"Reformers interested in Indian Affairs met each year from 1883 to 1916 at Lake Mohonk, New York, to discuss Indian matters and to make recommendations. These Lake Mohonk Conferences of Friends of the Indian had tremendous impact on the formulation of federal policy. In 1884, in a series of resolutions, the conference gave a preview of the topics that would concern it during the following decades.
[page 163, Documents of United States Indian Policy, Francis Paul Prucha, ed. (1975)]
First Day - Evening Session
The evening session opened with a paper by Mr. Philip C. Garrett, of Philadelphia, on -
"The study of the history of our own times presents few more difficult problem than that of reconciling diversities of race within the same nation, and so legislating as to their relations as best to promote the common weal. To produce this result, it is essential that we consider alike the welfare of both races. Manifestly, if, as is usually the case, one of these is dominant, the self-interest of the dominant race, or its fancied interests, endanger the justice of the solution. To my mind there is but one sure, safe and pacific course out of this question, as out of most of those which perplex nations in their intercourse with each other, viz. equal, exact and impartial recognition of the even claims of both parties, without allowing the element of self-interest of either to have place.
"In considering how to resolve the anomalous relation of the North American Indians to the American nation now occupying the territory where they live, this principle holds eminently true, and the absence of the above condition in the law-making power has been one of the greatest obstacles to its solution.
"There are, however, other impediments. One of these, curiously enough, is the romance of history. Few observers of modern literature can have escaped the observation of how uncertain written history is; how dependent on the caprice, the prejudices, their personal surroundings, and even the immediate condition of the writer of it. The temptation fort a picturesque and brilliant writer to draw on his imagination for paint with which to color his pictures is immense, and it is not a little aided by the popularity of historic fictions, which have no real value as history, though often accredited with it. How much of the beautiful writing of the brilliant MaCaulay, or even Motley and Prescott, is due to fancy, and how much to exact knowledge, will never be known. Certain it is that there were no photographs of scenes as vividly depicted and no stenographic reports of the closest conversation so minutely detailed verbatim. It is known that Lord MaCaulay was possessed of a fancy so bright and clear, that even his marvelous memory was not more so, and he often mistook the one for the other. This pandering, on the part of historians, to the popular craving for the picturesque, is a reflection of the sentiment which feels admiration for the ways, manners and costume of the painted savage. I believe many people would lament the departure of this gaudy figure from the state of action to that extent that it would influence their opinion as to statesmanlike measures for his own advancement. A romantic luster hangs over his history, in which gleam phantoms of the ear-dance, gay blankets and feathers, tepés free from many housekeeping cares, mingled with personifications of manly virtues, of courage, of lofty honor, of dignified reticence, of tribal patriotism, all of which should, in point of act, weigh as light as down in the scales against national injustice and dishonor, against danger, not of tribal, but personal , extinction, against continual outrage and wrong from pale-face neighbors, as 'lean' and 'hungry' as Cassius.
"Were it not for the presence at these gatherings of a bright example to the contrary, I should add to these obstacles another, and that is, the desire of the ethnological student to preserve these utensils for the study of his specialty. Perhaps in the face of Miss Fletcher's noble work among the Omahas, I may not do this. Certainly her philanthropy swallowed up her anthropology. Yet I am not at all sure that, with this brilliant exception, the scientific desire to preserve the Indian animal for study is not a further impediment to his civilization; as Dr. Leidy once, when asked how the horrid caterpillars were to be exterminated, replied that it was not the naturalist's function to destroy any living thing but rather to preserve it, that they might furnish so many elucidations of the problems of nature. Every tribe converted to civilized ways removes one ore living illustration of ethnology, and remands to the past crystallization of written records and museum collections all search into these customs and manners and implements so much more easily read in the living tribe.
"There remain two deadly foes to Indian civilization -- the more than savage, the satanic, hate of the fiends in human shape, whose thirst for adventure and blood allures them to the wild life on the border, and the equally satanic avarice, whose selfish clutch tolerates no bar of humanity nor morality between it and the gratification if its cupidity. It is these, more than other influences, which block the road to any Christian settlement of this vexed question. The method of the first -- unhesitatingly, unblushingly avowed -- is extermination. I have myself been met, when expostulating with one of these assassins, with the indignant retort, 'You would not spare the young of the rattlesnake, would you?' He had declared that he would clear the reptiles out, root and branch; that the squaws were worse and more barbarous than the bucks, and he would destroy even the papooses. Thank Heaven, the conscience of the nation is at last somewhat aroused, and does sometimes bleed for these daughters of the forest and plain.
"The time has now come, I apprehend, when the second class are more dangerous than the first, and, through their representatives in Congress, are exerting a heart-less and un-Christian influence upon the legislation of the country. The extravagant avarice of the land grabber and speculator, stimulated by enormous fortunes from the rise in the value of land, and the chances of gold and silver mining, ill brooks any obstructions in his path from a people to whom the law gives no power to redress wrongs. Unfortunately, a public opinion, hostile, inhuman, and ready to give ear to false charges against their redskins, exists along the border, and magnifies a thousand-fold, like the echoes of forest and mountain glen, every clamor against them. The result is, that it reaches the shores of the Potomac in the form of a deafening demand from the voting race for the remedy of some fictitious outrage or evil. A century of repentant honor and justice will not more than atone for the long era of dishonor and wrong from which, let us trust, America is emerging.
"But yet one more complication remains to complete the array of difficulties which philanthropic statesmen encounter in their efforts to convert races of savages into civilized people. Certain person, of probably benevolent but misguided motives, under the guise of defending the Indians' interests, oppose the efforts to free them from their tribal thralldom. That chiefs, whose importance depends on the maintenance of the tribal relation, should demur at its destruction may be counted on with certainly. Upon this question, the chiefs are clearly not the authorities to be consulted. But it is much to e regretted that a weak sentimentality should lead true friends of the aborigines to listen rather to the chiefs than to those who consider the real advantage of the whole tribe, and, indeed, the interests of civilization. that the cause of peace and quietness, the progress of Christian settlement across the continent, and in short the welfare of the white races are involved in the permanent absorption of all the tribes into the American nation, is, perhaps, a generally recognized fact. Some prejudice, it is true, appears against the idea of admixture or mingling, in the sense of intermarriage and the entire loss of race identity. But it is impossible to prevent the mingling of blood on the same soil, even if desirable. A large part of the population enumerated as Indian is now half-breed. The same is true of the African race on this continent, and no question is raised against their citizenship and civilization on this ground. Nor am I sure that the fusion of the whole Indian population in that of the United States would be to the detriment of the latter. On the contrary, I am quite sure it would not be to its serious detriment. Suppose that there are 250,000 Indians of pure blood, and 50,000,000 of our population, the infusion would amount to 1/2 percent of the whole. The negro infusion amounts to near 10 percent, and the Indians are possessed of noble traits not shared by their African brethren. Are we not 'straining at a gnat, and swallowing a came.?' The efficiency of a drug as medicine, or its injury as poison, often depends on the size of the dose; and it is quite conceivable that while 10 grains of Indian to 100 of white man might be injurious to the quality of the white race, half a grain to 100 might supply exactly the element needed to improve it. But has any serious damage resulted to the population from the presence of the swarming African? Has, indeed, any considerable mingling taken place, except in the section where it has been most strenuously condemned? At nay rate, here God has placed them and us together; the Indian first in point of time, the white man next, and the colored man last, or nearly simultaneously with the white man. We are descended from a common father; God has made us 'of one blood,' nor have we any right, except that derived from power, to withhold from them any privileges or immunities which we grant to the more civilized people. In all this I do not recommend the intermingling of the races, but I do not fear it. Long as the African has lived side by side with the Caucasian on these shores, it is very seldom, even now, that a marriage takes place between a negro and a white. It may safely be left to the tastes and prejudices of individuals to avert the nightmare of confusion of the races and the degradation of the Caucasian by either Indian or African infusion.
"While, therefore, there is probably quite as much liability to their fusion, with things left as they now are, it would be perfectly safe, as regards this result, were the Indians scattered in eastern schools, and left to seek employment like everyone else throughout the Eastern States; or were all the barriers broken down, and the tide of western migration allowed to sweep unchecked over all the intervening land, to the Pacific coast. It would be better, could all the refractory matter be melted as in a furnace, all treaties, all defects of legislation, all past wrongs, all chieftaincies, all common tenure of land, and whatever stands between the present monstrous anomaly and equal citizenship with a fair struggle for a living, if all these could, without injustice be evaporated and obliterated, leaving the red man a component part of the great mass of American citizenship. The monstrous anomaly is that of weak nations within the limits of a strong, it is the lion and the lamb lying down together, the lamb having been devoured by the lion. What happy result can there be to the lamb, but in absorption, digestion, assimilation in the substance of the lion. After this process he will be useful -- as a part of the lion. It is said that the Indian has not an equal chance in the struggle for existence, because of his inferiority. Neither has the African, neither have the millions of white men who are able to rise higher than the position of laboring men. WE did not hesitate to set millions of negro slaves free in one day, and confer on them all the rights possessed by the wealthiest citizen in the land. They had a had struggle, but the churches and the freedmen's Aid Societies came to the rescue, and they are bravely working out the problem And yet we are doubtful about trusting these manly aboriginal owners of the soil to take care of themselves. Are they less equal to the task than the cotton-pickers of the seaboard slave state? And the churches are ready again, the Indian Aid Societies and the Indian rights Associations are ready, to come to the rescue and help them to defend themselves against avaricious and unprincipled oppressors.
"But the treaties; we are stopped again by the existence of hundreds of alleged treaties, which imply the perpetual existence of the tribes, or contain some obligation unfulfilled. I would be loath to commend the infraction of any treaty really contracted between two parties; it may be abrogated by each party absolving the other from its solemn obligations. But there are two or three questions that present themselves to my mind in this connection as worthy of some thought:
"(1) Are all of these so-called treaties really treaties?
"(2) What would be the legal and moral relations of the two high contracting parties were it conceivable that it was subsequently discovered one of them was not a nation?
"(3) If the termination of the treaty by the United States is undeniably against her own interests, and in the interest of the Indian tribe, does that alter the moral question involved?
"The second of these questions I shall merely throw out as food for thought on the part of publicists and statesmen, and decline to discuss it here, merely expressing the belief that there are two sides to the treaty question, and considerations that must give us pause, before we suffer it to shut down, like an illogical clam, on all thought of an early solution of the Indian problem. The consequences are too vast for us hastily to accept the conclusion that the formidable array of treaties presents any insurmountable obstacle to any desirable settlement of the question.
"The faith of every binding treaty must be observed. If there any which, while called treaties, are not binding, the Indians ought not to be allowed to suffer by their continuance.
"Without going at any length into an analysis of the Indian treaties, Miss Fletcher, I believe, has done that, I cannot regard that as a 'treaty' which provides, in its concluding clause, as in that with the Blackfeet band, proclaimed March 17, 1866, that 'Any amendment or modification of this treaty by the Senate of the United States shall be considered final and binding upon the said band represented in council, as a part of this treaty, in the same manner as if it had been subsequently presented and agreed to by the chiefs and headmen of said nation.' That is not a treaty. An instrument is not a treaty which is agreed to by only one of the contracting parties. Neither is it a law, for it is approved by only one house of Congress. Of what binding force is it, then? Of none; it is a mere mockery of that which it pretends to be. Nor can I readily be made to believe that the Blackfeet Indians understandingly and voluntarily assented the fifth article referred to.
:A treaty wrung from one of the parties under threats, and at the point of the bayonet, whether treaty or not in the eve of international law, is certainly of no moral obligation upon the party upon whom it was so forced. The sin occurred when he submitted to the force, and signed an instrument to which he did not really consent. Many such wrongs have no doubt been committed; many such falsely so-called treaties wrung from vanquished or suppliant tribes.
"In most such cases would to the third query apply? If the United States have wrongfully and by violence imposed injurious condition s thus upon a tribe, would any one claim that she would be violating a solemn obligation to release the tribe from these conditions? Assuredly, No.
"I do not know what proportion of all other alleged treaties with Indian tribes are of this character. There may be those here who do. This subject presents a vast and complicated network of difficulty. A proper treatment of it would seem to involve unraveling this tangle and sifting out the genuine treaties, voluntary with the Indian and beneficial to him as well as to the white man, and therefore binding upon both.
"But the great mistake has been one which it is to too late to avoid, that of dealing with these numerous races of savages within our borders as nations, as if there could be nations within nations without some organic provision of constitutional law, such as that which regulates the relations of the States of our Union to the Federal Union.
"How can this anomaly be repaired, at least, but by painfully cutting the Gordian knot, and declaring that this national recognition was a mistake, and that henceforth the United States will only deal with the individual Indian -- as with al other residents within our borders -- amenable to law and equally defended by the law; with all the chances to become a citizen, and with all the rights, privileges, and immunities appertaining thereto? Let him lay aside his picturesque blanket and moccasin, and clad in the panoply of American citizenship seek his chances of fortune in the stern battle of life with the Aryan races. It will be no hardship, no unkindness to ask this of him. If civilization is blessing, then in the name of Christianity let us offer it as a boon, even to the untutored savage. It is only if to be civilized is a curse and not a blessing that we need hesitate to grant full-fledged citizenship to the Indian. These conferences have avowed themselves in favor if it. Are we sure that great delay in bestowing the boon will not cost him ten times more than it will save him?
"But let not mere impatience of times's slow evolutions, nor the fascinations of a bold Caesarean policy control our judgment in this matter. It should only be based on the real interests of the two races concerned chiefly in the result, If a postponement for fifty years is likely to cause the destruction of the red man by the inexorable Juggernaut of Western progress, guided by hatred, by inhumanity and party spirit; and if an act of emancipation will buy them life, manhood, civilization, and Christianity, at the sacrifice of a few chieftain's feathers, a few worthless bits of parchment, the cohesion of the tribal relation, and the traditions of their race; then, in the name of all that is really worth having; let us shed the few tears necessary to embalm these relics of the past and have done with them,; and with fraternal cordiality, let us welcome to the bosom of the nation this brother whom we have wronged long enough. [pages 8-11]
Second Day, Morning Session
OUR INDIAN POLICY AS RELATED TO THE CIVILIZATION OF THE INDIAN
Prof. C.C. Painter then read the following paper:
"It is proposed in this paper to discuss in the relation of our so-called 'Indian policy' to he end we seek - the civilization of the Indian. It is axiomatic to say that before an intelligent judgment can be formed as to the wisdom and adaption of so-called means to and, there must be a clear perception of the end itself. A piece of mechanism may be of wonderful complexity, exquisite finish, great strength and beauty in all its parts, but cannot be approved as a machine until is adaptation to a certain definite end is made clear.
"The time has fully come when the friends of the Indian, gathered in council as we are to-day, should propound to themselves and to the Government -- that is to the people -- these simple but fundamental questions in regard to the complicated and expensive machine which, under the general name of 'our Indian policy,' we have been running these two hundred and odd years: What really is the end we are seeking? and What adaption has this machine to that end?
"So long as we travel without having a point at which are purposing to arrive, and raise no questions as to directions, we are in danger of mistaking simple movement for progress, and feeling the jostle of this ongoing, give ourselves no concern, though we reach no place in particular.
"The assertion is ventured, with no fear of successful contradiction, that not only is it true that no intelligent mind can, from a faithful study of the several parts of this machine, guess an purpose in its construction, but the further declaration is made that no definite purpose regarding Indian civilization has ever been entertained by the mechanics who constructed it -- in fact, like Topsy, it was never made at all; but, unlike her, it never 'growed up' either but has been nailed and glued together, piece by piece, by divers workmen, acting without concert or plan, during the past two hundred and sixty years, each present adjustment and every several addition made to ease the friction of the last, or to meet an exigency which had arisen, but with no intelligent comprehension of an ultimate purpose, and necessarily without any wise adaptation of means to such purpose.
"Standing by this ungainly monstrosity, which has been thus pieced together, we have neither time nor patience to write at large its history. It is more to our purpose to show that it was never designed to move forward to any given result, and that it will not serve the need of those who have a purpose with reference to Indian civilization and their absorption in our body politic as free citizens. It is a machine, and can at best do only machine work; and a machine which at no point of its operations recognizes or can recognize the fact that the material on which it grinds is more than dead matter. It nowhere, from its first deadly clutch upon the crude material to its last burnishing touches of the finished article, knows that it is grinding a man; in fact, there is no outcome of finish product; the grist that is put in is ground over and over again. This mill of our little gods grinds slowly and grinds exceedingly small, but turns out no flour for their using.
"Dropping the mechanical figure of a machine, so far as it can be done, for it is little air, and speaking of our Indian policy comprehensively, it consists of our treaties, of the reservation system, the agency system, and the legislative, administrative, judicial and executive departments at Washington; and the assertion is repeated after this enumeration of its several parts that nowhere, from first to last, does the idea of the manhood of the Indian find place, and by none of these agencies of departments is the end we seek for the Indian definitely recognized.
"TREATIES -- We are met at the threshold by the declaration that the very fact of a treaty with the Indian was a recognition of his equality in some sense with us, since this idea of equality lies at the basis of such arrangements. Well, we did recognize not only the equality but the superiority of his power, and made many of our earlier treaties under an overwhelming senses of it, and, therefore, with a becoming modesty; but these arrangements were in no sense regarded by us as treaties made with a party possessed of equal rights, but were simple arrangements between superior intelligence on the one hand and superior brute force on the other, which were to stand until we were in position either to persuade or enforce better.
"'We have made,' General Sherman is quoted as saying, 'more than one thousand treaties with the various Indian tribes, and have not kept one of the;' and we never intended to keep them. They were not made to be kept, but to serve a present purpose, to settle a present difficulty in the easiest manner possible, to acquire a desired good with the least possible compensation, and then to be disregarded as soon as this purpose was tainted and we were strong enough to enforce a new and more profitable arrangement.
"That this has been the history of our treaty-making no one can deny. Some will charitably claim that we were sincere in our professions of seeking the good of the Indian; that our intentions were good, but were unable to control subsequent events. It is a sound maxim of common law, applied both in civil and criminal proceedings, that a man's intentions are to be inferred from his acts, and not alone or chiefly from his declarations. If he does n act calculated to produce certain results, he is held to have intended these results. The assertion of a man charged with murder that he only intended to brush off a fly from the temple of his victim would have little weight in the face of the [page 20] evidence that he used a sledge-hammer, and when captured had on his person the watch and porte-monnaie of the dead man.
"Our treaties were made primarily toe extinguish Indian titles to land; then to establish trade, and then to adjust difficulties or lessen dangers excited by our too great greed and unscrupulous methods of gaining land and pelf. These, and these alone, have been the objects for which treaties were made, and for which they were broken as soon as they ceased to subserve these purposes; and nowhere can we find intentions wise or generous with reference to the welfare of the Indian, except in some philanthropic plausibilities with which we concealed our real purpose, as made clear by subsequent events. And there treaties in many of their provisions constitute one of the greatest obstacles in the way of Indian civilization.
"The reservation system. -- As the direct result of our treaties for land we have the Indian reservation. The natural understanding of the Indian was that he, by the treaty, created a reservation for the white man, retaining for himself all excepting the surrendered and defined tract of land which he sold. Our idea was quite other than this, and we did not so much secure to the Indian lands embraced within the lines of his reservation as we excluded him from what we took from him, being as much as was deemed prudent to claim at the time when the reservation lines were established. The modesty of our earlier demands in this direction was dictated by weakness, and not by our moderation. Whatever credit we may give to our Pilgrim Fathers for not exterminating the native savages and taking by conquest their lands at once, it did not occur to them to look at it in just that light, and sober second thought compels a tribute to their superior sagacity in adopting the more prudent measures embraced and carried out in treaties negotiated for the same purpose. So long as we were weak we bargained for a small reservation for ourselves - when we grew stronger we gradually forced them onto smaller and smaller reservations, which of our generosity and paternal desire to promote their welfare we gave them. No honest man will dare claim that when, by solemn agreement, we received a small strip of land along the Atlantic seabord and pledged ourselves that no white man should, without the consent of the Indian, pass over the western line defining its boundary, and that we would forever living ourselves to what lay east of that line, that we really meant anything more than that at the date of the agreement we did not deem it prudent to ask for more. But the more pertinent inquiry for us to make is, 'How did the reservation system related to the welfare, civilization, and ultimate citizenship of the Indian? What is its value as a means to the end we see,?'
"The reservation line is a wall which fences out law, civil institutions, and social order, and admits only despotism, greed, and lawlessness. It says to all the institutions, methods, and appliances of civilized life, 'Thus far shalt thou come and no farther;' and to patronized idleness and to every vice which debauches the savage provided it does not endanger the safety of the white man, 'run riot into whatever demoralizing excess.' This is the condition of things which has been treated and maintained by the reservation system as a policy -- this is a part of the machinery by which we are to secure the end we seek, and so sacred a thing has it seemed to some that organizations have been formed exclusively to perpetuate it, and many of our friend share to-day have exhausted every effort to extend the blessings of the system for at least twenty years to come.
"We wish these people to become law-abiding citizens of our common country, and have excluded law from them so effectually that not until this past winter has it for the first time thrown its protecting arm about the person or property of the Indian as against an Indian assailant.
"We wish them to become industrious, self-reliant, self-supporting, and we forbid to them the conditions which make this possible. They can acquire not title to the land they would cultivate until they will abandon their people and their inheritance; we deny to them the rewards of toil; debauch all their ambition to labor, and stimulate to the highest degree whatever habits and modes of thought tend to idleness and poverty. Seriously, let us ask in what way can the reservation be used by us as an instrumentality to the end we seek? Why should we for a day longer desire to perpetuate the system?
"Agency system . -- As necessarily connected with, and a part of, the treaty and reservation systems, and as related at least t our own needs, we have also the agency system. When we had purchased from the Indian his consent to hold certain bounds of country for our own occupation and permanent possession, and afterwards allowed him to claim certain limits for temporary occupation for himself; and had secured certain rights and facilities for trade, it became necessary to have an officer appointed to make payments of promised goods and look after the advantages we had opened up. In course of time it was necessary that this officer should permanently take up his residence among those with whom we had relations of comity and friendship. As we grew stronger and the Indian weaker, and as the business of the agent became more and more that of a large disburser of provisions and annuities, with which we have made them helpless and pauperized depend-[page 21] ents, his power has grown to the overthrow of all self-government, and he is now an irresponsible despot, who has not laws to execute as related to the growth and development of the Indians, nothing but rules and orders as related to the Department at Washington, to which he must give explicit obedience to the last tithe of mint, anise and cummin, though every weighty matter of civilization should be neglected.
"So we have as parts of our civilizing machine a reservation which excludes civilization and law and social order and the institutions of organized society; which shuts in savagery and lawlessness. Also, as the guardian of its gates, the agent who was power to shut out every one excepting the officer duly authorized to inspect him; has power even of live and death over those under his care, with no restraint upon him except what restraint fear may exert, with no body of laws to execute, with no institutions of government or social order to uphold, with immense facilities for demoralizing those under his power, and the duty of doing so largely as his business, under orders of the Department, and the temptation to do so in individual cases, to gain his own private ends, always upon him, with little fear of detection; also, until with a few years, unbounded opportunity to enrich himself at the expense of those who had no protector but himself; with no temptation in the way of reward for good conduct, and a wise use of power to advance his people, because continuance in office does not depend upon this, but upon the permanence in power of the political party to which be belongs, and with the assurance that if his wards outgrow the necessity of a guardian that his occupation is gone.
"Thus circumstances as to power and opportunity and reward, it is manifest that the selection of such a man should be made alone by a commission of angels specially charged by the Almighty with the duty of extreme vigilance and care. But how is he selected, and for what reasons, and by what inducements persuaded to take a position so forbidding, some irksome in its duties, so illy compensated in its legitimate rewards, which of themselves can be considered only as a premium on imbecility or rascality? Until recently these positions have been regarded as the legitimate, as they certainly were much should, rewards for the most disreputable and impecunious of partisan political workers. The appointments were made to pay political debts, and were given to those who, for partisan services, were deemed best entitled to large pecuniary rewards.
"The appointments are exactly in the same hands to-day, and under no greater restrictions than the most corrupt days of the Indian service, and it would not be difficult to show that they are made for exactly the same reasons to-day, though the same opportunities for plunder do not exist.
"Abundant proof could be given of the assertion, which is not true of one administration more than of another, that the fitness of a man to administer the grave responsibilities of an Indian gent is not the pr9ime reason for his appointment; and that proved fitness for the office is no protection against his removal, provided the political reasons which secured his appointment are o longer operative. It is bad, a thing to be deprecated, and wholly corrected if our Government is to stand, when great pecuniary interests are at the mercy of machine politics, and great financial trusts are the rewards offered for caucus and ward services, no matter what their character, provided they have multiplied voters; but when the property, civilization, and very lives of thousands of helpless people are handed over to pay for such service it is simply appalling.
