Title: Buffalo Bill Upon the Indian Question

Periodical: Harper's Weekly

Date: July 14, 1888

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BUFFALO BILL UPON THE INDIAN QUESTION.

There could have been no more authentic and valuable witness upon the subject of our Indian policy than Colonel W. F. Cody, the Buffalo Bill of "the Wild West," and a recent brief paper by him in the Epoch is well worth attention. The Indian, he says, is not revengeful, but, like the white man, he will take every advantage of his enemy in war. He says also, plainly, that there is no such thing as treachery in the Indian character, and there can be no better witness. Colonel Cody has 125 Indians in his camp on Staten Island. They are disciplined, as he says, and as every visitor knows, like any army. His own decision is shown in a story current upon Staten Island in the neighborhood of the Wild West. Liquor had been furnished to some of the Indians at the adjacent saloons, and Colonel Cody promptly informed the proprietors that there was a very heavy fine for selling liquor to Indians. "But this," he said, "you probably know. What I particularly wish to remark is that if I find any liquor sold to them, I shall turn them loose upon the saloons." His remark has served as an effective prohibitory law.

The Colonel says that the constant change of administration is very unfortunate for the Indians. There is an incessant change of treatment, and the Indian naturally becomes confused and impatient, and often unreasonable and suspicious. Undoubtedly their frequent contact with half-civilized whites and utterly unprincipled agents disgusts and imbrutes them, and gives them a profound contempt for the "superior" race. The paper in the Weekly a fortnight ago upon Bishop Whipple shows the effect of a sagacious, firm, and honorable treatment, and the bishop's experience is that of Mr. Welsh and others who are sincerely interested in the welfare of the Indians.

Colonel Cody warmly approves the policy of distributing land in severalty among the Indians; that is, the plan of giving every man his definite lot of 160 acres. The scheme of 1876, that of giving a tribe an immense tract to roam over, and feeding and clothing them until they learned to support themselves, he thinks obviously foolish. It would ruin white men if it should be applied to them, because it would deprive them of all incentive to work. The Indians are increasing in number, he says, not diminishing, as is generally supposed, and ultimately he thinks that they will affiliate with the white race, like the Cherokees or the New York Indians. It is very satisfactory to have the views of the most intelligent friends of the Indian confirmed by so competent an observer, who has lived among them and been identified with them for so long a time.

Title: Buffalo Bill Upon the Indian Question

Periodical: Harper's Weekly

Date: July 14, 1888

Topic: European Tours

Keywords: Alcoholic beverages American Indians Cherokee Indians Indian agents Indian reservations United States. Office of Indian Affairs

People: Welsh, William, 1807-1878 Whipple, Henry Benjamin, 1822-1901

Place: Staten Island (New York, N.Y.)

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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