107. Indian Commissioner Morgan on Indian Policy: Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, October 1, 1889
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175 their barbarous practices, is to teach them the English language. The impracticability, if not impossibility, of civilizing the Indians of this country in any other tongue than our own would seem to be obvious, especially in view of the fact that the number of Indian vernaculars is even greater than the number of tribes. Bands of the same tribes inhabiting different localities have different dialects, and sometimes can not communicate with each other except by the sign language. If we expect to infuse into the rising generation the leaven of American citizenship, we must remove the stumbling blocks of hereditary customs and manners, and of these language is one of the most important elements. . . . [House Executive Document no. 1, 50th Cong., 1st sess., serial 2542, pp. 19–21.] 106. Marriage between White Men and Indian Women August 9, 1888 The effects of marriage between white men and Indian women were regulated in this law of 1888. An act in relation to marriage between white men and Indian women. Be it enacted . . . , That no white man, not otherwise a member of any tribe of Indians, who may hereafter marry, an Indian woman, member of any Indian tribe in the United States, or any of its Territories except the five civilized tribes in the Indian Territory, shall by such marriage hereafter acquire any right to any tribal property, privilege, or interest whatever to which any member of such tribe is entitled. Sec. 2. That every Indian woman, member of any such tribe of Indians, who, may hereafter be married to any citizen of the United States, is hereby declared to become by such marriage a citizen of the United States, with all the rights, privileges, and immunities of any such citizen, being a married woman: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall impair or in any way affect the right or title of such married woman to any tribal property or any interest therein. Sec. 3. That whenever the marriage of any white man with any Indian woman, a member of any such tribe of Indians, is required or offered to be proved in any judicial proceeding, evidence of the admission of such fact by the party against whom the proceeding is had, or evidence of general repute, or of cohabitation as married persons, or any other circumstantial or presumptive evidence from which the fact may be inferred, shall be competent. [U.S. Statutes at Large, 25:392.] 107. Indian Commissioner Morgan on Indian Policy Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs October 1, 1889 Thomas J. Morgan, appointed commissioner of Indian affairs in 1889, was a man of strong convictions about the need to Americanize the Indians and absorb them into white society. In his first annual report he set forth his general views. . . . . Unexpectedly called to this responsible position, I entered upon the discharge of its duties with a few simple, well-defined, and strongly-cherished convictions: First.—The anomalous position heretofore occupied by the Indians in this country can not much longer be maintained. The reservation system belongs to a “vanishing state of things” and must soon cease to exist. Second.—The logic of events demands the absorption of the Indians into our national life, not as Indians, but as American citizens. Third.—As soon as a wise conservatism will warrant it, the relations of the Indians to the Government must rest solely upon the full recognition of their individuality. Each 176 Indian must be treated as a man, be allowed a man’s rights and privileges, and be held to the performance of a man’s obligations. Each Indian is entitled to his proper share of the inherited wealth of the tribe, and to the protection of the courts in his “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” He is not entitled to be supported in idleness. Fourth.—The Indians must conform to “the white man’s ways,” peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must. They must adjust themselves to their environment, and conform their mode of living substantially to our civilization. This civilization may not be the best possible, but it is the best the Indians can get. They can not escape it, and must either conform to it or be crushed by it. Fifth.—The paramount duty of the hour is to prepare the rising generation of Indians for the new order of things thus forced upon them. A comprehensive system of education modeled after the American public-school...


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