"As we have formulated our Indian problem the agent is the important factor in it. Hampered and handicapped as he is, a good, wise, and strong man continued in the service when he proved himself such, may do something to advance the people put into his hands despite the system under which we work, but it is not in the machine to secure such a man, except by happy accident, and it is in the machine to displace him as soon as he begins to make himself useful.
"The fact that a change in the politics of the appointing power changes 80 or 90 per cent of the agents within twenty months proves one of two things, either that the manner of selecting them is not calculated to secure good ones, or that removing them for such causes as have secured their removal does not operate to the end of retaining such. In either case there is sufficient reason for crying out loud against the method and principle and system as false and wholly evil and in no wise capable of being made subservient to the end we seek.
"Department at Washington. -- In addition to the reservation and agency systems, we have at Washington the Bureau of Indian Affairs, under the general control of the Secretary of the Interior. To this office is committed the care of the Indian when he does not fall into the hands of the War Department wholly, or under the divided jurisdiction of both, which has sometimes happened.
"There is an Indian division in the Interior Department, more or less complete of itself, in and through which the Secretary may take up and determine the most important matters without the consent or even knowledge of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
"That he may be informed as to the needs of the Indian service the Secretary has at his command a corps of special inspectors, who report directly to him and who execute his [page 22] orders, to that independently of the bureau the Secretary of the Interior may carry on the Indian service, and the Commissioner may learn, either from the newspapers from the agent of the Indian Rights association, that a matter as important as the opening of the Crow Creed Reservation has been accomplished while he is making his plans with reference to settling the Indians upon it.
"Then there is the bureau with the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, chief clerk, heads of divisions, clerks, copyists, stenographers and various assistants; making a force of seventy aside from the five special agents who travel, inspect and report to the Commissioner, having special powers with reference to the sixty-one agents in charge of reservations, their clerks and employés. Also the Superintendent of Indian Schools, and the hole teaching force in the industrial, boarding and day schools. This is the force which is engaged to execute such laws and regulations as are adopted by Congress, fulfill treaty obligations, and promote the general welfare of the Indians. It is a large force, and administers large sum of money, and absorbs a large sum, and is managing a mighty and pretentious machine which works wonderfully, and it seems best to pause over it for awhile and see what it does, and how it does it.
"The Indian bureau as an agency may be characterized as an attempt, by an elaborate and complicated system of book-keeping at Washington, to civilize the Indian on the western frontier.
"The clerical and other force of the office consists of seventy-five men and women, and costs for salaries alone $120,780. The disbursements of the office, aside from the pay of its force, is between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000 per annum. It is manifest that a system of managing a business no larger than this must be complicated to require such a force, and one who has occasion to look into this complication feels sure that it requires the activity and ingenuity of the whole force to work a thing so complicated as this is.
"This of course does not include the sixty-one agents on the reservations who, at an expense for salaries alone of $91,000, work the other end of the machine. A noteworthy fact just here is that this wonderfully complex part of the machine has no power either to originate or definitely conclude any action touching the question of the Indian's development, excepting the mere ledger work of keeping accounts and the history of expenditures. Its action in matters involving discretion is subject to the decisions and actions of other parts of the complicated whole. The most important measures it may adopt may be brought to naught, wholly negative by the action of the President, of the Secretary of the Interior, or of the Committee on Appropriations in either house of Congress.
"This bureau is related to the Government as the book-keeper is related to a business house. It has relation indeed to the needs of many persons who want position, but as an agency for the civilization of the Indian it has no adaptations which ought to satisfy those who desire more than that the books shall be properly balanced.
"It may be said that there are in addition to the finance and file divisions those also of education and civilization, charged with the special duty of promoting those great interests. The divisions are more manifest than is the education and civilization, which, when found among the Indians, are traceable largely to other agencies.
"Though expending large sums of money for education it was not until 1882 that a superintendent of schools was appointed. The first superintendent died in 1885, and his successor says of him that he was esteemed an able and excellent man, 'but at the time of his death he had not determined the functions of his office.' His successor was appointed in the following May, and when he made his report in November, 1885, had found out that 'the duties of the office were suggested by its title, but not defined by law.' When he resigned the office to take another position after a year's faithful effort to find out what these duties were, he was decidedly of the opinion that they consisted largely of bearing responsibility before the public for acts which he had no power to originate or determine. His successor finds after some four or five months' experience that his ideas of his position become more and more muddled, but on the whole thinks his duties are advisory. Whatever he might or might not admit, I happen to know that even this function is called into exercise rather as post facto assent than as counsel prior to the fact about which he is consulted.
"Congress has grown liberal in its appropriations for educational purposes. These have gone up steadily from $20,000 -- the first in the series, in 1876 -- to $1,236,415 in 1886. It has also grown wise enough to leave the expenditure of this largely to the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior. This is full of encouragement. With a wise superintendent of schools, who has $1,200,000 at his disposal to carry on the work of his division, what may he not do?
"Congress has also been persuaded to provide for the appointment of additional farmers to go among the Indians and teach them how to farm, and $40,000 is put at the disposal of the civilization division of the bureau for this most important educational work.
"This indicates a willingness on the part of Congress to do this much needed work even liberally, but these vast sums are expended under a system, or want of system which, so [page 23] long as it is suffered to exist, must defeat the ends contemplated. A leaf from the experience of the late Superintendent of Indian Schools, which I deem it no breach of confidence to give, may serve to illustrate.
"A brawny promoter of unanimity at ward caucuses who claims recognition and reward, was sent out to a certain reservation to teach Indians how to farm. Feeling strong in his influence at Washington, he made it lively for the agent and other employés whom he threatened with decapitation unless he was conciliated by due deference. Complaints of his conduct proved unavailing, and prayers that he might be removed to some other sphere of usefulness were unheeded. The agent then sent him out to an Indian camp, some 50miles from the agency, where the superintendent had established a day school.
"He immediately took possession of the school-house for his farming implements, and when the teacher objected, soon gave him muscular proof of his superior claims. Naturally the teacher objected to this also, and when the superintendent found himself unable to protect him, he made another opening for another worker by resigning.
"While the good superintendent was solemnly mediating upon the somewhat adumbrated 'functions of his office,' there came in a big double-fisted fellow looking for a job. He said he was willing to teach; was willing to go to Dakota as an emissary of light and sweetness to the dusky children of that far off land, and so, with some special charges from the superintendent as to the uses to which school-houses ought to be put, he went forth duly appointed to teach, and at last reports was in possession of the school room.
"Oh, yes! We have school funds and civilization funds which are administered by the victors in political contests, and if this is not done for political reasons and for party ends, it will be only because the machinery of the party, by a happy accident, has evolved to a not to be expected result. This is no to be construed as a criticism on the party now in possession and anxious to retain possession, nor of the party which has been ousted and is anxious to get in again, but on the policy whish places such vast interests, lying out from under the protection of general laws and of established courts, at the mercy of shifting political successes and defeats. No other such interests are thus exposed among civilized peoples.
"The book-keeping is elaborate and expensive, and so confusing that the condition of things cannot be easily discovered; the civilizing forces which it is supposed to wield are put under control of, and are to be applied by, such officials as party success appoints to the pleasing task of accepting and distributing party spoils. That we have drunken livery-stable men sent to teach the Indian to plant potatoes -- a hatful to the hill -- and so-called doctors who prescribe a spoonful of iodine to be taken internally for a sore throat, and swear they never make mistakes, and boys who cannot write a readable hand, or add up a column of figures to take chare of accounts involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, because their fathers edit political papers and are members of Legislatures which elect United States Senators; all this and infinitely more; all this and little else is to be expected of a civilizing machine thus constructed and thus propelled.
"CONGRESS. -- But it should be remembered that we have, as a safeguard against all these possible evils, our wise and good legislative body called Congress, which at the suggestion of the selected and aggregated wisdom of committees in the two Houses specifically entrusted with the grave interests of these people, legislates for their welfare. So we have!
"A legislative body to whom is committed the duty of legislating for a people who are so far not of us, not a part of us, that we have made hundreds of treaties with them, by many of which we are bound to-day -- treaties, as has been shown, made for the express purpose of gaining from them all the advantages which intelligent selfishness could secure with the least possible risk from those strong enough to make infinite trouble had force been resorted to gain these same ends. Legislation by a foreign power to guard and perpetuate advantages gained by repeated treaties and cunning arrangements; legislation, too, by politicians for those who have no political power or influence which is related to the political prospects of those who legislate; legislation by those whose constituents are make every effort to secure what has not as yet been taken away from those affected by this legislation.
"This, then, is the relation of the legislator to those for whom he is to legislate. But more than this, he is both ignorant and indifferent to the needs of those whose interests are so largely in his hands. There are, indeed, committees on Indian affairs in both Houses, composed of generally wise and kindly-disposed men, to whom is referred all proposed legislation touching Indian affairs, who inform themselves as to the character of proposed measures. This is so; but they have before them the ex parte statements of the white men who seek this legislation, and they are introduced to the committee by the honorable senator or honorable member who represents their district and needs their votes, and from these the committee gains most of its information. And there have been appointed from time to time large committees from both Houses of Congress who spend the whole [page 24] of the summer vacation laboriously visiting the Yosemite Valley and National Park, and other haunts of the Indian, and who come back full of information and know all about the needs and progress of the aborigines. No pains or expense is spared in this effort to gain information.
"It has been my fortune to follow in the wake of, and to be thrown in with, some of these peripatetic seekers of information, and it is true, I think, that no expense is spared in the search. Faithfulness to the purposes of this paper compels me to give more fully some of the results of my observation.
"An honorable member of one of these committees arose in his place in the House two years ago, and moved to strike from a bill proposed appropriations for day-schools on Indian reservations, saying that this kind of school was utterly worthless. He wanted all school appropriations to go to industrial training and boarding schools. He then instanced as an example of the worthless day school the school at a certain agency, which, unfortunately for him, was not a day school but an industrial boarding school.
"Another member of that same committee, during the same session, when the appropriations for eastern Indian schools were under discussion, asserted that the only effect of the training at Hampton and Carlisle was to make the most expert horse-thieves on the plains. He had seen three or four of the pupils from these schools during his Western tour of investigation. When pressed afterwards as to whether there were three or four, and whether they were from Hampton or from Carlisle, and who they were, and where, it turned out that there was one boy who was at Carlisle for a month or so, and was sent back because he ought not to have come on, had been put forward to interpret between the President and this committee and other honorable gentlemen, who were seeking reliable information as to the results of Eastern education, and was unequal to it. This showed that the training at these schools was worthless; and there had been some charge that this boy had been engaged, with others of his tribe, in a horse-stealing expedition.
"These are, I think, fair samples of the way in which information is gathered by junketing committees on these vacation jaunts. But when we have thus gathered information we are met with the fact that no legislation can be secured for the Indian beyond the necessary appropriation bill. There were about one hundred and fifty bills introduced into the Senate alone this past winter touching Indian interests; there must have been more than two hundred like bills in the House. Aside from the appropriation bill, three important ones passed the Senate; bills which the friends of the Indians have pressed with great earnestness for several years. These have failed of consideration in the House, which aside from the appropriation bill passed, I believe, a bill to give right of way for a railroad through the Indian territory.
"Ask members of the committees in either house what the chances are for the Indian bills which seek alone the welfare of the Indian? It may be said that a similar fate awaits all bills in the present condition of Congress, and the Indian but suffers the same fate as others.
By no means. We are under the protection of the general laws of the Government and of the States in which we live, and the courts are open to us.
"The Indian Board of Commissioners. -- As an additional source of information, and as a wise board of counsellors, President Grant appointed under authority of law a board of Indian commissioners, composed of ten men of eminent probity and wisdom, who serve without compensation, and have done much valuable work in behalf of the Indian.
They set themselves to the task of reforming abuses and purifying the service. For a number of years Congress made liberal appropriations to enable them to collect the information on which they asked action by the executive and legislation by Congress. It was inevitable that they should array against themselves the bitter opposition of the contractors, who could no longer enrich themselves at the expense of the Indian and of the Government. This opposition soon manifested itself in Congress in a reluctance to vote the Board money for its expenses. From year to year they have been cut down until for the past few years only enough has been allowed to pay the rent of an office and a meager salary to the secretary.
"When no longer allowed traveling expenses they have traveled at their own expense. When unable to travel they have continued, the chairman of the purchasing committee especially, to superintend the purchase of Indian goods, and the letting of contracts, by which supervision millions of dollars have been saved to the country, and the quality of goods furnished vastly improved.
"But all this has been hard on the jobbers and rascals who would make money at the expense of the Indians, and the man who had especially thwarted them must be got rid of in some way.
"The President, through some unfortunate misinformation, has been led to suppose this board simply ornamental and of no utility, and as it had unhappily been composed [page 25] of gentlemen of one party alone, he thought he might as well remove one ornament of the opposite party and put on it one from his own, and so a leading merchant of New York, a man whose name is a synonym of probity, honor, and wisdom, whose services had been given without sting for many years, services which would have been cheap if purchased for $10,000 per annum, gave place to a leading liquor dealer, who did not know there was such a board until he found himself seated on it. Whatever considerations may have led to this, it is certain that desire or purpose to improve the Indian service had no place among them. Thus it has come about that the only disinterested and non-political agency of the Government with which the Indian was touched has been so far crippled that it can do but little for his benefit.
"Such in detail are the principal parts of this machine, and it cannot be claimed for them that they were separately created or intended to accomplish the work of Indian civilization. After careful examination it is not discovered that they possess, in esse or in posse, what Husley claimed for dead matter -- "the potency and promise of organic life" for these people. Bu if its utility and adaptation are sought in its comprehensive entirety as a whole, and not in its single parts, the result will not prove any more fortunate. Waiving the philosophic dictum that nothing can be found in a whole which is not in any of its parts, it can be said that one part cannot go without the co-operative action of a second part, and that both these depend upon the direct impulse of a third, and that it not infrequently happens that one of these is presided over by one who knows a little about something unrelated to what he is to do, and the next has for its engineer one who knows a little of something else, and the third by one who knows nothing of anything pertaining to the conditions of the other two, and it has its fulfillment in Keely's motor -- a thing of mighty impulses, but of "no go."
"A President may for reasons satisfactory to his own mind throw open by Executive order a reservation which the Secretary of the Interior is hopefully settling a band of progressive Sioux, and the Secretary save his work in party by playing his authority over the public land against his loss of power over a reservation.
"The President and Secretary may, by their entire independence of the bureau created for and entrusted with the care of Indians, without the Commissioner's knowledge or consent, nullify the efforts he is making and bring to naught the efforts of a score of years in behalf of a certain band, by cutting from under his feet the ground on which he has based his effort.
"A Secretary of the Interior may in deference to the wishes of a railroad corporation, set aside the treaty rights of a most progressive people, bring to confusion their hopes and their efforts by snatching from their grasp almost the patents for their lands for which they have long hoped, and relief comes alone from the accident that a new Secretary has come into office.
"The Appropriations Committee in Congress may bring to confusion the hopeful efforts of the Secretary and the Commissioner, by cutting under the appropriation necessary to complete an enterprise well begun, which has kindled the enthusiasm and engaged the energies of the Indians, and thus throw them back into hopeless and listless apathy. Every one familiar with this work has seen instances not a few of just this kind of economy.
"Time would fail me to tell, not Gideon and Jephtah and the host of worthies, who through faith did wonders, but of the heartbreak and despair of those who have been thrown back again and again into the depths of sullen despair and listless pauperism by some catch in the machinery which has dropped them back from the heights to which they seemed to themselves to be lifted.
"The fat is, the machine is too complicated, to widely scattered, too much turned in upon itself in its operation, presided over by too many independent dependents, who have diverse and antagonistic ends to subserve.
"There it stands, and has t\stood for these many years. It has consumed incalculable fuel to make it go, and it has gone with much wear and tear, crushing and mangling its engineers oft times, and its unhappy victims always, but has done nothing but revolve.
"I believe it safe to put the annual expense of this effort to civilize the Indian at more than $600,000, paid in salaries, wages and expenses to white employés. This would seem to indicate that the machine has an important relation to the support of the white man if but little to the civilization to the Indian. How further related to the white man will appear from a closer scrutiny of the facts.
"A large share of the funds which support the employés of the agencies, excepting the agent, interpreter, and police force, is paid from the funds of the Indians; most of the support and civilization appropriations are part payment for lands sold to the Government; large sums of such money are to be paid in such implements as the President may decide to send, and this discretion has often been used to enrich contractors, and not to meet the real needs of these people.
"I have heard a delegation of civilized Osages earnestly entreat the Commissioner of Indian Affairs that they might be allowed to estimate the quantity and kind of goods which [page 26] should be bought with their own money, as much of it was wasted on gods the Indians would not take and for which they had no use.
"I have been at an agency under whose fostering care 480 Indians out of 2,000 had died of starvation within nine months, and I found, if memory serves me faithfully, over 80 heavy wagons, partly piled away under shelter and partly, for want of shelter, rotting on the prairies, for which the Indians had no more use than for so many steam-engines; there were tacks of candle-molds and great quantities of jack-planes, which had little relation of starving Indians.
"I have seen a first-class saw mill at an agency where there were no logs to saw, and the Indians were praying, as they had for some years, and are yet, in vain, for a grist-mill for wheat which they were forced to haul 15 miles to the railroad, send off at an expense of 50 cents per hundred pounds, and haul home again. All this with great labor and expense and discouragement to the industry of the people.
"I was told by a freight contractor who has made himself rich, and still does a large business as such, that he had a contract to haul and engine and boiler for a mill some 200 miles across alkaline plains to an agency where there was no possible use for it; after taking it half the distance he dumped the whole thing on the prairie, procured a certificate from the agent that it was delivered just where he wanted it, and so fulfilled his contract, and left it to rust out unused.
"We may cry out, 'How can this be possible.' Anything is possible in connection with this service, excepting the one end we desire; and its relation to that is not yet apparent.
:The practical question comes: if this all be so what would you do about it? First assure ourselves that it is true, and then force the abandonment of the methods which are manifestly unavailing. What would you put in place of this? I would at once break down the reservation walls and let civilization go in; I would secure the Indians for the present inalienable possession of sufficient land, by personal title, for the use of each one; I would sell the remainder for their benefit, and in place of the agent's irresponsible will make them subject to the laws and give them their protection; I would give them without delay citizenship with all its privileges and duties, and for the present place their property under the administration of a wise commission of such men as have been charged with the Peabody and like funds, with all the safeguards that can be thrown around it -- a commission which should be removable only by death or impeachment or proved incapacity, and require that within a reasonable time this fund should be exhausted and there should nothing remain the Indian from other citizens, except the bronze of his skin, and the memory of his great wrongs softened and made tender by the grace and sufficiency of our tardy atonement.
SECOND DAY, EVENING SESSION
... [page 29]...
THE CHAIRMAN. You remember that Mrs. Own brought before the conference yesterday morning the case of Mrs. Blackbird and her property on the shore of Lake Michigan. She stated that the enemies of the Indian and the insatiate land-grabbers had fixed up a sort of a will of a woman who had die din Canada, and the fixed up a sort of a quit claim deed by which they deprived this woman of her rights. A member of this conference has requested me to ascertain if the facts are as represented, and if so, has authorized me to employ counsel to bring a bill in chancery to set aside these bogus claims. If Col. Elliott F. Shpeherd were not here I would tell you who it was. [applause.]
SENATOR DAWES. ... There is one thing upon which we can all agree, however much we may differ upon details, and that is that the only solution of they problem is in making the Indian a self-supporting citizen of the United States. Everything that contributes to that end [page 31] is welcome in this work. All that does not contribute to that is misspent. Now being convinced of that myself, and growing more and more so every hour, I have come to have little trouble about those matters that stirred us so last night and to-day. To me it is no matter of consequence at all whether the reservation system is to be abolished and the treaties abrogated, whether the civil-service reform should be applied to the appointment of agents, or whether it should not; or whether we have got so sick of the existing state of things, as brother Painter said, that he would blow it up sky-high, and let these men sink or swim, as they might. If you make the Indian a self-supporting citizen of the United States, all these things disappear of themselves. When that time comes there can be no reservation to abolish or to perpetuate; no Indian agent to appoint or dismiss; no treaty to keep or abrogate. The work is accomplished when the Indian has become one of us, absorbed into this body politic, a self-supporting citizen, and nothing is left of these questions that are troubling us. I have got out of patience with them sometimes; have vexed myself and quarreled with friends at Washington or here, as to whether it was right to break a treaty or keep it, or whether this system of appointing officers was good or bad, or whether you would destroy these agencies. The one thing with me is what can I do that will hasten on the day when every Indian in this land shall be a self-supporting citizen. If these things are all done just as every one wants them done, when all is done, if the Indian is not a self-supporting citizen, it is barren work; it is empty and useless, and you are worse off with him without this machinery, bad as it is. And if he becomes a citizen, then the machinery all disappears like an April cloud before the sunrise.
With that idea, the committee of which I am a member have been at work five or six years in an endeavor to provide such legislation as shall be necessary to supplement and help on the friends of such institutions as this and other private and public institutions in fitting the Indian to what he must be or nothing. There is no law now by which the Government of the United States ca do anything in that direction. Nobody in the whole United States Government has nay power to take one step towards making the Indian a self-supporting citizen. What it is doing towards his education by appropriations is helping that people from year to year. And it is a wonderful agency, which has been increasing from year to year till the first appropriation of only $20,000 has increased till last year it was $1,200,000. That is preparing him for citizenship. But what is to be done with him when he is fitted? In this work the committee of the Senate have prepared four or five bills, all looking to this end. The one fundamental bill, called the severalty bill, is the one about questions have just been raised. I have sent to Washington for copies of the bills and they have sent me copies of the old ones, so I cannot read what I have inserted at the request of the religious societies. The trouble first originated with some Episcopal friends who had schools on the reservation. I intended to put in so broad as to cover just what my friends stated. I think I have. It satisfied my religious friends. I am certain if it is not broad enough it now will be. As to Mr. Kinney's question, I will state that the bill, as originally drawn, contained a condition about a tribal patent. When this idea was first broached, the opinions of people about the best way for Government to aid were different from what they are now. My own work on this bill has had the effect to constantly change my views. I have written this bill seven times and never twice alike.
I came here last year very anxious to preserve the tribal patent. I have been for years in a fight with Western men who are bent upon taking land from these Indians without the slightest regard to their rights or the obligations the Government had entered into. I began this work with Secretary Kirkwood, whose idea was to first secure to the tribe their reservation so that they could be certain it should not be taken from them wrongfully. I have pet this in year after year. Every year I have been weakening on it because I have come, from year to year, to the conclusion that this pressure upon the Indian for his lands has come to be irresistible, and that we have go to make provision for him now just as quick as we can, or we will lose the opportunity. I have come to the conclusion that the quicker he is mingled with the whites in every particular the better it will be. This bill went through the Senate and reached the House, where it encountered opposition on two opposite grounds. There is an organization in Washington of very excellent men, but their purpose is to perpetuate the existing state of things. They boast that they have prevented the passage of this bill. They got a committee to insert another provision which would spoil the bill. That is, that the bill should have no force except a majority of any tribe should adopt it. The theory of the bill is to treat the Indian as an individual Indian; and whenever, in the opinion of the official whose duty it is to administer the law, viz: The President of the United States -- but let me read it and you will see the idea of treating the Indian as an individual. We would like to read this section, and if any one can improve it I would like it. I am aware that there is nothing so imperfect as what I do from day to day, and nothing I do [age 32] welcome as suggestions of improvements. I got some valuable ideas here last year, and hope to have some of them incorporated into this bill. Listen to this section: "That 9in all cases where any tribe or band of Indians has been, or shall hereafter be, located upon any reservation created for their use."
now, I have spent some time on that bill. The idea is that when the president sees an Indian or tribe so far advanced that, in his opinion, they can maintain themselves, he is authorized thereupon to allot to every adult head of a family a quarter section, and to every single person an eighth of a section, and to every child a sixteenth section.
Q. Is that to every adult desiring it, or to every adult of the whole tribe?
A. The theory is that when any Indian is so far advanced as to be able to support himself he will want land. If he doesn't want it, it will show that he is not fitted for it. A farm is no blessing to a man who doesn't want it. This is not a compulsory allotment any more than it so compulsory on the State of Massachusetts to pass a law that I shall be a farmer. We don't compel a man to take land. We do not enact a law that a man shall be a mechanic, a blacksmith, or a shoemaker. It is only when he shall, through some agency, be enkindled to be a man that there is any reasonable hope that he will be anything. It is provide that they are to select for themselves. Wherever there is an orphan the Government appoints a man to select the land.
