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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1883
([1883])

Reports of agents in Wisconsin,   pp. 157-160 PDF (2.0 MB)


Page 158

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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