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In my judgment we have war, general, prolonged, bloody and ruinous, with all its accompanying barbarities and atrocities, and peace, speedy and durable, its concomitant, and consequent blessings, in our own hands and at our own option.
To make peace, it is (in my opinion) necessary, 1st. That that part of an act approved March 29, 1867, repealing wall laws allowing the President, the Secretary of the Interior, or the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to enter into treaties with any Indian tribe,” shall be repealed, otherwise there can be no binding agreement for peace made with the hostile Indians. 2d. That an appropriation should be made to defray all the necessary expenses to be incurred in making the desired treaties. 3d. That all military operations within the Indian country shall be subject to the direction and control of the Indian department. Supply these essential prerequisites, and I am firmly of the opinion that peace can be restored in a very short time.
In regard to the best means to secure and perpetuate peace between the Indians and our people, I beg leave to suggest, that it is essential to the perpetuation of peace with the Indians, 1st. That the government respect religiously, and protect by all means, their natural rights, as ascertained by our own highest judicial tribunal ; and, 2d. That it observe strictly, and carry out faithfully, all its treaty obligations to them.
We have reached a point in our national history when, it seems to me, there are but two alternatives left us as to what shall be the future of the Indian, namely, swift extermination by the sword, and famine, or preservation by gradual concentration on territorial reserves, and civilization. Our present policy, or rather want of a policy, in this regard, is working out, and must result, if persisted in, in extermination. As now situated, the Indian tribes are in the way of our toiling and enterprising population, and unprotected they will soon be inevitably submerged and buried beneath its confluent surges. Possessing originally the continent, they roamed at will among its mountains, valleys, and broad plains, free and untrammelled, the proprietors and lords of them all. But rapidly our race has relieved them of their vast domain, and the remnants of the ancient red nations, encircled by the pressing millions of our people, maintain a precarious foothold on their last hunting-grounds. These millions will soon crush them out from the face of the earth, unless the humanity and Christian philanthropy of our enlightened statesmen shall interfere and rescue them. The sentiment of our people will not for a moment tolerate the idea of extermination.
In my judgment, the Indians can only be saved from extinction by consolidating them as rapidly as it can be peacefully done, on large reservations, from which all whites except government employés shall be excluded, and educating them intellectually and morally, and training them in the arts of civilization, so as to render them at the earliest practicable moment self-supporting, and at the proper time to clothe them with the rights and immunities of citizenship.
The path by which humanity has emerged from a condition of savage barbarity to its largest development has been through pastoral pursuits into agriculture and the arts, up to the highest sphere of mental refinement in the learned professions.
Entertaining these ideas, I beg leave to recommend that the government take such steps as may be deemed proper to set apart a territory, somewhere north of the northern line of Nebraska, and west of the Missouri river, of liberal dimensions, for the exclusive occupation and ultimate home of all the Indians north of the Platte, and of Iowa, and east of the summit of the Rocky mounfains, and make appropriations at once to enable this department to make suitable preparations for such Indians as are now ready to enter upon pastoral and agricultural pursuits in said territory. To initiate this policy, if adopted, I ask an appropriation of one hundred thousand dollars.
That the policy indicated may be of universal application, I would respect
fully recommend that a large territory be set apart south of the southern line of Kansas, and west of Arkansas, including the present Indian territory, and the country known as the Stake Plains of Texas, and so much of New Mexico as may be necessary, for the exclusive occupation and ultimate home of all the Indians south of the Platte and east of Arizona. And for the inauguration of this plan in reference to said territory, and said Indians, I respectfully ask that an appropriation be made of one hundred thousand dollars.
I recommend that all necessary provisions be made by Congress to procure at once that portion of Texas, or so much thereof as may be necessary, lying between the western boundary of the Indian territory and the eastern boundary of New Mexico.
I would recommend that a commission be appointed to proceed to the Pacific coast and Arizona, to select one or more reservations of ample size, upon which to concentrate all the Indians west of the Rocky mountains, and for this object I ask an appropriation of twenty thousand dollars.
There are now concentrated on the Niobrara river, near the Platte river, under the chiefs Spotted Tail, Swift Bear, Two Strike, Big Mouth, and others, about 1,500 friendly Sioux, who have separated from the hostile bands. To this num. ber will soon be added some 2,000 to 2,500 friendly Indians, now on their way from the hostile country. Pending hostilities, or until placed on reservations, and until they shall have raised a crop or two, these Indians will have to be subsisted by the government, or permitted to join their hostile kindred. To give them three-quarter rations will cost $300,000 per annum, and I recommend that this sum be appropriated by Congress at its present session, for their subsistence for the fiscal year ending the 30th of June, 1868.