Q. Cannot an Indian go away from the reservation and select land?
A. An Indian can make an entry under the pre-emption act, and before he gets 100 rods from the land office he can sell it for a bottle of whiskey. He can make his entry just like a white man. Burt after all the result is, there being no limitations upon his power to dispose of his land, that he loses it in a short time.
Q. Does the Government give him anything more than this allotment?
A. I am going to talk about that in a little while. The great danger with the Indian is that he will be circumvented; that he will be cheated, if not directly out of his property, yet that in one way or another he will lose it. The State is hostile to his coming there and settling. If he forgets to pay his taxes they will sell it out from under him. The committee provided for that a kind of tenure that mikes it impossible to part with this land except on the agreement of the United States and the Indian too. An Indian cannot make a contract impairing his tile for twenty-five years. So no man can agree that for so many dollars he will convey his land. it is fixed absolutely that it shall be held for the Indian's use exclusively for twenty-five years, and at the end of the twenty-five years the Government shall give him a patent. [Reads]
Q. Will this bill annul the other law?
A. The last bill that passes annuls all laws that conflict with it. [Recs. section 5, "that upon the approval of the allotments provided for in this act," &c.'
Q. In view of the present condition of the Indian is twenty-five years enough?
A. There is a provision in this bill that if, in the opinion of the resident it shall be deemed necessary, it may be continued.
I was remarking that there are people who are distrustful. My friend Kinney is afraid that the tribal patent will die out. Western men are afraid of that too, and for a different reason from that of the New England ma; they want that land. Now I propose to give up the tribal patent by reason of this strong sentiment in the country that the tribal relation must be broken up sooner than twenty-five years. I have alluded to an organization whose sole purpose is to perpetuate the present state of things. They have been around saying that there is an organization to right the wrongs of the Indians; that the whites are trying to get their land. They have an organization of which our friend, Dr. Sunderland, the President's pastor, is vice-president. The argue that the reservation has got to be kept entire. My friend Welsh remembers when Dr. Sunderland went before the House committee and denounced his bill. I propose to let the tribal patent go, and to let the reservation stand as it is, with this provision [reads, "And provided further, That at any time after lands have been allotted to all the Indians of any tribe as herein provided," &c. S. 54p. 9]
As fast as you allot this land, you can negotiate with the Indians for the rest of the land, you shall capitalize that land and put the money in the Treasury, and pay 5 percent, annually for the education of the Indians. I think any one who is troubled about these reservations protected will see that this is provided for. They are just as safe if the tribal patent is taken away as before. If you will prepare the Indian to take care of himself upon this land that is allotted, you will find the solution of the whole question. Added to this is the section which provides that every Indian that takes land in severalty under this bill, and every Indian who has abandoned the habits of a savage life and adopted those of the white man, thereby becomes a citizen of the United States, with all the privileges and immunities of a citizen. When I was here at the last conference that was not in the bill. It is in a separate bill which I have been trying to get through. There seemed to be a good deal of anxiety that it would not get through. I was afraid it would jeopardize this bill. [page 33]
When I went back and said to the committee that I proposed to put it in, it took me ten days to get their consent; and last of all, one of the ablest men in the committee said he would resist it. He said he was for the bill, but he did not wish to jeopardize it. A native of my State labored for a long time to keep it out of the bill, but I took the risk. I said, "The Senate can strike it out but I will try it." so I put it in. The Senator who said he should oppose it, made an argument against it, and every Senator but he voted for it. He came to me and said he would not vote against it, but he could not vote for it. There are many details in this bill all tending to the good of the Indian, but I will not take your time on them. I am as conscious as any man of the imperfections of this bill. I would like to have it improved. No man shall suggest a reasonable amendment which will not meet my heart support. It has been a work of love with me. I have been six or seven years upon it. I would like to see it the law of the land. This bill, the Sioux bill, the bill for the Mission Indians for the Round Valley Indians, and the bill extending the civil and criminal law of the land over the Indians, have all passed the Senate in the last session and are pending in the House of Representatives. I don't know of any special objections to them. I think the committee see where they have made mistakes, and I have no doubt the bill will come out of their hands ultimately in good shape, The great thing needed is that you take hold of these things and get them through the House of representatives.
Q. If an Indian should prefer to have sufficient education to become a mechanic or teacher how would he get any advantage by this bill?
A. He would get his land sold by the United States and the money would be put on interest, and he would get his share. These bills have not stuck in the House of Representatives from the fault of any man. The Indian committees approve of these bills in the main. The trouble arises from the difficulty of transacting business there. Unless some extra effort is made there is not much hope.
Taking out the holidays we have January and February for work in this Congress. It is important to get the bill through this Congress, as new men are coming into charge of Indian affairs in both branches, an dif it does not pas the coming winter it will have to go over till a year from December, and then be taken up by new men. A sentiment favorable to the bill will have to be crated anew in Congress. One third of the Senate is new, and the whole House is new, and if it is taken up a year from now you can't get legislation under two years. If there is any efficacy in this bill it is necessary, in order to obtain beneficial results, that it become a law this winter. The Sioux Reservation contains 30,000 square miles right in the heart of the Territory of Dakota. Twenty-eight thousand Indians occupy a tract of land four times larger than the State of Massachusetts. The little town in which I live contains that number of inhabitants. You see at once that people who want that land look upon the idea that 28,000 Indians are to have that land exclusively as a monstrosity. The were put there in 1868 with the idea that white man would never reach them. The six tribes hold it in common with a covenant on the part of the United States that not a foot of it should be got away except b the written consent of three fourths of the adults of all these tribes. That was less than twenty years ago, and now there are 500,000 white people all around them, and two great railroads coming square up to the reservation, and there they stop; and 38,000 people on the west side have to travel as best they can across the territory for 200 miles to get to the railroad. Dakota contains 150,000 square miles, 30,000 of which are taken up by this reservation.
There has been a constant attempt the last six years to get away that land by people who don't care a copper whether the Indian ever gets anything for it or not. They come within what Jerry Black once called a "squirrel's jump" of getting it through Congress, of getting these 11,000,00 acres for 25,000 cows. They got a bill through the House of Representatives giving them that land for 25,000 cows, but it got stopped in the Senate about 2 o'clock in the morning of the last day of the session. The President was in the next room waiting for Congress, and wanted to know what was the trouble in the appropriations. They were fighting for those Indians, and only saved them by permitting the members to substitute a committee go out there and look into the matter, and out of that visit out there has come the Sioux bill. I became satisfied -- no man can go there and not be satisfied -- that those white man will have a large portion of that reservation; that this land cannot be kept by Indians with a population increasing all around them. I made up my mind that I could do more good by accepting the inevitable, and seeing to it that if they part with their land they shall have an equivalent for it. Out of that has come this bill, and if anybody is alarmed, let him rest upon this section which requires a vote of approval of three-fourths of the Indians. But it is so drawn that they do approve it, they are anxious for it. What are the provisions? First, 11,000,000 left to them shall be divided into six parts, and each of the six tribes shall be located upon its own part. The other 11,000,000 are to be sold to actual settlers, who are to live upon the land five years before they have any title at all to it. [page 34]
Any contract they have made beforehand shall be null and void, so they cannot sell themselves out as the pre-emptioners are dong. They have got to stay five years. Then they pay only 50 cents an acre, while the ordinary public land is $1.25 an acre. Fifty cents an acre will bring $5,500,000, and it provides that this money shall be put into the Treasury of the United States and the interest applied to the education and civilization of the Indians. They capitalize one half to satisfy the white man who are clamoring for the land. They are located for the first time on land of their own.
The railroads come up to the Missouri River and want to go across the reservation 200 miles. Whether this is the best part of the road or not I am not prepared to answer. This bill is the result of the personal examination of a committee and of a commission, and of our Indians rights association, upon whom I have relied, and upon agents like McGillicuddy and Mr. Gassman. There are lines written in here by Mr. Gassman himself. Thus the work has been done with the utmost endeavor to meet the want of the Indian and secure to him a home when you and the class of men like General Armstrong and General Pratt have got him ready to take care of himself. He shall have a home and be a citizen of the United States; shall be one of us, contributing his share to all that goes into make up the strength and glory of citizenship in the United States. There are four or five of these bill. The Mission bill and the Round Valley bill have similar features; and the bill extending civil and criminal law over the Indian. All this is a part of the machinery which it is the duty of the Government to take up, and you people are to do your part. The Government can furnish money, but it can't teach a school. The Government can give land, but it can't teach how to cultivate land; that must be done by private and benevolent effort or not at all. You and your associates must keep your part of the work along so that every Indian, the moment he can be picked out by the Government and put on the land, shall find some helping hand to show him how to work that land. It would be idle to take him out and give him 160 acres of and, ignorant how to use it, better let him be where he is.
My dear friend here knows White Eagle, chief of the Poncas, and the clearest head of all the Indian tribes. I asked him if he didn't want to take land in severalty. It was some time before I could make him understand me. He stopped and shook his head and said, "It would not do me any good; I can't speak your language; I don't know what to do with that land. If I had it you white men would strip me as bare as a bird in a month. Take my children and teach them your language; teach them how to trade with the white man; put them on this land, and you will do them some good; but I am too old." Now we seem to think that land in severalty is the be-all and end-all of our Indian effort. Some one here I thought had an idea that you could force him on to land in severalty, take him by the collar if he has one, or by the blanket, and force him to be a farmer. A few years ago we were enchanted with that absurd idea. We are only in the beginning of the work; we have much work ahead of us. We need great patience, perseverance, and kindness before the Indian will become a self-sustaining citizen of the United States. If the law power, if the executive and legislative power do their part; if the Government furnishes authority for making him a citizen and furnishes land, it is all they can do. The Indian is to be trained and educated, not by Government officials, but by private effort. Teachers should be paid in large degree by the Government, and the Government ha shown its readiness to supply everything that can be done in educating him. My friend said that he could not find any money in the treasury. Why, $1,00, in place of $20,000, has been the growth in grace n the past ten years. And I believe they would have doubled that if they could have seen the agencies, the school-houses, and the opportunities for effective expenditure of that money. The United States is doing its part; everything is encouraging to you and me as outsiders co-operating with the Government. All we want is a little more patience with the Indian and a little more patience with ourselves, and we shall get along with what is disagreeable and unpleasant in this work.
We want a little self-abnegation such as is exhibited in that martyr down at Hampton. We must have this, or all is a failure. Our work must be done now and without delay, for the greed for the Indian's land is growing every day, and it is as impossible to resist it under the forms of our Government as to stop the flow of the river. We may guide and direct it, but we cannot stop it. We are blind, we are deaf, we are insane if we do not take cognizance of the fact that there are forces in this land driving on these people with a determination to possess every acre of their land, and they will lose it unless we work on and declare that the original owner of this land shall, before every acre disappears from under him forever, have 160 acres of it when he shall be fitted to become a citizen of the United States and prepared to bear the burdens as well as share the rights of our Government.
JUDGE CAMPBELL: The ladies who are interested in California missions want to know whether there is a bill relating to those Indians. ...
THIRD DAY, MORNING SESSION
Mrs. O.J. Hiles, of Milwaukee, ... "a lady who takes a deep interest in the Mission Indians."
Spanish tenure: in case they might not e considered as 'subjects' of the king, this wise monarch decreed that (and this forms their second tenure) 'After distributing among the Indians whatever they may justly want to cultivate, so, and raise cattle, confirming to them what they now hold, and granting them what they may want besides, all the remaining land may be reserved to us, the king.'
THE LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE
FIFTH ANNUAL MEETING
FIRST DAY - MORNING SESSION
At 10 o'clock on the morning of September 28th, 1887, the Hon. A.K. Smile called to order, in the parlor of the Mohonk Lake Mountain House, and after a few words of welcome, opened the Fifth Annual "Lake Mohonk Conference" by nominating General Clinton B. Fisk as Chairman, a motion which was unanimously endorsed by the conference.
[page 3] ...
A CHANGE OF POLICY REQUIRES A CHANGE OF METHODS
Paper by C.C. Painter
The Dawes Land in Severalty and Indian Citizenship bill, made a law since our last Conference, has given us what Archimedes wished for, that he might test the power of his lever to lift the world, and we now have a standing place, and opportunity to test the power of our civilizing influences to lift the Indian. The law we have done much to secure, we should bear in mind, is not the end we have been seeking, but only a deeded mean to its attainment; it has only supplied a necessary condition for successful work; the work still remains to be done. In this case, as in all others, enlarged opportunity means also increased dangers, and we who are responsible for the present condition of affairs will be held responsible for their future outcome. We cannot hold ourselves innocent of disasters which may come to these people through these enlarged opportunities unless we do all we can to improve them.
The law we have secured must surely, as its provisions are carried out, undermine and destroy the present Indian policy, and the machinery by which it is carried out. This was but ill adapted to any work which as friends of the Indian we desired to see done for him, but it has o place in the new order of things introduced by this law which as been enacted since our last Conference. Under its [page 4] provisions he steps out of his undifferentiated, impersonal tribal relation into one of individualized, responsible citizenship, under the constitution and laws of the republic. All things are made new in his status and relations; perforce all things must be made new in our methods of dealing with him. When we make him a citizen we recognize his manhood with all its inherent rights under the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. What power can an Indian agent, carrying out the rules and regulations have over a man who has refuge under such protection? Whatever restrictions Congress n its wisdom may put upon his power to alienate land to which he is after twenty-five years to have a title in fee simple, none can be put upon a free citizen except such as are imposed alike upon all. Whatever power a clerk in the Indian bureau, who happens for the nonce to be acting commissioner, has to forbid a missionary society from teaching, at its own expense, and in its own schools, the Gospel to an Indian in his own tongue, so that he may go forth in obedience to the Master's command and preach it to his people, this power, inherent in the office under the old order of things, withers and dies in the presence of this law which lifts the Indian from the category of things and sets him among the sons of God and gives to him all their rights. The fact is, we have entered upon the beginning of a new dispensation, and we shall find it necessary that all things, in the methods and machinery of our Indian policy, shall be made new and adapted to the growth and development of men. The sooner we take in this fact and adjust ourselves to it the better. ...
Judge Draper, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of New York: "Mr. Chairman: I came into the office of Sate Superintendent a year and a half ago with no more knowledge upon the Indian question and no more interest in it than the great body of readers of current literature have upon the subject. I confess that the experience of a year and a half has led me to take something of an interest in the subject. I came into office, however, with a feeling that I knew all about it. I have gone on, month after month, with the feeling rowing upon me that the more I know the less I know, and the question wit me now is as to how much longer this condition of things is to go on. We have in this State eight Indian reservations, with an Indian population of our thousand, in round numbers. The condition of things upon these Indian reservations in our state is truly deplorable. These people live upon lands as fertile, as delightful as could be found within the borders of the Empire State. They are, however, shiftless. They speak their own language very largely; they are lazy; they are entirely indifferent; they are acting upon a theory in their own minds that is in entire antagonism to the theory upon which this Conference is proceeding, and the question with them is, 'How long will it be before we exterminate you and reduce you to our ideas, and how long before the time will come when the Indian tribes will claim their own again, and we will be masters of these hills and these dales and valleys?' The Indian population of this State is increasing; they are not being dispersed; they are not dying out. They are growing in numbers. There are more Indians upon the reservations in the State of New York than there were ten, twelve, or fifteen years ago. There is no police regulation upon these reservation, nor any power or authority of law there. They live in about the shape, probably, that the same number of whites under such circumstances, with such a history, and under such conditions, would be living. If there quarrel, there is no executor of the law at hand to interfere to prevent it. If they commit crime the law stands away off at arms length, and there is no power to punish. there is scarcely any marriage relation among these Indians upon our reservations, and the entire condition of things is truly deplorable. I have paid enough attention to the matter to go personally upon the reservations with our School Board to investigate and see what to do. I say here that there is no such red tape about the management of Indian education in this State as has been referred to this morning as applying to Indians in the Territories. The entire responsibility is placed upon the State Superintendent and he has the entire power over local superintendents. He can remove them at pleasure if they are not capable and good men. This is true of the teachers in these schools; if they are not the best that can be secured it is his fault and no one else's. I find that one of the things which interferes with the progress of this work of educating and civilizing the Indians upon our reservations is this: that they have the control, or assume to control the right of assigning lands to whomsoever they will. The question as to where the title of Indian lands is, is a very troublesome law question. Where it be in the United States or in the State of New York, or in the tribes, or where it is, is a thing that none of the officers of the State Government seem to be able to answer. The Indian councils upon each reservation assume to control this matter. Now the Indians are natural politicians. They seem to take to politics very naturally, and there is no reservation within the State to-day in which there are not Indian political parties. They have their caucuses; they nominate tickets and declare, in their crude way, the platforms and principles of their party. Now, then, this territorial government controls, or assumes the right of locating one Indian upon one piece of land ...
SECOND DAY, EVENING SESSION [page 60]
President Magill, of Swarthmore College: ... "during the past winter, while attending some of the interesting sessions of the Indian Commissioners at Washington, on the eve of the passing of that bill in which this Conference was so much interested last year -- the Dawes Land in Severalty Bill -- I listened with great satisfaction to the reports of the large sums of money expended in the Indian cause during the previous year by the various religious denominations. Well knowing that the sums thus expended by these bodies might be taken as a fair index of the amount of effectual work done I was greatly encouraged in listening to these reports. I was at that time deeply impressed with the conviction that, for the realization of all our highest hopes for the Indian, for his education and training, for his introduction as an equal among civilized people, and for his preparation for the high and responsible duties of American citizenship, we must look largely, if not chiefly, to the religious organizations of our country. For this work the Dawes Bill, then under consideration, would most effectively open the way. That bill has now been passed, and has become a law of the land; and it has been partially put into operation in several tribes. As its honored author so distinctly told us last year it does not, of itself, do the great work that is needed to be done for the Indian. It does not essentially change his character. But it is surely the most important key to the whole situation that has ever been presented in the history of our legislation for this oppressed and outraged people. Indeed, our legislation on this subject, beginning with our treaties with them, as independent nations within a nation, and continued by repeated violation of these treaties when it suited our purpose can hardly be characterized as a series of blunders and crimes from beginning to end. In the passage of the Dawes Bill, light has at last dawned, and the ends sought, justice to the individual Indian, and his elevation to the rights of an American citizen, are likely to be secured. By its wise and carefully drawn provisions it presents a method by which the government can deal directly with the Indian as an individual, and not merely as a member of a tribe. And by it the solution is honorably reached of the gradual but sure disintegration of the reservation system and the final extinction of the tribal relations. When this is accomplished, and they become citizens of the United States, settled upon homes of their own, and amenable, in all respects, to the same laws, and sharing equal protection with other citizens, the Indian problem, as a [page 61] distinct question, will be taken out of the hands of the government. Surely, after all that they have suffered from this special legislation in their behalf, every true friend of the Indian would say, 'This is a consummation devoutly to be wished.'
"But after this is done, and during its progress, there is another and even greater work which must continually be going on. This other work is no less than the proper education, training, and full development of the Indian race for the great change from a savage, semi-savage, or barbarous, to a truly civilized people. No such change can ever come except by patient training and in the course of some generations.
"The great question which confronts us to-day is, therefore, 'How shall this work be most effectually performed?' This is clearly the problem to which we, of this Mohonk Conference, should now address ourselves.
"This long and patient labor for the elevation of a race, to be effectual, must devolve upon earnest consecrated men and women, who gladly devote their lives to it, and whose high qualification for this service depends on no mere government appointment. In other words, the religious organizations of the country must continue the noble work which they have so well begun, and upon them the chief burden must rest. It will be worse than vain for the government to attempt it, without their constant cooperation and their most efficient aid. A merely secular education, a training of the intellect alone, will not accomplish it. You may swell every expense, you may furnish the best equipped boarding and manual training schools, you may obliterate the Indian vernacular and substitute for it, in the rising generation of Indians, the most elegant and grammatical English speech, you may teach them agriculture and all the mechanic arts; your attempts will be forever vain, and worse than vain, unless their moral and spiritual natures are trained to keep pace with the intellectual. This is true of the education of any people, and applies with especial force to the present condition of the Indian race. No truth is more trite than that a purely intellectual education can only make the recipient a more efficient agent for evil. But because moral and religious teaching should be combined with the intellectual, is it necessary that this work shall all be done, without the powerful aid and cooperation of the government? This is the one question which I deem to be vital, and toward which I would direct your serious attention. Let me say then, distinctly, that wile popular education in our country maintains its present status, all of the most important work for the education and elevation of the Indian race must be done by the religious organizations directly, and substantially, without the aid of the government. All that we can ask of it, at present, is not to be a hindrance, while it cannot become a help.
"The rivalry between opposing religious sects, and the fear that some one of them should secure too great a preponderance, has induced legislators to frame laws and constitutions which have brought about an almost absolute divorce between religious and secular instruction. In my own State of Pennsylvania within the past twenty years important changes have been introduced into our Constitution, emphasizing more than ever before this most unwise separation . [page 62]. As a result of this fear, we have been fostering a great public system of the intellect alone, may I not almost say a Godless system, of which the generations to come, unless very important modifications are introduced, are sure to reap the bitter fruit. ... The fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of the whole human family, and our duties toward God and each other, naturally springing from these relations -- what fruitful themes are these for the most profitable instruction, and of such character that all religious sects can heartily unite in them. ...
SENATOR DAWES: ...That he will pass away as an Indian I don't doubt, and that very rapidly. It will be into citizenship, and into a place among the citizens of this land, or it will be into a vagabond and a tramp. He is to disappear as an Indian of the past; there is no longer any room for such an Indian in this country; he cannot find a place. The Indian of the past has no place to live in this country. ... Something stronger than the Mohonk Conference has dissolved the reservation system. The greed of these people for the land has made it utterly impossible to preserve it for the Indian. He must take his place where you have undertaken to put him, or he must go a vagabond throughout this country, and it is for you and me to say which it shall be. He cannot choose for himself, and he does not know where the ways are. ... 'The survival of the fittest' is all you can ask after you have done your duty, and all that can be expected. ...
THIRD DAY - MORNING SESSION
Mr. Price: ...[page 78]
"What is needed, is an act of Congress to make the law more stringent and effective, so that the grog shop influence shall not be allowed to retard these wards of the Nation who are now in the transition state, struggling up from the gloom of barbarism to the light of civilization. We have now, thanks to congress, and to the Christian men and women who have volunteered their services in this work and labor of love, lands in severalty, with hundreds of dwelling-houses on them, schools, churches, and other means that are lifting these people to the plane of usefulness, intelligence and dignified citizenship. The people are beginning to believe that a dead Indian is not the only good Indian, but it would not be very difficult to prove that a dead Indian is less dangerous to the community than a drunken Indian, and might therefore be preferred. A drunken white man is a curse to himself, his family and community, but a drunken Indian, in addition to all these, is an intensified condensation of savage brutality; and I earnestly hope that this Conference will declare in terms not to be misunderstood that Congress can do not one thing that will so effectually make available and operative the good things that will so effectually make available and operate the good things it has already done as to provide by law for the swift and certain punishment of any person who directly or indirectly furnishes intoxicating liquor to Indians. I am not to be understood as supposing that this will cure all the ills that Indian flesh is heir to, but that it will very materially reduce them, no one who as properly considered the subject will for one moment doubt."
THIRD DAY, AFTERNOON SESSION [page 95]
Mr. Smiley: "I think there are some reasons for the government order. The whole subject of getting the children into the schools in different denominations is in a muddle, and there should be some systematic plan about it. I think there are great abuses all over the country. The schools out in Indiana and the schools in the Eastern States are constantly bidding for scholars. They go and take up the scholars attending the Government schools there, and even take the scholars that have been expelled from schools there, and some that are so diseased that they won't have them, and bring them to the schools in order to draw pay. You know the government pays for the time they are in. They get a contract for these schools, and they get pupils (diseased children) under that contract and bring them East, and call it a school in order to draw pay from the government. There are scholars that have left Hampton and Carlisle who are put into these schools. A grandfather, a father and children and grandchildren in the same school draw pay from the government. The whole thing wants systematic arrangement. Mr. Oberly, got the right matter in hand; he saw all these buses. This order, as I understand it, may have been made in this way. There were at Santee three schools when I was there. The Government school could be depleted by the other schools in the field. These private schools draw from it, and I suppose they do not like it to have their best scholars drawn away from them." [The issue of 'inferior schools' was used to draw attention away from the kidnapping. Rather than let anybody look at them and see what they are doing, they draw attention somewhere else.]
Mr. Shelton. "They were drawn away because the Government schools are so inferior. .."
