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I visited Washington, to lay before the Administration the causes which had desolated our fair State with the blood of those slain by Indian massacre. After pleading in vain, and finding no redress, Secretary Stanton said to a friend, “What does the Bishop want? If he came here to tell us that our Indian system is a sink of iniquity, tell him we all know it. Tell him the United States never cures a wrong until the people demand it; and when the hearts of the people are reached the Indian will be saved." In this book the reader will find the sad story of' a century--no, not the whole story, but the fragmentary story of isolated tribes. The author will have her reward if it shall aid in securing justice to a noble and a wronged race. Even with the sad experiences of the past we have not learned justice. The Cherokees and other tribes received the Indian Territory as a compensation and atonement for one of the darkest crimes ever committed by a Christian nation. That territory was conveyed to them by legislation as strong as the wit of statesmen could devise. The fathers who conveyed this territory to the Cherokees are dead. Greedy eyes covet the land. The plans are laid to wrest it from its rightful owners. If this great iniquity is consummated, these Indians declare that all hope in our justice will die out of their hearts, and that they will defend their country with their lives.
The work of reform is a difficult one; it will cost us time, effort, and money; it will demand the best thoughts of the best men in the country. We shall have to regain the confidence of our Indian wards by honest dealing and the fulfilment of our promises. Now the name of a white man is to the Indians a synonyme for “liar.” Red Cloud recently paid a visit to the Black Hills, and was hospitably entertained by his white friends. In bidding them good-bye he expressed the hope that, if they did not meet again on earth, they might meet beyond the grave “in a land where white men ceased to be liars."
Dark as the history is, there is a brighter side. No missions to the heathen have been more blessed than those among the Indians. Thousands, who were once wild, painted savages, finding their greatest joy in deeds of war, are now the disciples of the Prince of Peace. There are Indian churches with Indian congregations, in which Indian clergy are telling the story of God's love in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Where once was only heard the medicine-drum and the song of the scalp-dance, there is now the bell calling Christians to prayer, and songs of praise and words of prayer go up to heaven. The Christian home, though only a
log-cabin, has taken the place of the wigwam; and the poor, degraded Indian woman has been changed to the Christian wife and mother. With justice, personal rights, and the protection of law, the Gospel will do for our Red brothers what it has done for other races-give to them homes, manhood and freedom.
H. B. WHIPPLE, Bishop of Minnesota.
NEW YORK, November 11th, 1880.
The present number of Indians in the United States does not exceed three hundred thousand, but is possibly as large now as when the Europeans began the settlement of the North American continent. Different tribes then existing have dwindled, and some have become extinct; but there is reason to believe that the vast territory now occupied by the United States, if not then a howling wilderness, was largely an unpeopled solitude. The roaming wild men who met the new discoverers were, however, numerous enough to make the Indian problem at the outset a serious one, while neither its gravity nor its difficulty yet shows signs of diminution.
The difficulty is not because the Indians are wild and savage men, for such men have in the past history of the human race been subdued and civilized in unnumbered instances, while the changes which in our time have been wrought among the cannibals of the South Sea and the barbarians of South Africa, and among the wildest and most savage of the North American Indians themselves, show abundantly that the agencies of civilization ready to our band are neither wanting nor weak.
The great difficulty with the Indian problem is not with the Indian, but with the Government and people of the United States. Instead of a liberal and far-sighted policy looking to the education and civilization and possible citizenship of the Indian tribes, we have suffered these people to remain as savages, for whose future we have had no adequate care, and to the consideration of whose present state the Government has only been moved when pressed by some present danger. We have encroached upon their means of subsistence without furnishing them any proper return; we have shut them up on reservations often notoriously unfit for them, or, if fit, we have not hesitated to drive them off for
our profit, without regard to theirs; we have treated them sometimes as foreign nations, with whom we have had treaties; sometimes as wards, who are entitled to no voice in the management of their affairs; and sometimes as subjects, from whom we have required obedience, but to whom we have recognized no obligations. That the Government of the United States, which has often plighted its faith to the Indian, and has broken it as often, and, while punishing him for his crimes, has given him no status in the courts except as a criminal, has been sadly derelict in its duty toward him, and has reaped the whirlwind only because it has sown the wind, is set forth in no exaggerated terms in the following pages, and ought to be acknowledged with shame by every American citizen.
It will be admitted now on every hand that the only solution of the Indian problem involves the entire change of these people from a savage to a civilized life. They are not likely to be exterminated. Unless we ourselves withdraw from all contact with them, and leave them to roam untrammeled over their wilds, or until the power of a Christian civilization shall make them consciously one with us, they will not cease to vex us.
But how shall they become civilized ? Civilization is in a most important sense a gift rather than an acquisition. Men do not gain it for themselves, except as stimulated thereto by some incitement from above themselves. The savage does not labor for the gratifications of civilized life, since he does not desire these. His labors and his desires are both dependent upon some spiritual gift, which, having kindled him, quickens his desires and calls forth his toil. Unless he has some help from without, some light and life from above to illumine and inspire him, the savage remains a savage, and without this all the blandishments of the civilization with which he might be brought into contact could no more win him into a better state than could all the light and warmth of the sun woo a desert into a fruitful field. When English missionaries went to the Indians in Canada, they took with them skilled laborers who should teach the Indians how to labor, and who, by providing them at first with comfortable houses, and clothing, and food, should awaken their desires and evoke their efforts to perpetuate and increase these comforts. But the Indian would not work, and preferred his wigwam, and skins, and raw flesh, and filth to the cleanliness and conveniences of a civilized
and it was only as Christian influences taught him his in. ner need, and how this could be supplied, that he was led to wish and work for the improvement of his outer condition and habits
of life. The same is true everywhere. Civilization does not re. produce itself. It must first be kindled, and can then only be kept alive by a power genuinely Christian.
But it is idle to attempt to carry Christian influences to any one unless we are Christian. The first step, therefore, toward the desired transformation of the Indian is a transformed treatment of him by ourselves. In sober earnest, our Government needs, first of all, to be Christian, and to treat the Indian question as Christian principles require. This means at the outset that we should be honest, and not talk about maintaining our rights until we are willing to fulfil our obligations. It means that we should be kind, and quite as eager to give the Indian what is ours as to get what is his. It means that we should be wise, and patient, and persevering, abandoning all makeshifts and temporary expedients, and setting it before us as our fixed aim to act toward him as a brother, until he shall act as a brother toward us. There is no use to attempt to teach Christian duty to him in words till he has first seen it exemplified in our own deeds.
The true Christian principle of self-forgetful honesty and kindness, clearly and continuously exhibited, is the first requisite of true statesmanship in the treatment of the Indian question. This would not require, however, the immediate entrance of the Indian upon all the privileges of citizenship and self-direction. Christianized though he might be, he would need for a longer or shorter time guardianship like a child. A wise care for his own interests could not be expected of him at the outset, and the Govern. ment should care for him with wise forethought. Obedience to the law should be required of him, and the protection of the law afforded him. The jurisdiction of the courts and the presence of the Government should be felt in the Indian Territory and upon every Indian reservation as powerfully as in the most enlightened portions of the land. The court should go as early as the school, if not before, and is itself an educational agency of incalculable importance.
When the Indian, through wise and Christian treatment, becomes invested with all the rights and duties of citizenship, his special tribal relations will become extinct. This will not be easily nor rapidly done; but all our policy should be shaped toward the gradual loosening of the tribal bond, and the gradual absorption of the Indian families among the masses of our people. This would involve the bringing to an end of the whole system of Indian reservations, and would forbid the continued isolation