Gambar halaman

ing to white men and there is no reason why this rule should not apply to the Indian's reservation. This should be a wholehearted, simon-pure Indian reservation or nothing.

There are no mountains and no deserts in Florida, but there are many miles of green glades and prairies dotted with glistening lakes and traversed by broad water courses. This is home to the Seminole and he is really homesick when he leaves it. There are countless islands of verdure in this region and many forms of wild animal life everywhere, but the picture will lose a vital part when the Seminole with his little family in his dugout canoe quits it. The Royal Palm, the mahogany, the flamingo, the parakeet, the ibis, and countless other choice products of nature have gone or are going and the Seminole will go, too, soon after he is removed from his natural setting.

The only way to preserve him as such is to give him an exclusive hunting ground, and the one already assigned to him is ideal in this respect. If it becomes surrounded by a national park, let him become a part of it like the other unusual things which belong there. In time he would become very useful as a guide, and guides in that section will be needed for years to come. I know of no place on earth where it is easier to get hopelessly lost. Your only company for days might be little Florida deer grazing on freshly burned areas, little black bear climbing the palmettoes to eat the cabbage, alligators splashing into the water, rattlesnakes swimming from bank to bank, clouds of wild water fowl and tarpon rolling, pompano and mullet and many other fishes too numerous to mention. It is one of our last frontiers where the relics of an old sugar plantation and mangrove bark mill attest the failure of the white man to conquer it. If these Indians are left alone to paddle their own canoes over their own exclusive domain they will probably remain good Indians and a picturesque part of the landscape or waterscape, but if taught the white man's ways they will develop ultimately into very mediocre half-breeds and hover around the outskirts of our towns and mingle with the negroes. The only way to preserve him as he is, if this is the better plan, is to provide him with a good exclusive hunting ground, and for this purpose I know of no better place than this reservation in Monroe County. If not this, then let him fight his own battle and finally completely merge with white and black until he is no more.




There is, of course, a long history of Federal administration of Seminole affairs previous to the removal west of the Mississippi with which this survey has no concern.


In the year 1872 rumors of an impending outbreak induced the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to send an agent to Florida. He found that the Seminoles “were peaceable and lived together by themselves."

In 1875 the commissioner urged that public lands be set aside for the Seminoles while there were still good lands to be had, "to save them from the fate of the Mission Indians of California." Nothing was done.

In 1879 Capt. H. R. Pratt, a noted Indian educator, was detailed to investigate with a view to the institution of such measures as might lead to the civilization of the Florida Seminole." Capt. F. A. Hendry, of La Belle, took him among the camps and introduced bim to the head men in the Cypress. The Indians declined all offers, and Pratt reported that nothing could be accomplished.

The publication of the MacCauley report in 1884 reawakened an interest in the Seminoles and perhaps caused a twinge or two of conscience. Congress that same year appropriated $6,000 to "enable the Seminoles in Florida to obtain homesteads upon the public lands of Florida, and to establish themselves thereon," but when an agent was sent to help the Indians take advantage of the act it was found that the hammocks they were cultivating were owned either by the State or by improvement companies.

In 1886 another Federal agent was sent to look up suitable public lands; he could find none. In that same year, on the suggestion of the governor, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs recommended that the Federal Government should purchase lands from the State.

In 1888 Miss Lily Pierpont, of Winter Haven, Fla., was appointed Seminole agent. Unable to accomplish anything, she resigned the next year. Nor could her successor in office make any headway. The commissioner now reported that he could do nothing unless authorized to purchase lands from the State. Year after year Congress appropriated $6,000 for the Seminoles; year after year the appropriation reverted to the Treasury, unused.


With the initiation of the Immokalee experiment by Mrs. Quinton in 1891, the modern period in Seminole administration may be said to have begun. Of the 400 acres selected by the Women's National

Indian Association, 80 were sold to the United States, and Dr. J. E. Brecht was appointed Seminole agent.

In those days Fort Myers was the last outpost of civilization. Immokalee lay 40 miles to the southeast over as bad a trail as the world tolerates. The site was chosen because of its great elevationin a region of swamps so flat that water is often in doubt which way to run, Immokalee stands full 20 feet higher than the mission at Glade Cross, and 20 feet in Florida makes a mountain. Note well that the nearest permanent Indian camps were from 20 to 40 miles from this location.

Elevations above sea level

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

The Indian Service is not often served by a finer type of man than Doctor Brecht. He was a physician. He was a humanitarian. He was helped by a wife whose heart was in the work 100 per cent. These two devoted souls knew not the meaning of race prejudice; when Indians came to Immokalee they sat at Doctor Brecht's table as honored guests. When he went among them in their camps, he treated the sick and furnished medicines gratis and usually out of his own pocket. The Government started him out in truly handsome style with a sawmill, farming implements, 10 mules and a wagon, 10 oxen and a cart, 2 logging carts. When the millhouse, planing mill, and a large quantity of shingles went up in smoke in October, 1892, the loss was made good immediately. The mission alongside this governmental establishment kept a small store to supply the Indians at cost, buying their skins and venison to prevent the Seminoles from being cheated by traders.

Here was a set-up with every promise in the world of success. What were the results?

Curiosity overcame fear to the extent that a few Indians sawed a board at the mill or pulled the whistle cord. Then they went back to the swamps.

As Creel put it 10 years after the end of the experiment:

Commodious and comfortable buildings were erected, a sawmill including woodworking machinery was installed, and an agent and a corps of employees sent to the field. The Indians steadily refused to accept any of the freely offered benefits of the school and other material aid, even so far as refusing to accept a board from the mill or a handful of nails from the warehouse.