THIRD DAY -- EVENING SESSION
FINAL REPORT OF THE BUSINESS COMMITTEE
I. We congratulate the country on the notable progress towards a final solution of the Indian problem which has been made during the past year. The passage of the Dawes Bill closes the "century of dishonor"; it makes it possible for the people of America to initiate a chapter of national honor in the century to come. It offers the Indians homes, the first condition of civilization; proffers them the protection of the laws; opens to them the door of citizenship. We congratulate the country on the public sentiment which has made this Bill possible, on the Act of Congress responding promptly to the sentiment all to tardily roused, and the action of the Executive welcoming the Bill and the policy which it inaugurates, initiating the execution of its provisions in a just and humane spirit, and pledging its cooperation with philanthropic and Christian societies in the endeavor to prepare the Indian for the change which this Bill both contemplates and necessitates.
II. The Dawes Bill has not solved the Indian problem. It has only created an opportunity for its solution. The acceptance of allotment and citizenship by all Indians on United States reservations must be a matter of several years' time, gradually extinguishing the Agency system, but requiring in consequence increased facilities for the administration of local justice, both civil and criminal, and methods of governmental supervision and protection during the transition period wholly free from partisan control. Surrounded as the Indian is by those who have little sympathy with him in his ignorance, we are persuaded that further legislation will be required to guard him his rights and to prevent his new liberty and opportunity from becoming a curse instead of a blessing. The method is yet to be determined. The necessity is a constant fact.
III. While the Dawes Bill will change the Indian's legal and political status; it will not change his character. The child must become a man, the Indian must become an American; the pagan must be new created a Christian. His irrational and superstitious dread of imaginary gods must be transformed into a love for the All-Father; his natural and traditional hatred of the pale-face into a faith in Christian brotherhood; his unreasoning adherence to the dead past into an inspiring hope in a great and glad future. In his case religious education must precede and prepare for secular education, the Gospel for civilization, the story of God's love for the era into which the spear shall be beaten into a pruning hook and the sword into a plowshare. This is the work of the Christian churches, on them the new era lays new and grave duties, because before them it opens new and larger opportunities.
IV. This work necessitates cooperation, if not combination. The work of education, which has been heretofore desultory, individual, fragmentary, denominational, must be made systematic, harmonious, organic, Christian. For this purpose the various missionary and educational bodies working among the Indians are earnestly urged to secure at once a joint representative meeting to frame some [page 105] plan of cooperative action that they may not conflict with one another in the field; that they may reduce expenses and increase efficiency; and that, especially, in dealing both with the Indian and the United States Government, they may act as one body representing one great constituency, and combining their various energies to one great end, the Americanizing, civilizing and Christianizing of the aborigines of the soil.
V. The abolition of the reservation system effected by the Dawes Bill necessarily involves the largest civil and religious liberty in the work of education in the reservations, and such liberty is required in order to carry on missionary and educational work. While government must still determine on what conditions it will make appropriations for education, and while it must control all educational operations which are supported by its appropriations, the way should be open for any and every voluntary organization to carry on instruction among the Indian tribes without hindrance or interference. Experience cal alone determine what method promises the cheapest, quickest and best results. Failures may be as suggestive of truth as success, and o experiment should be forbidden by government authority of it is not made a charge upon the government purse. There is no danger of too many schools; a great danger of too few. No policy can be endured which forbids Christian men and women to teach Christian truth, or to prepare instruction in it in any way they deem right, in any part of this Commonwealth that is consistent with that civil and religious liberty which is unhampered in every other part of our land, and must hereafter be unhampered within all Indian reservations. We lay on every Christian organization in the land the duty, and therefore, we claim for every Christian organization in the land the right, to push forward this work with all enthusiasm, directing their efforts according to their own judgment, not directed in them by any civil or political authority whatever.
VI. The United States Government, however, leaves this work wholly to voluntary effort. It possesses large funds equitably belonging to the Indian. These are trust funds. The Indian's greatest need is education in primary, industrial, normal and other schools. To hold these moneys in the treasury while the Indians are allowed to grow up in ignorance is a misuse of trust-funds. We call for an immediate enlargement of government educational work, largely increased appropriations for it, and a full recognition by Congress and by the Department, as well as by the churches, that the educational need of the Indian is instant, the exigency pressing, the perils in delay great, and the duty of action unmistakable. We urge the immediate establishment of Indian schools at every practicable point, an increase in the umber of teachers, and whatever enlargement of salaries may be required to secure efficient teachers. The most vigorous and united efforts are required to prepare the Indian for citizenship as rapidly as the Dawes Bill will confer it upon him.
VII. In the work of secular education the true end must be kept constantly in view -- to prepare the Indian for American citizenship. He must therefore be taught whatever appertains to successful citizenship -- the economic virtues, temperance, thrift, self-reliance, the [page 106] duties and responsibilities as well as the rights and privileges of citizenship; some practical knowledge of industrial arts, and above all the language of the country of which he is hereafter to be a citizen. The English language should therefore be made at the earliest practicable day the sole medium of instruction in all government Indian schools; and even in purely voluntary and mission schools the English language should be brought to the foremost place as fast as the requirements of proper religious instruction will permit.
VIII. The introduction of civil service reform into the Indian Department is essential to its honest and effective administration. For the work of protection and education, permanence and purity are an absolute necessity, and neither is possible under the partisan method. We therefore demand the absolute divorce if the Indian Bureau from party politics in all its appointments and removals.
SIXTH ANNUAL MEETING
LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE
FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN
Held September 26, 27 and 28, 1888 (Reported and Edited by Isabel C. Barrows)
The following paper was then read by Rev. Lyman Abbott, D.D.
EDUCATION FOR THE INDIAN
The Indian problem is three problems, -- land, law, and education. The country has entered upon the solution of the land problem. It has resolved to break up the reservation system, allot to the Indians in severalty so much land as they can profitably occupy, purchase the rest at a fair valuation, throw it open to actual settlers, and consecrate the entire continent to civilization, with no black spot upon it devoted to barbarism. Upon that experiment the country has entered, and it will not turn back. The law problem, also, has been put in the way of solution. It is safe to assume that it will not be long before the existing courts are open to the Indians; and it is reasonable to hope that special courts will be provided for their special protection, in accordance with the general plan outlined by the law committee of the Lake Mohonk conference. But nothing has yet been done toward the solution of the educational problem. A great deal has been done toward the education of individual Indians, something, perhaps, toward the education of single tribes, but no land has been agreed upon; and it is hardly too much to say that no land has even been proposed for solving the educational problem of the Indian race, -- for converting them from groups of tramps, beggars, thieves, and sometimes robbers and murderers, into communities of intelligent, industrious and self-supporting citizens. But this is by far the most important problem of the three. Put an ignorant and imbruted savage on land of his own, and he remains a pauper, if he does not become a vagrant and a thief. Open to him the courts of justice, and make him amenable to the laws of the land, and give him neither knowledge nor a moral education, and he will come before these courts only as a criminal; but inspire in him the ambition of industry, and equip him with the capacity of self-support, and he will acquire in time the needful land and find a way to protect his personal rights. These reforms must move on together. Certain it is that without the legal and educational reform the land will be death to the Indian, and burden, if not disaster, to the white race. My object in this paper is simply to set before the Lake Mohonk Conference the outlines of a possible educational system, in the hope that the principles here announced, and the methods here suggested, may at least b found worthy of discussion, out of which may be evolved a plan worthy to be presented to the country for its adoption.
At present we have no system of Indian education. Some Christian and philanthropic individuals and societies are attempting, in various fragmentary ways, to do a work of education in special localities. The Government is doing some educational work under teachers whom [page 12] it has appointed and whom it supports, but the efficacy of thee governmental efforts depends largely upon the ability and character of the agent of the reservation on which the school is situated. The Government and the churches have in other instances entered into a quasi partnership, which is as perplexing in its results as it is anomalous in its nature; the Government sometimes furnishing the buildings, sometimes furnishing the teachers, sometimes making appropriations for the one or the other, and sometimes simply sending pupils to the schools established by private benevolence, and paying their tuition. Under such a method as this the churches naturally enter into vigorous competition with each other for governmental appropriations. It is simply an incidental evil of this anomalous condition of affairs that in the year closing June, 1886, out of fifty religious schools supported in part by the government and in part by religious societies, thirty-eight were under Roman Catholic control with 2,068 pupils, and twelve were under Protestant control with 500 pupils. This is not to the discredit of the Roman Catholic Church, which works with efficiency because it works as a until, but rather to the discredit of the Protestant churches, which are unable to lay aside their differences and combine their efforts in so simple a matter as the non-sectarian education of a pagan people within the bounds of our own country. It is at all events entirely to the discredit of a method which never would have been devised; -- which, like Topsy, was not made, but only "growed."
Nor is this the only vice of the present essentially vicious no-system of Indian education. A minority of Indian children are taught more or less feebly the rudiments of civilization, some in boarding schools, some in day schools, some on the reservation, some off it, some under one, others under another sectarian influence. When a little smattering of education has been given them, they drift back, or are sent back to the reservation, to forget what they have learned, -- to take off the beaver and put on the feathers, to lay aside the hoe and take up the hatchet, and resume the war paint which they had washed from their faces at the schoolhouse door. That so many Indians are able to resist the evil influences of their savage environments, and interpenetrate their tribe with any civilizing influences whatever, affords a singular testimony to the stability of character which goes along with a saturnine disposition. what the country should do, what the friends of Indian emancipation -- rather let me say of justice, humanity, and equal rights -- should do, is to substitute for this chaotic congeries of fragmentary efforts, a system which shall secure within a generation the education of all Indian children within the borders of the United states in the essentials of American civilization. Certain propositions looking to this ultimate result I desire to put before the Lake Mohonk Conference for its discussion.
I. The United States Government must undertake to provide this education, not to supplement provision made by others; not to aid it with appropriations, niggardly in some instances, excessive in others; not to try tentative experiments here and there, dependent upon the idiosyncrasy of individual agents, -- but to assume the work of equipping for civilized industry and intelligent citizenship the entire mass of Indian population now under the age of, say, eighteen. This is the duty of the United States Government to do. We have no right to throw this burden on the locality in which the Indian tribe happens [page 13] to be located; we have o right to require Dakota to provide for the education of the Sioux, or New Mexico for the education of the Apache. We have steadily pressed the Indian tribes westward, and they no longer trouble the New England, nor the Middle, nor even the Western States; the burden that belongs properly to the entire country has been upon the scattered populations of the far West. It is wholly inequitable that we of the East should philanthropically demand that the Indians be educated, and drop a dime or a quarter no and then into the church plate toward their education, while we leave the few of our fellow-citizens who are struggling with the problems of a pioneer life to choose between enduring the intolerable burden of a great ignorant and vagrant population, or to shoulder the almost equally intolerable burden of educating them out of their vagrancy and pauperism. There is as little reason for throwing this burden upon the churches. The Christian churches of America have all that they can do to fulfill the duty definitely laid upon them of preaching the Gospel to the heathen of their own and other lands, and of teaching what obligations that Gospel imposes on their own congregations. If the Government were poor and the churches were rich, it might be asked of the churches that they should assume the burden of educating the Indian children of the continent. But it is the churches who are relatively poor, while the Government is so rich that it is raced by political debate from one end to the other over the question what it shall do with its surplus. The education of the wards of the nation is a duty imposed upon the nation itself. It do not stop here to dwell upon the fact that it owes, upon solemn treaty obligations, thousands of dollars promised to Indian tribes for schools never established and teachers never commissioned; nor upon the other fact that it will soon have in its hands, from the sale of Indian lands, millions of dollars belonging to the Indian tribes, with no possible way of expenditure so advantageous to them as the way of education. If we had no Indian lands out of which to reimburse ourselves, if we had not make sacred treaties only to break them, it would still remain true that it is the duty of the nation, out of its abundant wealth, -- wealth produced by the lands where these Indians once roamed in savage freedom, -- to provide the means necessary to enable those same Indians to adjust themselves to the conditions of civilized life. Nor is this a problem of proportions so vast that the country cannot venture to enter upon it. The entire population of India children between the ages of six and sixteen is estimated at less than fifty thousand. An adequate, continuous, systematic education of fifty thousand pupils for less than half a century would solve the Indian problem. It would not be costly. Schools are less expensive than war. It costs less to educate an Indian than it does to shoot him. A long and costly experience demonstrated that fact.
2. The education thus to be afforded must not merely be offered ass a gift; it must be imposed by superior authority as a requirement. In other words, the education of Indian children must be made compulsory. It is a great mistake to suppose that the red man is hungering for the white man's culture, eager to take it if it is offered to him. The ignorant are never hungry for education, nor the vicious for morality, nor barbarism for civilization; educators have [page 14] to create the appetite as well as to furnish the food. The right of Government to interfere between parent and child must indeed be exercised with the greatest caution; the parental right is the most sacred of all rights; but a barbaric father has no right to keep his child in barbarism, nor an ignorant father to keep his child in ignorance. There may be difficulty in compelling the children of Indians to attend the white man's school, but there need be no question of the right to compel such attendance; and in this, as in so many other cases, when there is a will there will without difficulty be found a way.
3. In organizing such a system of education as I am trying to outline before you, the Government should assume the entire charge of all primary education. As fast as possible contract schools should be passed over either to the entire control of the Government, which maintains them, or to the entire maintenance of the church or society which controls them. It is absolutely right that the Government should administer all the moneys which the Government appropriates. There is only one form of contract school which is legitimate in any permanent or well-organized system of education; it is that in which the school is wholly administered and controlled by private enterprise, and the Government sends pupils to it and pays for their tuition as any other patron might do. In assuming this work of primary education, the Government should assume to give all that is necessary to equip the Indian child for civilized life. It should teach him the English language. While the Government was wholly wrong in assuming to prohibit individual societies and churches from teaching what doctrine they pleased in what language they chose, so long as they paid the expenses out of their own pockets, it was wholly right to refuse to spend a dollar of the people's money to educate a pagan population in a foreign tongue. The impalpable walls of language are more impenetrable than walls of stone. It would be in vain to destroy the imaginary line which surrounds the reservation if we leave the Indian hedged about by an ignorance of the language of his neighbors; this would be to convert him from the gypsy isolated into a gypsy of the neighborhood. The Government should teach him so much of arithmetic and of the arts and sciences as will enable him to enter on the struggle of American life with at least a fair chance of tolerable success; it should teach him methods of industry as well as forms of expression; and it should also teach him those great fundamental ethical principles, without which society is impossible and the social organism goes to wreck. Nor must it be forgotten that forms of industry, principles of right and wrong, and language itself, which are picked up unconsciously by the white boy in his home, must needs to be taught deliberately and with set purpose to the Indian boy, who has picked up only the use of the tomahawk, the ethics of the camp fire, and the vernacular of his own tribe.
4. If the Government were at once to assume the entire work of educating the Indian children of school age in the United States, and of compelling them to attend the schools, and of furnishing them threat with sufficient knowledge of the English language, the methods of industry and the moral laws to fit them for civilized life, the churches, released from a burden which never ought to have been laid upon them, could bend their energies to the twofold work of the [page 15] higher ethical and spiritual culture of the Indians, and for the establishment of normal schools, where Indian teachers might be prepared to become the educators of their own people. No race is truly educated until it is taught to be self-educative. If Hampton and Carlisle were left free to devote their energies to educating men and women to become, in turn, educators of their own people; if no men and women were sent to them except with that purpose in view, and no more than could be profitable furnished employment as Indian educators, either in the schoolroom, or in the shop, or on the farm; if everywhere the Christian churches could devote their educational labors, as they are now doing in the South, to educating educators, -- the relation between the churches and the Government would be made harmonious, and the problem of religious education, if not absolutely solved, would be greatly simplified. Religion is, after all, a matter of personal influence more than of catechistical instruction. If the Government will come to the churches for Christian teachers, the churches may well agree to leave the catechisms out of the schools in which these Christian teachers do their work.
5. There is a universal agreement among all friends of the Indian, among all who are trying to promote his education, among all who are endeavoring to transform him from a burden borne to a useful member of society, that the Indian schools should be taken out of politics. There is only one way to take them out of politics; namely, by making the head of the school system non-political. So long as the Bureau is a part of a political machine, and the schools are a part of the Bureau, so long the schools will be a part of a political machine; and so I come to the fifth, last, but fundamental proposition of this entire scheme. It is, that the President appoint a non-political commission, who shall be authorized to organize and direct a new educational system; that the money for that system be appropriated in the lump by Congress to that educational commission; and that the appointment of teachers, the organization of schools, and the maintenance of the entire system, be placed under its direction and control, freed from the entanglements involved, on the one hand by connection with an administrative bureau, on the other hand by the necessity of securing influence in the House of Representatives for needful appropriations.
One objection to this plan I venture to anticipate, -- the objection brought to all new laws: "It is impracticable." My answer to that objection now, and always is, Whatever ought to be done can be done. But I don not believe that this plan is impracticable. It would have the support of the people of the far West, because it would take from them a burden which never ought to have been laid upon them -- the burden of transforming hereditary barbarians and paupers into intelligent self-supporting and valuable members of society; it would have the support of philanthropists of the East, because it would promise to remove from National politics a disturbing element, from the National escutcheon a black stain, and from National life a plague-spot; it would have the support of the press, which is always able in a fair fight and open field to defeat the politicians; it would have the support of the National conscience, which in American history has never failed to win when it has been educated and aroused. three years ago we assembled at lake Mohonk to discuss the Indian [page 16] question. We agreed after much patient, though warm debate, that the reservation system be abolished, the Indians given their lands in severalty, the unallotted land opened to actual settlers, and the country consecrated to civilization from ocean to ocean. We ere told then that this was impracticable. But the press adopted the Lake Mohonk platform, the Congress and the Administration followed the leadership of the press and the Conference. The land problem is solved. If this fall the friends of the Indian assembled at Lake Mohonk can agree upon an educational system as absolutely just as the land reform on which they then agreed, they can depend with equal assurance on the press and the public conscience for their allies, and on the ultimate, and I believe the speedy, acceptance of their conclusions by Congress and the executive.
DR. ELLINWOOD: ...I believe there are evils [connected with the government schools]; but the missionary boards are not able, on any large scale, to establish boarding schools of from twenty to one hundred pupils each, and feed, and clothe, and shelter, without aid. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to the Indians in the charge of the Government for just such uses. why should these funds lie unused while the whole burden is laid on the charity of Christian people? It is only just that a certain governmental stipend should be given, and it is only with such help that so great a work can be done. This is the enlightened policy which has been adopted in India, and certainly there is a stronger claim here. I once saw in Lahore fifteen hundred children under the care of one missionary. That involved an immense expenditure. Do you suppose that a missionary board could have footed the whole bill for boarding such a number? As to results, it is the frank, honest confession of those who are in a position to know, that altogether the best educational work among the natives of India has been done through the missionary organizations with Government aid.
REV. CHARS. S. SHELTON: I want to reiterate Miss Collins' statements. After eight years experience with the Indians, I would rather leave them in their heathenism than give them a secular education omitting entirely the religious training. We are dealing with men who think, and with men who have souls; and in this whole matter of education we must remember that we are dealing with immortal destinies. When you exclude from secular education the religious element, you have excluded every element that could guarantee permanent success.
PROFESSOR PAINTER: ... The whole system under which the Indian has been placed has been an absolute despotism, the most absolute on this earth. A few months ago eight Indians up in Minnesota were put in jail. Why? Because they were off from their reservation without permission from the agent -- driving [page 23] logs, and getting a dollar and a half a day. [cf Red Lake News: passes up into the mid-1920's; abolished when Indians were made into Citizens].
HON. SETH LOW: ... I suppose if anything in the world is certain, it is that the red man's civilization will disappear before the white man's civilization, because, of the two, it is inferior. The Indian problem, in its fundamental aspect, is, then, Must the red man disappear with his civilization? Is it possible that in Christian times the Indians themselves have got to disappear with their inferior civilization? I think we can say certainly hat unless we can incorporate the red man into the white man's civilization, he will disappear. ... We cannot give a wild man the civilized man's relation to law. We have got to train him and fit him for it by the slow process of education. Therefore, behind all these divisions is the question, How can we make the individual red man a member of the white man's civilization.
Tuesday Morning, September 27
[excerpt from AN ACT TO ESTABLISH COURTS FOR THE INDIANS ON THE VARIOUS RESERVATIONS, AND TO EXTEND THE PROTECTION OF THE LAWS OF THE STATES AND TERRITORIES OVER ALL INDIANS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES]
NOTES UPON THE DIFFERENT SECTIONS.
SECTION 1. This section takes notice of three classes of Indians: (a) citizens of the United States; (b) two classes of non-citizens, -- (1) those living on reservations, (2) those living off reservations. For the first class it makes, and need make, not attempt to fix or declare their civil and political rights. As to the third class, it declares them entitled to all the rights and privileges which are secured by the Constitution of the United States to foreigners who are not yet citizens, e.g. to the Chinese (see Yick Wo. v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356). As regards this third class of Indians, there is strong reason to believe that this section of the Bill is merely declaratory of the rights already existing (1 Harvard Law Review, 149). But as this has been called in question, it seems well to close the point by a declaratory act. As to the second class, viz., Indians living on reservations, such persons are in a very anomalous condition; they are not citizens, and they are not foreigners (Karrahoo v. Adams, 1 Dillon, 344). They are on our land [sic]; but their status is like that of a foreign nation who should be allowed to camp among us, and allotted land to live upon, and given leave to carry on their own separate national housekeeping, without owing any allegiance to us. The Indians were originally a separate people, and in theory are so still. We have ceased making treaties with them since 1871; but the old treaties are still alive. When they are hostile, their relation to us is that of enemies in war, and never that of subjects guilty of treason. While, little by little, we have legislated for them, and have the constitutional power to legislate fully (U.S. [page 55] v. Kagama, 118 U.S. 375), we have dealt with them mainly on the footing of persons outside our national Constitution; not merely as if they were foreigners, for foreigners while here are protected by that Constitution, and owe us allegiance (Carlisle v. U.S., 16 Wallace, 147), but as if they were foreigners at home (e.g. Englishmen in Canada), who are not protected by our Constitution, and owe us no allegiance. ...
Mr. Austin Abbott: [page 60] ...
I arranged yesterday with Miss Dawes and General Howard for one exception to the bill. We are going to take the most disorderly reservation -- I mention this as illustrating the present situation where there is no law, save the rude tribal customs, -- and wherever anarchists are convicted, as in Chicago, General Howard is to have them sent to that reservation, and they are to be shut up with the Indians, to enjoy the system of lawlessness which the rest of the world does not appreciate. One such Botany Bay will be sufficient. But for the rest of the reservations we desire to introduce the system of American justice. The present condition is lawlessness mitigated by arbitrary power. ..."
Mr. Abbot: If an Indian in the tribal relation gets into a quarrel, if a pony is stolen, if there is a case of drunkenness and disorder, the Indian agent, aided by a couple of Indian policemen or deputies, calls the disorderly parties before him, and sends those who are convicted of wrong to the guard-house for a shorter or longer time. The reports of the Indian agents are full of items of this kind. It is a rude kind of justice, excellent in the main, as a restrain on a barbarous situation; but it is inefficient, imperfect, and inadequate, even to the existing situation of lawlessness, as the testimony of the agents shows.
Dr. Strieby: Is there no appeal from the decision of the agent?
Mr. Abbott: The law does not provide for any.
Dr. Lyman Abbott: What redress has anyone if ponies are stolen from the outside?
Mr. Abbott: Perhaps they may ask Congress to make an appropriation. If an Indian is charged with doing wrong to a white man, there is a quiet way of getting satisfaction from the tribal allowance.
Professor Painter: Forty-three thousand dollars in one case.
(Friday Morning, September 28)
[from letter of William S. Hubbell, to Mr. Smiley, Buffalo, New York, June 28, 1888)
At the request of the Foreign Board a Committee of Investigation was appointed by the Presbytery, with myself as chairman, with instructions to examine the Cattaraugus, Allegheny, Tuscarora and Tonawanda reservations, all of which are in partial charge of the missionaries of the Presbyterian church.
The charges to be investigated seem to be as follows: --
1. The Indians are opposed to schools, and refuse to send their children to them.
2. They are lazy and shiftless; do not cultivate their land; not more than one acre in a hundred under tillage
3. Tribal organizations are tyrannical in dispossessing Indian settlers of their homes.
4. Wedlock commonly treated with indifference; "nests of uncontrollable vice."
5. Superstitions rampant, and not on the decline
6. Impure religious rites practiced by the pagans
7. No laws competent for the protection of the people
8. Chronic barbarism.
9. English language generally neglected.
10. (At Onondaga, no true Christians).
