THIRD ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOARD OF INDIAN COMMISSIONERS.
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 12, 1871.
SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith the third annual report of the Board of Indian Commissioners to the President of the United States.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. COLUMBUS DELANO,
Secretary of the lnterior, Washington, D.C.
The remarkable spectacle seen this fall, on the plains of Western Nebraska and Kansas and Eastern Colorado, of the warlike tribes of the Sioux of Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, hunting peacefully for buffalo without occasioning any serious alarm among the thousands of white settlers whose cabins skirt the borders on both sides of these plains, shows clearly that the efforts of the friends of peace in establishing confidence between the white people and the Indians, in this heretofore greatly disturbed section of the country, have been eminently successful. We contrast this picture with that presented by the same tribe, when five years ago, in consequence of our Government's bad faith in violating its treaties with them, they were engaged in a war made memorable by the so-called Fort Kearney massacre, in which ninety-eight of our soldiers were killed in sight of the fort, and in the course of which many of the settlers on the frontier lost their lives, and so many hundreds of others were compelled to abandon their cabins and flee to the larger towns for safety.
With the exception of some slight manifestations of ill-will against the progress of the Northern Pacific Railroad, caused by a misunderstanding, this numerous and powerful tribe has been perfectly friendly during the past year. The chairman of the board held a council at Fort Laramie with Red Cloud and his principal chiefs in June, and found them unchanged in their professions of a determination to maintain peaceable relations with the whites. He could hear of no complaints
against them since they abandoned the war-path in the spring of 1870. His report will be found herewith, marked A
When Red Cloud visited Washington, in July of last year, it was maintained by a portion of the Western press, and the people of the frontier, that his return would be marked by the renewal of outrages upon the settlers. Happily, the prediction was not realized, and peace still continues. The Sioux are extremely sensitive in regard to the slightest encroachment upon their reservation, or the hunting grounds allotted to them in the treaty of 1868, and have objected even to the establishment of an agency for their own benefit within its limits. They are impressed with the conviction that where one white man is allowed to enter their territory many will inevitably follow. In view of their past experience, we cannot think them unreasonable in this. The same wise consideration which led the Government to withdraw the garrisons of Forts Reno, C. F. Smith, and Phil. Kearney, in 1868, and to prevent the proposed Big Horn expedition in 1870, should induce a proper effort to gain their consent by negotiation, before permitting any breach of the treaty stipulations by the invasion of their hunting grounds by surveying or exploring parties. It is believed that the privilege which may be deemed necessary for the Northern Pacific Railroad Company may be had by negotiation at a moderate cost, whereas the attempt to sieze it without will probably occasion a renewal of the war.
The wisdom, of keeping faith, in honestly fulfilling our part of the treaties, and in making the chiefs acquainted with the character and resources of our people, by inviting them to visit the East, is thus practically demonstrated by our present relations with these Sioux. Some of the chiefs of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes of the southern plains, in acceptance of a similar invitation, visited Washington and the other principal cities of the East, during the past summer. The kind treatment they received from the President and executive officers of the Government at Washington, and from the citizens of Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, (see Appendix A, No. 1,) made so favorable an impression on their minds that, on their return to the Indian country, when their neighbors, the Kiowas, angry at the arrest of their chiefs, Satanta and Satank, earnestly pressed them to go on the war-path, they promptly refused. If the Cheyennes and Arapahoes had joined their forces with the Kiowas, we should have had a bloody war. But the Kiowas, finding themselves unsupported, had the wisdom to abandon the project and remain at peace.
The Kiowa chiefs had been invited to accompany the delegation of Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Wichita chiefs on their visit to the East, but had been dissuaded from so doing by some evil-minded half-breeds who were in the habit of inciting them to raids on the Texas frontier, and who feared their vicious trade in the product of the robberies would be broken up. The consequence was, that while the other chiefs visited our principal cities, they went on one of those plundering tours into Texas, and, boasting of it on their return home, were arrested by General Sherman, and justly punished.
