Page images

We are trying to teach them these by school methods and by a practical experience of what the best industrial life of our country is.

From a recent report of the school officer in charge of our Indian boys I made the following extracts:

"From half-past 8 a. m. to 12 has been given to class-room recitations; from 1 p. m. to 5 in the winter, and to 6 in the spring, they have been trained in farm-work and mechanics. In dividing the work among the boys the first consideration was to have the agencies represented by as many different trades as possible. The second consideration was the boy's physical constitution, and in what trade he would be most likely to excel. In a few instances the boy's taste has been consulted, when we believed him capable of making an intelligent choice, but as many would choose to work at some trade because their particular school friends did, the general assignment of work was made without consulting them.

"The Indians have charge of the cleaning in the wigwam under the supervision of the colored janitor; their work has been very satisfactory, on the whole. The boys get down on their knees voluntarily and scrub the floors of their own rooms. Many of the most promising boys are those who have been severely disciplined. It takes hard rubs to bring out the hidden beauty in the character of some.

"After a year's study of the Indians it was thought proper and necessary to pay them in cash for their labor. The amount of wages is based upon the market price of the goods they will need and the number of hours they work, rather than upon the value of the work, although its quality is constantly improving. It is believed that large wages to begin with would demoralize them; they will have to study economy, to make both ends meet; the aim of the school is to make them feel that there are future as well as present needs, and so guard against any foolish expenditure of money. We realize more and more that the most pressing need of Indian youth is practical education. With it, they may hold their own against the race that is pushing them from point to point; without it, they must inevitably go down.

"We are often asked if the Indian students will not go back to their blanket and their old life. Necessity, not choice, may drive them to it. They must return to the surroundings of their former life, but whether they will sink to its level will depend very much upon the success of the work which we have begun here, upon the amount of practical knowledge which they will take home with them, upon the strength of their own character, and upon their friends at the other end of the line. The experiment does not end with the school life; it is then that it actually begins. This is only the preparation for the effort. The question is not can the Indian learn, but will he put his knowledge to practical use.

"In dealing with the Indians at Hampton we see that they have a warm, sunny side to their nature. We are preparing them for home usefulness. We do not flatter or coax them. We are trying to develop a self-reliant manhood and womanhood, strengthen their weak points, and prepare them to resist the degrading charms of savage life. This training is a strong stroke up the tide of civilization. If we can send them back to live just a decent and industrious life, their influence, if ever so small, must be a lever to their people."

The following letters illustrate the Indian interest in the improvement of the children, as we have found it during the past two years:

From an Indian father:

CROW CREEK AGENCY, January 14, 1879.

MY SON: I am going to write you a letter again. I want you to write letters to me often. I am glad that you are trying to learn. Don't run away from the school. It will be your own good if you learn. Do all the work they tell you to do, and learn to be a carpenter and a blacksmith. I would like to see how the Indian boys learn. The boys down there, their fathers would like to go down and see them. Then they would come back and tell the other Indians. Then they would like to send all their children. Learn to talk English; don't be ashamed to talk it.

Another father writes from Fort Pierre, Dak.:

I want you to learn how to be a printer. I want you to learn to talk English. I would like to have you learn how to be a carpenter. I would like to go down there and see how you are getting along. If I was down there-if I saw all the boys down there, then I would come back and tell the Indians and they would be all glad. I hope some of the boys will learn to be a teacher, when they come back that they can teach the boys and girls. This is the only chance you have; get all the good you can. This is all I have to say.

From an Indian mother:


I am sorry you are not coming home next summer, dear child, but if you like to learn something it is a good place for you. Learn all you can; it will be for your own benefit.

Your affectionate mother,

A father writes from the same place:


Try to learn fast and study hard, so that you will be a smart man. Try to learn the trade of black smithing.

A brother to his sister:


MY SISTER: I want you to learn all you can and learn something good, and God watch you all the time. I want you to learn something. That's the reason I let you go to Hampton.

An Indian father to his boy's teacher: Gen. ARMSTRONG :


YANKTON AGENCY, DAK., January 26, 1880.

MY FRIEND: You got my letter, and you answered it, and when I saw your letter my heart was very glad. But when I saw your face in it I was most pleased of all. Then I made a feast and called the parents of the children that have gone to school. They were all so glad, they passed it around and each one gave it a kiss. So now we have all seen you, and it seems as if we can now trust you to take good care of our children. Perhaps you don't know that Indians think of their children a great deal, and don't know how to have them out of their sight one day. So now, my friend, you know how I felt about my two boys, but I can trust you now, and I want you to look after them and take good care of them, and if anything happens to them I want you to tell me soon. Your friend,

I shake hands with you.


