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

Report of agent in Wyoming,   pp. 166-169 PDF (1.8 MB)

Page 169

REPORT OF AGENT        IN  WYOMING.                  169 
mandments. We have about twelve acres under cultivation, and all the work
has been 
performed, voluntarily, by the pupils, with my assistance. The crops are
looking very 
well. Our school-buildings must necessarily be uncomfortable in winter unless
means can be employed to cover them with boards. We shall endeavor to make
best of them until more suitable buildings can be erected. 
Yery respectfully, your obedient servant, 
August 11, 1877. 
J. W. COOMBS, Teacher. 
United Statee Indian Agenf. 
My first class of Arapaho youth, six in number, commenced school in January.
quarters assigned were very small, and it was thought best to instruct these
six boys 
through the winter and use them for assistants when more commodious buildings
be secured. The next week, however, four more pupils were brought in, and
their par- 
ents insisted that they, too, should be admitted. Thus it continued, week
after week. 
the parents pleading so hard for their children to be instructed, till the
quarters be- 
came so crowded that we feared sickness would be the result, and so told
the interpre- 
ter that it would be useless for them to bring in more children till we were
with more room. 
, But we soon found that they were not to be put off so easily. Two more
presented themselves with their boys, saying if we would only instruct them,
the boys 
would sleep out in the wagons, so we received them on such terms. Others
kept coming 
in, saying they, too, would sleep out of doors. 
Finally we told them we could not nor would not receive any more till larger
were furnished. One man was so angry at his boys being turned away that he
to let them come after our new tents were put up and we had sent him word
to bring 
in his children. He considered himself slighted, and has not got over it
These tents are a very poor substitute for buildings, very much like out
of doors, not 
even furnished with seats or desks. We have endeavored to make the most out
of the 
means at command, and the pupils have advanced beyond our expectations. We
to see wherein these wild boys and girls of the mountains are les apt at
learning than 
white children. Not one of them knew a letter or a single word of English
when we 
commenced teaching them, except that some of them had, by some means, learned
swear a little in broken English. A few days after the first lot came in,
and I was 
teaching one of the larger boys to milk, he astonished me by swearing at
the cow; I 
suppose that some of the tribe had learned a little of the ox-driver's vocabulary.
There are boys and girls in my school who have been under training only three
months who can work quite readily in the first four rules of arithmetic,
with small 
numbers; can read little words; can point out the different States and Territories
the map, giving the capital of each - and can point out the principal rivers
and lakes 
of the United States and Canada. They can also sing twenty or more tunes,
of which 
exercise they are particularly fond. Two of the girls have excellent voices,
and only 
require proper training to make fine singers. 
Some of the boys have become very good plowmen and teamsters. They harness
team and drive to the post by themselves, of errands. 
We met with unexpected difficulties in our farmiRg operations. Indian farms
opened and cultivated for a mile or two along the ditchon which we were dependentfor
water. At the time our crops most needed irrigating we could get no water.
that our oats and wheat would not fill for want of water, we cut it green
and stacked 
for cow-feed., This, perhaps, will prove quite as valuable to the school
as the grain 
would, but we much deplore our short crop of vegetables. 
We can see no good reason why a portion, at least, of the rising generation
of Ara- 
pahoes may not become srlf-supportiug, good citizens. The tribe, so recently
off the 
war-path, desire to be taught the better way. The interest manifested by
the parents 
in visiting the school and expressing their gratification at seeing their
children learn- 
ing the ways of civilization is truly encouraging. 
We trust that we shall soon have suitable buildings, suitably furnished.
August 10, 1879. 
E. BALLOU, Teacher. 
JAS. I. PArm, 
United States Indian Agent. 

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