11. Reign of chiefs, against all civilization
12. Indians do not pay debts, and are generally good for nothing but to be removed from our paths.
[investigations did not corroborate these complaints.]
Friday night, September 28
[page 103] Mr. Frank Wood thought the cause of all our difficulties in the Indian system was, that everything connected with it is un-American. It is un-American to put a set of men on reservations and shoot them if they try to leave. The actual conditions, however, must be considered. The bill was discussed and recommended, giving the Indians courts and a system of laws, is a great stride and advance; yet it retains reservations, though un-American, because they are necessary for the preservation of the Indian. ... What was wanted was not a body of educated pagans.
SEVENTH ANNUAL MEETING
LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE
FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN
Edited by Samuel J. Barrows
Published by the Lake Mohonk Conference
held October 2, 3, and 4, 1889, at the Lake Mohonk House, Ulster County, New York, under the patronage of its founder, Mr. Albert K. Smiley.
Wednesday, October 2, 1889
Indian legislation during the last year
General E. Whittlesey, Secretary of the Board of Indian Commissioners
... one of these relates to the Indians of Northern Minnesota. A bill was passed authorizing a Commission to negotiate with all the Chippewas of Northern Minnesota for the relinquishment of their surplus land, and their removal to the White Earth Reservation. This is large enough to support all the Indians, is very beautiful, has abundant prairie land, timber land, and abundant lakes and streams. Whether the Commission has succeeded in carrying out the purpose of that act, I do not know. I have not seen the official report. It is reported that they have succeeded in that negotiation, and that the Indians relinquish from two to three million acres of valuable land, and the payment for that land is to be funded for their benefit. ...
THE EDUCATION OF AMERICAN INDIANS
By General Thomas J. Morgan
... In order that the government shall be able to secure the best results in the education of the Indians, certain things are desirable, indeed, I might say necessary: --
1. Ample provision should be made at an early day for the accommodation of the entire mass of Indian school children and youth. To resist successfully and overcome the tremendous downward pressure of inherited prejudice, and the stubborn conservatism of centuries, nothing less than universal education should be attempted.
2. Whatever steps are necessary should be taken to place these children under proper educational influences. If under any circumstances compulsory education is justifiable, it certainly is in this case. Education, in the broad sense in which it is here used, is the Indian's [page 18] only salvation. With it, they will become honorable, useful, happy citizens of a great republic, sharing on equal terms in all its blessings. Without it, they are doomed either to destruction or to hopeless degradation.
3. The work of Indian education should be completely systematized. The camp schools, agency boarding-schools, and the great industrial schools should be related to each other so as to form a connected and complete whole. So far as possible there should be a uniform course of study, similar methods of instruction, the same text-books, and a carefully organized and well-understood system of industrial training.
4. The system should be conformed, so far as practicable, to the common school system now universally adopted in all the states. ...
5. While for the present special stress should be laid upon that kind of industrial training which will fit the Indians to earn an honest living in the various occupations which may be open to them, ample provision should also be made for that general literary culture which the experience of the white race has shown to be the very essence of education. Especial attention should be directed toward giving them a ready command of the English language. To this end, only English should be allowed to be spoken, and only English-speaking teachers should be employed in schools supported wholly or in part by the government.
6. The scheme should make ample provision for the higher education of the few who are endowed with special capacity or ambition, and are destined to leadership. There is an imperative necessity for this, if the Indians are to be assimilated into the national life.
7. That which is fundamental in all this is the recognition of the complete manhood of the Indians, their individuality, their right to be recognized as citizens of the United States, with the same rights and privileges which we accord to any other class of people. They should be free to make themselves homes wherever they will. The reservation system is an anachronism which has no lace in our modern civilization. The Indian youth should be instructed in their rights, privileges, and duties as American citizens; should be taught to love the American flag; should be imbued with a genuine patriotism, and made to feel that the United States, and not some paltry reservation, is their home. Those charged with their education should constantly strive to awaken in them a sense of independence, self-reliance, and self-respect.
8. Those educated in the large industrial boarding-schools should not be returned to the camps against their will, but should be not only allowed, but encouraged, to choose their own vocations, and contend for the prizes of life wherever the opportunities re most favorable. Education should seek the disintegration of the tribes, and not their segregation. They should be educated, not as Indians, [page 19] but as Americans. IN short, public schools should do for them what they are so successfully doing for all the other races in this country, -- assimilate them.
9. The work of education should begin with them while they are young and susceptible, and should continue until habits of industry and love of learning have taken the place of indolence and indifference. One of the chief defects which have heretofore characterized the efforts made for their education has been the failure to carry them far enough, so that they might compete successfully with the white youth, who have enjoyed the far greater advantages of our system of education. Higher education is even more essential to them than it is for white children.
10. Special pains should be taken to bring together n the large boarding-schools members of as many different tribes as possible, in order to destroy the tribal antagonism, and to generate in them a feeling of common brotherhood and mutual respect. Wherever practicable, they should be admitted on terms of equality into the public schools, where by daily contact with white children they may learn to respect them and become respected in turn. Indeed, it is reasonable to expect that at no distant day, when the Indians shall have all taken up their lands in severalty and have become American citizens, there will cease to be any necessity for Indian schools maintained by the government. The Indians, where it is impracticable for them to unite with their white neighbors, will maintain their own schools.
11. Coeducation of the sexes is the surest and perhaps only way in which the Indian women can be lifted out of that position of servility and degradation which most of them now occupy on to a plane where their husbands and the men generally will treat them with the same gallantry and respect which is accorded to their more favored white sisters.
12. The happy results already achieved at Carlisle, Hampton, and elsewhere, by the so-called "Outing System," which consists in placing Indian pupils in white families, where they are taught the ordinary routine of housekeeping, farming, etc., and are brought into intimate relationship with the highest type of American rural life, suggest the wisdom of a large extension of the system. By this means they acquire habits of industry, a practical acquaintance with civilized life, a sense of independence, enthusiasm for home, and the practical ability to earn their own living. This system has in it the "promise and the potency" of their complete emancipation.
13. Of course, it is to be understood that, in addition to all the work here outlined as belonging to the government for the education and civilization of the Indians, there will be requisite the influence of the home, the Sabbath-school, the church, and religious institutions of learning. There will be urgent need of consecrated missionary work and liberal expenditure of money on the part of individuals and religious organizations in behalf of these people. Christian schools and colleges have already been established for them by missionary zeal, and others will doubtless follow, But just as the work of the public schools is supplemented in the States by Christian agencies, so will the work of Indian education by the government be supplemented by the same agencies. There need be no conflict and no unseemly rivalry. The Indians, like any other class of citizens, [page 20] will be free to patronize those schools which they believe to be best adopted to their purpose.
If the friends of Indian civilization can be led to unite upon a scheme of which the foregoing is a tentative outline the so-called "Indian problem" can be quickly and successfully solved. the expense of it would be small, compared with the present costly system of Indian reservations and agencies. It could be so far advanced during the present administration as to put it beyond the reach of enemies and opposers. An enlightened public opinion concentrated upon it would render it as secure as the public school system itself. The system is broad enough and elastic enough to admit of differences of opinion and diversities of method in minor details, without affecting its essential virtue.
... As the large mass of I
PROCEEDINGS OF THE 8TH ANNUAL LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE
... In as many cases as possible, the children of barbarous parents should be placed for a time in Christian families. Thus only can better tendencies be called forth and the domestic virtues formed. It seems to me that the admirable schools of General Armstrong and Captain Pratt are founded on the right principles, and should be liberal supported and extended as to be opened to all the young who can be brought into them
As to the subjects taught, there must, in the first instance, be the English language, which should be required of every pupil. Their own tongues tend to narrow the intellect, and are not fitted to impart and express the ideas which expand the mind and excite higher aspirations. As to the specific branches taught, I do not know that we could have better text-books and reading-books than those used in our national schools. If the Indian children can be made to attend, I believe they are quite able to understand them. So far as I have observed, the children of uncivilized races are nearly as quick as our children are in taking up elementary education. Up to fifteen or sixteen years of age, the children of the barbarous races are not so far behind those of the more favored. I acknowledge that they are apt to be left behind, when they have to learn the more abstract terms and rise to the higher generalizations of the races which have been educated for ages.
En enable them to comprehend these, there must be a process of evolution, -- which I believe to be a divine and beneficent one, -- continued for several ages. This will lead to the enlargement of the brain as an organ of the mind. I have been told by an intelligent gentleman who lied for several years in the British West Indies that a hatter could tell you at what time a company of Negroes had been brought to a plantation by the size of their brain; those who had been longest in the country and in contact with civilized men having larger heads than those who have been introduced more recently. Put the Indians for only a few ages under civilizing and Christian influences, and undoubtedly the intellectual capacity would be greatly augmented. ...
THE EDUCATIONAL WORK OF THE GOVERNMENT AMONG THE INDIANS
By T.W. Blackburn
The reservation boarding schools are the genuine leaven which will leaven the whole lump of barbarism. They are the common schools of the Indian country, bearing the same relation to the training-schools that the primary grades sustain to the grammar and high schools of our cities. They are the inspiration of the Indian child for something better, and lie at the very foundation of the generation plan of elevating the race by educating its children. They perform their work faithfully, and these results to the whole body of Indians will be just as certainly achieved through these home schools on the reservations as the intelligence of a white community is increased by its common schools rather than its colleges and high schools. It is my firm personal conviction, with all respect for those who think otherwise, that the salvation of the Indian is in the reservation boarding-school, where the great majority must be trained to citizenship, if trained at all. The reservation boarding schools are distant from public view. ...
Also for the first time, a uniform course of study for the reservation schools has been devised and adopted. This course of study is elementary. It covers a period of eight years, and provides for a scholastic advancement about equivalent to the work of six years in the white common schools, including in addition regular and careful attention to industrial training. ...
Gen. Eaton. -- May I ask Mr. Riggs to tell us what the effect has been of the application of United States laws to the Indian?
Mr. Riggs. -- Very good, so far as I have seen. Let the Indian go into the courts. It costs him something, but it is a vast education for him. I had occasion last spring to know of one of our Indians who got into a quarrel with his wife, and she went off to her people. He took the matter into the courts, and swore out a warrant against her; and the sheriff came over with the warrant, and carried the wife back. It was the first case that the new county had ever had, the first fee the sheriff ever had, and it cost the Indian eighty [page 32] dollars, and he lost his case. It was a splendid education for him.
Mr. Austin Abbott. -- Do you find any serious deficiency in the practical working of the law for the protection of the Indian's property? and if so, on what points?
Mr. Riggs. -- I cannot say that I have studied that matter as carefully as I should. I think the difficulty that occurs to me first is that, as the civil law laps over on to the Indian, and he is still under the control of the Interior Department, he has too much law. It is possible to try a man twice for the same offence. The agency police takes him up, and he spends two or three days in the agency lockup perhaps, and then for the same offence he can be brought before the civil court, so that the Indian has too much of a good thing in some ways.
President Gates. -- Has there been a perceptible decrease of crime since 1880?
Mr. Riggs. -- There is very much less crime. The Indian is learning, and he learns readily.
Dr. Streiby. -- What is the United States law on the reservation? And what is the department law?
Mr. Riggs. -- I should be a poor authority on that question. Law on the reservation is embodied in the agent. He has almost entire control, subject to public opinion. He is a little king. If you have a good agent, you have a good administration of law. The native courts have been productive of good. They have made a great many failures. The courts appointed to try cases on the reservation make most curious decisions, and they assume most wonderful power; yet, after all, growth has been upward. It has been advantage to make failures, and have the cases brought up and talked over and quarreled over; and, on the whole, these courts are advantageous, in spite of some most abominable failures. ...
Rev. Dr. J.H. Ecob, Albany, New York.
... That leads me to say one word as to the distinction between Church and Nation. Do we not speak of our nation as the flower of Christian civilization? The religion of Christ has given us our government with its Christian institutions and laws ...
Fourth session, Thursday Night, October 9
Mr. Chester Cornelius, a former Carlisle Student, was invited to speak.
Mr. Cornelius. -- ... it gives me a great deal of pleasure to appear before you as a representative of the Indian race. The people of to-day are beginning to realize that the Indian question must be soled, and that it must be done soon. The notion of yesterday, which was we must take the Indian where it is, and keep him where he is, -- in other words, treat him as an Indian for years to come, -- has died away. The question now is, How are we going to give him the present civilization? You have found that the best way to exterminate the Indian is to give him the education that you who enjoy this blessed land, and who are living in this enlightened age, enjoy, -- the civilization that is wholesome and helpful to all those who take it. You are here to consider what is the best way to do this. It has always been my opinion that the best way to educate an Indian is take him away from the reservation, and keep him away after he has been educated. The best way to Americanize people is to do as the widower did who married a widow. The each had a good may children, and the first night they got together the husband mixed them all up so that they did not know which was which. That is the only way that the Indian question can be solved. The Indian must be absorbed in your civilization. The two hundred and fifty thousand Indians will never become a nation by themselves; that is out of the question; and, as the American civilization is good for all those who come into it, it is good for the Indian also. I hope and pray the time will soon come -- and it rests with you when it shall come -- when there shall be no reservations anywhere, when all the Indians shall be absorbed and be American citizens, and when the people of this land shall realize that the Indian must undergo the same laws as those who come from foreign countries; that, like the Frenchman, the German, the Italian, the Irishman, he must go to work; that he must work to exist; that he must live by the seat of his brow. You must take away the present system of giving rations. It has a tendency to make the Indian a beggar, a worthless good-for-nothing all his life. He is taught by it that he can live without doing anything, that he can simply demand a thing, and it will be done by the United States government. The system of education laid out by Commissioner Morgan is of great importance, as is the question of how long you will continue to send back to the reservation children who have been educated in the East.
I want to say a word in behalf of the Oneida Indians, the tribe to which I belong. Some of the younger people of that tribe have acquired the higher education, and have equipped themselves for the battle of life, and have thrown themselves into the midst of the busy throngs of to-day. They have gone away from the reservations. None of these educated people, young men and young women, have gone back there to find work. There is no inducement on the Reservation. I know of several young men who are practicing law in different States, and I know some who are filling places as clerks, and there are two who have studied medicine and are now practicing, -- one in Madison, Wis., -- and they are commanding the respect of the white people. That, I think, should be encouraged. It is the only way to solve the Indian question. ...
Dr. McCosh. -- I would like to have Senator Dawes suggest a remedy for these failings.
Senator Dawes. Dr. McCosh wants to know a remedy. The remedy is here. Public sentiment for the Indian has been manufactured here. This Power to carry legislation in Congress has had its inspiration here. This Conference it was that insisted upon it that the House of Representatives should pass the allotment bill, which had been twice through the Senate. There was a young lady in this audience who went home after listening to this Conference, and, by her personal influence with her father in the House of Representatives secured the passage of that bill; and she then came over to the Senate and told me what she had done. ...
... That is the first thing to do. The next is that there must be some way provided for taking care of the Indian on his allotment, -- out of the money which comes from the sale of the surplus land. Enough of this should be devoted to that purpose instead of being distributed per capita among the Indians. See to it that every man who takes an allotment shall have everything necessary to maintain him upon his allotment for one or two years at least. Then let this Conference say to the generous public that it should help build little houses for the Indians. Let assistant farmers be sent to instruct them how to work. Let everything be done to raise them to manhood and womanhood, so that they can be absorbed as speedily as possible into the body politic of this country, as so much additional life and strength and power.
The census will, I think, reveal some startling facts in regard to the Indians. We have been under the impression for the last twenty-five years that the Indian has been increasing. That, I think, will appear not to be true for the last ten years. The aggregate will fall, I am informed, considerably short of what it was in 1880. The loss is mostly confined to the full bloods. Mixed bloods hold their own better, and are increasing in this land.
The Indian people will not remain as a separate race among us, as the back race must. The figures show where he is going. He is to disappear in the midst of our population, be absorbed in it, and be one of us and fade out of sight as an Indian. So you must administer the Indian Bureau with that in mind. You must give up the idea of keeping Indians together. You must, as soon as possible, spread them out into the community among the people; and therein is the great value of the policy of Captain Pratt, who puts his Indians out among the farmers in Pennsylvania, and they disappear as Indians among the farmers in Pennsylvania, and they disappear as Indians among the working men and women of the land, and grow up among them, and are of them, as good as any of them. Their blood, their sinew, their strength are needed, and will help us.
Let me allude to one more consideration. When you have set out these Indians, as you have in Nebraska, by themselves, another complication arises. By the severalty law, their farms cannot be taxed. No money for school-houses or roads or churches, or for anything, can be raised upon them. The people of the States in which they live say, "Where are these taxes to come from?" It becomes the wise men of this Conference to devise some plan that will meet that exigency. The people of the State will not willingly nor long bear the burden of taxing themselves and expending the money on these untaxed Indian towns, and what they do expend will be done grudgingly. Then again, who will organize these new townships, choose officers, and set in operation all the machinery of town government among these new-fledged and full-fledged citizens, with no experience or knowledge of self-government? These and many more like complications, too many for my allotted time, are continually besetting the path of Indian administration. ... All reasonable practicable measures will meet with favor and support with legislators and the Executive.
White Earth Agency, Minnesota, new buildings at Leech Lake at Red Lake, at $6,000. each
Mr. Riggs. There is probably a difference between the law for the Indian and the white man on the reservation. I do not think that the police courts always give fair justice to the Indian. They do not cover the ground. There is a great deal of injustice; but I would say by all means, Do not give them up, because they are one of the educational factors. They give the Indian a sense of power and training. Improve on them, but do not give them up. I do not know whether there has been any lack of justice to the Indian because of his distance from United States courts. I think it would be an advantage if there could be some further provision made, if it could be done without doing away with this court of Indians. If the agent could be a justice of the peace, it might be enough. My own feeling is that the reservation is done away with practically. We signed the death warrant of that before I was born. It was deader than any good Indian ever was.
Gen. Whittlesey. -- Senator Dawes called our attention to one important matter, which I thought would have been recognized by the Business Committee and some deliverance upon it included in the platform; and that was that in the purchase of lands from the Indians, which is now going on very rapidly, there is a great desire that the money shall be paid over per capita to the Indians. That is their own desire, and the desire of many of those who surround them, who know how soon such money disappears. It seems to me that this Conference might well urge upon the attention of Congress the importance of providing hereafter in all such purchases that the money shall be expended under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior for beneficial objects, and that it shall not be paid over per capita. I will therefore move to add to the platform something like this: Whenever lands are purchased from Indians, provision be made that the funds paid for such lands shall be expended to aid the Indians in opening farms, building houses, procuring stock and implements, for the payment of taxes, the opening of roads, and, in general, for the promotion of their own civilization. I move that this be referred to the Business Committee.
Senator Dawes. -- I would suggest the change of a word, -- "in lieu of taxes" instead of "for payment of taxes."
Gen. Whittlesey accepted the change.
It was voted to refer to the Standing Committee.
Mr. Austin Abbott. -- I would like to say a word upon a subject which ought to engage a good deal of practical attention in the coming season. I do not speak for the committee: I speak entirely on my own responsibility.
The United States stands n two capacities in this matter, as governor and as guardian. It cannot, as guardian, evade or disavow its duties as governor: it cannot, as governor, repudiate its duties as guardian. The discussion yesterday threw great light upon this question. [page 117] The treaty obligations, in form, correspond to those which one nation makes with a foreign nation. But in reality there is this difference: that the treaty obligations of the United States toward the Indians are necessarily qualified by the fact that the United States is the governor of those with whom it is engaged, and not only of them, but of a vast community including them, and that it cannot, by a treaty obligation to a few of its members, take away its sovereignty over the whole country, nor withdraw from its duty as a governor in the interest of a few. If, therefore, the United States had made these treaties with a small community of white citizens, these white citizens, while they would have had the name of ward, would have had the obligation to submit as governed to the governor. If we make covenants between ourselves involving specific obligations which we promise to perform "forever," as men frequently do in real estate transactions, we do not realize that forever is a long time; and the time comes when it is not reasonable -- indeed when it is inequitable -- to require performance. But that does not relieve the man from the obligation of that covenant, though it enables the court to say: We will no longer require the covenant to be specifically performed in the language in which it is made; but, if you cease to perform it, you must pay damages. Instead of compelling you, for instance, to go on and maintain a party-wall when it is no longer necessary, or to maintain buildings free from business purposes, we say that you are bound to pay damages for ceasing to perform this specific covenant. The question I want to put before you is this: The United States government has covenanted to furnish rations forever to a diminishing tribe. It is requisite equitably and in law to go on doing this forever? Can it not say, in virtue of its capacity as governor as well as guardian: The time has come for us to make a different but equal provision. We are gong to do the same thing in another way. We are going to aid you, but we are not [sic] longer going to give you rations.
These treaties are made with tribes. You have already signed the death warrant of the tribal relation in disestablishing the reservation system: and, when the reservation has gone, the tribe has gone. The party of the second part no longer exists.
I suppose these treaty obligations are of three classes, -- rations, aid to education, and aid to agriculture. We have seen that the United States has been applying the income of trust funds for education admirably. They are going on with rations. But the question of aid to agriculture is one of the most important. How far ought the government to change these methods and aid agriculture, by aid in making highways and providing, when necessary, boundaries and fences, and those things that the new allottees cannot do for themselves, but which are essential to any profitable attempts at agriculture?
Have we not the power and the right, and is it not soon going to be a duty, to stop the ration system. I do not underestimate the gravity and significance of this question. It is no easy task to stop buying thirty-one million pounds of beef and flour, and bread and bacon to match [for 240,000 Indians, of whom 22,000 are members of Christian churches, cf. page 114 = 258 1/3 pounds per capita] even if you are going to spend the same money [page 118] in laying out roads and putting up fences and irrigating lands. But this is a question that has been pressing itself more and more upon my mind: Ought we not to have decided views about it? The United States holds in its treasury thirteen millions, at least, of money, of which it is spending the annual income, at five percent, for these three classes of aid to the Indian in some form. When the tribe is extinct, who is going to claim these funds? Ought not provision to be made now for the future, so that aid shall be given not only, as is so well done now, for education, but for agriculture, so that the taxes on these lands for the twenty-five years to come may be forthcoming so that roads may be opened, and the farms worked? There is no civilization without roads; but here we are laying out farms by the hundred and thousand, with no provision for them. ...
THE INDIAN HEALTH QUESTION
By Dr. Martha M. Waldron
The Indian health question is one of acknowledged importance, not only touching our sympathies for the race, but, in a practical way, the question of what is possible and best for us to do for the Indian, to make his future hopeful, or, perhaps, to insure his having a future.
The experience of the Easter school physician touches the subject at the interesting and often repeated question: "What is the effect of education and civilized training, Eastern training in particular, upon the Indian youth? How does it find him, and what does it do for him?" The question is vital, for the hope of the youth is the hope of the race.
Since taking the medical charge at Hampton, ten years ago, four hundred and ninety-nine Indians have been under my care, from many different tribes and agencies, chiefly from Dakota, and of ages varying from infancy to twenty-five years or over. One encouraging point may be noted, to begin with: the condition of Indian pupils on arrival at Hampton has greatly improved within the past ten years. This is due chiefly to the following causes: greater experience in selecting material and less difficulty in obtaining it, greater thoroughness on the part of the agency physicians in some localities and the fact that blanket Indians are now seldom brought.
In the first party, of forty Indians, which I was called upon to examine at Hampton, in October, 1881, there were three boys in confirmed phthisis, -- one so far advanced that he was never able to enter school. There were many other cases of incipient phthisis and active scrofula. It is not probable that such a party could now pass inspection and reach Hampton. It is now exceptional for Indians in confirmed phthisis to be sent to Hampton, although in every party there are may who show an unmistakable tendency to the disease, and others in whom it has just begun.
As a rule, students who are sound on arrival at Hampton do well; and many instances might be cited of individuals, who have arrived unsound, who have improved constantly under treatment, and who have finished the course satisfactorily.
Immediately on the arrival of a party, after baths and clean clothes have been given, each new comer passes through a careful medical examination, with special reference to condition of heart and lungs and evidence of scrofula. No Indian is marked unsound unless a condition of actual disease exists, though in some cases, in which the family history has been known, consumption could fairly have been predicated: as, for example, in the case of one student, all of [page 132] whose near relatives, as far as known, had died of phthisis. In such cases, phthisis would undoubtedly develop, sooner or later, under any circumstances.
