University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

Reports of agents in Dakota,   pp. 20-63 PDF (21.1 MB)


Page 52

52                 REPORTS OF AGENTS IN DAKOTA. 
very badly chosen at first and have been almost entirely neglected. Few of
them 
have more than five acres of land broken, and many of them have not that
much under 
cultivation. They exist by fishing, hunting, trapping, and selling the wood
off of 
their claims to white settlers. They are falling behind the Indians of the
reservation 
in many respects, and I fear are not *free from the vice of intemperance.
LOCATION OF AGENCY. 
The experience of a year has served to confirm my earlier impression that
the loca- 
tion of the agency is unfortunate in being so far from the Manual Labor Boarding
School. The education of this people seems to me to be the paramount duty
of the 
Department and its representatives, and the care and interest of the agent
ought to 
be increasingly directed to this important part of the service. The carpenter
and 
blacksmith shops should be filled with school apprentices. These trades are
even more 
important than those already introduced into the school. But the shops are
so far 
away as to make it impracticable at present to have the scholars work there.
If the 
school were so located that the agent could readily visit it in his daily
rounds his 
presence would be of service, if he is at all a proper man for his office.
If the change of location were approved and made gradually, it would be accom.
plished in a few years without great expense and with small loss. The warehouse,
two dwelling-houses, and one smith shop are all the agency buildings that
have any 
money value worth considering. Several of the remaining houses are old log
cabins, 
totally unfit for human habitations in this severe climate. 
INDIAN DWELLINGS. 
During the fiscal year I have issued 40,000 feet of boards, 10,000 feet of
flooring, 
6,000 feet of siding, 3,000 feet of scantling, 85,000 shingles, 27 doors,
and 65 windows, 
for the repair and completion of 77 Indian houses at a cost of about $1,700.
An im- 
provement of the dwellings of this people is one of their greatest physical
needs. 
They are mainly housed in small log cabins with earth roofs. During the dry
cold 
winters these answer the purpose very well; but as soon as the rains come
they are 
very little protection. The water runs down into the houses in muddy streams,
de- 
filing all their clothing and bedding, and rendering the cabins damp and
unhealthy. 
This state of things drives the people to their lodges and this seems to
recall all their, 
old roving habits. The issue of lumber should be continued until every family
has a 
good roof over their head. 
SHEEP. 
Near the close of the year, 1,470 sheep were received for issue to this tribe.
They 
are in process of issue now. 
WISHKY SELLERS. 
Three cases have been prosecuted against whisky sellers during the year.
One 
man was fined $300 and his place entirely broken up. The other cases failed
of con- 
viction. With small towns and numerous saloons now surrounding the reservation
it is next to impossible to control the evil entirely, but I am pleased to
be able to re- 
port a decided temperance sentiment among our best people and a nearly unanimous
feeling among our white neighbors that liquor selling to the Indians must
not be 
tolerated. I do not, however, lose sight of the fact that "eternal vigilance
is the 
price" of sobriety among these people. 
With many thanks for the kindness and courtesy shown to me from your office,
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
BENJ. W. THOMPSON, 
Indian Agent. 
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
STANDING ROCK INDIAN AGENCY, DAKOTA, 
Augu8t 25, 1884. 
SIR: I have the honor to submit my annual report for 1884, covering the twelve
months from August 1, 1883, to July 31, 1884, and I am pleased to be able
to report 
that the past year has been one of peace and prosperity among the Indians
and of 
much satisfaction to myself for the good-will manifested by those under my
charge. 
The general contentment and steady improvement of the Indians has been very
grat- 
ifying, and although my duties as agent have been very arduous and salary
inad- 
equate, which fact our national legislators fail to recognize, yet the satisfactory
con- 
dition of affairs at the agency have a soothing influence, which recompense
only a 
laborer in the field among the Indians can fully appreciate. 


Go up to Top of Page