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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 61

REPORTS OF AGENTS IN         DAKOTA.                   61 
the subservient Indian into an independent man. The most notable chief among
the 
Yanktons is he whose name stands at the head of those who signed the treaty
of 1858, 
and who is recognized as head chief-Pa-la-ne-a-pa-pe, "the man that
was struck by 
the Ree." Old Strike, as he is familiarly called, is supposed to be
eighty-four years 
old, quite deaf, and nearly blind. In his day he was a great warrior and
orator. 
Now, bowed down with age and infirmities, be is scarcely the shadow of the
once 
famous chief. He still manifests a deep interest in the welfare of his people.
Com- 
missioners and agents have experienced the force of his logic and acknowledged
the 
power of his eloquence. Strike dresses in citizen's clothes, and although
he does not 
belong to the school of progress he has a good heart. His few remaining days
ought 
to be made as comfortable as possible. This can be done by giving him plenty
to eat 
and wear. 
THE POLICE. 
This force consists of fifteen men, selected from among the younger Indians.
They 
are officered by one captain and two sergeants. They are to the agent what
the sheriff 
and his deputies are to the court. White men or Indians accused of crime
or misde- 
meanor on the reservation are brought in by the police and the matter investigated.
They are quite indispensable in the administration of the duties of the office
of Indian 
agent. 
During the less than four weeks of my official life the police arrested and
brought 
before me one white man for stealing a horse which was ridden through the
agency, 
and at once detected and pursued by one of the police-thief captured and
by me 
turned over to the proper officer, and horse returned to the owner. 
At this agency no increase of pay is needed. Four on duty at a time makes
the pay 
of $5 per month equal to $20 per month each. This with his rations and clothing
is 
ample compensation. 
AGRICULTURE. 
The Indian farming this year is encouraging. The season has been favorable,
and 
the yield all that could have been anticipated. The Yanktons are slowly but
surely 
learning the art of cultivation. Herein lies the solution of the problem
of Indian civil- 
ization. Industrial schools for the young, practical farming for those of
riper years, is 
the only road to success. A number of the farms on the reservation I have
visited are 
worthy of all commendation. Some corn-fields show good tillage, are free
from weeds, 
and stacks of wheat and oats built by Indians are equal to those built by
our white 
farmers. It must not be inferred that all of the Indians are good farmers.
Some of 
the corn-fields show neglect and poor tillage. The weeds have been allowed
to grow, 
the corn making an unsuccessful struggle in its efforts for supremacy against
its natu- 
ral enemy. Indians inclined to be lazy, as too many of them are, should be
often visited 
by the Government farmer and encouraged to work. The reward of a good crop
as 
the result of perseveringlabor, and a certain failure as the result of idleness,
cannot be 
too often nor too forcibly impressed upon them. Under the treaty, self-support
must 
soon be reached by the Yankton Indians. This is only possible through agricultural
industry, yet largely to be learned. How to plow, to plant, to cultivate,
to sow, to 
harvest, to save, so as to produce the largest results, are lessons which
must be taught 
the Indian by the farmer provided by the Government. In this view this employd
becomes the most important factor in agency work. 
The statistics gathered by the Government farmer and on file in this office
show: 
Acres of wheat this-season, 889 ; corn, 1,287 acres; oats, 261acres; potatoes,
781 acres; 
garden, 201 acres. This acreage should be received with many grains of allowance.
My Indians have but a very imperfect idea of what constitutes an acre of
land; the 
farmer passing over the reservation could only form a crude estimate of the
quantity of 
land in cultivation, found in patches and irregularly shaped fields. His
average of 30 
bushels of corn to the acre, and 15 bushels of wheat, I am well satisfied
is entirely too 
high. If these statistics can be relied upon, they establish one thing, which
is, that 
the time is near at hand whan no more flour should be issued to the Indians
of this 
reservatisn except to the aged, the sick, and infirm. It is also worthy of
serious con- 
sideration, whether in the near future rations should not be confined to
beef only. It 
will be many years before the Indians will raise sufficient cattle to supply
themselves 
with meat, which is their chief food. 
1 cannot too strongly recommend to the Department as a leading feature in
the 
work of the agent at this agency, first, to make the Government school here
more of 
an industrial school than a school for learning that which is taught from
books, be- 
yond the simplest rudiments. The boys should be taught all kinds of farm,
garden, 
and barn work; how to handle and use the tools with which work is d-ne, and
the 
girls how to cook, to wash, iron, clean house, and make their own clothing;
second, 
the agent should pay frequent visits to the Indians who are farming, and,
through 
his interpreter, give them instructions in their work, stimulate them by
his presence 
and personal interest in their welfare to better cultivation, and make them
understand 
MEMEd 


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