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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1884

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [III]-LV ff. PDF (21.4 MB)

Page V

suffering for food, and by inference the cause of this suffering was at-
tributable to neglect on the part of this office; while on the contrary,
the suffering of these Indians for lack of food, was attributable directly
and entirely first, to the fact that the appropriations for them were not
made until three months after they should have been made, and sec- 
ond, that when made, the amount allowed was less than was asked for 
by this office, and consequently insufficient for the absolute wants of 
these Indians. The Blackfeet, Blood and Piegan Indians, and those at 
Fort Peck and Fort Belknap agencies, were driven to great straits to 
sustain life during the winter and spring of 1883 and 1884, being com- 
pelled to kill many of their horses and young stock cattle for food, and
to resort to every possible expedient, such as eating bark, wild roots, 
&c., and there is little doubt that many deaths amongst them were the
direct result of lack of food. Throughout their severest trials, however,
I am glad to be able to say that they have been guilty of very few acts 
of lawlessness or depredation. 
It is evident that owing to the entire disappearance of game and the 
inability of these Indians to support themselves for the present by agri-
culture, and in the absence of stock herds old enough and large enough 
so that the increase might afford a permanent, even if very limited, 
supply, they will be compelled to depend nearly altogether on the Gov. 
ernment for food for several years to come. These Indians, notwith- 
standing their late sad experience, are cheerfully endeavoring to make 
the best of their present opportunities, and are anxious to help them- 
selves. Much has been done by them during the past year in digging 
irrigating ditches, fencing and breaking fields, building dwelling-houses,
&c., and they are, with few exceptions, diligently and patiently strug-
gling for independence; and there is good reason to hope that with 
proper assistance, in a few years each household will own a team and 
have enough land under cultivation, which, with a few stock-cattle, will
be sufficient to make a great majority of them nearly independent. In 
view of all these circumstances, I believe that there has never been a 
time in the history of these tribes when judicious assistance and encour-
agement"from the Government would have been so beneficial to them 
as at present. 
I have called attention to these things before, and now do so again, 
with the hope that Congress may see the necessity of making appro- 
priations for the Indian service as to time and quantity so as to prevent,
in the future, all just complaints of this character. 
In my last annual report I called attention to this matter in the fol- 
lowing language: 
" Under the present system of making appropriations for the Indian-
service, and the rulings of the accounting offieers of the Treasury in the

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