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Numbers, Location and Social and Industrial Conditions of Tribes

 Native American Nations | A Century of Dishonor                     


An Account Of The Numbers, Location, And Social And Industrial Condition Of Each Important Tribe And Band Of Indians Within The United States, With The Exception Of Those Described In The Previous Pages.

[From the Report of Francis A. Walker, United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the year 1872.]

The Indians within the limits of the United States, exclusive of those in Alaska, number, approximately, 300,000.

They may be divided, according to their geographical location or range, into five grand divisions, as follows: in Minnesota, and States east of the Mississippi River, about 32,500; in Nebraska, Kansas, and the Indian Territory, 70,650; in the Territories of Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, 65,000; in Nevada, and the Territories of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, 84.030; and on the Pacific slope, 48,000. As regards their means of support and methods of subsistence, they may be divided as follows: those who support themselves upon their own reservations, receiving nothing from the Government except interest on their own moneys, or annuities granted them in consideration of the cession of their lands to the United States, number about 130,000; those who are entirely subsisted by the Government, about 31,000; those in part subsisted, 84,000, together, about 115,000; those who subsist by hunting and fishing, upon roots, nuts, berries, etc., or by begging and stealing, about 55,000.

Tribes East Of The Mississippi River

New York
The Indians of New York, remnants of the once powerful "Six Nations," number 5070. They occupy six reservations in the State, containing in the aggregate 68,668 acres. Two of these reservations, viz., the Alleghany and Cattaraugus, belonged originally to the Colony of Massachusetts; but, by sale and assignment, passed into the hands of a company, the Indians holding a perpetual right of occupancy, and the company referred to, or the individual members thereof, owning the ultimate fee. The same state of facts formerly existed in regard to the Tonawanda reserve; but the Indians who occupy it have purchased the ultimate fee of a portion of the reserve, which is now held in trust for them by the Secretary of the Interior. The State of New York exercises sovereignty over these reservations. The reservations occupied by the Oneidas, Onondagas, and Tuscarora have been provided for by treaty stipulations between the Indians and the State of New York. All six reserves are held and occupied by the Indians in common. While the Indian tribes of the continent, with few exceptions, have been steadily decreasing in numbers, those of New York have of late more than held their own, as is shown by an increase of 100 in the present reports over the reported number in 1871, and of 1300 over the number embraced in the United States census of 1860. On the New York reservations are twenty-eight schools; the attendance during some portions of the past year exceeding 1100; the daily average attendance being 608. Of the teachers employed, fifteen are Indians, as fully competent for this position as their white associates. An indication of what is to be accomplished in the future, in an educational point of view, is found in the successful effort, made in August last, to establish a teacher's institute on the Cattaraugus Reservation for the education of teachers especially for Indian schools. Thirty-eight applicants attended, and twenty-six are now under training. The statistics of individual wealth and of the aggregate product of agricultural and other industry are, in general, favorable; and a considerable increase in these regards is observed from year to year. Twenty thousand acres are under cultivation; the cereal crops are good; while noticeable success has been achieved in the raising of fruit.

The bands or tribes residing in Michigan are the Chippewa of Saginaw, Swan Creek, and Black River; the Ottawa and Chippewa; the Pottawatomie of Huron; and the L'Anse band of Chippewa.

The Chippewa of Saginaw, Swan Creek, and Black River numbering 1630, and the Ottawa and Chippewa 6039, are indigenous to the country. They are well advanced in civilization; have, with few exceptions, been allotted lands under treaty provisions, for which they have received patents; and are now entitled to all the privileges and benefits of citizens of the United States. Those to whom no allotments have been made can secure homesteads under the provisions of the Act of June 10th, 1872. All treaty stipulations with these Indians have expired. They now have no money or other annuities paid to them by the United States Government. The three tribes first named have in all four schools, with 115 scholars; and the last, two schools, with 152 scholars.

The Pottawatomie of Huron number about fifty.
The L'Anse band of Chippewa, numbering 1195, belong with the other bands of the Chippewa of Lake Superior. They occupy a reservation of about 48,300 acres, situated on Lake Superior, in the extreme northern part of the State. But few of them are engaged in agriculture, most of them depending for their subsistence on hunting and fishing. They have two schools, with an attendance of fifty-six scholars.