A full-blood Indian chief writes to his half brother from Crow Creek, August 25, 1879: I am going to write you a letter; I never forget you. Try to learn all you can while you are down there. I wish I were young so I could go down and learn too. I want you to learn all you can and come back and teach your brothers. Try to learn and talk English, too. Don't think about coming home all the time. If you do you can't learn much. I like to have you write a letter back and tell me how you



Our 250 negro and 66 Indian youth have for twenty-two months been in constant contact at this institution. There has been slight, not serious, friction. There is no difficulty from race prejudice. The negro is a help to the Indian as an example, by his habits of study and of labor, of obedience, of behavior, of general decency, and by his knowledge of English. The latter here is in an atmosphere of industry, good conduct, and of our language, which does much for his progress. Colored teachers have been remarkably successful in influencing and training Indians. The objective point with both races is the same development of character, of industry, skill, and of good habits, through a sufficiency of English studies and by a manual labor system, under good discipline and strong moral and religious influence. To do this work rightly requires complicated and expensive establishments, but it is far cheaper than the extermination policy. I trust the government will provide generously for this and all other work for the elevation of the Indian race. The great demand upon the charitable of our country makes the work of raising funds for our Indian effort one of difficulty.

I trust that the public officers who have legislative or executive duties with refererence to the red race of our country will visit and inspect the institution as they shall have the opportunity.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,


S. C. ARMSTRONG, Principal.

Report of the joint committee of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, on the protection of Indians in their civil rights. WASHINGTON, November 29, 1880.

SIR: As secretary of the joint committee of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, appointed at its recent session to aid your efforts to civilize and protect the Indians in their civil rights, I take the liberty of bringing to your attention the inclosed report.

Yours, respectfully,



Secretary of the Interior.


To the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: The joint committee appointed at the last general convention, with power to take such steps as in their discretion might be judicious and effective towards securing from the government, for the Indians, the full protection of the civil law, respectfully report:

The complex nature of our government, growing out of the division and distribution of powers between the general government and the several State governments,

renders it a somewhat difficult task to obtain such intelligent and effective legislation as will secure for the Indians that full protection which citizens enjoy under the law. Up to a recent period, the theory of the general government in respect to the several Indian tribes was, that they were to be treated as nations, having a distinct political existence, possessing and competent to exercise as such certain powers and privileges, and certain rights of property in the lands they occupied and in their other possessions. These privileges and rights have from time to time been recognized and confirmed by public treaties, executed with all the forms and solemnities of such compacts between nations. They have never, however, been conceded the standing of independent nations with all the political rights which attend such a position; but have been treated as a domestic and dependent people, their relation to our government being analogous to that of a ward to its guardian. The government. has therefore assumed to control them in the exercise of whatever powers they claimed, as well as to protect them in the enjoyment of their acknowledged rights. In the exercise of this authority and duty the general government has asserted and maintained exclusive control over most questions appertaining to the civil rights of the Indians, and especially of those touching the enjoyment, alienation, and disposition of their lands. So that even in the State of New York, whose statutes have for many years accorded full protection of property and person to those Indians yet remaining within its limits, no valid disposition of their lands can be made by the Indians without the consent and approval of the general government, through its authorized agents. Yet in the older States, at least, the criminal jurisdiction of the State governments has long since been extended, and has been vigorously exercised over the Indians residing within their borders. Those States have also legislated largely in respect to their personal property, and for the protection of their personal rights and their social privileges and immunities. In the State of New York, where several thousand Indians yet remain and maintain their tribal relations, statutes have been passed to enable them to organize and administer an internal government and police upon their reservations, having many of the features of the municipal governments of citizens in towns and counties, and the Indians have carried on these governments successfully, have established schools, courts of justice, and other institutions of civilized communities, and have thus enjoyed most of the advantages of a government of law. In order, therefore, to secure the desired protection to all their rights of property and person for those Indians who reside within the limits of any State, it is very desirable, perhaps necessary, to secure separate or concurrent legislation by both the general and State governments. There is, however, little or no complaint of the want of legal protection for those Indians who reside in the States east of the Mississippi River; but the tribes residing in some of the newly organized States, and in the Territories, which comprehend the vast region between the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean, are in great part destitute of that security for life and property, as well as that salutary restraint upon themselves, which can be obtained only by extending over them that protection and control which attends a government of law. And while the Indians are making gradual, though slow advances in the arts of civilized life, they receive little encouragement from the white population which crowds upon their borders, covets and grasps after their lands, and is, for the most part, slow to acknowledge that the Indian has " any rights which the white man is bound to respect. It is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain from the State or Territorial Governments, made up of the representatives or such white men, any legislation favorable to the Indians; and your committee are not aware that any such legislation has even been attempted in any State or Territory west of the Mississippi. The only hope for the Indian, is in the sense of justice, and of its duty, manifested by the general government. Of late years, it has made some important changes in its mode of dealing with the Indian tribes, and has taken steps towards a system of legislation, which recognizes the possibility of elevating the Indians above the conditions of savage life, and acknowledges his capacity and rights as a man. It will be interesting and instructive to review briefly the legislation of Congress, which directly affects the condition and rights of the Indians.

