United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1883
Reports of agents in Wisconsin, pp. 157-160 PDF (2.0 MB)
158 REPORTS OF AGENTS IN WISCONSIN. During the last two years, however, the development of the iron and timber resources of that region have furnished employment for many of the younger men Of the tribe, and the habit of labor acquired is showing in the increased attention given to the cultivation of the soil. The acreage is small, but is gradualil increasing, and each year a much greater proportion of their subsistence is derived from this source. As I visit this band but once a year, and then in midwinter, I have little opportunity to report from personal observation upon their condition ; but my employs located upon the reservation report a marked improvement during the year. Whereas in former times, when dependent entirely upon the results of the chase, they alternated be- tween feasting and starvation, there are now but few cases of want among them. This band, as enrolled at the last payment, in February, 1883, numbered 700 persons. During the past year a school has been established upon the Vermillion Lake Res- ervations, under the charge of Mr. W. W. Everts, who reports the Indians much in- terested in educational matters, the attendance good, and the aptness of the pupils as remarkable. In addition to the teacher and assistant, there are employed upon this reservation a blacksmith and farmer for the assistance and instruction of the In- dians. THE BAD RIVER RESERVATION is located upon the shore of Lake Superior, in Ashland County, Wisconsin; is watered by three important rivers-Bad River, White River, and the Kakagon; it is heavily timbered with valuable pine and hardwood timber, and comprises much valuable agricultural land. The clearing and preparing farms in this heavy timber is slow and expensive work, and the small patches under cultivation make but a poor show- ing to visitors who have been accustomed to the large farms of our western prairies; yet, by careful inquiry at the United States Land Office I find that the yearly im- provenents in the way of clearing and cultivation by these Indians exceed in very many instances the average clearing and improvements of white settlers upon their homesteads in this vicinity. The Indians occupying this reservation are in the main indulstrious, frugal, temperate, and well advanced in civilization. Their honies are comfortable log-houses, kept in cleanly and orderly condition, well furnished, and the sewing machine and parlor organ have, in many instances, succeeded the bead- work frame and Indian drum, which a few years since were the only specimens of indiislrial or musical mechanism to be found. There are upon this reservation a boarding and day s.chool, supported by the Pres- byterian Board of Foreign Missions and under the charge of the Rev. Isaac Baird, superintendent, who is zealous, earnest, and untiring in his efforts to educate, civilize, and Christianize the rising generation. That his success is not all that could be de- sired is owing in a great measure to the irregularity of the attendance, a trouble which it seems impossible to remedy, even those Indians who are most desirous that their children should receive the benefits of the school niot having sufficient control over them to enforce a regular attendance. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, the beneficial results of the school are very visible among the younger Indians, there being very few of them but can read fluently and xN rite readily, at least in their own language. There has also been recently established a day school under the charge of the Catholic Order of St. Francis, which has a good attendance. Churches have been built and religious services, both Protestant and Catholic, are held regularly. I have, during the past year, delivered to Indian heads of families of this reser- vation 122 patents conveying title in fee to 80 acres of land to each of the recipi- ents, and still have many applications for allotments. Until recently most of them have been averse to dividing up their reservation, preferring to hold it in common and unimproved; but the desire for individual title to homesteads is now universal. During the past winter authority was granted them to cut a portion of the timber from their lands for sale under certain restrictions designed for their protection, and many of them availed themselves of the privilege. The work was new to them, and they labored under many disadvantages, yet in every instance the work was profit- able, not only pecuniarily, but also as a matter of education in the proper and system- atic conduct of labor. For the success of their logging operations they were largely indebted to the assistance and advice of Mr. W. G. Walker, Governuient farmer, and I regret that it has been decided no longer to employ a farmer for these Indians, as his labor among them has been and still would be a great benefit to them. These Indians are capable of entire self-support, and derive their subsistence from the cultivation of the small patches of land which they have cleared from the timber and from their labor in lumber camps, saw-mills, mines, and on the railroads in pro- cess of construction in the vicinity of their reservation. The majority of them are sufficiently civilized to be admitted as citizens of the United States, and I think their condition would be improved if so admitted and compelled to rely upon their own resources instead of being taught to look for annuity distributions from the Govern- ment. The number of Indians of this band who have received annuities from the Government during the past year was 482.
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