restricted access 54. Transfer of Indian Affairs to the Department of the Interior, March 3, 1849
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79 it is not probable many will remain for any considerable period in the Mississippi region. Wild and untameable, and scattered over an immense extent of country, no effort could concentrate them; and, living wholly by the chase, they will probably follow the buffalo and other game as it gradually disappears, towards the Rocky mountains; either in the direction of the head waters of the Platte or those of the Missouri river, or both. If the Kanzas river were made the northern boundary of the southern colony there would be ample space of unoccupied territory below it for all the Indians above it that should be included in this colony. But the Delawares, Pottawatomies, and possibly the Kickapoos, who, or nearly all of whom, are just above that river, it would not probably be necessary to disturb. Above these, and on or adjacent to the frontier, are the band of Sacs and Foxes, known as the “Sacs and Foxes of the Missouri,” the Iowas, the Ottoes and Missourias, the Omahas, the Poncas, and the Pawnees. The last mentioned tribe are back some distance from the frontier, on the Platte river, directly on the route to Oregon, and have been the most troublesome Indians to the emigrants to that territory. By the treaty of 1833 they ceded all their lands south of that river, and obligated themselves to remove north of it; but as they are constantly liable to attacks from the Sioux in that direction, those south have never removed. As, however , there will soon be a military force in that region, which can afford them protection from the Sioux, they may properly be compelled at an early day to remove and to keep within their own country; and thus be out of the way of our emigrants. They are so obnoxious to the tribes south that they could not, for the present at least, be colonized with them. They must eventually be driven west or exterminated by the Sioux, who have a strong antipathy to them, unless a better understanding can be effected between them and the southern tribes, which will admit of their being moved down among or in the rear of them. No reasonable amount of military force could prevent their being killed off in detail by the Sioux, if they remain long in their present country. The other tribes mentioned can gradually be removed down to the southern colony, as the convenience of our emigrants and the pressure of our white population may require; which may be the case at no distant day, as the greater portion of the lands they occupy are eligibly located on and near the Missouri river, and from that circumstance, and their superior quality, said to be very desirable. Indeed, it would be a measure of great humanity to purchase out and remove the Omahas and the Ottoes and Missourias at an early period, particularly the former, who are a very interesting people, being mild and tractable in disposition, and much attached to the whites. Were they in a better position, they might, with proper measures, be easily civilized, and be made the instruments of imparting civilization to others. . . . [House Executive Document no. 1, 30th Cong., 2d sess., serial 537, pp. 385–89.] 54. Transfer of Indian Affairs to the Department of the Interior March 3, 1849 At a time of relative tranquillity on the frontier, responsibility for Indian affairs was transferred from the War Department to the newly created Department of the Interior. Insistent attempts in the post–Civil War decades to return the Indian bureau to the War Department were unsuccessful. An Act to establish the Home Department, and to provide for the Treasury Department an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and a Commissioner of the Customs. Be it enacted . . . , That, from and after the passage of this act, there shall be created a new executive department of the government of the United States, to be called the Department of the Interior; the head of which department shall be called the Secretary of the Interior, who shall be appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who shall hold his office by the same tenure, and receive the same salary, as the Secretaries 80 of the other executive departments, and who shall perform all the duties assigned to him by this act. . . . Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Interior shall exercise...


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