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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 48

48 
REPORTS OF AGENTS IN DAKOTA. 
faithful, reporting daily. They are interspersed through the different camps,
and no In- 
dian can leave the agency or come into it without their knowledge. A more
faithful 
and efficient body of men does not exist than this police force in their
sphere; serving 
as guards, messengers, and obeying their orders without fear or favor. They
are all 
the protection needed at any time on an agency, being perfectly cognizant
of every- 
thing that is occurring, and proud of doing their duty to the fullest extent.
MANNER OF ISSUING. 
All provisions, with the exception of beef, are issued weekly to the male
head of each 
family ; in case of no male head, to the woman in charge of the family. The
rations 
are carefully weighed in the presence of the Indians, and their receipt taken
at the 
time of issue in the presence of the interpreter and two white disinterested
witnesses. 
Beef is issued every two weeks, and also weighed in presence of the agent,
a military 
officer, two witnesses, the interpreter, and the issuing clerk, and delivered
to the dif- 
ferent bands. 
Annuity goods are also issued to the head of each family. In issuing farming
imple- 
ments, where there was not enough to go round, the best farmers and those
who tilled 
their land the most carefully were given the preference. The old rule to
issue to chiefs 
was entirely abandoned, as they are the greatest obstacle in civilizing the
Indians. 
They preach up a hatred towards the whites and pretend a kind of Indian aristocracy,
and actually try to keep their people from work. To break the chiefdom is
opening the 
gate to civilization. 
HEALTH. 
The health of the Indians has been exceptionally good during the past year.
There 
were a few slight cases of varicella, dysentery, erysipelas, and diarrhea.
Con- 
sumption and scrofula are endemic to the Indian domicil, but these are due
to their 
mode of living, in damp, unhealthy tepees, where such is to be expected,
as one of these 
tepees usually holds from four to five persons and a similar number of canines.
Also 
their dances are a source of consumption, as they are nearly in a nude state
when danc- 
ing, and in cold weather they cool off suddenly, which produces lung fever
and con- 
sumption. All that can be done is done to break them from dancing and exposures,
but it will take time to subdue a deeply-rooted custom. 
MORALS. 
The morals of the Indians are good. They marry according to their own fashion
The young man buys his wife from the father or eldest brother of the family
for a pony 
or some kind of a present. They don't live together without some sort of
marriage 
ceremony. Cursing and swearing or profane language is not known among them,
as 
in reality no such words exist in the Sioux language. All they know in this
respect is 
what they hear from the white man. Cursing and swearing is generally the
first lesson 
they receive from Lhose degraded whites. 
PASSES. 
The system of giving passes to Indians to travel from one agency to another
ofte 
proves an abuse. As human beings, they are at timues entitled to passes in
order t 
see distant or sick relatives or collect debts from Indians at other agencies
; but passe 
asked for on business or humane principles are the exception and not the
rule. Passe 
should be given with care. Indians are fond of gossip, and all wish to appear
as hav- 
ing large hearts and being generous. When they entertain Indians from other
agen- 
cies, the visited Indians usually give away part of their horses, other property,
and 
many of the annuities furnished by the government; and after the departure
of the 
visitors, the visited Indians in their turn wish to become visitors to get
back an equiv- 
alent for what they have given away, and so the system multiplies until it
is a constant 
source of annoyance, and causes the neglect of work and other legitimate
occupation, 
and keeps up the old desire to roam. I have found that in some instances
passes car- 
ried by Indians have been forgeries, signed by irresponsible parties, who
attach the sig- 
nature of Indian agent to them, thus passing as current. To correct this
abuse; I would 
respectfully suggest that each agent be provided with an oticial seal to
stamp all passes 
issued from his office. 
On the 12th of August my agency was visited by 207 Arickaree, Gros Ventres,
and 
Mandan Indians from Fort Berthold. They caime here with a pass, and their
coming 
was hailed by the Indians as a holiday. Their language is entirely different
from the 
Sioux, and they could not understand each other; only one man could make
himself 


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