[ocr errors]

Very careful and stringent laws were passed long ago to prevent and punish the encroachment of whites upon Indian lands, the taking away or injuring the cattle, horses, or other property of the Indians, and to protect them from the demoralizing and injurious influence of the unlicensed white traders who infest their borders. Other statutes provide for the punishment of certain specified crimes and offenses against persons and property, whether by Indians or white persons, within the Indian country, and as to all other crimes it is enacted that "the general laws of the United States as to the punishment of crimes committed at any place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States (except the District of Columbia), shall extend to the Indian country.

The first great change in the policy of the government in its dealings with the Indians is marked by an act of Congress, passed in 1871, which declares that, "though the treaties before them made with any Indian nation shall remain valid and unim

[blocks in formation]

paired, yet in future no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe or power, with whom the United States may contract by treaty.

[ocr errors]

And in 1870, Congress declared by law that, "All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens; and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other. "+

Your committee believe that this statute secures to the Indians very ample and valuable rights. They can perceive no valid reason why it is not applicable to them. It comprehends in broad language, "all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States." And though cavilers may urge some plausible exposition of its terms which will exclude the Indian, yet we believe that the sound and well-established rules which govern the construction of statutes, demand such an interpretation of its language as will embrace the Indians within its benign provisions.

These enactments, could they be enforced, would go far toward extending to the Indians the protection of the law, so far as that can be accomplished by acts of Congress. But their enforcement is attended with many and almost insuperable difficulties, arising from the conditions of Indian life, the situation of the country where they live, and their relations to the whites, who are their neighbors. The Indians, though they may feel very keenly the wrongs done them from time to time, and have a quick sense of their right to redress, are yet most ignorant alike of their legal rights and of the forms and modes of procedure by which those rights can be enforced and maintained. In the wild and unsettled country which they inhabit, the courts and officers of the law rarely exercise their powers, and are hardly known to exist. The whites upon their borders, and with whom they come in contact, for the most part, look upon the Indians as their natural enemies, and can hardly be relied on to do them justice, even if compelled to appear in the courts as jurors, witnesses, or otherwise, in cases where Indian rights are at issue. And the Indians themselves, with rare exceptions, have little idea of any other remedy for injuries done them than the strong hand, and are but too ready to resort to violence. It results that there is but scanty redress under the law for the Indian wronged, no matter how plainly the words of the statute may declare him entitled to redress.

Your committee believe that the general government is earnestly desirous of improving and elevating the condition of the Indians, so that the protection of the laws may be effectively conferred upon and realized by them, and that they may enjoy all the blessings of civilization. In the last report of the honorable secretary of the Interior, he declares the policy of the government, and the ends steadily pursued by it, to be as follows:

"1. To set the Indians to work as agriculturists or herders, thus to break up their habits of savage life, and to make them self-supporting.

"2. To educate their youth of both sexes, so as to introduce to the growing generation civilized ideas, wants, and aspirations.

"3. To allot parcels of lands to Indians in severalty, and to give them individual title to their farms in fee, inalienable for a certain period, thus to foster the pride of individual ownership of property, instead of their former dependence upon the tribe, with its territory held in common.

"4. When settlement in severalty with individual title is accomplished, to dispose, with their consent, of those lands on their reservations which are not settled and used by them, the proceeds to form a fund for their benefit, which will gradually relieve the government of the expenses at present provided for by annual appropriations.

