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MESSAGE

OF THE

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,

COMMUNICATING THE

SECOND ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOARD

OF INDIAN COMMISSIONERS.

FEBRUARY 10, 1871.-Referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs and ordered to be

printed.

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I submit herewith, for the information of Congress, the second annual report of the board of Indian commissioners to the Secretary of the Interior.

U. S. GRANT. EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 10, 1871.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

Washington, D. C., February 9, 1871. SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith the second annual report of the board of Indian commissioners, presented to this Department, with letter of this date, from Hon. Vincent Colyer, secretary of the board. I recommend, if it meet your approval, that the report be laid before the Senate, with a suggestion that it be printed. With great respect, your obedient servant,

C. DELANO,

Secretary. The PRESIDENT.

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BOARD OF INDIAN COMMISSIONERS,

Washington, D. C., February 9, 1871. SIR : I have the honor to transmit herewith the annual report of the board of Indian commissioners for the year 1870.

Owing to the absence in the Indian country of several of the committees of the board on their tours of inspection and observation, and the late hour at which they made their reports, it was not possible to submit it to your consideration at an earlier day. Regretting this delay, which was unavoidable, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

VINCENT COLYER,

Secretary. Hon. COLUMBUS DELÁNO,

Secretary of the Interior.

REPORT OF THE BOARD OF INDIAN COMMISSIONERS.

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Hon. COLUMBUS DELANO, Secretary of the Interior :

SIR: The undersigned, commissioners appointed by the President under the act of Congress of April 10, 1869, respectfully submit the following report:

During the past year much progress has been made in the improvement of the condition of many of the Indian tribes. A deep and widespread interest has been awakened in the public mind in regard to Indian affairs. A great improvement has been made in the manner of appointing agents, selecting them from men recommended by the various Christian missionary societies, and thus it is hoped permanently withdrawing those appointments from the arena of political strife for patronage; and, by act of Congress, military officers are no longer appointed as agents in this service.

1

INDIAN WAR THREATENED.

Soon after the close of our last report, threatening indications of an extensive war on the plains reached us from the agents of the Osages, Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Sioux.

The Osages, a once powerful tribe, to whom the solemn pledges of our Government were made as far back as the administration of Thomas Jefferson,“that all lands belonging to you lying within the Territory of the United States shall be, and remain, the property of your nation, unless you shall voluntarily relinquish or dispose of the same, and all persons, citizens of the United States, are hereby strictly forbidden to disturb you, or your nation, in the quiet possession of said land.(See Appendix 17.)

Notwithstanding this solemn treaty, over twenty thousand squatters had, within the last few years, been allowed to settle on the lands of the Osages. These Osages liaving been induced to sign a fraudulent treaty, disposing of all their lands in Kansas, (as reported to you last year,) were driven from their homes, and went out on the plains, and mingling with the wild tribes, gave them such impressions of the perfidy of the whites, that, combined with the experience of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes on the Washita two years ago, and of the Kiowas and Comanches on the Clear Fork of the Brazos, in Texas, in 1858, and a failure to keep the Government's promises with the Sioux, so aroused the vindictive passions of these Indians that any slight additional provocation might at any time have produced an outbreak of war.

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INDIAN WAR AVERTED.

Affairs continued in this dangerous condition until January last, when the memorable Blackfeet war, or what was generally called the “ Piegan massacre,” occurred. (See Appendix 23.) The news of this massacre rapidly spreading among the tribes along the upper plains, soon began to show its bad effect in active demonstrations of hostility by the whole Sioux Nation. Several of the agencies near Fort Sully were taken possession of, and the agents, for a time, virtually held as prisoners, while rumors were rife that the Ogallalla Sioux were on the war-path, and had made a raid on the Union Pacific Railroad. (See Appendix 22.) Troops were immediately hurried forward by the War Department. Two regi- . ments which were stationed in Virginia and other Eastern States were rapidly transferred to the Missouri, and every preparation made to protect

the border settlements. In this dark hour a proposition was made to the Secretary of the Interior by Mr. Benjamin Tatham, of New York, to invite Red Cloud, the renowned war chief of the Ogallalla Sioux, tó Washington, that he might state his grievances, and let the Government and people hear his side of the story. While the honorable Secretary was deliberating on the proposition, a communication was received from Colonel Chambers, commanding at Fort Fetterman, stating that Red Cloud himself had made a similar request, “ that he might be allowed to come on and see his “Great Father.?” Arrangements were immediately made by the Department for the coming of Red Cloud, with twenty of his headmen, and Spotted Tail, with five other chiefs of the Sioux of the Missouri. The advent of these chiefs in Washington and the East was so full of interest to the many who witnessed it, and so productive of important results to our Indian affairs, that a brief sketch of the event has been placed in Appendix 1.

