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

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


Page X

X       REPORT    OF THE     COMMISSIONER      OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS. 
The agent of the Fort Peck Agency, Montana, says that this court-- 
Has been of practical value to me. All minor offenses and difficulties that
fre- 
quently arise, that of necessity must be adjusted, are turned over to the
judges of the 
court. The Indians are willing to abide by their decision and submit to the
penalty 
imposed. The decision and authority, coming as it does from their own people,
has 
the moral tendency to educate them up to the idea of law. 
The agent of the Nez Perc6 Agency, in Idaho, says: 
The court has done a good work during the past year in correcting error and
crime. 
The following is a list of cases passed upon by said court: 
Offenses.                         No. of      Fines 
cases,    collected. 
Drunkenness ............................................................17
 $168  25 
Theft .....................................................................$3
 25  00 
W ife-beating ..............................................................2
 23  00 
Plurality of wives .....................................................
1  20300 
Disrdly onduct -----------------------------------------------------  1 
10 00 
Disorderly  conduct _.......................................................
 1  10  00 
Contempt of court.   .      .      .     ..---------------------------------------------------
 1  10 00 
256 25 
Amount of fines imposed and not yet collected, $30. 
The agent of the Standing Rock Agency, Dakota, says that he organ- 
ized the court of Indian offenses at his agency in October last, and is-
Pleased to state that it has given entire satisfaction. The judges are good
men, who 
command respect and have the confidence of the Indians, and their decisions
have 
been just and impartial, and have in every case been sustained by public
sentiment. 
Sessions of this court are held every alternate Saturday, and it aids me
materially in 
administering the affairs of the agency. 
The agent of the Devil's Lake Agency, Dakota, says: 
The court of Indian offenses is of great assistance to an agent in keeping
the Indians 
under proper restraint and enforcing the laws published by the Department
for the 
punishment of offenses, for without their assistance the facts in the cases
would never 
be got at. "1It takes a thief to catch a thief," and it requires
an Indian lawyer to 
sift an Indian statement and the evidence of Indian witnesses. Crimes and
much 
petty trouble are prevented, because the Indians know that the true facts
in the case 
will be understood and learned by the Indian judges; whereas a white man
could be 
fooled, as they express it. The system also relieves the agent of much disagreeable
work and odium in connection with the duty of imposing fines or imprisonment
upon 
offenders. I have divided the reservation into three school districts, and
the judge 
residing in each district is responsible for the attendance at school of
the children in 
that district. If these men were under pay the task of keeping children at
school 
would be a less arduous one. During the year the judges have tried forty-two
cases 
and passed sentence of imprisonment or fine upon thirty-four offenders. 
The agent of the White Earth Agency, Minnesota, says: 
The court here has relieved me of many trying cases, and now it would seem
as if 
it would be impossible to do without them. Their judgment in most cases has
been 
excellent, and their decisions submitted to without any complaint in most
cases. 
There are a few lawless persons here that have been able to do as they wished
for 
many years, and the restraint that this court has been to them has caused
some 
little dissatisfaction. But it is only a question of time and it will become
a perma- 
nent fixture and recognized as the only way to settle the little differences
among 
them. If these judges could be paid a reasonable salary for their time and
services 
there would not be any doubt of the continued good results from this court.


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