The friendly Cheyennes, Araphoes, and Apaches, of the south, forced by General Hancock’s command to abandon their hunting-grounds, set apart to them by the treaty of October, 1865, are now at or near Fort Cobb, in the In. dian country, in a destitute condition, and numbering (with the Kiowas and Comanches) from 5,000 to 7,000 souls. These Indians, if not permitted to return to their own hunting-grounds, must either be fed by the government, or be driven to plundering the border inhabitants and war. I therefore ask an appropriation of $500,000, for the purpose of supplying these Indians, if found to be necessary.
I ask, also, an appropriation of one hundred thousand dollars to enable the department, if found expedient, to reimburse the southern Cheyennes and Arapahoes, and friendly Sioux, for their village and property destroyed by our troops in April last, with a view of restoring peaceful relations to them, and safety and security to life and property on the plains.
In conclusion, I take the liberty of stating to the honorable Secretary, for the information of the country, that the total cost of the Indian Bureau, in its extended field of operations, including all its expenditures, does not exceed $3,000,000 per annum. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. G. TAYLOR, Commissioner. Hon. W. T. OTTO,
Acting Secretary of the Interior.
MASSACRE AT FORT PHIL. KEARNEY.
Letter from the Secretary of the Interior, communicating, in obedience to a res. olution of the Senate of the 30th of January, information in relation to the late massacre of United States troops by Indians at or near Fort Phil. Kearney, in Dakota Territory.
DePARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, D. C., February 5, 1867. Sir: In obedience to a resolution of the Senate of the 30th ultimo, requesting the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Interior “ to furnish to the Senate all official reports, papers, and other facts in possession of their respective departments which may tend to explain the origin, causes, and extent of the late massacre of United States troops by Indians at or near Fort Phil. Kearney, in Dakota Territory," I have the honor herewith to transmit a report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated the 4th instant, with accompanying papers—twelve in number—containing all the information now in possession of this department on the subject. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
0. H. BROWNING,
Secretary. Hon. L. S. FOSTER,
President of the Senate.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Office Indian Affairs, February 4, 1867. Sir: I have received from you the resolutions of the Senate and House of Representatives in relation to the recent outbreak at Fort Phil. Kearney. These resolutions contain three distinct propositions, to each of which a separate answer is necessary. It requires this department to furnish all the information in its possession in relation to the late massacre at Fort Phil. Kearney; secondly, the causes which produced the same; and thirdly, the causes which have led to the present alarming condition of our relations with the Indian tribes of the interior.
In answer to the first question, I will say that we had, prior to the occurrence of this disaster, very reliable information of the temper of the Indians in that section of the country; and although this temper did not amount to a positive hostility, yet I know from the various sources of information at the command of this bureau that there was a feeling of dissatisfaction growing out of the treaty of Fort Laramie of last summer. That the tribes occupying the Powder River country had great cause of dissatisfaction with the provisions of this treaty is not singular. From the extracts which I here furnish from the special report of Agent Chandler, (marked No. 1,) it will be easily understood why this dissatisfaction existed. Knowing that this feeling existed among these Indians, it was my intention to recommend the appointment, at an early day, of a commission of good men to visit their country and consult with the leading chiefs and headmen of these tribes and ascertain what their condition really and justly required. It seems to me to be unreasonable to require these people to abandon their hunting-grounds, while the chase is their only means of support, until some other means of existence is provided for them. That another means of support can be provided is beyond any doubt. The country is extensive enough to give them a home, and at the same time remove them from the highway of the travel of the whites. It is due, however, to the cause of truth to say that, however injudicious the provisions of this treaty are, most of the bands of Sioux Indians occupying that country were determined to abide by it, and I have positive information that these well-disposed Indians have faithfully adhered to this determination. Hence many of the chiefs of different bands, such as Spotted Tail, Swift Bear, One That Walks Under the Ground, and many others, have actually moved to the south side of the Platte, where they are at this time, to keep out of the way of any trouble. They are yet friendly. Another leading chief, by the name of Iron Shell, is with his band, in the Sand Hills north of the Platte, and friendly. With proper management these friendly.disposed bands can be used to the best advantage by the government, and I am anxious that nothing should occur to drive them from us. Al. though these bands are friendly, it is nevertheless but too true that it is more policy than anything else that makes them so. They feel as if they were unjustly treated, and this feeling is universal among them. From all the information I can get--and it is, I think, pretty reliable—none of these chiefs had any: thing to do with the affair at Fort Phil. Kearney. An order issued by General Cooke, at Omaha, on the 31st day of July last, (herewith sent, marked No. 32,) in relation to arms and ammunition, has had a very bad effect. I am satisfied that such orders are not only unwise, but really cruel, and therefore calculated to produce the very worst effect. Indians are men, and when hungry will, like us, resort to any means to obtain food ; and as the chase is their only means of subsistence, if you deprive them of the power of procuring it, you certainly produce great dissatisfaction. If it were true that arms and ammunition could be accumulated by them to war against us, it certainly would be unwise to give it to them; but this is not the fact. No Indian will buy two guns. One he absolutely needs; and as he has no means of taking care of powder, he necessarily will take, when offered to him, but a very limited quantity. It is true that formerly they hunted with bows and arrows, killing buffalo, antelope, and deer with the same; but to hunt successfully with bow and arrows requires horses, and as the valleys of that country are now more or less filled with white men prospecting for gold and silver, their means of subsisting their horses have passed away, and they now have but few horses. I mention these facts so as to place before the country, as briefly as possible, the condition as well as the wants of the Indians.
