BLTC Press Titles


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Vanity Fair

William Thackery


The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


Civilization among the Sioux Indians

by Herbert Welsh

Excerpt:

I started with feelings somewhat depressed, due partly to private I reasons, and partly to the prospect of a long and—for the "i greater part of the time—solitary journey in an inaccessible region; in part, also, to apprehensions as to the condition of ^-progress in which I should find the people in whose interests i the Association works, especially those who had recently been subjected to disturbance and violence. I returned cheered and {A stimulated, after a six weeks' absence, by what seems to me abundant evidence that the work which has been undertaken for the civilization of the Indians is vital and real. £3 The observations of my journey especially impressed me with ., the belief that the danger-line of this work runs rather through — the attitude of white civilization toward the Indian than that of the Indian toward white civilization.

It was my plan to visit a number of the Sioux reservations in '^J South Dakota, subdivisions of the Great Sioux Reserve, which ^ includes the following: Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Crow fi Creek, Lower Brule, Rosebud, and Pine Ridge Reservations.

All but one of these, Crow Creek, lie on the west bank of the . Missouri River. Until the passage in 1889 of the Sioux agree*J ment—a treaty negotiated with the Indians by a Commission of which the late Gen. Crook was the inspiring force—the Great Sioux Reserve stretched an unbroken area of twenty-two million

3

acres, shaped like a boot, with the sole resting on the northern boundary line of Nebraska, the heel touching Wyoming to the west, the top outlined by the Cannon Ball River to the north, the Missouri River corresponding to the line of the shin bone on the east, while of the calf of the leg on the west half touches Wyoming to the south and half Montana to the north. But the Creek agreement cut out a great segment running midway through the reservation, leaving those portions of the Indian country to the north and south separated from each other by land which had been thrown open to white settlement. But very little of this land has as yet been occupied by permanent settlers; these have mostly taken up claims on the eastern portion of the ceded lands near the Missouri, while the western part remains either unused or in the hands of cattle men, who find upon it excellent pasturage for their herds.

I proposed on this my fifth visit among the Sioux, to join Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, of the United States Civil Service Commission, at Cheyenne River Agency. We were to meet during the Indian Convocation of the Episcopal Church, which was to take place at this point early in September and which was to last three days. Mr. Roosevelt planned first to spend a few days at Pine Ridge, and there to catch a glimpse of the westernmost and wildest of the Sioux reserves. Here an Army officer, Captain George LeRoy Brown, is Acting Agent. Mr. Roosevelt's object in visiting these Indians was to ascertain facts regarding the working of the Civil Service rules which were recently extended by Presidential order so as to cover some seven hundred places in the Indian service.

I reached the little town of Gettysburg, South Dakota, at the unseasonable hour of 2.30 o'clock in the morning, Wednesday, September 7th. Gettysburg is the present terminus of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. It lies eighteen miles east of the Missouri River, and the same distance from Forest City, a still more diminutive town connected by ferry with the Cheyenne River Agency, which is on the west bank of the river. While waiting in the office of the little hotel in Gettysburg, in the hope of getting a bed for the few remaining hours of darkness, I was surprised and delighted to discover among the passengers just starting for the early morning train, Superintendent Meserve, of the Haskell Institute, Indian Training School. He is one of the best men in the Indian School force,—earnest, efficient, indefatigable in his effort for the education of the Indians, and one who fully appreciates the importance of a complete divorce of the Indian service from politics. Mr. Meserve faithfully and successfully resisted the determined efforts which Kansas politicians originally made to appoint their henchmen as his subordinates. The same politicians had tried to prevent his own appointment, but Commissioner Morgan fought for him and he maintained his position. Mr. Meserve told me during our hour's conversation that he was just returning from an unsuccessful hunt at Cheyenne River Agency for recruits to his school. He had gone under orders from the Department, and had found other Superintendents on the same errand, the presence of the Convocation at this point having been regarded as opportune. The pursuit of Indian children to furnish scholars for the boarding schools outside reservation limits has been very keen, and under its stress the rights of both Government and Mission Boarding Schools on the reservationshave not always been fully respected. I think from much that I heard on this subject during my journey that there is need for a careful adjustment of. the relations of the two lines of work.


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