The Cheyennes and Arapahoes are generally contented upon their new reservation. The schools, under care of the Friends, are gaining their confidence, and their condition has sufficiently improved during the last year to warrant the expectation of a satisfactory advancement in the future.
The condition of the Osages is most unsatisfactory. On the representations of the committee of the board, that the Government would protect them in the proposed new reservation in the Indian Territory, they consented last year to remove. Nevertheless, there are many trespassers on the land to which they were removed. In addition to this trouble, a new survey, which assumes to change the ninety-sixth parallel as heretofore located, if correct, deprives them of the greater part of the tillable land upon which they have settled, and already made valuable improvements. The continuation of the trespasses on Indian lands, in spite of the oft-repeated warning of the Government seems to be the result of past failures to enforce the laws for the protection of the reservations. The squatters still believe that there is no real intention to interfere, and nothing but forcible ejection will undeceive them. The justice of your determination to enforce the laws and maintain the honor of the Government, by keeping its pledges to the Indians, cannot fail to be sustained by the people of the country.
In the case of the Osages, the lands were bought with their own money, and the obligation to protect them has, if possible, additional force. If it be found that the new location of the ninety-sixth parallel is correct, it seems to us that the Government is bound in honor to compensate the Cherokees for the land and leave the Osages in possession.
The only other Indians who have caused any serious trouble are the Apaches of New Mexico and Arizona.
In our last two annual reports we called attention to the situation of this tribe, their eager desire for peace, their starving condition, and the opinion of the Indian agents and Army officers, that, with means to feed and clothe them, they could be kept at peace. Unable to obtain an appropriation from Congress for the purpose, the Indian Department was powerless, and the Apaches were left to obtain food and raiment as they best could--usually by stealing from the settlers or travelers on the highway. As many of their valleys, where they previously cultivated corn, were occupied by settlers, and their mountains overrun by gold-prospectors, who hunted their game, and no attempt had ever been made by the Government, either by treaty or conference, to consider their rights or necessities, this conduct of the Apaches ought not to surprise us. At the urgent solicitation of the board, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, Congress, at its last session, made an appropriation of seventy thousand dollars for the special purpose of correcting this evil, and this money becoming available on the 1st of last July, the Board, at its meeting in May, directed its Secretary to proceed to New Mexico and Arizona, to make arrangements to bring these roving Apache Indians upon suitable reservations, and to feed, clothe, and otherwise care for them. The hearty approval of the President, the in-
structions of the Secretary of the Interior, and necessary orders from the Secretary of War having been obtained, the Secretary of the board visited Arizona and New Mexico. His offers of peace were received by the Apaches with great eagerness, several thousands of them immediately coming in upon the reservations selected for them, and latest advices show that the remainder will soon follow, if not deterred from doing so by improper influences. The action of the Secretary has met with your approval, and that of the Secretary of the Interior, and the orders issued from the Interior and War Departments, for the purpose of carrying fully into effect the proposed plan, are entirely in accord with the past and present views of the Board of Indian commissioners. Similar instructions were issued by the Interior and War Departments in 1869, soon after the organization of the board, which defined the policy of the Government in the treatment of the Indians. This policy was set forth in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1869 viz: "that they (the Indians) should be secured in their legal rights; located when practicable on reservations; assisted in agricultural pursuits and the arts of civilized life; and that Indians who should fail or refuse to come in and locate in permanent abodes provided for them would be subject wholly to the control and supervision of military authorities, to be treated as friendly or hostile as circumstances might justify."
The clearly defined allotment of their respective duties to the Indian agents and the military officers in the Indian country, can hardly fail to secure harmony of action, and it is hoped that capable Christian agents may soon be appointed to represent the Department of the Interior upon the reservation.
It is believed that the policy, if faithfully sustained and persisted in by the military and civil officers commanding in Arizona and New Mexico, will be successful, as it has been elsewhere.