The progress of the Indians of Michigan in civilization and industry has been greatly hindered in the past by a feeling of uncertainty in regard to their permanent possession and enjoyment of their homes. Since the allotment of land, and the distribution of either patents or homestead certificates to these Indians (the L'Anse or Lake Superior Chippewa, a people of hunting and fishing habits, excepted), a marked improvement has been man-bested on their part in regard to breaking land and building houses. The aggregate quantity of land cultivated by the several tribes is 11,620 acres-corn, oats, and wheat being the chief products. The dwellings occupied consist of 244 frame and 835 log-houses. The aggregate population of the several tribes named (including the confederated "Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawatomie," about 250 souls, with whom the Government made a final settlement in 1866 of its treaty obligations) is, by the report of their agent for the current year, 9117-an increase over the number reported for 1871 of 402; due, however, perhaps as much to the return of absent Indians as to the excess of births over deaths. In educational matters these Indians have, of late, most unfortunately, fallen short of the results of former years; for the reason mainly that, their treaties expiring, the provisions previously existing for educational uses failed.

The bands or tribes in Wisconsin are the Chippewa of Lake Superior, the Menomonee, the Stockbridge, and Munsee, the Oneida, and certain stray bands (so-called) of Winnebago, Pottawatomie, and Chippewa
The Chippewa of Lake Superior (under which head are included the following bands: Fond du Lac, Boise Forte, Grand Portage, Red Cliff, Bad River, Lac de Flambeau, and Lac Court D'Oreille) number about 5150. They constitute a part of the Ojibway (anglicized in the term Chippewa), formerly one of the most powerful and warlike nations in the north-west, embracing many bands, and ranging over an immense territory, extending .along the shores of Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior to the steppes of the Upper Mississippi. Of this great nation large numbers are still found in Minnesota, many in Michigan, and a fragment in Kansas.

The bands above mentioned by name are at present located on several small reservations set apart for them by treaties of September 30th, 1834, and April 7th, 1866, in Wisconsin and Minnesota, comprising in all about 605,290 acres. By Act of Congress of May 29th, 1872, provision was made for the sale, with the consent of the Indians, of three of these reservations, ciz., the Lac de Flambeau and Lac Court D'Oreille in Wisconsin, and the Fond du Lac in Minnesota; and for the removal of the Indians located thereon to the Bad River Reservation, where there is plenty of good arable land, and where they can be properly cared for, and instructed in agriculture and mechanics.

The greater part of these Indians at present lead a somewhat roving life, finding their subsistence chiefly in game hunted by them, in the rice gathered in its wild state, and in the fish afforded by waters conveniently near. Comparatively little is done in the way of cultivating the soil. Certain bands have of late been greatly demoralized by contact with persons employed in the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad, the line of which runs near one (the Fond du Lac) of their reservations. Portions of this people, however, especially those situated at the Bad River Reservation, have begun to evince an earnest desire for self-improvement. Many live in houses of rude construction, and raise small crops of grain and vegetables; others labor among the whites; and a number find employment in cutting rails, fence-posts, and saw logs for the Government. In regard to the efforts made to instruct the children in letters, it may be said that, without being altogether fruitless, the results have been thus far meager and somewhat discouraging. The majority of the parents profess to wish to have their children educated, and ask for schools; but when the means are provided and the work undertaken, the difficulties in the way of success to any considerable extent appear in the undisciplined character of the scholars, which has to be overcome by the teacher without parental co-operation, and in the great irregularity of attendance at school, especially on the part of those who are obliged to accompany their parents to the rice-fields, the sugar-camps, or the fishing-grounds.

The Menomonee number 1362, and are located on a reservation of 230,400 acres in the northeastern part of Wisconsin. They formerly owned most of the eastern portion of the State, and, by treaty entered into with the Government on the 18th of October, 1848, ceded the same for a home in Minnesota upon lands that had been obtained by the United States from the Chippewa; but, becoming dissatisfied with the arrangement, as not having accorded them what they claimed to be rightfully due, subsequently- protested, and manifested great unwillingness to remove. In view of this condition of affairs, they were, by the President, permitted to remain in Wisconsin, and temporarily located upon the lands they now occupy, which were secured to them by a subsequent treaty made with the tribe on the .12th of May 1854. This reservation is well watered by lakes and streams, the latter affording excellent power and facilities for moving logs and lumber to market; the most of their country abounding with valuable pine timber. A considerable portion of the Menomonee have made real and substantial advancement in civilization; numbers of them are engaged in agriculture; others find remunerative employment in the lumbering camp established upon their reservation, under the management of the Government Agent, while a few still return at times to their old pursuits of hunting and fishing.