According to the condition of the Indian, as determined by examination, his trade is assigned, and special diet, when necessary, prescribed. From the time of arrival, instruction in the hygiene of every-day life is carefully given, -- to the girls in their homelike "Winona Lodge," to the boys in their building, called the "Wig-wam." It is easy to forget how great a problem to the Indian, common, every-day matters, which are second nature to us, may be. To learn to eat, drink, and sleep correctly, to wear clothes, and learn to adapt them to changing seasons, seems at first a simple matter; but it ceases to seem so when we have seen an Indian eat enough at one meal to last him all day, when we have seen him lie down, with his head tightly wrapped in a blanket, put on over all the clothes worn in the day, to sleep in a room admitting as little air as its construction will permit; or when we have known a boy, in some warm day of winter or early spring, to take off all his extra winter clothing, and lie upon a wet bank to sun himself. As for changing the clothing because it is wet, the idea is not a natural, but an acquired one.
Provision has been made for the comfort and welfare of the sick by a convenient and pleasant hospital, given and furnished by King's Chapel Society, Boston, which also makes the gift perpetually by its promise to keep up all supplies of furniture, bedding, etc. The building is an inestimable blessing to the Indian and all concerned in the care of his health.
It is an exceedingly encouraging and significant fact that students in our normal school classes have firmer health than those in the Indian school. The normal school Indians, usually from thirty to forty in number, -- the present year fifty-seven, -- have either been a long time at Hampton or have been in some Western school before coming East. Having learned in some measure to take care of their health, and having borne the transition period, they are able to bear an ordinary strain.
A question often asked the doctor is, "What are the distinguishing characteristics of the Indian temperament and nervous organization." The much vaunted stoicism of the Indian upper pain I have seen, but it has not impressed me as being especially a race characteristic. Indian boys and girls are much like white boys and girls in this respect. Some are real heroes, while others will hardly bear the prick of a pin. Wounds are no mystery to them, and do not usually alarm them. They have witnessed many wounds and recoveries. Their stronger nature is not touched by such accidents; and superficial, personal peculiarities are what we observe. But serious illness and approaching death touch deeply the central fatalism of the Indian character. Here they show a really characteristic disregard of pain and the approaching change; and their peculiar stoicism, superstition, and fatalism step in, and play an important and sometimes decisive part n serious, but not necessarily fatal, illness. For the Indian does not cling to life. "What is to be, will be," he thinks; and not fearing to die, he gives himself up to death without [page 133] a struggle. I have, however, seen an Indian, in whom was no superstition or fatalism, but the purest Christian faith and longing to live, face death consciously for weeks without flinching, saying, simply and bravely, "I am on either side: just what God wills."
An Indian boy's "hysteric fit" -- as, for want of a better term, we call it -- is a unique phenomenon. These nervous paroxysms into which the victim is swept or into which, as it sometimes seems, he throws himself, vary in detail; but in all cases there are pronounced hysterical symptoms. The patient is sometimes violent, -- howling, and hurling himself about the room, regardless of danger to himself or others. In this state, he may seize any object, thrust it into his mouth, and try to swallow it. I have seen a glass in which water had been brought crushed and chewed like a cracker. At other times, or alternating with the violent phases, the patient will lie in a state of apparent unconsciousness for several hours. A boy in the hospital, with a convalescent's appetite, refused to begin his breakfast unless four slices of bread and butter should be put upon his plate at once. A new nurse who happened to be in attendance told the boy to begin with the two thick slices which he already had, and more would be brought. Whereupon the boy, with scarcely another word, turned his face to the wall, and did not speak, eat, or drink, and scarcely moved, for thirty-six hours. The temperature and pulse were normal during this period, though previous to it and after it there was a daily rise of temperature. On coming to himself, the boy was as well as he had been. He asserted that he had no knowledge of anything which had happened or the efforts to rouse him. Nervous excitement from any cause may bring on these attacks, which seem practically the superlative degree of want of self-control. When they occur from nervousness induced by a pulmonary hemorrhage, the complication is especially unfortunate, and frightful to witness. I have never seen one of these seizures in an Indian of the better class. They indicate an unstable nervous equilibrium. They also indicate a direct need in the education of the Indian. Perhaps the Indian life of peril and uncertainly has left this blot on the brain for the processes of civilization to efface.
These fits are looked upon with great awe by the more superstitious Indians, and, indeed, with more or less awe by nearly all Indians; and in their camp life those who are able to throw themselves into such conditions are reverenced as having peculiar relations with the spirit world, and as "medicine men," exercise a pernicious influence. No doubt the subjects are to some extent self-deceived, feeling the explosion of nerve force and the impulse to chaotic action and unconscious of the subject part played by themselves. The paroxysms usually occur in students of noticeably nervous temperament, and are often associated with weakness and instability of character. These students need a quiet and symmetrical physical and mental training, by regular exercise, together with strict mental discipline. They are interesting cases to subject to the Elmira Reformatory method of treatment by building up character by physical development.
Within the past four years, but four boys had died at Hampton. All of these have died of phthisis, after long and painful illnesses. Three of them were unsound on arrival. Two had sever hemor- [page 134] rhages before coming East. During the same period, one delicate little girl has also died of phthisis. She was not marked unsound on arrival; but as symptoms of tubercular disease developed within a few moths, her soundness at that time is very improbable. The girls in school are less subject to sickness than the boys, probably owing to the fact that in their own homes they have been accustomed to more regular exercise, have suffered less from exposure, and therefore have a sounder development. The full-blood Indians have less endurance than the half or mixed-bloods; and when attacked by tuberculosis or any form of scrofula, they perish more quickly. This is the reverse of the condition seen in the Negro race, in which pure bloods are less subject to phthisis than mulattoes and lighter shades. The Negro, whether full-blood or not, has greater physical stamina than the Indian, though much less than the Anglo Saxon.
The well-attested fact that consumption is the scourge of the Indian in the climate of Dakota, where pulmonary diseases among whites are almost unknown, points conclusively to the fact that there has been and is that, in the peculiar conditions of Indian life, which engenders the disease. Those who best know what the home life of the Indian is do not think that it is school or civilization, western or Eastern, that kills him, but rather the cumulative effect of the vice and ignorance of generations. Christian civilization is the only cure for that inheritance. Yet when an Indian dies at the East, or a returned student dies, the fact is spoken of as if the effort to civilize and Christianize had destroyed.
This is the testimony of Miss Collins, for ten years missionary in Dakota, writing from there in regard to this matter. "I think, " she says, "if the matter is looked into fully, as many die in and from boarding schools and day schools at home as from Eastern schools. In my village, one returned student has died in three years. In that time, three children have died who attended the day school, and twenty-one persons who never attended any school. Five of these were grown young men, and one young woman, and the others of school age. Now, my experience is this," she adds, "that is not the school nor the climate that kills. Fanny Crossbear (from Hampton) is dead. She went to school. While away, one brother here died. Since she returned, another died, and now a third half-grown brother is suffering from epileptic fits, and will soon die. Those three never went to school. Harry Little Eagle returned from Santee school and died; but, while he was away, two nearly grown cousins and a five-year-old brother died, who never attended any school. It is now plain, to our Indians who think, that it is not the school nor the climate that kills."
The late Dr. Given, for years resident physician at the Carlisle School, and of wide experience in the West, says, "From extended observation, it is safe to say that one out of every ten, or four thousand of the forty thousand children of school age, are disqualified, either mentally or physically, from attending school, and the large majority of these are hopelessly diseased." Under the conditions, such testimony is not surprising. The testimony of intelligent Indian parents at Hampton is that a very large proportion of feeble infants are born only to die, in the camps. Others, less feeble, survive, to become diseased adults.
A marked deterioration in strength from the oldest to the youngest child is often seen, as the result of want of proper care of the mothers, who are early broken down and aged.
If the Indian were not physically what he is, all the accepted theories in regard to generation and development of scrofula, tuberculosis, and other forms of diseases, would be practically disproved. The semi-civilization which has been forced upon him has given him the close cabin or hut, with tight box-stove, in place of the airy wigwam and open fire. It has given him squalid poverty in place of a practical abundance. No wonder if all are tainted with constitutional weakness, if not disease; that even the best physical specimens of the race succumb, and that disease often lurks under an apparently magnificent physique. This last fact is of not infrequent occurrence. To it may be attributed many mistakes in bringing East unsound Indians. The outward appearance is often completely deceptive, the fine proportions inherited from some stalwart ancestor having survived the health of an organism poisoned from babyhood.
The conditions of the Indian life have also developed physical peculiarities of another nature. The muscular strength of the Indian is far in excess of that of his vital organs, as the death of many a boy who has won in a race or wrestling match, and then paid the penalty with his blood, in a fatal hemorrhage, could testify.
Other conditions pave the way for disease. The skin of the camp Indian is seldom bathed for purposes of cleanliness, and whether with or without the careful painting, which is occasional, it can but imperfectly fulfill its share in the function of excretion which skin and lungs legitimately perform together. The Indian reminds me of the child which was covered with gold-foil to personate an angel, and died in a few days from pulmonary inflammation, caused by stopping the action of the glands of the skin. The Indian has been slowly poisoned, generation after generation, by the same cause, and is daily dying from it. What the effect of this partial loss of function of the skin may be upon the lymphatic system is an interesting question.
The skin of the Sioux Indian is naturally delicate and of fine texture. Its treatment by filth and paint has reduced it almost pathological sensitiveness. Sensitiveness of the mucous membrane follows, as a natural consequence; and congestions from slight causes pave the way for disease.
There is reason to rejoice in the suggestion of General Morgan, that elementary physiology and hygiene should be taught in the government schools. If such instruction is given and practiced in all Indian schools, among the children and growing youth, the present generation will possess a weapon of defense against the inherited enemy.
Education in living, correct moral standards, -- this is what the Indian needs, this is what he is dying for the want of, and this the Indian educated at the East is carrying back to his people.
In Eastern schools, with their full staff of workers and all agencies for good, embracing the summer outing in an intelligent family, there is, in addition to the regular discipline and instruction of the school, a sort of education by insensible absorption of ideas and the common sense of every-day life, which to the Indian pupil is of inestimable [page 136] value. Those who come from Western schools are on a plane where nothing is lost. Western training enhances the value of every opportunity at the East, and the Indian, on his part, at the East, has wonderfully taught and interested thousands, whose ideas, kindly but vague, would otherwise have borne no fruit of helpfulness.
With the majority of Indian pupils there is an earnest desire to help their people. How rapidly they may be fitted for their work, the number and excellence of Indian schools will determine. Many are already equipped, and doing with their might what their hands find to do. The fact that forty-two Hampton girls are already well married -- twenty-five to Hampton boys -- suggests a solid foundation for and impetus to the Indian work such as it has never had before. The first thought of these married pupils is for their children, and they know how to think.
The more thoroughly the contagious nature of tuberculosis is established, the more terrible the present condition of the Indian appears. It is stated on good authority that tuberculosis cattle are constantly sold to and consumed by the Indians. There only hope is in a common knowledge of every-day affairs, which shall protect them from their enemy, the unscrupulous white man, and in knowledge of physical and moral laws, with the improvement of home conditions which must follow, To withhold education is to condemn to death.
I believe that the Indian has shown sufficient capacity, not only for mental and moral, but also for physical improvement. The doom which threatens his extinction is the same which swept from the earth the ancestors of our race, by hundreds of thousands annually, by the Black Death, -- no mysterious providence or predestination, but ignorance of physical and moral laws and the strain of a transition period. Having forced upon him the evils of civilization, we owe him its good part. As has been truly said, "The only expiation of an old crime is a new virtue."
Hon. H.O. Houghton. -- It is fresh in the memory of many persons here that within a short period an easy-going Secretary of War from the State of Massachusetts allowed a general of the army, whose army regulations did not necessarily require him to respect the good faith of the United States or the welfare of the Indians, to seize a number of Indians, who ought to have had the safe conduct of the government on their return home from Washington, and sent them as prisoners to Florida. They were confined in close quarters, and died as the grass dies under the scythe, until they were removed to Mt. Vernon Barracks in Alabama. Some of these men had been employed as scouts by General Crook, the bravest of Indian fighters when on the war path, and the gentlest and truest of men. He expressed his indignation whenever he thought of the infidelity of the government to these scouts, who had been of very great assistance in subduing the hostile Indians. To the latest moment of his life, he tried to get the United States to do justice to these Indians. In this effort he was aided by members of this Conference, and others who knew the facts.
The present Secretary of War and others interested have visited these Indians, and have tried, so far as possible, to have justice done [page 137] to them. There has been an effort to remove them to some place where they could have allotted lands, and where they could have a chance to make themselves homes, as other Indians are doing. Congress failed to provide such a place for them, because, apparently, the whole great West seems to be afraid of the dozen or twenty heroes who baffled the army of the United States until aided by these very scouts, who helped our troops to capture them. As a reward for thus aiding our army, they are held as prisoners of war! ...
Rev. Thomas L. Riggs was asked to speak on self-support for the Indians. [page 138]
Mr. Riggs. I have had to pinch myself several times to feel sure that I was not attending a meeting of the Missionary Board; for we are all coming to that position which alone we can occupy, -- that in the gospel of Christ is the salvation of these Indians, and that there is none other name given among men by which they can be saved. But I stand here to say something to you about the question of self-support. I will put myself in the witness stand, and invite questions. You here in the East have before you most emphatically the question of law for the Indians. We in the West have a different question. It is the question of how we shall get rid of the burden of support. I do not know as you feel it as we do. We are supporting the Indians. We are taxed for their support. The people say, We will not stand this sort of thing; and I cannot say but they are perfectly right. I think they are. And yet the Indian is made just what he is, a pauper, by our dealings with him. He was not so at first. When he was a hunter, he was abundantly able to provide for himself and his family. This ration system has been in the past a matter of necessity. It has been a method that we have gone into with our eyes wide open.
We undertook to make paupers of the Sioux, because we were forced to. We had no other way by which we could conquer them. We had to, to save our scalps. The result has been just what we might have expected. They are emasculated; and the question before us, what we feel as the all-important question, is, How shall we get them out of the pit into which we have thrown them? How shall we make them self-supporting? One of the great difficulties is that the Indian does not want to take care of himself. They are sharp fellows. They say, The treaty which we have made with the United States government provides that we shall have food so long as we need it. They say, It will be a long time before we shall not need it, and it will be a long time. I know cases where men have been stopped in planting, because, if they raised too large crops, the agent would come, and the rations the next year would be cut short. There are some Indians who do not want rations; but the most of them do not want to take care of themselves, and do not propose to try to.
Another difficulty comes in this question. We have tried to teach them self-support, but we have tried to teach them without taking any special pains to find out the line in which they would soonest reach self-support. We have tried to turn hunters into farmers. He have tried this only in a good country where it would be difficult enough to teach agriculture to an Indian, but on the plains, in regions where out of five years we may possibly have a good crop one year. Had we gone into this matter intelligently, had we thought we were attempting to do, what it is that the Indian is best adapted to do, as well as the conditions in which he lived, we might have done better. It may be possible to teach them stock-raising. For the last two years our Cheyenne River Indians raised much of the beef which was to be issued to themselves. They have made money by it. It shows that they are capable of helping to take care of themselves, and it gives us a hint of the direction in which we shall train them.
President Gates. -- How much beef did they sell?
Mr. Riggs. -- At different times the full issue.
Gen. Armstrong. -- How many Indians are there on the Cheyenne River Agency?
Mr. Riggs. -- About three thousand.
Gen. Armstrong. -- Do you know the experience of Major Anderson in reference to issuing rations to the Indians and in saving money in that direction.
Mr. Riggs. -- I only know that he has done it.
Gen. Armstrong. --I think it is worth while to give that experience. Major Anderson was a most capable man. He told me that he had saved six thousand dollars in one year's issue to twelve hundred Crow Indians, in hopes that the government would allow him the money for seeds and implements; but the department ruled that it must be covered into the United States Treasury.
Mr. Riggs. -- That has been tried time and again.
President Gates. -- Will you state what has been done at Standing Rock in the same way.
Mr. Riggs. -- I believe they have done the same thing there. The Indians there have been successful in raising cattle. They have many bunches of fine cattle.
President Gates. -- What is the condition of the houses of the Indians at the present time, as compared with two or three years ago?
Mr. Riggs. -- There is great advance, owing largely to their own efforts.
Question. -- Do you find soap and towels and wash-basins now?
Mr. Riggs. -- Sometimes.
Question. -- What proportion?
Mr. Riggs. -- I do not know. I never averaged it up.
Question. -- How about chickens and pigs?
Mr. Riggs. -- There are a good many chickens, not so many pigs. The pigs eat too much.
Senator Dawes. -- Do you now that every agent is authorized by law to change the rations into agricultural implements and seeds?
Mr. Riggs. -- I have understood that they were; but I have never known of an instance where it was done.
President Gates. -- When did that law pass?
Senator Dawes. -- Two years ago.
Question. -- Is the grade of houses steadily improving?
Mr. Riggs. -- Yes.
Question. -- How many of the three thousand Indians at Standing Rock live in houses?
Mr. Riggs. -- Probably nine-tenths. A few live in tents. They sleep in the tent or in the tepee at night, spend the day out of doors, and cook in the house.
Mr. Smiley. -- Do your Indians burn up the house after the death of any person?
Mr. Riggs. -- I have known very few cases lately. Formerly, after a death occurred in the house, the house would be abandoned or burned up.
Question. -- Do these houses consist of one room?
Mr. Riggs. -- Almost all of them do.
Question. -- What are you able to do about that?
Mr. Riggs. -- Very little.
Question. -- Do you try to overcome it?
Mr. Riggs. -- Yes. In building out-stations, we try to give our native teachers two rooms; and when they build their own houses, we always advise them to make two rooms. One of the returned students has recently finished up a house very nicely, without any direction or advice. When I came away, it was ready for the flooring to go in. That was a two-room house.
Question. -- How do the houses, as a rule, compare with those of the white people?
Mr. Riggs. -- They are better.
Question. -- Do they use knives and forks and plates?
Mr. Riggs. Some of them have used them for a long time.
Question. -- Do they use tables?
Mr. Riggs. -- Not largely.
Question. -- Do the men work in the fields?
Mr. Riggs. -- The men do most of the work in our part of the country. There has been a great improvement in agriculture and in crops raised.
Question. -- Do they not buy agricultural machines a great deal?
Mr. Riggs. -- In the eastern part of the State they do, not in the west. In our part of the State we have not had a good crop for five years.
Question. -- How do you think the pecuniary obligation of the Indian compares with that of the white ma in the same place?
Mr. Riggs. -- It is precisely as good as any white man's; but the Indian has no idea of time. He lives in a portion of eternity. He does not conceive that the payment of his note is any better of done when due than a year after.
Question. -- He always means to get there?
Mr. Riggs. -- Yes.
Question. -- When the head of a family dies, do the mourners carry off all the things?
Mr. Riggs. -- Yes; everything is stripped right off.
Question. -- Do they have sun dances now?
Mr. Riggs. -- No; there has not been one in sixteen years.
Question. -- Do the children stay with the widow after the father's death?
Mr. Riggs. -- In almost all cases.
Question. -- Do the widow's relatives come to her assistance?
Mr. Riggs. -- No; she goes back to them.
Question. -- If the rations were stopped, what would they do?
Mr. Riggs. -- A great many would starve.
Question. -- How would make them self-supporting?
Mr. Riggs. -- I would train those who showed themselves fitted for stock-raising in that business, if they were in a region adapted to it. Some of them could be trained as agriculturists. Some of the tribes followed agriculture in the time of Catlin.
Question. -- If you were to scatter the Indians on farms, how would you keep the schools together?
Mr. Riggs. -- Just as well as we can now. They are scattered now. Children often come two and three miles to school.
Question. -- If the rations were stopped, the people would starve, [page 141] you say. If they cannot be taught until they starve, what would you do?
Mr. Riggs. -- I fear we should practically have to starve them until we got them taught.
Question. -- Would it be an advantage to the agent to abandon the ration system?
Mr. Riggs. -- I think that it would be an advantage to him to stop giving regular rations. That is, he would be free.
Question. -- General Lyon stated the amount of supplies issued to the Indians. What proportion of that do you think ever reaches the Indians?
Mr. Riggs. -- There is very little lost. The improvement since I was a boy is wonderful. The system was perfectly rotten then. None of us dared say anything about it. If you find fault now on any such grounds, you are finding fault with a condition of things that existed fifteen or twenty years ago.
Gen. Whittlesey. -- That is true.
Question. -- Suppose a bill was passed saying that the rations should be stopped in three years, and that the Indians should be notified that that was the case; could not they in that time be taught, so that they would come to a degree of self-support?
Mr. Riggs. -- I think many of them could ,but the practical effect would be this. They would reason that the government had lied them so many times before that they would have no reason to believe them this time. They would say that, when the three years' period was reached, they would have an extension given to them.
Question. -- If the ration system were stopped, how would the agent fill up the schools?
Mr. Riggs. -- I do not know.
Question. -- When these Indians get money, how do they spend it?
Mr. Riggs. -- For sugar and coffee, often.
Question. -- How do they get money?
Mr. Riggs. -- By cutting hay and wood, by doing bead-work, and by doing jobs for herders.
Question. -- Is any tobacco given to the Indians?
Mr. Riggs. -- Not that I know of.
Question. -- How about houses for the Indians, -- does government issue lumber.
Mr. Riggs. -- Government has issued lumber to the Indians. They usually build their own houses. They are very skilful with tools. I have seen some wonderful work done by them.
Question. -- Will an Indian carpenter do as good a day's work as a white man?
Mr. Riggs. -- He will for a day's work, but he will not do a job that is weeks long as well as a white carpenter will. He has not any hereditary that way.
Question. -- Is the ratio of conversion increasing rapidly?
Mr. Riggs. -- I should say that it was. In our own field, conversions have been quite satisfactory during the last ten years.
Question. -- Is polygamy practiced.
Mr. Riggs. -- Not to any great extent. It is a thing largely of the st. [sic] I speak of the Dakotas.
Question. -- Are there any squaw men now?
Mr. Riggs. -- Lots of them.
Question. -- What is meant by that term?
Mr. Riggs. -- A white man who is living with an Indian woman. The squaw men in the past, among the Sioux at least, have been an element of civilization. I know that the theory is not generally accepted; but we should never have succeeded in getting so far with so little effort but for the presence of these despised squaw men. Some of our bets friends are among them. They would do anything or bear anything for us.
Question. -- Do they not sometimes grow manly, under the influence of having a family to work for?
Mr. Riggs. -- Yes.
Question. -- Do they live in tepees?
Mr. Riggs. -- Almost always in houses, and in houses much in advance of the ordinary Indian houses.
Question. -- Does the attitude of a full-blooded Indian change toward the squaw men as he gets more civilized?
Mr. Riggs. -- Yes; I think he gets more jealous of him.
Question. -- What is the proportion of squaw men?
Mr. Riggs. -- I could not say.
Question. -- What language do the half-breed children speak?
Mr. Riggs. -- Almost always the language of the mother; but I know some cases where the father has taken the matter in hand, and the children do not talk any Dakota.
Question. -- What is the effect of the recent law providing that, if a white man marry an Indian woman, she takes the status of the white man?
Mr. Riggs. -- I do not know that it has had any effect among the Sioux.
Question. -- Have there been as many marriages since?
Mr. Riggs. -- I have not observed any difference in relation to the Sioux.
Senator Dawes. -- Under the present law, if an Indian woman marries a white man, he takes hr to his status, and she becomes a white woman, so to speak.
Mr. Riggs. -- Under the old provision and under the treaty provision, the head of the family is the woman.
Question. -- Do these wives of white men still draw their rations.
Mr. Riggs. -- In most cases.
Question. -- After they have taken up their land in severalty, how can children go to school.
Mr. Riggs. -- Very often they live with relatives who are near the schools. Sometimes they go five or six miles to school.
Question. -- You said that for five years the farms had not worked well. Was that due to meteorological causes or to want of fertilizers and bad farming generally.
Mr. Riggs. -- It is owning to natural causes. We have had no rainfall.
Question. -- Is there any reason why the Falndreux should have succeeded better?
Mr. Riggs. -- Yes; they are in a better region, and they have the [page 143] advantage of longer training. They are practically self-supporting, but they represent the result of training by years and years of work.
Question. -- Will Mr. Riggs repeat the Lord's Prayer in Dakota?
Mr. Riggs did so.
Question. -- Has the time come to stop issuing the rations to the Dakota Indians?
Mr. Riggs. -- I think not for the full stopping, but for a reduction of it.
Question. -- If the starving process were tried, would not the people of the United States speedily send help?
Mr. Riggs. -- I think they would.
Question. -- If the plan of stopping rations were adopted, would it not be better to carry out the plan of sub-issue rations, so that those who are trying to farm land would not be obliged to go to headquarters for rations.
Mr. Riggs. -- That would be a great step in advance, but you do not remove the evil itself. The evil is that we pauperize the Indian by supporting him.
Question. -- How is the beef delivered, -- on the foot?