I herewith send copies of tzo letters (marked 3 and 4) and my report on same (marked 41) from the surgeon at the post of Phil. Kearney, giving an account of the first difficulty on the 6th of December, and of the last one, on the 21st of the same month. Although these letters are written by an officer at the post, with all his sympathies for his comrades, it is very evident, from a careful perusal and a just understanding of them, that these Indians did not come to that fort in any very great force, nor with a view of making war. To say that a wagon train was attacked by three hundred Indians, and yet no one killed, is simply ridiculous. There were, perhaps, some five or six men with this train, and if three hundred Indians had really attacked them, it is not doubted that one or more of them would have been killed. But the report was made of an attack by three hundred Indians; this led to a sortie from the fort; and even then, it appears, the Indians did not wish to fight, as they retreated, and no soldier was killed until several Indians had been dispatched by our soldiers. It seems that then some Indians hovered around the fort till the 21st, the day of the fatal disaster. To say that they came to the fort to challenge the force at that point to a fight is simply absurd. Nevertheless a fight did take place, and the facts are all set forth in the letter marked No. 4, dated 1st of January, of this year.
Now, I understand this was the fact : These Indians being in absolute want of guns and ammunition to make their winter hunt, were on a friendly visit to the fort, desiring to communicate with the commanding officer, to get the order refusing them guns and ammunition rescinded, so that they might be enabled to procure their winter supply of buffalo. It has been currently reported that some 3,000 to 5,000 warriors were assembled to invest this fort. This is not, and cannot by any possibility be true, as thie would presuppose a population of 21,000 to 35,000 Indians in that section of country, (being one warrior in seven.) This number of Indians is not there, nor could that number of warriors feed themselves and their horses at this season of the year in that latitude. The whole is an exaggeration; and although I regret the unfortunate death of so many brave soldiers, yet there can be no doubt that it is owing to the foolish and rash management of the officer in command at that post. Nevertheless, there is a band of Sioux Indians in that country, of the Ogallallas tribe, headed by a chief of the name of Red Cloud, that are badly disposed. This is the only band, so far as I am informed, that is hostile as a band; but I have no doubt that around him and under his banner are gathered all the badly disposed Indians of the country. They flock to his standard as individuals, not as tribes, and I think this band, with its adherents, should be severely chastised by the military. With this view, I have recommended to you the appointment of the commissioners whose names you have presented to the President, to proceed to that country at as early a day as possible, with the view of finding all the facts which have led to the affair, and of separating, if possible, the friendly from the unfriendly tribes. By doing so we would be doing justice to those who are innocent, and also avoid a general Indian war, which, if once started, will extend over the entire country, from the Missouri river to the Rocky mountains, and from the mouth of the Yellowstone to the Mexican line. This war should be avoided, if possible, as it would cost millions of dollars, and last for many years.
I submit to you a letter from the War Department, (No. 5,) enclosing the extract from the report of General Sherman, (No. 6.) Such an order, in my opinion, would lead to the very result it is designed to obviate. I submit to you the copy of my report on this subject of the 23d of January, being document No. 7 herewith sent.
It cannot be doubted that the Indians have many just causes of complaint. The policy heretofore pursued, I think has been a bad one; and bad as it was, it has not been justly carried out. Homes should be provided for them, and we have territory enough to give them; their annuities should be greatly increased, and goods of a good quality and adapted to their wants should be furnished them, and also at the proper season of the year. It is a notorious fact that very inferior goods have for some years been given to them, and also at a period too late.
In conclusion, permit me to say that I know of but one remedy for all the evils now existing in our Indian relations. It is the appointment of commissioners, without regard to the politics or religion of the persons appointed, to be composed of men of high character, to proceed to all the States and Territories containing an Indian population; one commission, say of five persons, for each ope, viz: to ascertain the number of Indians, their present status, and how many can be aggregated on one or two reservations, and to select these reservations, which should be ample, and report to this department next fall. These commissions should take all the time necessary to master the subject, and, if necessary, spend months in mastering it. The Indians should be then made to go on these reservations, and when there, furnished with stocks of cattle and sheep to raise. At first the cattle and sheep would be eaten by them; but it would not be long before they would find out that the milk of the cow, and the wool of the sheep, and the meat of the beef, as well as the hide and tallow, are all very good things; and in place of giving them large quantities of light and useless goods, paints and beads, give them a reasonable allowance of heavy goods until they can make them themselves, and furnish them with spinning