The attempt to defeat it by the arrest of Indians upon the reservation who have made peace, for acts alleged to have been committed in time of war, should be resisted, otherwise the act of the Government upon whose faith their surrender is made becomes one of mere treachery. From the time of the Gadsden purchase, when we came into possession of their country, until about ten years ago, the Apaches were the friends of the Americans. Much of the time since then, the attempt to exterminate them has been carried on at a cost of from three to four millions of dollars per annum, with no appreciable progress made in accomplishing their extermination.
But the activity of the military has accomplished its only legitimate and proper end, that of compelling in the Indians an earnest desire for peace. To persist in war under such circumstances would be not only barbarous in the extreme, but an inexcusable waste of the funds and sources of the Government. It has been asserted that the Apaches are more savage and less to be trusted than other Indians.
The agent of the Government who had charge of the Apaches in 1859 when they were at peace, said in his report of the White Mountain Coyoteros, numbering 2,500, and including Cochise's band, that "in all their intercourse with the Government, their deportment toward travelers and traders, they have shown themselves to be the most reliable of all the bands of the Apaches." And of all the Apaches in regard to whom the assertion alluded to is now made, he said, "They cultivate the soil extensively, raise wheat, corn, beans, and pumpkins in abundance." Detailed account will be found in Commissioner Colyer's report on Arizona, A b.
The condition of the partially civilized tribes on established reservations has materially improved. The covetous desire of white people, generally living near these reservations, to obtain possession of the lands, either for occupation or speculation, led to the introduction at the last session of Congress of several bills providing for the removal of the Indians, and the sales of the lands, without due regard to the rights of the Indians or the sacred obligations of treaties. When the attention of Congress was called to these several acts, however, and their manifest injustice pointed out, they were promptly abandoned.
One of these measures, fairer than some others, proposed to submit the question of removal and sale of the lands belonging to the Indians on the Umati]la reservation, in Northeastern Oregon, upon payment of certain annuities, and providing a new home for them, and commissioners were appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to ascertain the wishes of the Indians. By request of the Secretary of the Interior and the direction of the board, the chairman visited the reservation in August, to be present at the council, and, after a week's mature consideration of the proposal, during which the subject had been fully presented to them, the Indians rejected the proposal. (See report, A c.)
The chairman of the board also visited the Warm Springs and Grand Ronde reservations in Oregon, and the Yakama, Tulalip, Swinomish, Lummi, and S'Kokomish reservations in Washington Territory.
The condition of the Indians in Oregon and Washington is vastly better than individual statements and common rumor have led us to anticipate. Many of them are industrious, and labor on their reservations, and others, as at Grand Ronde and along Puget Sound, labor for the farmers or at the saw-mills, and receive the commendation of their employers and the agents. They have adopted the costume and are rapidly acquiring the habits of the whites. Some of them are Christians, and exemplary for their consistent lives. There are also many who have learned more of the vices than the virtues of civilization. This class, attracted as they are to the vicinity of towns and railroads, is most frequently seen by the citizen and the traveler, and give a mistaken color to his opinions of the race. When it is remembered that the Indians of Oregon and Washington were only placed upon reservations from ten to fifteen years ago, but few of them more than twelve, it must be admitted that their progress toward civilization has been wonderfully rapid. (See report on reservations in Washington Territory and Oregon A d.)
A serious detriment to the progress of the partially civilized Indians is found in the fact that they are not brought under the domination of the law, so far as regards crimes committed against each other. The difference in the characteristics of the various tribes, together with the differences in the degree of civilization to which they have attained, seems to render it impossible to frame any general law equally applica-
ble to all. To attempt the enforcement of civil or statute law in a tribe of Indians when first brought into peaceful relations with the Government is not deemed expedient; nor would it be practicable, for the reason that the savages are unable yet to distinguish between such enforcement, and acts of war. But when they have adopted civilized costume, and civilized modes of subsistence, we owe it to them, and to ourselves, to teach them the majesty of civilized law, and to extend to them its protection against the lawless among themselves. Some amendment of the laws which prohibit the selling of spirituous liquors to the Indians is needed, to remedy the present difficulties which prevent the conviction of persons guilty of the crime. These subjects are more fully treated on in the report of the chairman of the board on Oregon and Washington Territory, to which you are respectfully referred. (Appendix A d.)