Mr. Riggs. -- In some cases.
Question. -- How does that strike you?
Mr. Riggs. -- It is a heathenish piece of work. They speak of it as going down to the buffalo hunt. It is usually issued now in some other way.
Question. -- I understand you to say there had been a great improvement n the character of Indian agents. How far has our observation extended?
Mr. Riggs. -- I have knowledge of Indian agents for some forty years.
Question. -- In how many agencies?
Mr. Riggs. -- All through the Sioux agencies and in some others.
Question. -- Do you include the Crows?
Mr. Riggs. -- I do not know so much about the Crows.
Dr. Hale. -- Dr. Bacon said, twenty-five years ago, that in the history of the progress of civilization the pastoral age preceded the agricultural, and that, if we wanted to do anything with Indians, we must make them stock-raisers before farmers.
Mr. Riggs. -- That is good gospel.
Gen. Armstrong. -- General Terry is of the same opinion.
General J.F.B. Marshall, of Boston, was invited to speak.
Gen. Marshall. -- The cheering tone of this meeting is confirmation of my own impressions in a recent visit to the Pacific Coast, and to the Crow school in Montana, established by the Unitarian Church, which I represent here in place of Rev. Francis Tiffany, who was prevented from coming. We organized that school some four years ago. We Unitarians have not been celebrated for our missionary work, and have heretofore scarred our fire in what we have done; but we have concentrated on the Crows. There had been a government school there which had only a name to live. The teachers were ...
[page 152] appendix, Extracts from Letter of Alice C. Fletcher
Each year as I work among these people I am more and more impressed with the futility of relying upon legal enactments or broadcast measures or policy, to raise them out of ignorance and habits born of conditions now almost swept away by our advancing settlements ... The Indian cannot be lifted as a race out of his present conditions now almost swept away by our advancing settlements... The Indian cannot be lifted out of his present condition solely by outside aid, but by his individual efforts: he must find his way forward through experience and tribulation. His progress will be slow because of an isolation of language and of habits formed by old reservation lines and precedents, which not only affect his acts, but his modes of thought; and this isolation is increased in his own mind by the race prejudice he meets from the majority of white people, and tends to check his small endeavors to become a part of our national life.
If the Indian is to be saved as a man, the reservations must be broken up, and civilization be allowed to enter in among the people. Even the rude form found in the sparsely settled West is better than the stagnation of mind and labor caused by barren, profitless acres and the arbitrary methods which necessarily belong to the agency system. Education in a wider sense than merely getting children into school to learn of "the three R's" should be enforced, to the extent of removing every one of school age having sufficient physical and mental vigor beyond the reservation lines. The Indian can never understand the need of work, the need of haste to know English and all that a knowledge of English brings, until he has had a chance not only to see, but to imbibe something of the world in which we live and which stimulates our thoughts and actions. The great school of self-government and experience should be at once opened at home, that young and ld may realize that each one must rise or fall according to his own efforts; suffer want, if idle, and find prosperity only through persistent labor; that the law both protects and punishes, and holds each person equally amenable to its rule; that the past is irretrievably gone, and that the tribe is lost to the State. I beg of you to believe few things are so needed to save the mental and moral life of the Indian as this change of government on existing reservations from the old agency order to that of the incipient country organization, into which they must be carried on the receipt of their trust patents.
Nez Perce Agency, Idaho, September, 1890
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NINTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE OF FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN
Edited by Isabel C. Barrows
The discussions were reported verbatim, but under the instructions of the Publication Committee have been condensed for this pamphlet.
A copy of this report is sent to each member of the Conference. If other copies are desired, application may be made to Mr. A.K. Smiley, Lake Mohonk, Ulster County, New York
Boston, Mass. December 21, 1891
held, through the hospitality of Mr. A.K. Smiley, at the Lake Mohonk Hotel, Ulster County, New York, October 7, 8, and 9, 1891
First Session, Wednesday, October 7, 1891
THE LEGAL STATUS OF THE INDIAN
By Philip C. Garrett
... The question put in the Red Man recently, "Who are the savages?" is, perhaps, pertinent in this particular. Is it the comparatively orderly community among which lady missionaries and teachers live in peace and safety? or is it the white men who flay Negroes alive, hang them to the nearest tree, or shoot them down in swamps without even knowing that their victim is the guilty party? There are terrible evils elsewhere than among the Indians that need legislation. But that is no reason why we should not legislate courts for the Indians at once. ...
[page 38] ... If Senator Dawes were not here to speak for himself, I would refer more at length to legislation suggested by him, modifying the policy hitherto pursued towards the Indians, allowing, for instance, the leasing of part of the Indians' land to white man, who shall, in part compensation, break up the Indians' land contiguous to their leased land; also allowing Dakotas, to whom grazing lands have been allotted, to exchange them for farming lands on the public domain. But the Senator is here to speak for himself.
After all, is there not deeper cutting necessary before these scattered remnants of a former sovereignty attain their full manhood? Legislation is approaching it. The decisions of the Supreme Court are nearing it. Mr. Hornblower, in his recent interesting address before the Bar Association, says, "In U.S. v. Kagama, 118 U.S. 475, it was held that, while the government of the United States has recognized in the Indian tribes heretofore a state of semi-independence and pupilage, it has the right, instead of controlling them by treaties, to govern them by Acts of Congress, because they are within the geographical limits of the United States, and are necessarily subject to the laws," etc. And again: "The court has even gone so far as to hold that congress can provide for naturalizing any of the Indians." And: "The right of Congress to regulate the legal status of the Indian having been thus so fully and clearly enunciated by the court of last resort, the question is pertinent whether the time has not arrived for Congress to take such steps as will put an end, at once and forever, to any such rights of independence or quasi-independence as will justify any tribe, or so-called nation, in levying war against the United States." That is, to put an end to the tribes, at once and forever, as one may freely construe it, and declare that henceforth all Indians are simply residents of the United States, and must obey the laws, or be subject to the penalties, like all other residents. Do the treaties stand in the way, -- the old existing treaties, which provide that certain sums are to be paid to the tribe forever? But what would happen if the tribe, through the delay of wise legislation, became extinct? Forever would then come to a sudden end for them. Suppose a man left a thousand dollars to his favorite horse to be paid to him annual forever. Would his executor be abused for violation of his trust for stopping his payment when the horse died? But capitalize your annuities, and then you do the Indians some justice, while you comply with the terms of your bond. Then you give them the benefit of the treaty, truly: whereas, if the tribe died, it would cease to bind the United States, and the Indians would forever lose this benefit, When the white man first set foot upon this soil, it was natural to recognize the nations which occupied it as nations de facto. That day has long since passed, and civilization spread from sea to sea. Civilization is better than barbarism; and we offer it, on equal terms, to our brother, the red man, who then becomes once again the possessor of the soil, being joint owner with us from Passmaquoddy Bay to the Pacific and the Gulf. Let us entreat him to come back to his own.
Mr. Gravitt. -- Mr. Smiley has said that contract schools will gather up children who have been dismissed from other schools. That was once true, but I do not think it is now. I think there is a black list of scholars kept at the department.
Mr. Meserve. -- There is.
Senator Dawes. -- The thing is perfectly plain, so far as the children of citizens are concerned, those who became citizens by withdrawing from the tribal relations. They can go as any white children would go. So far as the children of non-citizen Indians upon a reservation are concerned, no one can go on a reservation without leave of the government: not a white person, except the officer in charge and his employees, can set foot on a reservation without the consent of the government. It is a question between government and the people who wish to carry on the school. The time will come -- I wish it would come to-morrow, where there will be just one class of people in the United States, citizens, -- with all the rights of citizens. I trust we shall all stand shoulder to shoulder in that position.
Mr. W. Townsend, an Indian student from Carlisle, was asked to speak.
Mr. Townsend. -- I believe in education, because I believe it will kill the Indian that is in me, and leave the man and the citizen. I believe education will give the Indian the right to vote. I believe in the Indian learning the English language: one people, one language, that is my idea. I contradict the statement that the only good Indian is a dead Indian. The only good Indian is an educated Indian. Only by education can he compete with the white man. Send an Indian into a school, and then let him go back to the reservation, and he turns into an Indian again. Give him a higher education: make him, for example, a doctor, and he will remain a doctor.
Friday Night, October 9
Gen. O.O. Howard. -- The white people are around the Indian reservations, waiting for them to be opened. Selfishness, greed, and liquor are brought in upon them. I have visited every State and Territory except one, and also Alaska, and I can say this: An Indian does not accept the civilization of which we talk until he is converted. I asked Captain Pratt if they had yet become Christians, and he speaks of member of the church. But I asked, Do not they take a Christian's view of things? And with few exceptions he says they do. We do not want to put our whole strell upon secular schools. ...
PROCEEDINGS OF THE TENTH ANNUALMEETING OF THE LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE
Edited by Martha D. Adams
Dr. Ellinwood [abstract of his remarks] ... I want to put in a plea this morning for the religious element in education. I have a fear in regard to what I would call the drift of things in education. I have heard here the earnest advocacy of carrying the common school system right out among the Indians. In the first place, you cannot do that. As Senator Dawes said, every reservation differs in its environment and circumstances from all the others. Again, the people are scattered: the children must be put in boarding schools. And there is a difference between the Indian [page 66] and the American citizen which cannot be ignored. I believe in the free school, for the population in our old States, as a necessity: I do not believe it is the best thing. I would have the Bible always read. I would at least stand on the same ground that our fathers did fifty or a hundred years ago; but that I yield. It is a necessity, but a bad one. That necessity, however, does not exist with regard to the Indians. That necessity, however, does not exist with regard to the Indians. There is a differentiation in their environment and ethical basis. We have destroyed their original ethics: he have not given the basis of our ethics. They do not look upon the religion which we profess as the religion of Jesus Christ: the look upon it as "the white man's religion"; and that is to them a mixture of perfidy and treachery and injustice. They are in a position, and have been for a century, which has depraved every institution; and the exceptions are such as we see in Miss Robertson and Mrs. Riggs. So I could take you back to the time of Kirkland and Eliot, when the ancestor of this young Indian who was here last night requested that he might be removed from Oneida to Clinton, that he might lie by the side of his missionary father, Samuel Kirkland. It was the influence of that noble chieftain, who became a Christian, that Kirkland was able to hold the Oneidas in allegiance to the colonies, as against the British dominion, to which the Mohawks went over. I could not help thinking last night, "There is a trace, in the very blood of that youth, of that early missionary influence." Let us by one means or another hold to the religious element....
President Gates. -- It is worth our while as students of history and civilization to understand very clearly that there has never yet been a race made over and uplifted without the power of Christ. India to-day is a standing witness of the powerlessness of purely secular schools to build up such citizenship as England demands, as India must have, if she is to prosper. This mighty power of Christ must go into the work of our Indians, or it will fail.
Mrs. Quinton -- [page 67] But what I most want to say is a word about compulsory education. We have compulsory education for our own race, and we believe in it. Why should not we have it for the Indian race. Of course there are methods and methods, but I do not thank any one need fear cruelty on the part of General Morgan. I do not see that we need hesitate in the matter. I wish compulsory education were in force [page 68] now, and in no place more than in those nineteen pueblos of the West, where the saddest facts came to Mr. Garrett. They need Christian help; they need some authority. The children now, whether they attend mission schools or government schools, are there when they like; sometimes there are twenty-five, sometimes there are three. There ought to be authority and a truant officer.
But we cannot do much for the children until we can get hold of the mothers. It is of no use to take children away to school and bring them back to the same barbarism. The mothers can best be helped by field matrons.
Fourth Session, Thursday Night, October 13
SOME DANGERS WHICH NOW THREATEN THE INTERESTS OF THE INDIANS
by C.C. Painter
[page 70] ... In our fifth annual Conference, the first one held after the Severalty Bill had become a law, I had the honor to open its first session with a paper in which I read: "The law which we have done so much to secure, we must bear in mind, is not the end we seek, but is only a much needed means to that end. It supplies a necessary condition for successful work, but the work itself remains to be done. In this case, as in all others, enlarged opportunity means increased danger. And we who are, to a degree, responsible for the present condition of affairs, will be held responsible for their future outcome. We cannot hold ourselves innocent in regard to disasters which may come from these enlarged opportunities, created by this law, unless we do all we can to improve and utilize them."
After five years of experiment under its provisions, it seems incumbent that we ask, "Watchman, what of the night?" and learn, if we can, whether the morning cometh or whether -- as has been claimed recently in a document secretly circulated in the House of Representatives, in the case of the Omahas -- the night grows darker.
It was clearly in the minds of those urging the enactment of this law, as it was also made one of its provisions, that it should be applied only to those who, in the enlightened judgment of the President, had reached the point in their progress toward civilization where individual titles to land and citizenship were necessary to their further development. It was also provided that reasonable time should be given to the backward and reluctant, even on reservations where the majority were progressive, to accept the new régime. These wise provision of the law have been in a number of cases disregarded. Reservations have been subjected to the operation of this law which are not "agricultural." allotments have been made, not because the tribes were "so far advanced in civilization" that their progress required it, but because the neighboring whites, for reasons of their own, have demanded it, and, when begun, have been pushed to a rapid conclusion, regardless of the reluctance of the Indians to accept them. In some cases, agents totally unfit for the delicate and difficult duties with which they are charged have added unnecessary complications to a problem already sufficiently complex and perplexing; and thus have been engendered irritation, distrust, and bitter opposition, where there should have been only the reluctance of the ignorant to accept the untried.
There have been in all, either under the law of Feb. 8, 1887, or under special acts passed since that date, some 18,331 allotments made, mostly during the past two years. For 11,193 of these, patents have been issued, and 571 more have been approved; and the remainder, though made in the field, have not been acted upon by the office. In some cases, where the people were ready for it, the report is that the results have been most encouraging and satisfactory. From one agent the report comes that "four-fifths of the families reside on the allotment selected for some member of the family"; that "almost all the adult males manifest a disposition to cultivate their lands"; that "one-half of them appreciate their advantages, and realize their obligations as citizens"; that "the effect of allotment has been good and elevating in every way, and that during the past two years four times as much land has been cultivated as before allotment.
From another, whose allotments were made under treaty provisions, the report is that "nine-tenths of them live on their allotments, and manifest a disposition to cultivate their land, and appreciate their privileges in the ownership of the same, but not their obligations as citizens"; and that "the effect has been most beneficial in stimulating industry."
Another agent reports that "practically all" of his Indians live on their allotments, at least a part of the year, and all seem to wish for a farm; but that "the ultimate effect of allotment will depend largely upon the class of white neighbors with whom they must associate in the future."
Another reports that "nearly all live on their allotments with their families, and that tribal ties are fast becoming extinct; and, though they have not as yet exercised the right of franchise, there is a manifest, growing pride among them in anticipation of the privilege of voting this autumn." And the agent believes they will be as free from bribery as their white neighbors.
Another, whose Indians were far advanced, but because of the great value of their lands have been exposed to peculiar corrupting influences from the whites, who are making desperate efforts to have restrictions removed from the sale of the lands, reports that "allotment is every way desirable, but citizenship, removing as it does the protection of the intercourse laws, has been bad for them."
Reports of this character come from most of the reservations where the Indians were so far advanced that it seemed wise to bring them under the operation of the law.
But the execution of the law has been attempted, and in some cases effected, where the results, so far from being satisfactory, have been unfortunate.
Mention could be made of a reservation on which several hundred allotments were made, in two or three days' time, of Pine lands, wholly unfit for cultivation, -- designated by order of the Executive for this purpose, in violation of the provision of the law that it shall be agricultural land; and this haste and violation of law were solely for the benefit of lumbermen.
Allotments have been made to blanket Indians, wholly unfit for citizenship, forced to a rapid conclusion within a few months, and by an agent who gave the valuable lands on which a few had built homes, and were cultivating crops, to be opened up for settlement; and who allotted poorer lands, several miles from where they had build homes, to the Indians.
[page 74] Until recently the land-grabber has been the most persistent and successful assailant against whose assaults the friends of the Indian have been forced to stand guard. His land has been largely in excess of his needs, and protected only be special treaties made with people too ignorant to negotiate such, and too feeble to maintain them. The object of the severalty law was to bring under protection of law only so much land as the Indian needed, and so make it defensible in the courts; and the efforts of the land-grabbers are now directed to two points, -- some new adjustment, by removal of the Indian or otherwise, before allotments are made, or a removal of restrictions from the sale of allotted lands. These are points in regard to which the friends of the Indian need to be on the alert.
[page 86] Mr. E.H. Clement, the editor of the Boston Transcript
Mr. Clement. -- The Indian agent, it seems to me, is a survival on our age of the absolute power of the old feudal lord in his inaccessible crag or desert. No man outside Russia, I suppose, in modern society, holds in his hands to-day the fate of so many en, women, and children, without check and without law that is effective. And yet this man, this person charged with such enormous and such difficult and delicate work for humanity, is any politician who is out of a job! It is something monstrous to think of. It is something so outrageous that it seems to me as if, as the culminating outrages of the old régime in France hastened on the Revolution, this must hasten on the extinction of that odious system of political spoils. The most impressive failure of the late administration was the clean sweep in the Indian agents. And it is a little discouraging to find that the same clean sweep has been made a second time. ... What chance have the Indians to only to learn decency, but even to save themselves and their children from wrong and wickedness and iniquity, such as is suggested to such vile and violent characters. ...
[Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, United States Civil Service Commissioner]
Mr. Roosevelt. -- ... Too many of our very good people do as much harm to the Indian as his foes do, by persisting in carrying him. A discouraging feature in visiting the agencies is that the Indians always [page 87] want to have a council with you; and in the council they never do anything but ask, ask, ask. And too many of our people will promise them things, or will say that the government ought to do this or that for them, and encourage them to believe that they are to be helped, and will not have to shift for themselves. WE have got to make them citizens. We have got to make them understand that they have to sink or swim on their own merits. It is all right to dwell upon how ill we have treated them when we are trying to influence our own people, but with them it is a mistake.
In reference to taking lands from the Indians, it has been by no means the uniform record of injustice on the part of this country that people make out. Mind you, most of the land that we have taken has been land to that the Indians owned, but that they occupied. We have bought land from Russia, France, Spain. I have compared the sums we paid these great powers for Florida, Louisiana, Alaska, with what we paid to the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Osage, and Sioux. We have paid ten and fifteen times as much in proportion to the Indian as to the foreign whites. While I would never say one word in extenuation of the outrages really committed, we must bear in mind, too, that as a people, we have striven, haltingly and blunderingly, to do the best that we could with the Indians. We are often taunted with the fact that we have not done as well as Canada. Well, Canada had two rebellions of half-breeds in her territory. We have not had any in ours. It would be foolish to say, therefore, that we know how to deal with half-breeds better than Canada. We have a difficult Indian problem; they have not. And there have been no such outrages by government with us as have been attributed to the French in Algiers, and, but the other day, to the Germans in New Guinea. The Indian can largely stand by himself after he has been shown the way. I have seen this on my own ranch. Moreover, the Indian has enormous advantages over the Negro in that he does not have to fight against so inveterate a race prejudice. And, after visiting the agencies, I have become rather a convert to that by no means always attractive specimen of the white race, the squaw-man. The squaw-man at least opens a chance for rising to Indians that they would not otherwise have. I have noticed that every returned Carlisle, or other girl student who married a squaw-man at has kept up in the world, even if the man would not be, from our standpoint, a particularly attractive matrimonial venture. He is glad to see his wife clean. He has two or three rooms in his house, -- a bedroom separated from the kitchen, which is one of the things that we are striving most for in making the Indians build new houses. He is glad to see the children dressed well, and taught as white children would be. He gives her a chance to use the gifts that she has received at school. And this is everything for her. You cannot form any idea of the terrible thing it is for a girl who has bee eight or ten years at a non-reservation school to be thrown back into the life of the tepee, -- the life of the wild Indian. It is something to which they ought never to be exposed.
I have seen many Indians, pure bloods and mixed bloods, who have risen in the world by their own efforts. One instance comes to my mind of a Chippewa half-breed who lived near my ranch. Any [page 88] one who has ever been in the cow country knows that the one thing you can never get on a ranch is milk. This Chippewa borrowed several cows, and started a little milk-ranch, and made a good deal of money. He got along admirably for three years, until he discovered a gold mine, when, of course, he lost everything. Afterwards he came back to his cows, and did very well again.
Now, in closing, let me say one thing. People say we must solve the Indian problem, and they speak as if you could solve it by some single definite act. It is the same habit of mind that makes a great many people demand Reform, as if it were a concrete substance that could be handed out. The Indian problem is to be solved by no one step. We can help forward its solution indefinitely, and no body does so much to help this solution as this which I have the honor of addressing. But it is being solved all the time, -- by a law here, by an administrative act here, and by the exertions of a very great many disinterested men and women serving in many different positions. There is no one man who will solve the Indian problem. There are a number all of who are doing it. They are men and women who have devoted thought and time and labor, at the cost of loss and inconvenience to themselves, striving all they could to benefit the race that originally owned this country.
Friday Morning, October 14
REPORT OF THE COMITTEE ON LAW
... A short code should be provided, affixing penalties, among other things, for ghost dances and other barbarous rites ...
[page 104] Now as to the cost [of a bill providing for "Indian courts"], which is always a serious matter. Every time I prepare an Indian bill I am confronted with two conflicting forces. First, there is the conviction of what ought to be done for these people in the way of providing a school system, competent pay for their agents, policemen, and judges, the building of hospitals, and so on. On the other had, the present temper of the people of the United States is against any large expenditure for the Indians, except that which in the speediest time will render them capable of doing without support. I have pleaded for hospitals; for the Indians are dying by the score and the hundred, lying on the ground without any proper care. We provide one physician to care for five thousand of them, scattered over a territory as large as the state of Connecticut; and we dare not ask for more because of the expense. ... [page 107] I believe that the tribal governments are now so corrupted by the bringing into them the worst features of politics, copied from what they have seen in Washington, that they have ceased practically to indicate the will of the people. Dependent upon the caprice of the United States government for payment to them of their own funds which it held in trust for them, having no representation and no vote in Congress, they have been forced to maintain at enormous expense a standing lobby in Washington. This lobby has often found that the only way to obtain for their people their own money from Uncle Sam's strong treasure-chest was by using the golden key of bribery. From appropriations made for these people it is the common thing to report twenty five percent of the whole amount paid for "lawyers fees," the understanding being that members of the appropriations committees in House and Senate would prevent appropriations if not well paid for their services. The temptation to the Indian authorities to retain a portion of these "lawyers fees" has been one they have not always been able to withstand. Again and again have I seen educated Indians, for whose future I had brightest anticipations, and who went into public affairs with "clean hands and pure hearts," with sincere desires for the real good of their people, unable to resist the fearful temptations. With bitterest disappointment have I seen them degenerate into shrewd, unscrupulous politicians, seeking personal gain in preference to the welfare of their helpless countrymen.
Miss Sybil Carter, of White Earth, Minnesota, then spoke upon the subject, "Work and Wages for Indian Women."
Miss Carter. -- For twenty years I have been earning my own living. In gratitude for what has been done for me, I want to do the same thing for Indian women. I am an independent worker, trying to carry out an idea. That idea is that these people need work, and I am going to suggest whether they are lazy or not.
What do the women do? In the spring, of a sudden, they disappear from the lace-room for about a month. They go to make the sugar for the year. After a little while the berries come, and again my Indian women drop out of the lace-room. They are gone to pick berries to send down to the markets. A little further on comes the cranberry season, and off they go; a little later still the fish season, when they get in all the fish for the winter's need; and about the same time the wild rice must be gathered in. And my work is sand- [page 118] wiched in at the times when they have nothing to do. They are more industrious than I had any idea of till I lived among them.
What am I trying to do? Give them work, and pay them for it. At present they are making lace. I have great thoughts in my mind as to what they may do after awhile. But I cannot have the lace made fast enough for the orders that come in. I do not expect to establish a permanent lace-factory. I am only trying to settle them down to some permanent work. When I took hold of a few Indian women, they were nothing but bundles of dirty rags. Go now into the little White Earth lace-room, and you will find clean women, improving so rapidly that you would scarcely believe it possible. They have already made more than two thousand yards of lace, and some of the patterns will amaze you. They do not yet make their own patterns, but perhaps they will after awhile. They are not stupid in the least; they are not lazy in the least. They have only been idle, from being put off in a corner. Now we are aspiring to something different from lace. Not all the women can make lace, and I have promised myself and these women that anybody who wants work shall have it. They are very fond of making bead-work, and I have been thinking that I might make it salable. I have buying beads in the East, and am going to show some tapestry at the World's Fair which I think will amaze all the friends of the Indians.
