restricted access 78. Secretary of the Interior Cox on Reservations and on the Peace Policy. November 15, 1869
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78. Secretary of the Interior Cox on Reservations and on the Peace Policy Extract from the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior November 15, 1869 Jacob D. Cox, first secretary of the interior in Grant’s administration, supported the policy of settling the Indians within reservations. In his annual report of 1869 he also spoke favorably of the Board of Indian Commissioners and of the policy of assigning Indians agencies to the Quakers–two elements of Grant’s “peace policy.” . . . . The problems presented by our relations to the Indian tribes which still inhabit portions of the western States and Territories are every year making more imperative demands for a fixed general policy that shall give some reasonable probability of an early and satisfactory solution. The completion of one of the great lines of railway to the Pacific coast has totally changed the conditions under which the civilized population of the country come in contact with the wild tribes. Instead of a slowly advancing tide of migration, making its gradual inroads upon the circumference of the great interior wilderness, the very center of the desert has been pierced. Every station upon the railway has become a nucleus for a civilized settlement, and a base from which lines of exploration for both mineral and agricultural wealth are pushed in every direction. Daily trains are carrying thousands of our citizens and untold values of merchandise across the continent, and must be protected from the danger of having hostile tribes on either side of the route. The range of the buffalo is being rapidly restricted, and the chase is becoming an uncertain reliance to the Indian for the sustenance of his family. If he is in want he will rob, as white men do in the like circumstances, and robbery is but the beginning of war, in which savage barbarities and retaliations soon cause a cry of extermination to be raised along the whole frontier. It has long been the policy of the government to require of the tribes most nearly in contact with white settlements that they should fix their abode upon definite reservations and abandon the wandering life to which they had been accustomed. To encourage them in civilization, large expenditures have been made in furnishing them with the means of agriculture and with clothing adapted to their new mode of life. A new policy is not so much needed as an enlarged and more enlightened application of the general principles of the old one. We are now in contact with all the aboriginal tribes within our borders, and can no longer assume that we may, even for a time, leave a large part of them out of the operation of our system. I understand this policy to look to two objects: First, the location of the Indians upon fixed reservations, so that the pioneers and settlers may be freed from the terrors of wandering hostile tribes; and second, an earnest effort at their civilization, so that they may themselves be elevated in the scale of humanity, and our obligation to them as fellow-men be discharged. In carrying out this policy a great practical difficulty has arisen from the fact that in most instances a separate reservation was given to each tribe. These reservations have been surrounded and gradually invaded by the white settlers, and the Indians crowded out of their homes and forced to negotiate for a new settlement, because their presence, their habits, and their manners were distasteful to their new and more powerful neighbors. It is believed that the only remedy for this condition of things is to encourage the Indians to assemble upon larger reservations, where their numbers will be aggregated, and where the more civilized of them will influence the others in striving to progress in the arts of peace. Congress has already passed an act to enable the civilized Indians of the Indian Territory, properly so called, to form a general organization, with most of the elements of a territorial government; but the requisite appropriations of money have not been made to carry the plan into effect. I would earnestly recommend that no further delay be made in this matter. The associated tribes, of which the Cherokees have taken the lead, are those best fitted for a fuller 128 129 experiment in self-government. They are already familiar with most of the forms of executive , legislative, and judicial action in use among us, and I believe them well prepared...