restricted access 59. Indian Commissioner Lea on the Civilization of the Indians: Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, November 27, 1851
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85 Article 8. It is understood and agreed that should any of the Indian nations, parties to this treaty, violate any of the provisions thereof, the United States may withhold the whole or a portion of the annuities mentioned in the preceding article from the nation so offending, until, in the opinion of the President of the United States, proper satisfaction shall have been made. . . . [Charles J. Kappler, ed., Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, 2:594–95.] 59. Indian Commissioner Lea on the Civilization of the Indians Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs November 27, 1851 The United States government’s goal of incorporating the Indians into white civilization was expressed by Commissioner Luke Lea at the end of his annual report in 1851. . . . . The civilization of the Indians within the territory of the United States is a cherished object of the government. It undoubtedly merits all the consideration bestowed upon it, and the employment of all the means necessary for its accomplishment. There are not wanting those, who, judging from the apparently little success which in some instances has attended the instrumentalities employed, doubt the practicability of the measure. It should be remembered, however, that to change a savage people from their barbarous habits to those of civilized life, is, in its nature, a work of time, and the results already attained, as evinced in the improved condition of several of our tribes, are sufficient to silence the most skeptical, and warrant the assurance that perseverance in the cause will achieve success. The history of the Indian furnishes abundant proof that he possesses all the elements essential to his elevation; all the powers, instincts and sympathies which appertain to his white brother; and which only need the proper development and direction to enable him to tread with equal step and dignity the walks of civilized life. He is intellectual, proud, brave, generous; and in his devotion to his family, his country, and the graves of his fathers, it is clearly shown that the kind affections and the impulses of patriotism animate his heart. That his inferiority is a necessity of his nature, is neither taught by philosophy nor attested by experience. Prejudice against him, originating in error of opinion on this subject, has doubtless been a formidable obstacle in the way of his improvement; while, on the other hand, it is equally certain that his progress has been retarded by ill conceived and misdirected efforts to hasten his advance. It is even questionable whether the immense amounts paid to them in the way of annuities have not been, and are not now, all things considered, a curse to them rather than a blessing. Certain it is, there has not at all times been the most wise and beneficial application of their funds. To arouse the spirit of enterprise in the Indian, and bring him to realize the necessity of reliance upon himself, in some industrial pursuit, for his support and comfort is, generally, if not universally, the initiative step to his civilization, which he is often prevented from taking by the debasing influence of the annuity system. But the system is fastened upon us, and its attendant evils must be endured. On the general subject of the civilization of the Indians, many and diversified opinions have been put forth; but, unfortunately, like the race to which they relate, they are too wild to be of much utility. The great question, How shall the Indians be civilized? yet remains without a satisfactory answer. The magnitude of the subject, and the manifold difficulties inseparably connected with it, seem to have bewildered the minds of those who have attempted to give it the most thorough investigation. The remark of the late Attorney General Legaré, is not more striking than true, that “there is nothing in the whole compass of our laws so anomalous, so hard to bring within any precise definition, or any logical and scientific arrangement of principles, as the relation in which the ...