A word about our hospital work. We are not only trying to make lace-makers, we are trying to make them happy and comfortable in their homes, and to make they comfortable and happy by their own exertions. We have a little hospital at White Earth, with a physician whom the government sends. One day, not long ago, a pathetic thing happened. Our Indian deacon came and said to me: "There is such a pitiful woman out here, and we want to put her in the house in the pasture, and let the nurse go down once a day and do something for her. She is too dirty to put in the hospital." I said, "bring her right in, and we will take a s good care of her as we can." Four Indian women brought her in on a blanket. Such a sight! The women had had a stroke of apoplexy, and had fallen, a week before, on the ground, and had stayed on the ground in a little Indian wigwam in her wet clothes a whole week. We washed her, and put her in a clean little white bed, and sent for her daughter. Never will I forget what the Indian daughter said: "Mamma, mamma! More/n eighty year old! Never in bed before, -- too sick to know it!" We nursed hr a week, and she passed away. Are they grateful? those men and women took the body of the poor woman, and put it in the ground; but they came back, and called for me to come to the front door. They thanked me with tears rolling over their faces. They said: "We never knew so well before what you were trying to do for us. We will try and be white people, at heart and through and through."
Do they want work? Forty-five women came to me at Red Lake to beg me to give them a teacher. One of them said: "I want to tell you a story. A year ago I got the Indian women together, and asked them if they did not want to work and earn money as the white women did. So the Indian women came together one day every [page 119] week for a whole winter. And then, when we had made all our prettiest things, we took them to the store at the agency, thinking they could buy them from us. And the store-man laughed at us, and said they were so dirty and they were so ugly! We did not know they were dirty and ugly. We thought they were pretty; but he would not buy them. We heard that you had a teacher down at White Earth, and were teaching the women to do the white women's work. O lady, cannot you send us a teacher. How we will work!" I said, "When it comes bright, beautiful weather, if I send a teacher to you, won't you hear the woods calling, and go out to pick berries, and leave my teacher all alone?" And they said, "O white sister, you are a wise woman!" "But," they said, "we are beginning to find out that these things do not pay, and we are beginning to long for some way that we can have regular work." Think of it, -- the Indian women said just that! "If you will give us a teacher, they will all see the white woman's way is best.
And the next day, as we were driving away, we heard a cry, and this Indian woman came rushing out, and threw down a rush mat, and made a most beautiful and graceful address, saying, "Your face looked kind yesterday; but white people so frequently forget that I wanted to bring you a present, for you to lay down in your own room, that you might nor forget that you said you would try to find us a teacher." O my friends, I am trying to work out this problem. I need your sympathy and your help. The bet work of all in our mission field is that which helps to make men and women self-supporting and self-respecting.
Friday night, October 14
Mr. Dawes has been chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, from 1879 to the present time. ...
Hon. Rutherford B. Hayes. ...[page 125] The government of the United States, as has been well said tonight, is not a government of force. It is a government of opinion; and therefore every good citizen should give encouragement to any association, society, or conference that take sup some particular reform and makes it, year after year, their business to urge its adoption, -- not giving up, not failing in heart, but going on until it is embodied in legislation. ...
THE ELEVENTH ANNUAL MEETHING OF THE LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE OF FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN
Edited by Isabel C. Barrows
Published by the Lake Mohonk Conference, 1893
Lake Mohonk House, Ulster County New Work, October 11, 12, and 13, 1893
Mrs. A.S. Quinton. -- My visit to the Piegans of Montana was in July last. They have had a pathetic story, but are now making progress in civilization. Less than ten years ago six hundred of these people died of starvation, the same year that wheat and corn were so plentiful that they were burned for fuel in the North-west.
... You remember the occasion when one of their Indian villages was "wiped out." It was said that some of the band had been on the war-path. The soldiers slaughtered in consequence 173, according to the printed reports, 90 of them women, and 50 being children under twelve years of age, and when it was all over, it was found that the wrong band had been slain, and that the real marauders had been Indians from Canada. It is not surprising that these Indians do not care for the white man, and were slow to adopt his way of life.
Major Steele has had marked success with them. Their Indian police force of nineteen has been under his wise leading.
Dr. Streiby. -- What about the health of the Indian pupils?
Mr. Meserve. -- Last year, out of 662 enrolled students, we had five deaths. The year before there were four deaths. As sanitary condition and the quality of their food improve, the death-rate lessens. The Pawnees and Modocs have the highest death-rate, and the Sioux the lowest
Question. -- Is the death-rate reduced by sending home the incurable ones?
Mr. Meserve. -- We send home those incurably ill, for the parents always request it.
Question. Are the children paid anything for their work?
Mr. Meserve. -- By authority granted in 1887, we are allowed to pay from four to twenty-four cents a day. They work a half a day, and are in school half a day. The sum specified is for a whole day's work.
Wednesday evening, October 11
[page 33] ... a law was passed in the legislature of Florida that any Indian found off the reservation might be flogged thirty-nine lashes by any white man who found him. ...
During the discussion this morning with reference to the life of the Indians the question was asked why they are so liable to consumption. My own experience it that it is largely due to this fact: that the muscles of the Indian men are very badly developed except the muscles of his legs. He has always been on the hunt, and these muscles are developed, while the other muscles of his body are not. The muscles of his wife are, in general, better developed than is, because she has been at all kinds of work. When the man becomes civilized, he is usually earnest; but he knows nothing about the laws of heath, and so works too hard, has poor food, and, if he takes a sudden cold, consumption sets in. The result is that very many of those beginning civilization die from consumption. \
The question has been asked as to whether all of the pupils who go back from these Eastern schools remain true. The question is also often asked of missionaries, "Do the Indian converts remain faithful to their Master?" I suppose I have been asked that question a thousand times; and I am always tempted to answer it by asking, "Did you ever know of a white man, with fifteen hundred years of civilization at his back, who was not a model of Christian propriety. ...
Now, let me speak to you of my own personal experience. When it pleased God, thirty years ago, to send me to that North-west country as a bishop, our Indian affairs were at their worst. I should not dare to tell you of the things which I know of the administration of Indian affairs at that time, -- the bribery, the robbery, the outrage, the wrong in every form and shape. I say here to-night, as a Christian man, that I have never known an instance of an Indian outbreak where the Indian was the first to break the treaty, or where there were not causes back of it that would have brought on war with any civilized nation.
The American Missionary Association had had three missions in the diocese of Minnesota, -- at Red Lake, at Leech Lake, and at Pokegama Lake. ...
[page 35] When I came to Minnesota, the best churchmen in my diocese advised me to have nothing whatever to do with Indian missions. They said the Indians were a perishing race, and would soon pass from the face of the earth, that missionary work among them would prove a pitiful failure, and that I, a young man with a great work to do, could not afford to make any mistakes. I well remember the searching of heart that I had; but I carried it to where I like to take everything that troubles me, and I made a promise to my Saviour that, whether I should ever see one Christian Indian or not, God helping me, I would never turn my back on the heathen at my door. I visited the Indian country. I cannot tell you the picture of desolation. I had not tell you the picture of desolation. I had hardly entered the forest when I came to two new-made graves of men who had been murdered in a drunken debauch. A little farther on I found an Indian wigwam, and the children crying from hunger, and the poor mother scraping the inner bark of the pine-tree to give her children the pitch to satisfy the gnawings of hunger. When I reached gull lake, it was a pandemonium. I remember that I did not close my eyes that night. ...[page 38] I remember about thirty years ago the people of Minnesota were very much angered against the Indians. They once passed a law offering a hundred dollars for an Indian's scalp. It did not designate whether of man or woman. Then the legislature demanded of the general government that every Indian should be removed from Minnesota. ...
[page 39] I have had varied experiences with the Indians. I recall one stormy council. They owned immense tracts of pine land, worth millions of dollars. Suddenly the Indians heard that all of their pine lands had been sold without their knowledge. I was very indignant; and I wrote to the Secretary of the Interior, and said, "If it costs every dollar that I an get or earn, I will fight this, and see whether the Indians have any rights or not." Soon after, I got a telegram from a Negro, asking me to come to help the Indians. The father of this Negro was a runaway slave. Of all the letters that I ever received, I think that I never received one more beautifully written than this written by that Negro. ...
Third Session, Thursday Morning, October 12
Mr. Ryder. -- ... [page 68] When Sitting Bull went down on the prairie, it was not from a rifle in the hand of the white soldier. The last supreme stand of Sitting Bull was not against United States soldiers, but against a little band of Indian policemen, almost every one of whom was a Christian. Deacon Little Eagle was a Christian as well as a patriot. Before he went out from the prairie church to attack Sitting Bull, he said, has he rose in the meeting: "You call me Little Eagle, and that is my name. But this is not the Little Eagle you used to know. The body is just the same; but the soul has been made white and clean in the blood of Jesus Christ, and it is another Little Eagle." sitting Bull represented the pagan element. These Christian men were sacrificed to our common country. It was the supreme struggle of Paganism against Christianity, and Paganism went down. That is the second reason why there is this wonderful progress in this religious movement.
With proper support I believe the next year might witness programs in the Indian field the like of which no ten years have witnessed in any period of the past.
Rev. T.L. Riggs. I want to give you a picture of some of the hard features of life that we run across once in awhile. After Sitting Bull was killed, it came to be my duty to bury his followers. I never hated to do anything so much in my experience. I was not afraid of anything that the Indians would do, but I hated to have anything to do with these people who had died red-handed. But they came to me, and said, "These me have been lying unburied seventeen days, and we ought to go and bury them." I asked the Indians why they had not buried them before. They replied that they were afraid to go for fear that they might be considered as having had part in the movement. It was very cold, and the bodies were of course frozen. We were forty miles from the place. Twelve or thirteen of us started the first day of January, when the weather was bitterly cold. We found a deserted scout's hut where we slept all night on the floor. The next morning the Indians went all over the ground. There were little sticks here and there, showing where the fight took place. It was a very small circle where the men were shot. They were [page 70] lying together, when found. We went to a little house a few rods from where they were killed. In this house the bodies were lying, awaiting burial. Then we set about digging a grave. All this time my party was as quiet as could be. I had a cousin of one of the men who were killed and the brother of another with me. We dug a large single grave, and laid all the bodies in it, and I offered a prayer. For a time it seemed to me impossible to utter a prayer over these murderers; for, of all things, an Indian opposing himself to law deserves condemnation. I have no sympathy with the sickly sentimentality over a man simply because he is an Indian. At first I could not open my mouth; but, when I did, I prayed, "O Lord, these men were killed opposing themselves to law: grant that the lesson that is to be learned may be learned by those about this grave." I could not pray those men to heaven. We covered up the grave, and after our work was done you should have seen the change that came over the party. I do not know whether it was because they were afraid of the ghosts of the dead or from their personal feelings; but there was an immediate change, and it became one of the jolliest parties.
I wanted to say this to show that the Indian is learning the value of law and to observe the requirements of law. He still has very much to learn, but he is learning. ... He is able to recognize the power of law; that is one of the most beneficial things in his training. He learned it at an amazing pace when Sitting Bull was killed.
Thursday Evening, October 12
Captain Pratt: [page 85]
... To end the Indian problem, these Indian masses must be broken up, distributed and assimilated; and this can be done without harm to them, and with great salvation to them in every way as individuals. ...
Dr. Ward. -- What would you have done with the fathers and mothers?
Capt. Pratt. Well, some of them ought to die off pretty soon. Perhaps I ought to give you some farther experiences. I took to Florida in 1875 old men and old women. I found no difficulty in getting the old men to work. Indeed, they improved and succeeded so well that finally the working elements of that community petitioned to Congress to have me stop letting them go out to work. They also learned English. What I said about Buffalo Bill is true of all Indians. If we could bring them all East, and separate them, -- scatter them for only a month, place them where they could see and learn our best civilization, and keep them separated, so they could not talk over nor participate in the old life, -- we should reach results that cannot be accomplished in years by our present methods. Why nurse the old systems? Why not nurse the true American system, so potent in Americanizing all other masses?
Dr. Montezuma [captured as a baby, Apache, bought by a traveling photographer for thirty dollars] ...[page 91] The reservation is a demoralizing prison, a barrier to enlightenment, a promoter of idleness, gamblers, paupers, and ruin. ...
Fifth Session, Friday Morning, October 13
Sixth Session, Friday Night, October 13
PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWELFTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE LAKE MOHONK CONFERENCE OF FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN
Reported and Edited by Isabel C. Barrows
Address of Rev. Lyman Abbott, D.D.
[page 42] ... When the Lake Mohonk Conference was first founded, in the year 1882, the Indians of this country were almost all of them living on reservations. Attempts were being made for their education, sometimes by the government, sometimes by missionary societies, sometimes by a strangely un-American partnership between the government and the missionary societies. All of these attempts were individual, sporadic. The American Indian, on American soil, was so far accounted a foreigner that in the Congregational organization he came under the head of foreign missions; and the churches maintained in the midst of Indians were a part of our foreign missionary work.
They were shut up in reservations. The reservation is a territory, larger or smaller, surrounded by an imaginary line, beyond which no civilizing elements are permitted to go without the consent of a despot, who may be a good one or a bad one, but who is equally a despot, -- the agent. The telegraph, the railroad, the post-office, the court, the bank, the newspaper, the school, the market, the common interchange and lay of life, are all shut out. I hold in my hand a report of the Board of Indian Commissioners for 1885. I will beg leave to read a description of the reservation system at that time, which I find embodied in that report, written by a gentleman whom, possibly, the President of this Conference may know better than I know him; but I am sure he does not honor him more than I honor him, -- Merril E. Gates.
The mightiest of all teaching forces is an example. Constant association with those whom they wish to imitate transforms men as does no other process. From this all-powerful civilizing force, example, we carefully exclude the Indians. We herd them by themselves on vast, vacant reservations.
While we profess that we desire their civilization, we adopt in the Indian reservation the plan which of all possible plans seems most carefully designed to preserve the degrading customs and the low moral standards of Indian heathenism. Take a [page 43] barbaric tribe, place them upon a vast tract of land from which you carefully exclude all civilized men, separate them by hundreds of miles for organized civil society and the example of white settlers, and, having thus insulated them in empty space, doubly insulate them from Christian civilization by surrounding them with sticky layers of the vilest, most designingly wicked men our century knows, the whiskey-selling whites and the debased half-breeds who infest the fringes of our reservations, men who have the vices of the barbarian plus the worst vices of the reckless frontiersman and the city criminal, and then endeavor to incite the electrifying, life-giving currents of civilized life to flow through this doubly insulated mass. If an Indian now and then gets glimpses of something better and seeks to leave this seething mass of an in-and-in breeding degradation, to live in a civilized community, give him no protection by law and no hope of citizenship. If he has won his way, as many have done, through the highest institutions of learning with honor, tell him that he may see many of our largest cities ruled by rings of men, many of whom are foreigners by birth, ignorant, worthless, yet naturalized citizens, but that he must not hope to vote or to hold office.
If he says, "I will be content to accumulate property, then," tell him, 'You may do so, but any one who chooses may withhold your wages, refuse to pay you money he has borrowed, plunder you as he will, and our law gives you no redress." Thus we drive the honest and ambitious Indian, as we do the criminals, back to the tie and the reservation; and cutting them off from all hopes of bettering themselves while we feed their laziness on government rations, we complain that they are not more ambitious and industrious.
Christian missionaries plunge into these reservations, struggle with the mass of evil there, and, feeling that bright children can be best educated in the atmosphere of civilization, they send to Eastern institutions these Indian children plucked like fire-stained brands from the reservations. They are brought to our industrial training schools. The lesson taught by the comparison of their photographs when they come and when they go is wonderful.
The years of contact with ideas and with civilized men and Christian women so transform them that their faces shine with a wholly new light, for they have indeed "communed with God." They came children; they return young men and young women; yet they look younger in the face then when they came to us. The prematurely aged look of hopeless heathenism has given way to the dew of eternal youth which marks the difference between the savage and the man who lives n the thoughts of an eternal future.
Yet such is the effect of maintaining our tribal and reservation policy that we send back these young men and women, not to a life where a home and family could be transformed by their influence, but into this tribal mass sodden in the prejudices of centuries of heathenism, where they grasp in vain for civilized occupations and example, until the pressures of race insults and the waves of ridicule too often close over their better hopes and habits and aspirations, as the waves of the ocean close over the life-hungry face of a drowning man.
Bishop Whipple ... It is thirty-five years since I paid my first visit to the Indians of Minnesota. ... [page 46] At the time of my first visit and a little later our Indian affairs were at their worst. It is not slander to say that our Indian system was a synonym for robbery. The Indian agent received his office simply as a reward for being a henchman of some politician. The Indians had sunk to a depth of degradation that their heathen forefathers had never known. When I listen to my good friend General Whittlesey, and to the good Superintendent of Indian Schools as representative of Indian officials, I think of the time when the Indian schoolteacher was appointed fresh from keeping a drinking saloon; and, although he held office for two years, you will not be surprised that there was not a solitary Indian child that learned to read. There was no such thing as law in the Indian country. I knew of an Indian woman, of pure character, murdered in cold blood in the presence of a number of witnesses; and an Indian arrested the man, and took him to Fort Ripley, the nearest post. He was put in the guard-house for four months, but the Secretary of War ordered his discharge because there was no law to punish an Indian. I knew of a white man, when he passed an Indian sleeping under a tree, swear with an oath, "I will kill that redskin"; and in the presence of two others he killed the Indian. Rev. E.P. Smith -- I can hardly speak his name without tears in my eyes, for he died a martyr to his fidelity to the Indians -- gave fifty dollars out of his pocket, and I fifty; but we could not secure that man should be punished for that murder. I have often wondered, as I looked back upon those years, when I used to say that I was walking on my heart, as to why I never gave up. Well, I can tell you two reasons. When it was so dark that I could not see a step ahead, I read anew the old story of the love of Jesus Christ, and I found that there was never a solitary human being that came into his presence when he was not perfectly hopeful for humanity; for in his love there was no limitation of sects or caste or tribe. And then I remembered that when that man wrote as no man ever did write about the things of God, Saint Paul, he did not end till he said that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever. and so I resolved to work and wait.
At that time there was a strange apathy on the part of Christian men. It seemed as if the hearts of Christian people were dead when they thought of the poor red man, whose rights were unquestioned. The law of nations recognized that he had possessory rights to the soil, and the ordinance of 1787 affirmed it. The judi- [page 47] ciary, the executive, and the legislative departments of the government recognized his rights as a man. When Napoleon sold us that vast country west of the Mississippi, he reserved the rights of the Indian. And yet I remember, the first time that I was asked to deliver a missionary address after my visit to the Indian country, a very wise man said to me: "You are a young bishop, and you have a very great work to do; but I hope you will not be tempted to say anything abut the Indians. There are a perishing race. They will pass away from the face of the earth, and you can do nothing for them." When I came to speak, I repeated the advice which I had received to the congregation. I said that advice reminds me of a story. A slave had an infidel master who said to him one day: "Jim, you are the queerest fellow I know on earth. You are always talking about faith. It is faith in the morning, and faith at noon, and faith at night. I suppose, if you thought the Lord were tell you to jump over that stone wall, you would go and do it." "Yes, massa," he replied, "if the Lord should tell Jim to jump through the stone wall, it is Jim's business to jump; and it is the Lord's business to get him through." So I determined to go on with my work.
I cannot tell you all the lights and shadows of that early life. There is hardly a trail in all that northern forest in which I have not traveled in summer and winter. I remember once that I heard that some Indians were starving; and I waded for more than forty miles with snow nearly to my waist, and I was able to save those poor Indians. I can say that the lines on my cheek have some of them been honestly earned, but a power above my weak will compelled me to go and preach to those Indians the love of their father.
I think I mentioned last year that my good friend, Dr. Strieby, had a missionary at Red Lake. I will mention an incident connected with that which brought us together. On one of my annual visits to the Indian country an Indian chief walked 150 miles to meet me. He said: "White man say they have bought my land. I have not sold land. I have not signed treaty. I hear you are servant of Great Spirit, and you pity Indian. Will you help me?" I traced out the story, and I found he had told the truth; and I asked t\him to go to Washington, and I promised I would help him. I went to Washington full of enthusiasm then, and I worked for weeks; and the authorities at Washington very coolly told me, "We have made that treaty, and we shall enforce it." I am afraid I became angry, but it was the kind of righteous anger of which Saint Paul spoke. I went into the Indian Bureau, and I said, "Sir, I came here to tell you a story which, if heeded, would save that northern frontier from an Indian massacre. We have had one on the western border. But I have made up my mind, I had whistled against the North wind, I should have done as much good. I am going home, and you will hear from me through the public press." The officer said to me, " YOU have said a great many hard things against this Bureau." I replied, "Yes, and I have always said them over my own signature; and I never made a statement that I have not the proof which I can [page 48] produce in any court of justice. And I will tell you something else. The darkest transactions of personal dishonesty I have never alluded to. Some day I may."
The next day the officials asked; "What is it Bishop Whipple wants? If he wants money for schools, we are ready to help him." And they replied, "You don't know Bishop Whipple. If he makes a statement, you may be sure he has proof behind him. The only thing he wants is justice for those Indians, and some day he will have it." And they sent for the Indians, and made a treaty.
That Indian from pure gratitude came to see me three times, a journey of more than 300b miles, on foot, and he said, "My friend, I want you to give me a missionary." I said: "You have a missionary there. I can't send another. " "Well," he said, " I want one of your kind; for I now your kind. We know your love, and we want that kind of a missionary." I sat down, and wrote to Dr. Streiby, and said, "I will never present a divided Christianity to these heathen folk, but I ask your permission to plant a mission there"; and Dr. Streiby wrote back, " I think the wisest thing for us to do is withdraw, and leave the field to you."
So we established a mission there; and when we came down to consider what we should call it, I asked my superintendent whom I had known from a boy what it would better be, and he replied, "You know these men are awfully degraded, and in the Book of Revelations it speaks in one place of my servant Antipas, 'where Satan dwelleth,' and I think we had better call it the Mission of St. Antipas." And so we did.
That mission has been there more than twenty years, and there are to-day more Christians in that village than there are in any settlement or any village or any city in the State of Minnesota in proportion to the population. That is not failure.
As we look back upon the past, there have always been gleams of light. Sometimes they were so slight that perhaps you would not have thought much of them; but, if you had been walking on your heart, they would have been like the voice of God. ..."
[page 49] ... I visited the White Earth Reservation recently. At my first visit, years ago, I met blanketed, painted savages. The last time I was there I had 550 Indians join with me in public worship, and after I was there some considerable time I did not see a single Indian with a painted face nor one who wore a blanket.
Law for the Indian
by Austin Abbott, LL.D.
... Last year, at the American Bar Association ... [page 93] One of the specific difficulties is that the courts administrating the law are all at sea. They do not agree on what the law is. One judge has held that in the Indian Territory the common law is to be the rule of decision. Another judge has held the opposite, saying that, because these are not Englishmen nor the descendants of Englishmen, we cannot presume that the common law is to apply to them. The professions are in doubt as to what is the law. But they are all agreed that a different system is to be applied to the Indian from what is applied to the white man. This is the fundamental grievance and the logical cause of endless difficulty.
Let me give you one instance to show how the efforts of education, religious instruction, and moral training can be nullified by the results of this confusion of laws. During the last year or two an Indian man and women were indicted for adultery. On the trial the guilty act was proved. But it appeared that the woman was a half-breed and by the law was not an Indian. She was convinced. It appeared that the man was a full-blooded Indian. There was not the same aw for the two. There was no law to punish the Indian, and he was acquitted. Now, a single declaration by a court of American justice in the Indian country, that the Indian man may commit such offences with impunity, may annul the moral instruction that the missionaries can give in years. There is o value in law if it has not a fair degree of uniformity. The difficulty is that we are dealing with class legislation, and are clinging it to the last instead of getting rid of it as fast as we can. ...
[page 94] Why should an Indian not work out the road tax that is to give access to his lands? If he refuses to do it, his land would have to be sold for him.
Q. Would not that sweep away a great deal of the land into the hands of white people?
Mr. Abbott. -- We are told here that three-quarters of the Indians
are already supporting themselves; and, if the land of the other
quarter could not be swept away except by a judicial investigation
brought about by means of a lawfull process for the benefit of
the Indian himself upon precisely the same principles that a white
child's property may be swept away, as you call it, we should have a
tolerable result instead of the results which is now highly
objectionable. The Indians have land: and they ought to do their
share, so far as it is possible, to pay their taxes in work. If
it is a child or [page 95] an aged woman, all she has to do is petition
the judge to lease enough of her land to pay the taxes. And, if
there is now and then a case which we cannot solve, it is one of the
cases which are liable to occur to all men when they have no money to
pay their taxes or to carry the property they own.