Many of the partially civilized Indians are ready for the allotment of their lands in severalty, and this should be done as rapidly as possible under some regulation which would prevent the alienation of such lands for a term of years. In many cases the outlines of the reservations are not defined by actual survey, and the uncertainty as to their exact limits has given color for the encroachment of whites. The lines should be distinctly established, and summary measures should be taken for the ejectment of intruders.
The frequent removal of Indians has led to a general distrust of the designs of the Government with regard to them, and the fear of such removal has deprived them of all incentive to improve their lands, or to labor more than is necessary for a merely comfortable subsistence. The members of the board, as opportunity has offered, have endeavored to quiet their distrust and induce them to labor on the lands with the belief that they should be protected in their rights.
The recommendation of the peace commission of 1868, "that the so-called Indian Territory should be strictly preserved for the future settlement of the nomadic tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, and such other Indians as may be induced to migrate to the proposed Indian commonwealth," commends itself to our judgment, and it is earnestly hoped that the territory will be preserved intact for that purpose. The records of military expeditions, and the personal examinations of the board west of the 96th parallel, show that a large proportion of the territory is unfit for cultivation, and it is believed that the remainder will not prove to be too much for the purpose indicated.
The removal of partially civilized tribes already making fair progress and attached to their homes on existing reservations, is earnestly deprecated. Where such reservations are thought to be unreasonably large, their owners, as in the case of the Ottoes and Missourias, and the Omahas, will themselves soon see the propriety of selling off the surplus for educational purposes. The Government meanwhile owes them the protection of their rights to which it is solemnly pledged by treaty, and which it cannot fail to give without dishonor.
Commissioners Brunot and Farwell were requested by the Secretary of the Interior, during their visit to the Pacific States, to investigate certain claims of old date which had been presented to the Indian Department for payment, amounting to $373,133 02.
On arriving at San Francisco, notice was given for over two weeks in the principal daily papers for the claimants to present and substantiate their claims before the committee. Only two claimants for small amounts were present in response to the notice. Subsequently, diligent inquiry was made by Commissioner Farwell in the localities where the principal claims were alleged to have originated. With the exception of some small claims, his convictions are very strong that nearly all of them are either fraudulent or have been already paid. (See report of Commissioner John V. Farwell, investigation of alleged claims in California, Appendix A e.)
Commissioner Farwell visited Hoopa Valley and Round Valley reservations. He found the Indians in Hoopa Valley using McCormick's reapers in harvesting on the agency farm, and giving abundant evidence of capacity for advancement, and, at the same time, showing in almost every other respect the most striking proofs of abuse and mismanagement on the part of those to whom their care has been heretofore intrusted. The too near vicinity of soldiers is deemed injurious both to themselves and the Indians, and, as in the case of the Washington and Oregon reservations, it is imperatively necessary that the lines of the reservations should be defined, and trespassers ejected. (See Appendix A e.)
The condition of the Mission Indians in Southern California demands the serious attention of the Government. In the year 1802, according to the records of the missions, they harvested 33,576 bushels of wheat, and owned 67,782 horned cattle, 107,172 sheep, 3,064 horses and mules, and 1,040 hogs. The choice spots from San Francisco on the north to San Diego on the south were owned and occupied by them. Thirty-eight years ago, by a Mexican law, their lands and stock, before held in common, were divided among them. Since they have come under the control of the United States those lands have been taken from them, and they are now poor. They are scattered through the counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Santa Barbara, and number perhaps 3,000 souls. They have a good knowledge of the manual-labor occupations of the country, and perform the most of it themselves, as herders, farm-hands, grape-gatherers, &c., and are in fact in a state of vassalage to the whites, and their women furnish most of the domestic labor of the country. The meaner class of whites either cheat the Indians out of the pay for their labor, or pay them in that which increases their demoralization.
