. The enlargement of the boarding-school building at the Striped
Cloud 
camp, so that it may accommodate 25 instead of 12 girl pupils, has been recently
au- 
thorizeld, and upon arrival of the material, which has already been purchased,
the 
needed additio-is will be at once made by the agency employ&s. The establishment
of a boys' boarding school at the agency has also been recommended. Should
this 
recommendation be adopted, it shall be my aim and effort to have the boys
taught 
English and the labor of the shops and farm, and also to instill into their
young minds 
an idea, of order, system, and neatness, as well as respect for authority,
in all of which 
res)ects the Indians are sadly deficient. 
MISSIONARY WORK. 
The religious care of the agency is assigned to the Protestant Episcopal
Church, 
whose representative here is the Rev. H. Swift. The Presbyterians also maintain
a 
mission on the reservation, which is under the charge of the Rev. T. L. Riggs,
and 


Go up to Top of Page