125. Indian Commissioner Leupp on Indian Policy: Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, September 30, 1905
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202 and Indian tribal property, we may not specially consider the contentions pressed upon our notice that the signing by the Indians of the agreement of October 6, 1892, was obtained by fraudulent misrepresentations and concealment, that the requisite three-fourths of adult male Indians had not signed, as required by the twelfth article of the treaty of 1867, and that the treaty as signed had been amended by Congress without submitting such amendments to the action of the Indians , since all these matters, in any event, were solely within the domain of the legislative authority and its action is conclusive upon the courts. . . . [187 U.S. Reports, 553, 564–68.] 125. Indian Commissioner Leupp on Indian Policy Extract from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs September 30, 1905 Commissioner Francis E. Leupp, in his first annual report, outlined his views on a proper Indian policy. While stressing the concept of self-support advanced by his predecessor, he also recommended preservation of elements of Indian culture. . . . . Assuming the responsibilities of the commissionership in the very middle of the fiscal year, I have endeavored to gather up the threads of the work of my immediate predecessor and weave them into a consistent fabric, with only such new features of design as changeful passing conditions seemed to demand. For whatever in this report bears the stamp of novelty, but has not yet earned the seal of accomplishment, I shall crave your indulgence on the plea that the field of Indian affairs is presenting every day fresh problems for solution, and that, there being no precedents to guide us in solving these, we are necessarily driven to experiment. But in order that the general end toward which my efforts are directed may be the more clearly understood, I beg respectfully to lay before you one of the fruits of my twenty years’ study oftheIndianfacetofaceandinhisownhome, as well as of his past and present environment, in the form of a few outlines of an indian policy. The commonest mistake made by his white wellwishers in dealing with the Indian is the assumption that he is simply a white man with a red skin. The next commonest is the assumption that because he is a nonCaucasian he is to be classed indiscriminately with other non-Caucasians, like the negro, for instance. The truth is that the Indian has as distinct an individuality as any type of man who ever lived, and he will never be judged aright till we learn to measure him by his own standards, as we whites would wish to be measured if some more powerful race were to usurp dominion over us. Suppose, a few centuries ago, an absolutely alien people like the Chinese had invaded our shores and driven the white colonists before them to districts more and more isolated, destroyed the industries on which they had always subsisted, and crowned all by disarming them and penning them on various tracts of land where they could be fed and clothed and cared for at no cost to themselves, to what condition would the white Americans of today have been reduced ? In spite of their vigorous ancestry they would surely have lapsed into barbarism and become pauperized. No race on earth could overcome, with forces evolved from within themselves, the effect of such treatment . That our red brethren have not been wholly ruined by it is the best proof we could ask of the sturdy traits of character inherent in them. But though not ruined, they have suffered serious deterioration, and the chief problem now before us is to prevent its going any further. To that end we must reckon with several facts. First, little can be done to change the Indian who has already passed middle life. By virtue of that very quality of steadfastness which we admire in him when well applied, he is likely to remain an Indian of the old school to the last. With the younger adults we can do something here and there, where we find one who is not too conservative; but 203 our main hope lies with the youthful generation , who are still measurably plastic. The picture which rises in the minds of most Eastern white persons when they read petitions in which Indians pathetically describe themselves as “ignorant” and “poor,” is that of a group of red men hungry for knowledge and eager for a chance to work and earn their living like white men. In actual life and in...