Many of them speak both Spanish and English. Many are industrious and well-behaved, while many others are drunkards and debased in the extreme. Their character is the natural result of the temptations and abuse to which they have been subjected, together with their deprivation of all incentives to manly exertion.
To the rich rancheros they are slaves in all but the name. A few of these are gentlemen, who seem to have a kindly feeling toward them, and a desire that "something should be done for them." The valley of San Pasquale was, by the order of the President, withdrawn from settlement with a view to create a reservation, upon which it was proposed to collect and care for them, but the remonstrances of the whites led to the revocation of the order, and the project is abandoned. It is believed that the opposition to the reservation plan really originated from an unwillingness to lose the labor of the Indians in the settled districts, and not, as was supposed, from the settlers in or about San
Pasquale. The difficulties of last summer, it is believed, had their origin, not with the Indians, but with the whites instigating them, and the contest was as to which of the districts should have the Chief resident with them, to attract and the better to control the labor which they are unwilling to dispense with. Taking the situation as it is, we believe the only just, and best solution of the difficult question of the Mission Indians, is for Congress to pass a law, giving to Indian families the same amount of land allowed to whites under the homestead law, securing to those who now occupy them the little homes and patches on which they or their forefathers have lived for so many years, and allowing those who have none to select them upon any unoccupied land. They should receive a title inalienable for twenty years, not subject to execution, &c., and each Indian farm should be subject to the law which protects reservations from white intrusion, and its occupants to the intercourse laws. They should be subject in all other respects to the existing laws, and each Indian settler upon land, and of proper age, should be entitled to all the rights of citizenship. An able and humane agent should be appointed to protect, advise, and instruct them, and see to the proper registration of their lands.
If these Indians, as has been reported, owned their lands under the Mexican rule, and the United States failed to have their rights represented before the claims commission, the measure proposed is but an insignificant reparation of a great wrong. It should not be delayed, and least of all should it be prevented by the objections of white men of adverse interests, should they be made.
The civilized tribes in the Indian Territory have held the second session of their annual congress, and clearly demonstrated their ability to legislate wisely for their own welfare and that of their neighboring tribes. Delegates were present from the Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws and Choctaws, Seminoles, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Wichitas, and affiliated bands; and though it was the first time that several members had ever attended such a meeting, yet their conduct was good, and the proceedings altogether animated and harmonious. The marked ability of some of the speakers, and the general talent displayed at this council will compare favorably with that found in older legislative bodies. A copy in brief of the report of their proceedings is appended, (Appendix A e.)
Commissioner John D. Lang assisted in the removal of a portion of the Cherokees from North Carolina to their new home in the Indian Territory; his report will be found herewith, marked A i.
The Oneida Indian reservation in Northern Wisconsin remains as reported last year. The difference of opinion among the members of the tribe as to the wisdom of dividing the lands in severalty, and disposing of such as they do not need, not being reconciled, the board recommend that no action be taken until the Indians agree.
contact with civilized life, prefer to abandon their tribal relations altogether, and assume the duties of citizens. Of these, during the last year, there were about one hundred and fifty-four Winnebagoes, and two hundred and fifty Pottawatomies, making in all fifteen hundred and ninety-four of the latter who have become citizens; and Congess, at its last session, having made provision for the distribution of the principal of their trust fund among them, the moneys were duly paid, and they are no longer wards of the Government.
The system of appointing Indian agents nominated by missionary societies commends itself to the judgment of the board, as having effected a manifest improvement in the agencies where it is fully operative. In several cases they have been deceived in the character of the persons appointed, and instant dismissal has followed. In one or two instances the society making a nomination has not yet acted on the implied obligation to take a missionary interest in behalf of the Indians thus committed to their care. It is impossible that so radical a change and improvement as is made and intended by the system should be perfected in the short time during which this has been inaugurated, but enough has transpired to warrant the most sanguine expectation of success. The religious societies which have assumed the responsibility offered them by the President, in his desire to administer wisely, justly, and humanely the affairs of the Government in its relations to the Indians, it is not supposed will in any case fail in their duty from lack of proper effort.
