Title: The Red Man's Lament

Periodical: World

Date: February 5, 1892

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THE RED MAN'S LAMENT.


THE INDIAN COMMITTEE AND THE SIOUX MEET IN COUNCIL.


American Horse Tells of the Wrongs Which His People Have Suffered.


Their Lands Have Been Taken, Their Race Is Fading and Disease Is Taking Them Away—Their Clothes Are Poor, Their Food Is Bad, and So Is the Quality of Everything They Get.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4.—The Indians who are here to discuss their troubles with the Great Father held a council this morning with the Indian Committee of the House of Representatives. George C. Crager, the special representative of THE WORLD, who achieved fame at the Pine Ridge Agency by entering the hostile camp in Indian guise, was present at the council through the courtesy of Chairman Perkins, of the Committee.

Crager is an adopted son of Chief Two Strike and spent twelve years among the Sioux. He knows their language as well as his own. He furnished Chairman Perkins with a copy of the report of the council which he sent to THE WORLD. American Horse was selected as spokesman for the Indians.

"I want to be put on the defensive," he said, "and give this Committee such information as I can, but I see a lot of books on these tables and want to know what they contain before I proceed."

"This committee," explained Chairman Perkins, "is the Indian Committee of the House, and has all to do with that which pertains to the interest of the Indians. These books are nothing special, except reports on different nations. We have to do with all of the disbursements, &c., pertaining to the Indians, and that is all."

"A few years ago," proceeded American Horse, "Gen. Crook and a commission in this room made a bill for us. We thought that would contain measures made for our good. I want to know what has been done and what has not in fulfilment thereof."

"I think all of the measures have been fulfilled." said Mr. Perkins.

"I am not satisfied with that answer; we want to know and hear with our ears what has been done. We are anxious to hear definitely an answer to the question I have put, and then I can talk."

"Name some promise or provision particularly and we will give it."

"We are afraid of one thing," returned American Horse; "we want to know how about our Sioux lands. You have taken a big slice of our land, and we fear another slice will be taken. We fear you on this account. We are afraid of you on account of the white man's past history. It is like a claw making inroads into our lands. You have made twenty-two different treaties. They have been a lot of talk and nothing more."

"The desire of Congress," persisted Chairman Perkins, "is to keep all treaties in good faith, and, if you wish, the boundaries of the reservation will be made, and you will be protected by the Government. One million one hundred thousand dollars have been appropriated this year to feed you and yours. Now what are you doing for the Government. You have been provided with teachers, we are buying cattle, sheep, &c., building houses and all that can be done as fast as we can for your comfort. Now tell us what are you doing.

 

"Some years ago we had a large strip of land. These appropriations are not given to us for nothing. The white man has come into our country thick and fast. We are losing ground everywhere; our lands are much smaller; our race is fading; disease is taking us and we are growing smaller. The appropriations may be made in good faith, but those who buy do not do their duty. The clothes which we receive are of the poorest; the food is bad and we get sick, the quality of everything we get is poor.

The cattle are not grown in our country, but cattle we get from the South near the Indian Territory. It is the contractors' fault who drive up the herds and do not look them over, but the Agent takes them just as they come. The poor ones are driven in with the fair ones."

Mr. Perkins asked if an army officer was not generally appointed to receive and inspect cattle, and if the agent was not present to see that the food was good when delivered.

American Horse replied:

"There is an Army officer who stands by and sees it. Up to five years ago they were very careful. Bunches were taken out of thirty or forty diseased cattle. It seems as if the army officers were in league with the contractors. Very little careful inspections have been made in the past five years."

Mr. Perkins asked the Indians what they were doing to make themselves self-supporting, to which American Horse responded: "The Indians are willing to work, but the white men come to the agency in herds and drive us out of any employment that might be. We try to help ourselves in cultivating the ground, but the drought for the past two years has cut all off from us and we are helpless in that direction. The seed we get is generally four or five years old."

"Now, don't you keep that seed sent you four or five years and then plant it? Is that not the reason why it is not fruitful?" suggested Mr. Perkins.

American Horse stopped to think. "I am drifting away from an important matter," he resumed. "I did not come here to talk about common seed. A few minutes ago my heart was good and I shook hands with all present, and I want to return to the leading question, not about seed."

Mr. Perkins read over the Indian Appropriation bill, which is the largest appropriation ever made to the Sioux Nation. He agreed to furnish the chiefs with copies. American Horse, in conclusion, asked two things. "First," he said, "we want to receive the rations as per the army standard. Second, we would also like that the positions at the agency shall be filled by half-breeds and full-blood Indians who return from our Eastern schools and are qualified to hold them. Let us experiment and see if it is not for our good. All of these positions are held by the whites, who are crowding us. Within our boundaries we have many head of cattle for ourselves and our children's benefit. We have lost many of these by the recent catastrophe, and I accuse you in a polite way for sustaining this loss."

"We make this provision in our appropriation," replied Mr. Perkins, "and report for the employment of men who are competent: also if you raise cattle and can support them, preference shall be given that they be purchased of you. Indian police, scouts, etc., shall be of your people. The Committee appreciate the fact of the recent trouble, and on this account we have made the largest appropriation on record to the Sioux nation."

Mr. Perkins—I will get you copies and you will have a chance to see the President, the Secretary and Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and they desire that you be good. The Indian Committee will co-operate with you so that all treaties made will be kept as much as can be. We want you to be farmers; send your children to school; we build your houses, and above all, become self-supporting. This clothing of which you complain is inspected by a committee of gentlemen interested in the welfare of the Indian, who receive no remuneration for their work. I cannot understand why this imposition.

Note: Missing text is inferred where possible.

Title: The Red Man's Lament

Periodical: World

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West , MS6.3772.030.01 (Crager scrapbook)

Date: February 5, 1892

Topic: European Tours

Keywords: Agriculture American Indians Cattle Food Indian reservations Livestock Pawnee Indians Sioux Nation Treaties Treaties, land cessions, and other U.S. Congressional documents relative to American Indian tribes United States. House of Representatives United States. Office of Indian Affairs

People: American Horse, Dakota Chief, 1840-1908 Crook, George, 1829-1890 Two Strike, 1832-1915

Place: Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (S.D.)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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