Under the plan adopted by the Department in 1871, in regard to cutting and selling the pine timber belonging to these Indians, 2,000,000 feet have been cut and driven, realizing $23,731, of which individual Indians received for their labor over $3000, the treasury of the tribe deriving a net profit of five dollars per thousand feet. The agent estimates that, for labor clone by the Indians upon the reservation, at lumbering, and for work outside on railroads, during the past year, about $20,000 has been earned and received, exclusive of the labor rendered in building houses, raising crops, snaking sugar, gathering rice, and hunting for peltries. The work of education upon the reservations has been of late quite unsatisfactory, but one small school being now in operation, with seventy scholars, the average attendance being fifty.

The Stockbridge and Munsee, numbering 250, occupy a reservation of 60,800 acres adjoining the Menomonee. The Stock-bridges came originally from Massachusetts and New York. After several removals, they, with the Munsee, finally located on and this could be afforded to a sufficient extent by the sale for their benefit of the timber upon the lands now occupied by them. Probably the Government could provide for them in no better way.

The White Oak Point Chippewa were formerly known as Sandy Lake Indians. They were removed in 1807 from Sandy Lake and Rabbit Lake to White Oak Point, on the Mississippi, near the eastern part of the Leech Lake Reservation. This location is unfavorable to their moral improvement and material progress, from its proximity to the lumber camps of the whites. Thus far the effort made to better their condition, by placing them on farming land, has proved a failure. The ground broken for them has gone back into grass, and their log-houses are in ruins, the former occupants betaking themselves to their wonted haunts. It would be well if these Indians could be induced to remove to the White Earth Reservation.

At Red Lake the Indians have had a prosperous year: good crops of corn and potatoes have been raised, and a number of houses built. This band would be in much better circumstances were they possessed of a greater quantity of arable lands. That to which they are at present limited allows but five acres, suitable for that use, to each It is proposed to sell their timber, and with the proceeds clear lands, purchase stock, and establish a manual-labor school.

The Pembina bands reside in Dakota Territory, but are here noticed in connection with the Minnesota Indians, because of their being attached to the same agency. They have no reservation, having ceded their lands by treaty made in 1863, but claim title to Turtle Mountain in Dakota, on which some of them resided at the time of the treaty, and which lies west of the line of the cession then made. They number, the full bloods about 350, and the half-breeds about 100. They lead a somewhat nomadic life, depending upon the chase for a precarious subsistence, in connection with an annuity from the Government of the United States.

The Chippewa of Minnesota have had but few educational advantages; but with the facilities now being afforded, and with the earnest endeavors that are now being put forth by their agent and the teachers employed, especially at White Earth, it is expected that their interests in this regard will be greatly promoted. At White Earth school operations have been quite successful; so much so, that it will require additional accommodations to meet the demands of the Indians for the education of their children.

The only other school in operation is that at Red Lake, under the auspices of the American Indian Mission Association.

There are now in Indiana about 345 Miami, who did not go to Kansas when the tribe moved to that section under the treaty of 1840. They are good citizens, many 'being thrifty farmers, giving no trouble either to their white neighbors or to the Government. There is also a small band called the Eel River band of residing in this State and in Michigan.

North Carolina, Tennessee, And Georgia

There are residing in these States probably about 1700 Cherokees, who elected to remain, under the provisions respecting Cherokees averse to removal, contained in the twelfth article of the treaty with the Cherokees of 1835. Under the Act of truly 29th, 1848, a per capita transportation and subsistence fund of $53 33 was created and set apart for their benefit, in accordance with a census-roll made under the provisions of said act; the interest on which fund, until such time as they shall individually remove to the Indian country, is the only money to which those named in said roll, who are living, or the heirs of those who have deceased, are entitled. This interest is too small to be of any benefit; and some action should be taken by Congress, with a view of having all business matters between these Indians and the Government settled, by removing such of them west as now desire to go, and paying those who decline to remove the per capita fund referred to. The Government has no agent residing with these Indians. In accordance with their earnestly expressed desire to be brought under the immediate charge of the Government, as its Wards, Congress, by law approved July 27th, 1868, directed that `the Secretary of the Interior should cause the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to take the same supervisory charge of them as of other tribes of Indians; but this practically amounts to nothing, in the absence of means to carry out the intention of the law with any beneficial result to the Indians. The condition of this people is represented to be deplorable. Before the late Rebellion they were living in good circumstances, engaged, with all the success, which could be expected, in farming, and in various minor industrial pursuits. Like all other inhabitants of this section, they suffered much during the war, and are now, from this and other causes, much impoverished.

Seminoles. There arc a few Seminoles, supposed to number' about 300, still residing in Florida-being those, or the descendants of those, who refused to accompany the tribe when it removed to the West many years ago. But little is known of their condition and temper.

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

A Century of Dishonor, By Helen Hunt Jackson, New York, Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, 1885

A Century of Dishonor


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