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FIFTY-FOURTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOARD OF
FISCAL YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 1923.
WASHINGTON, D, C.,
September 1, 1923. SIR: We have the honor of submitting herewith the fifty-fourth annual report of the Board of Indian Commissioners for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1923, during which members of the board visited and inspected 33 reservations, schools, hospitals, etc., including: Navajo Reservation, Ariz.; Zuni, Northern Pueblo, and Southern Pueblo Agencies, and the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Schools, N. Mex.; Chilocco School, the Five Civilized Tribes, and the Pawnee, Ponca, Shawnee, Cantonment, Cheyenne and Arapaho, and Kiowa Agencies, Okla., Sac and Fox Sanitarium, Iowa; Genoa School and Winnebago Agency, Nebr.; Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Crow Creek, and Lower Brule Reservations, the Rapid City School, and the Canton Insane, Asylum, S. Dak.; Fort Belknap and Blackfeet Reservations, Mont. ; Coeur d'Alene and Fort Lapwai Reservations, Idaho; Colville and Tulalip Reservations, Wash.; Umatilla Reservation, Oreg.; Mount Pleasant School, Mich.; the New York Indians; the Chicago Indian warehouse.
At its last annual meeting in January, 1923, the board adopted a statement outlining its general policies, functions, and duties, and which contains its views on some of the major factors of the Indian problem. These views are set forth in the following paragraphs to which we respectfully invite your attention:
GOVERNMENT'S INDIAN POLICY.
It appears that the main points aimed at by the Government, as indicated in its legislation, the administration of the Indian Office, and by all friends of the Indians, as expressed in their conferences and publications, are as follows:
1. The training of all Indians for American citizenship, and their ultimate absorption into the citizenship of the country.
2. An educational policy which will provide suitable schools for all Indian children.
3. The promotion of the health of Indians living on reservations by the enforcement of suitable hygienic and sanitary regulations and by adequate medical and surgical service.
4. The enforcement of law and order on all Indian reservations.
5. The gradual distribution, as individual competency shall be established, of all tribal lands and funds to their owners in severalty, to the end that each Indian may ultimately have complete responsibility for such property as equitably belongs to him.
6. The complete and final adjustment of all Indian claims, involving an accounting to every Indian tribe as to all matters affecting lands or funds wherein the Government holds a fiduciary relation.
7. The codification of all laws and treaty obligations relating to the Indians, with a view to the removal of the present complexity and confusion.
8. The conservation and utilization of natural resources, with a view to making the Indian Service more nearly self-supporting, and also with a view to the discontinuance of the influences which tend to pauperize the wards of the Government.
This program, in our opinion, concisely states the general policy underlying the Government's administration of Indian affairs. We believe it is a workable, constructive, and forward-looking policy, and that it is practical and comprehensive because it has been developed gradually out of the successes and failures of numerous administrations. There is no doubt in our minds that in the last quarter of a century the officials having charge of Federal relations with Indians have shown a keener appreciation of the Government's responsibilities as guardian and trustee of its Indian wards than their predecessors did.
Holding such views, this board is not so much concerned about the formulation of a new Indian policy as it is about the practical application of the present policy to the existing Indian problem with the particular purpose of hastening the time when the Government's supervision over Indians will come to an end. This would call for a quickening of the activities of the Indian Bureau, a substantial increase of appropriations by Congress so that the Indian Office could speed up its program, and an expansion, with greater effectiveness, of religious work among the Indians. In short, there should be more school-teachers, physicians, and field matrons with better pay, and more missionaries with stronger backing from their supporting churches in the Indian country.
In the beginning of the white invasion of this country the Indian problem was almost entirely a race problem characterized by mutual hatred, distrust, misunderstanding, and treachery. Years later national shame and the quickening of the national conscience brought philanthrophy, which developed into something akin to paternalism, into the problem as a major factor. Whatever may have been the impulses or intentions of our forebears, their segregation of Indians on reservations, with a demoralizing rationing system, though a measure of necessity at that time, had the effect of weakening the sense of self-responsibility of the Indians, of strangling their powers of initiative, and of diminishing their native independence.
As a consequence the Indians became a dependent people, incapable of meeting, unaided, the conditions of the white man's civilization that have been forced upon them. The Indian problem to-day, therefore, has in it something of the character of salvage, of reconditioning, of the building up of this dependent population group into American citizens who will be the equal of the white citizenry of the Nation.
It follows, then, that to prepare, to train our Indian people for the best type of American citizenship, and their absorption into the citizenship of the Nation, is the prime duty of the Government toward its Indian wards. In our opinion every activity of the Indian Bureau should be directed toward the speedy consummation of this prime obligation of the Government and, to this end, there should be an intensification of administrative efforts along the lines of education, conservation of health, and maintenance of law and order, three of the most important factors of the Indian problem.
An educational program which will provide suitable and adequate schooling for the Indian youth; the promotion of the health of Indians living on reservations by adequate medical and surgical service and by requiring and teaching the necessity of proper hygienic and sanitary conditions, and the enforcement of law and order on all reservations are essentials in the training, or preparation, of all Indians for the right kind of American citizenship, and educated, law respecting and self-supporting citizenship.
PROGRESS OF INDIAN EDUCATION.
It was about 50 years ago that the Government began to take more than a casual interest in Indian education. It started to build day schools. The opening of the Carlisle Indian School in 1879, the first of the nonreservation schools, with Gen. R. H. Pratt as its superintendent and presiding genius, was the real beginning of the present educational system of the Indian Service. Half a century ago Congress doled out small appropriations for Indian education mostly to aid mission schools. Congress now annually appropriates approximately $5,000,000 for Indian education. And yet, we maintain, this sum is not sufficient to carry out the obligation laid on the Government by its peculiar dual relationship as guardian and trustee of its Indian wards.
In support of this contention we can point to the significant situation which has developed out of the intensive school-filling campaign started by Commissioner Burke, of the Indian Bureau, two years ago and we wish here to record our hearty commendation of his notable efforts to carry out his declared intention of placing every Indian child in some school. Reports from the field to the effect that every Indian Service boarding school is overcrowded, that pupil demand largely exceeds school capacity, would indicate that the campaign has been successful to an embarrassing degree. Furthermore, school superintendents and principals predict a greater demand for school enrollment this coming school year. This is no trifling minor situation which confronts the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. It is a matter of such grave importance that it ould be of much concern to Congress; the Indian children everywhere are calling for more and a higher education.
In 1920, the year before Commissioner Burke started his “every pupil in some school" campaign, the number of Indian children eligible for school attendance was reported to be 82,856; this number increased to 85,689 in 1922. In 1920 the attendance of Indian children in the public schools of counties and States was 30,858; in 1922 it was 34,301. The total of attendance in all schools in 1920 was 61,800; this leaped to 64,943 în 1922.
Comparing the situation to-day with what it was 15 or 20 years ago, when it was necessary to resort almost to kidnapping to get Indian children into school, when parents obstinately refused to send their boys and girls to a white teacher, the contrast is startling. It would seem that the cumulative effect of the Government's educational activities in behalf of Indians for the past 25 years is taking tangible form; that at length, after many years of discouraging efforts, often in the face of open opposition, the Indian people are