"5. When this is accomplished, to treat the Indians like other inhabitants of the United States under the laws of the land."

The honorable Secretary comments on this policy and urges its wisdom in words so pertinent and forcible that we beg leave to repeat them here:

"This policy, if adopted and supported by Congress, and carried out with wisdom and firmuess, will, in my opinion, gradually bring about a solution of the Indian problem without injustice to the Indians, and also without obstructing the development of the country. It will raise them to a level of civilization at least equal to that of the civilized tribes in the Indian Territory, and probably to a higher one, considering the stimulus of individual ownership in land. It will not take away from them by force what in justice and equity belongs to them, but induce them to part with what they cannot cultivate and use themselves, for a fair compensation. It will open to progress and improvement large districts now held by Indians, which will then be of no real advantage to them and are now to nobody else.

"It must be kept in mind that this cannot be done in a day. We are frequently told that the tribal relations must be broken up; that the reservation system must be

*Rev. Stat. of U. S., sec. 2079.

+Ib., sec. 1977.

* * #

abandoned, &c. Whatever is to be the ultimate end and result of the policy stated, it is certain that the habits grown up in the course of centuries will not at once yield to a mere word of command. It is equally certain that the introduction of industrial habits, that settlement in severalty, the foundation of permanent homes, the conferring of individual title, and thereby the practical individualization of the Indian, must be accomplished first, and in accomplishing these necessary ends, the influence of tribal authority has, in many, if not in most cases, whenever well taken advantage of, been found of great usefulness in the progress of improvement. Recent experience has convinced me that all the desirable ends can be most successfully reached by watching and improving every favorable opportunity for giving a wise and vigorous impulse and lending a helping hand to the best capacities of the Indians, and that this method will bring about general good results in a shorter time than would be reached by the heroic treatment. In fact the progress made during the last two years has been greater than might have been anticipated, and it encourages the hope that the ends above indicated may be accomplished in a comparatively short space of


The copious and interesting statistics set forth in the report and accompanying documents, illustrate the wisdom of the policy thus explained and enforced, and demonstrate the advance made by the Indians in agriculture, in the education of their youth, and in turning aside from the paths of savage life into the white man's way. This result should not only encourage the government to steadily pursue and vigorously enforce its benign policy, but should stimulate all good citizens to aid in its maintenance.

In 1879, a bill was introduced in Congress, empowering the President to establish suitable police regulations for the government of the various Indian reservations, and to enforce their observance; providing for the punishment of crimes committed upon the reservations and in the Indian Territory, and conferring jurisdiction for that purpose upon certain State and Territorial courts and district courts of the United States. The passage of this bill was earnestly recommended by the Secretary of the Interior, and was favorably reported upon by the Judiciary Committees of both houses of Congress, but no further action was had thereon. It is hoped that this bill will at no distant day become a law, and that Congress will add to it such further legislation as may be necessary for the more complete protection of the Indians in their personal and property rights. To secure such legislation and such earnest action by the government as will make it effective, public opinion must be enlightened and educated, and Christian men in every part of the country made to understand and to feel that the Indian is our fellow-man, that his rights are as sacred as our own, and that it is the solemn duty of the nation to take speedy and ample measures to raise him from his oppressed and dependent condition, and to ultimately elevate him to the rank of a citizen, and thus insure him all the blessings which crown that high privilege. J. WILLIAMS, Chairman on part of House of Bishops. MORGAN DIX,

Chairman of the Committee on the part of the House of Deputies.

Your committee recommended the adoption of the following resolution: Resolved, That a committee of three bishops, three presbyters, and three laymen be appointed, whose duty it shall be to observe what action is taken by government for extending to the Indians legal protection of their civil rights and placing them under obedience to the law, to promote by such measures as the committee shall deem expedient legislation suitable to accomplish those ends, and report from time to time what action shall have been had in the premises.


CHAP. 36.-An act making additional appropriations for the support of certain Indian tribes, for the year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and eighty. [March 10, 1880.]

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following sums be, and they are hereby, appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the purpose of paying the urgent necessary additional expenses of certain Indian tribes, namely:

For care and support of the Pawnee Indians, in the Indian Territory, fifteen thousand dollars;

For care and support of the Shoshone Indians, in Wyoming Territory, fifteen thousand dollars;

For subsistence and civilization of the Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Apaches, Kiowas, Comanches, and Wichitas who have been collected upon the reservation set apart for their use and occupation, eighty thousand dollars;

« PreviousContinue »