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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1892
61st ([1892])

Reports of supervisors of education,   pp. 619-646 PDF (13.1 MB)


Page 620

620         REPORTS OF SUPERVISORS OF EDUCATION. 
marked differences exist upon the different reservations the same general
im- 
pediments also exist throughout. For instance, the Oneida people appear to
value education as fully as do white people. They have constantly a large
num- 
ber away at school. They have six day schools, four of which are taught by
Oneidas. They have also a beautifully situated and handsome boarding school
in which they are deeply interested and which will be filled to overflowing
as 
soon as opened. Not far away are about 700 Chippewas on Lake Flambeau Res-
ervation. They are poor and ignorant. They have one day school with a good
average attendance , but of the 30 who attend to-day 15 will be absent to-morrow
and still another 15 will keep the average number good, and next day the
same 
shifting process will be repeated, and so on through the week. The two teach-
ers, Mrs. Sullivan and Miss Curran, are faithful and persevering in the face
of 
many hindrances. 
But presenting these two instances as contrasts I think the same general
im- 
pediments exist throughout th. district. One of the most serious, I may safely
say the most serious, is this very evil of irregularity in attendance, increased
and 
made worse by the apathy and often indeed the hostility of the adult Indian.
His unwillingness to send his children to a far-away school I can in some
mess- 
ure understand, and I do not believe a law to compel him to do this could
b 
enforced; but a law to compel him to send to the reservation schools could
be 
enforced and beyond question ought to be, enacted. To see a well-equipped
res- 
ervation boarding school, with good accommodations for a hundred pupils,
with 
perhaps less than half that number in attendance, and the whole force of
em- 
ployes engaged in a daily struggle for the school against the indifference
and 
often the hostility of the Indian is to say the least unpleasant. Such, however,
is the frequent situation. 
I would cite as an instance of what exists generally (though not generally
I 
think to so marked a degree) the two excellent schools at Sisseton, namely
: the 
Government boarding school and the Presbyterian Mission school, established
years ago and christened by the venerable missionary, Dr. Rigus, "Good-
will." They are both provided with excellent and ample buildings, and
every- 
thing needed for personal comfort, fine water, high, healthy location, and
just 
as good people as can be found anywhere, in or out of the Indian school service.
Now, these Sisseton Indians are reputed to be " well advanced."
In inventing 
all sorts of frivolous and false and malicious objections against these schools,
and in defeating the object for which they were established, they are "
advanced!"11 
In other respects I have not found them so. The wonder is, that with such
im- 
pediments, the schoolsI speak of them now generally-are as good as they are.
They would not be were not the employes (as a rule) most faithful and pa-
tient and persevering in the performance of their duties. 
Irregularity of attendance, scanty attendance, insufficient attendance, call
it how 
you will, is the chief evil; the lion in the path. There is but one way to
overcome it, 
one way and no other, namely: by the enactment and enforcement of a compul-
sory law, limited in its operation to the reservation schools. I speak feelingly
for I have seen quite enough to make me feel deeply on the subject. Its salu-
tary effect would be felt in the great training schools equally as in the
reserva- 
tion schools, for regular attendance would soon so improve scholarship and
"grade," that whole classes, fit for transfer (and not as now,
unfit), could be 
told off to the far-away schools as easily as classes or parts of classes
are now told 
off from our high schools to the university. 
One word more in this connection. Indian children are, as a rule, tractable
and amiable, and those who have them in charge usually become much attached
to them; but they are not, as a rule, diligent in study. While some of them
are, most of them are not, and for this, as indeed sometimes for other reasons,
it becomes necessary to punish them. If the child is punished it is quite
likely 
to run away, and its parents will ordinarily be the last persons in the world
to 
bring it back. Often the superintendent is in doubt, which is better; to
punish, 
with the certainty thereafter of an unpleasant and often an unsuccessful
trip 
after a runaway, and a disagreeable encounter with an angry and insolent
In- 
dian; or, not to punish. The remedy for all this, the substitution of a full,
steady, and regular attendance for the present scanty, gypsylike, vagabondish
condition, is compulsion. Its enactment and enforcement will solve "1a
little 
bit" of the Indian problem: and the solution of "a little bit"
of it is all any man 
should venture on, unless he is, or imagines himself to be, omniscient. 
In estimating the qualities of Indian school children, one thing must be
re- 
membered; a large proportion, I think fully one-half, are practically white.
They are perhaps as bright and capable as other white children of their age,


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