The schools among the partly civilized Indians should in all cases be boarding-schools, where children of both sexes, while being taught necessary branches of a common education, may, at the same time, be instructcd in manual labor appropriate to their respective sexes. The day-schools are a total or comparative failure in nearly every instance known to the members of the board. The reasons are stated in the report of Mr. Brunot, before referred to.
In addition to the duties already devolving upon the board, Congress at its last session added that of auditing all the accounts of the Indian Department, (see act of Congress approved March 3, 1871.) This duty, though a very onerous one to the members, and, like all the powers conferred upon the board since its organization, wholly unsolicited, as it was believed to have been framed by Congress in the interests of economy and honest dealing, was cheerfully undertaken by the executive committee. It necessitated the employment of additional clerks, and consequent expense.
From March 23, 1871, to December 5, 1871, the executive committee examined 1,136 vouchers, including cash accounts of superintendents and agents, representing a cash disbursement of $5,240,729 60, being
vouchers for Indian goods, annuities, services, &c., amounting to $3,410,759 34, and cash accounts of superintendents and agents amounting to $1,829,170 26.
Of these, there were rejected as follows:
|10 for exorbitant|
prices, amounting to
|2 for being purchased|
without consulting the board,
|7 "Erie and Pacific Dispatch,"|
|21 Northwest Transportation|
Company, amounting to
|Total rejected||....................||153,166 20|
The same care which was taken in the purchase and inspection of the Indian annuity goods last year under the same committee, Messrs. George H. Stuart, Robert Campbell, William E. Dodge, and John V. Farwell, was continued this year, and, as will appear from their report, (Appendix A h,) with much advantage to the service. The confidence inspired in the minds of merchants, manufacturers, and dealers in subsistence, that the awards would be fairly made, largely increased the number of bids and lessened the prices.
In May nearly half a million of dollars' worth of annuity goods were purchased "at and below the lowest market prices," and in May and June beef, bacon, flour, and other subsistence stores, to the amount of $1,783,729 29, were purchased "at prices averaging much below what had been paid before the board began to exercise its superintendence."
The price paid for beef on the hoof this year averaged 2 06/100 cents per pound as against 4 39/100 cents per pound last year. The amount purchased, 27,441,750 pounds of beef, cost $714,996 85. The same amount at last year's prices would have cost $1,204,692 82, a difierence of $489,695 97 in favor of the present year. While part of this difference may be fairly attributed to a decline in value, it is chiefly due to the competition induced by the reasons given above.
Increased experience in dealing with the Indians only tends to confirm the board more and more in the wisdom of the policy of peace so uniformly advocated by the President, and supported by the liberality of Congress and the humane sympathies of the people; and the board confidently look forward to the day when the bitterness which now assails this policy in some parts of the United States, where it is least understood, will fill a page in history as unnatural and curious as that which records the old hatred against freedom and the friends of the slave.
For the uniform kindness and patience with which the President, the Secretary of the Interior, and the several committees of Congress having charge of Indian affairs have listened to the suggestions of the board, and the courtesy and good-will extended toward its members by all the officers of the executive departments, the General and all the officers of the Army, with whom they have had any intercourse, the board desire to return their most grateful acknowledgments.
Above all, we desire to return thanks to God for having permitted us to see so much good resulting from comparatively so humble efforts.
FELIX R. BRUNOT, Pittsburgh, Pa.,
ROBERT CAMPBELL, St. Louis.
NATHAN BISHOP, New York.
WILLIAM E. DODGE, New York.
JOHN V. FARWELL, Chicago.
GEORGE H. STUART, Philadelphia.
EDWARD S. TOBEY, Boston.
JOHN D. LANG, Me.
VINCENT COLYER, New York,