There is a deal to read between the lines in Doctor Brecht's reports. I dislike asking the reader to pause over ancient history when we have live Indians to deal with. Nevertheless, when many of the best

43095–S. Doc. 314, 71-3







friends of the Seminole are eager to-day to repeat the Immokalee experiment it is worth while looking into this matter a bit. In 1895 Doctor Brecht wrote:

I am sorry to say progress is much slower than one could wish, but they are not standing still.

More of the younger men are putting on citizen's dress.

The older Indians are holding back the young men and girls. Many, especially the boys, seem anxious to learn to read, but have not the courage to break away from the influences brought to bear upon them. A young Indian told me lately, “Indian boys work, old Indians kill us,” meaning, of course, regular white men's employment.

The plan and expectation was to draw the Indians from their swampy and scattered camps to this better location where they might be grouped more closely and thus more successfully drawn into industrial work, with

school facilities, and the making of better homes. For this reason, the first work done by the Gov ernment was the furnishing of a sawmill, with the necessary accompaniments and a crew of six employees, for the purpose of erecting the buildings required for the establishment of an Indian industrial school and the attracting of the Indians to this locality by the prospect of remunerative work and the securing of lumber for their homes.

The hope that in this way the Indians might be drawn permanently to this locality was not realized.

It seemed to hurt the good doctor that he was dealing with hunters and not farmers. In 1898 he laments: No organized school work has been carried on at the station

owing chiefly to the fact that there was a greater demand for the products of their hunting, the Indians keeping closely to their hunting grounds and securing ample supplies from the traders.

I am sorry that, owing to their almost entire devotion to hunting, their fields have, to a great extent, been neglected. This, in my opinion, is a backward step on their part.

They are discouraged in their field work, not knowing at what time they may be driven away by some white squatter. This is also the case with their raising of hogs, the latter being stolen from them

There is ample evidence that Doctor Brecht was personally liked by the Seminoles. He attended one green-corn dance as an honored guest and was invited to another; there could be no stronger evidence of their regard for him. As this good man in 1899 prepared to quit his uphill fight and abandon Immokalee he set down his faith in the Seminole.

In conclusion, I would say that, although the efforts of the earlier years of this service to win the Indians to organized school work were not successful, the evidence of the good result of the camp work was sufficient to make us feel that persistent and continued effort in that line would accomplish the desired result, and I have such faith in these Indians as to believe that by a constant mingling among them of earnest workers they would be brought out of their aversion and stolid indifference to education and progress. The very traits of character which make them so independent, self-supporting, and clinging in their devotion to the older Indians help to make them superior to many other tribes, and they are so considered by all who have had any chance of comparing them. And now that the important work of securing for their use the land to which they are entitled is about to be accomplished, I trust renewed effort may be made by the Government for work among them in their camps by a sufficient force of helpers, so that whoever may be in charge may not be hampered in the effort of civilizing and educating them.

SECTION 3. FEDERAL RESERVATIONS Doctor Brecht's remark about lands referred to a belated awakening on the part of(Congress. Beginning with 1894 it was stipulated that one-half of the annual appropriation of $6,000 should be used for the purchase of land. Up to the close of fiscal year 1897, Doctor Brecht had located and secured nearly 10,000 acres in what is now Hendry County. In the fall of 1896 the Secretary of the Interior declared the Everglades to be swamp land, which might be patented to Florida under the swamp acts of 1848–1850. Doctor Brecht at once appealed to the Indian Office to reserve the lands on which the Seminoles were living. The legal advisers of the department decided (in January, 1898) that the only right the Seminoles had was that of occupancy, but that inasmuch as part of the lands could not be classed as "swamp," the department had a right to revise the list of lands granted.

In an effort to save something for the Seminoles, an inspector in the Indian Service, Col. A. J. Duncan, brother-in-law of President McKinley, was sent down in 1898 to look into the whole land question. Through purchases over a long period of years and by President Taft's Executive order of June 28, 1911, some 26,781 acres were ultimately set aside for the Florida Indians. (See Appendix A.)

[blocks in formation]

The 80 acres at Immokalee were sold in 1904 pursuant to the act of March 3, 1903 (32 Sta. L., 1024); also a railroad right of way cut 34 acres from the Martin County lands, leaving the present Federal holdings 26,667.72 acres.

SECTION 4. REPORT OF F. C. CHURCHILL, 1909 Mr. Frank C. Churchill, inspector in the Indian Service, spent three months in Florida in the spring of 1909. Mr. Stranahan, of Fort Lauderdale, took him to some of the camps.

It was considered best that the Indians should not know that I was in any way connected with the Government, but by patience and the assistance of their friends I met and talked with at least 25 individuals, and the interviews were all in the hope of securing from them some intimation that they would be willing to settle down, have schools, etc. They listened patiently but when it came to a final answer to the direct question: "Don't you think this would be best for the Indians?” the reply was invariably the same, "Me don't know," and the best friends of the Indians that I could find told me that that was about as far as they had been able to induce the Indians to agree in regard to a new life.

It is not claimed that the prevailing sentiment in Florida has ever been friendly to the Seminoles and, beyond a mere handful of persons, they have few friends who would sacrifice the profits they hope to make on their otter skins and other output in carrying out any of their professed friendly relations.

CONCLUSION It must be admitted from a humanitarian standpoint the Seminoles need looking after to the extent that they be induced to settle down before they become a set of roving vagabonds, as they surely will in a few years if developments in Florida continue.

Having considered the question from all sides, I have come to the conclusionsFirst. That it would be a waste of time and money to attempt to establish & school for the Seminoles at present, as I believe it would be impossible to induce them to attend any school in which the Government is known to be interested.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »