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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 621

REPORTS OF SUPERVISORS OF EDUCATION.                 621 
but that a "full-blood" is. no fair-minded person will for a moment
insist. The 
Ida Warrens. the John Carls, the Chester Corntliuses. and the blue-eyed,
brown-haired Belle Lamberts. Laura Wakefields. and Lily Clinches can not
prop- 
erly be classed as Indians at all. and should be counted for what they are.
The uncertainty of tenure is anoher serious impediment. The application of
the civil-service rules to a few of the school places will perhaps better
this 
condition: but the contentions that often occur over even a poorly paid place
make such a position very uncomfortable for the holder. The member of Con-
gress claims his prerogative clear through the pay roll, and even the United
States Senator does not always disdain to interfere. 
Bad feeling, too, sometimes exist between the Indian agent and the superin-
tendent. originating oftener than otherwise in the interference of the agent
in 
school matters that are properly none of his business. Experience shows that
the agent can, and occasionally does make it unpleasant for the superintendent
and for any of the employes who side with him. But, he says, "I am responsible
on my bond for all the thousands of dollars worth of property used in this
school, 
and I have a right to interfere." To a proper extent, yes, he has. The
trouble 
is that he does not always confine his interference within the proper limit.
For 
this evil, and it is a serious one, the remedy is to bond all the schools.
Many 
are bonded now; those that are not ought to be, and then their management
in- 
trusted to the superintendents and supervisors of the several districts.
Given a finely equipped school with large comfortable buildings; with wells
and windmifls and cisterns; with plenty of land about it, though not of the
best; 
with barns and stock; beautifully situated on a sightly eminence and embow-
ered in tail shade trees; with a force of excellent employ6s and a not especially
ill-disposed Indian community, and a captious, fault-finding agent; and here
is 
its history. It has had four superintendents in eighteen months, and is now,
as 
far as I know, waiting for its fifth. The last two, after a few months of
unpleas- 
ant experience, were transferred to other schools. If fit for the places
they 
now occupy (and I well know they are) they are equally so for the place they
were transferred from. But the agent did not like them, and they had to go.
Fortunately it is not always thus. Sometimes the agent and the school peopie
cotperate cordially. But it is not necessary to depend upon the accident
of har- 
mony between these officials. The remedy is ample and easily applied; it
is, to 
bond the schools. If the agent is what he ought to be he will cooparate as
kindly with a bonded as with a nonbonded superintendent; if he is not what
he o-ight to be his power for mischief is at least curtailed. 
Concerning the day schools. Some of them are doing good work; others not
so good. and this mostly for reasons for which the teacher is not to blame.
Amongst these are the long distance many of the children live from the school,
the lack of decent clothes, bad roads, severe weather, sometimes the lack
of a 
n onday meal, and more, and worse than all, the utter indifference or unwilling-
n'ss of the Indian himself. Often the children come without breakfast and
remain without dinner. They start at about 9 o'clock to walk to school and
they 
get in at any time between 10 and 12, or, equally likely, do not get in at
all. 
If the teacher punishes next day the room is nearly empty. All she can do,
or 
rather all she dare do, is to coax. All these impediments and many more the
Indian day-school teacher has to face. 
The taking of a camp Indian into a boarding school usually involves its trans-
mutation from a dirty, ragged, uncombed, vermin-infested child, into a clean,
well washed and combed, well clothed and, oftener than not, a remarkably
nice, 
sweet-faced little boy or girl; and when the change has been effected it
can be 
maintained. But the day school-teacher can not do this. To be sure she can,
and all good day school-teachers do, provide basins, soap, combs, towels,
and 
plenty of water, and the children use them daily; but the night's lodging
in the 
tepee or equally filthy cabin undoes the day's renovation, and it becomes
after 
all something like Sisyphus and his stone. Still the teacher perseveres,
and 
the labor is not all lost. I know it for I have seen it. 
Concerning the educational outlook in this district, it is but the truth
to say 
that it is encouraging. I believe the school service is steadily growing
better. 
While the indifference and opposition of the adult Indian may be decreasing
(as I know it is claimed) there is still enough of it to keep the attendance
far 
below what it should be. What is needed, and what must in some way or other
come, is an approximation at least to that steady, dependable. daily attendanco
that exists in white schools, instead of the haphazai d. vacabondish habit
that 
now exists upon the reservations. Without this no teacher, no nubro 
teachers, no system can succeed.                             ubro 


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