One effect of the visit of these Sioux chiefs to the East was to stop the spread of the threatened hostilities among the Sioux at the north, and their southern allies, the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Comanches of the southern plains, who were waiting the outbreak of hostilities among the Sioux, to join in its bloody work.

Another effect of these two events—the Piegan massacre and the visit of Redl Cloud-was to deepen the interest in the public mind in behalf of the Indians, as the commissioners took special pains to see that brief and accurate statements of the more important events were promptly given to the public through the Associated Press. Not only were the people profoundly moved, but the attention of Congress and of the executive officers of the Government was called to the subject so earnestly, that much good resulted.

The iminediate effect of the publication of the details of the Piegan affair was to cause the House of Representatives to strike out from the Army Bill the clause transferring the Indian Bureau to the care of the War Department, (see Appendix 23 ;) while the advent of Red Cloud, with his heroic bearing, manly speeches, and earnestly successful efforts for peace among his own people on his return home, strengthened the hands of the many friends of the Indians, and, it may fairly be inferred, led to more friendly legislation in their behalf.

THE OSAGES. Among the liberal measures introduced in Congress was one providing for the settling of the long-standing difficulty with the Osages, on a basis so just that in itself it marks an era in the history of our Government in its legislation on Indian affairs.

The commissioners, following up their protests against the old Osage treaty of last year, which stripped them of their great reservation of 8,000,000 acres for 19 cents an acre, and transferred it to a railroad corporation, requested the Secretary of the Interior to ask the President to withdraw this and several other minor treaties of like character from the further consideration of the Senate.

The new bill places in the United States Treasury, to the credit of the Osages, all the proceeds of the sale of their lands in Kansas, excepting the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections, which were given to the State of Kansas for school purposes, and disposes of the land to actual settlers only, at $1 25 per acre; and provides that the Osages may purchase a new home for themselves in the Indian Territory; it also gives the Osages the right to accept or reject the bill. (See Appendix 14.) Afterwards, when the special committee of the board, Messrs. Farwell, Lang, and Colyer, visited these Indians, they took pains to see that the Osages were neither coerced nor deceived into complying with the above-named act of Congress, (procured, it is believed, by the earnest intervention of the true friends of the Indians,) the committee stated the facts in the case fully to the Indians, so that they had a fair opportunity either to accept or reject the proposed offer.

The Osages seemed to be very incredulous, frequently bringing up the continued bad faith of the Great Father in not keeping previous promises, and for this reason five weeks were required to allow the Indians time for consideriug and deciding upon this, probably the most important transaction of their lives.

INDIAN RESERVATIONS PLACED UNDER CARE OF CHRISTIAN MISSION

ARIES.

The clause which had been inserted in the Army bill, preventing officers from holding Indian agencies or other civil positions, induced the secretary of the board early to recommend to the Secretary of the Interior the policy of placing the Indian reservations under the care of the Christian denominations of the country. This recommendation was an extension of the policy already adopted by the President, in placing the superintendency of Nebraska, and that for Kansas and the Indian Territory, under the care of the Society of Friends. The Secretary of the Interior approving of this plan, called the attention of the President to the suggestion, who took it into consideration. Meanwhile, the secretary of the board went to New York, where the headquarters of most of the missionary societies are located, to consult with the officers of these bodies, and to ascertain whether they would accept the responsibilities of recommending suitable men for Indian agents. He found these officers at first reluctant to undertake the responsibility. Upon further consideration, the Rev. Dr. Lowrie, secretary of the Presbyterian board; Rev. Dr. Harris, secretary of the Methodist board; Rev. Dr. Backus, secretary of the Baptist board; Rev. Dr. Ferris, secretary of the Reformed Church board; Rev. Dr. Twing, secretary of the Episcopal Church mission; Rev. Mr. Anthon, secretary of the American Episcopal Church missionary society; Rev. Dr. Whipple, secretary of the Congregational board, who, with Dr. S. B. Treat, secretary of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was communicated with by letter, all agreed to present the subject to the favorable consideration of their respective boards. Dr. Cady, chief clerk of the Indian Department, communicated with the Roman Catholics, of which church he was a zealous member, and communications were also sent to other denominations.

On his return to Washington, the secretary of the board was officially informed by Secretary Cox that the President approved of the plan of enlisting the coöperation of the Christian missionary societies in behalf of the Indians, and the secretary of the board was directed to open an official correspondence with these societies, which was immediately done. Before final action was taken on these communications, Commissioner Bishop invited the secretaries of the various missionary societies to hold an informal conference on the subject, in the office of the Rev. Dr. Lowrie, who cordially coöperated in this movement. After a free interchange of views, the officers of all the societies agreed to report to their respective boards in favor of recommending well-tried Christian men for Indian agents. They accepted the responsibility, and letters

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