National Geographic : 1915 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE our traditions, in fact, will not permit the adoption of a drastic course that would cast the Indian upon a world for which he is ill-prepared. Yet I am of the opinion that it would be better, far better, to sever all ties be tween the Indian and the government, give every man his own and let him go his own way to success or destruction, rather than keep alive in the Indian the belief that he is to remain a ward of the government. The advocates of the sink or swim policy may be reckless. The ad vocates of the almshouse policy are surely doing harm. Is there, then, no way out? Must we go blunderingly on without goal and without policy? KILLING "THE ORPHAN ASYLUM" IDEA The way out is gradually and wisely to put the Indian out. Our goal is the free Indian. The orphan-asylum idea must be killed in the mind of Indian and white man. The Indian should know that he is upon the road to enjoy or suffer full ca pacity. He is to have his opportunity as a "forward-looking man." This is not my dictum, for the govern ment has been feeling its way toward this policy for nearly 40 years. This is the rationale of the whole of our later con gressional policy, of the liberality of Con gress toward the education of the Indian, of the allotment system, of limitations fixed upon disposition of property. If the course of Congress means aught it means that the Indian shall not become a fixture as a ward. It is the judgment of those who know ty Indians of the Creek Nation from oil: Samuel Richard, $94,000; Jeannetta Richard, $9o,ooo; Seeley Alexander, $57,000; Lessey Yarhola, $73,000; Eastman Richard, $93,000; Thomas Long, $35,000; Ella Jones, $31,000; Nancy Yarhola, $29,000oo; Johnston Wacoche, $27,000; Miller Tiger, $23,000. Some of the Bad River Indians have re ceived as high as from $14,ooo to $16,ooo for the timber cut from their allotments. On the other hand, we must not forget that many of the Indians have lands which are little better than sand hills, that even though these tribes have vast herds of sheep and the wealth of the tribe seems large, when divided pro rata shares it would be but a small sum which could quickly be expended for sub sistence. the Indian best, and it is my conclusion, after as intimate a study as practicable of his nature and needs, that we should henceforth make a positive and syste matic effort to cast the full burden of in dependence and responsibility upon an increasing number of the Indians of all tribes. I find that there is a statute which sig nificantly empowers the Secretary of the Interior to do this in individual cases. That authority is adequate. And as soon as the machinery of administration can be set in motion I intend to use such au thority. If year by year a few from each of the tribes can be made to stand alto gether upon their own feet, we will be adding to the dignity of the Indian race and to their value as citizens. To be mas ter of himself, to be given his chance this is the Indian's right when he has proven himself. And all that we should do is to help him to make ready for that day of self-ownership. PREPARING THE INDIAN TO STAND ALONE Viewed in this light, the Indian prob lem is incomparably larger today than it was when the Cherokees were gathered up from the Southern States and sent into the unknown across the Mississippi. In 1830 the problem was how to get the Indians out of the way. Today the prob lem is how to make him really a part of the nation. This blend of wisdom, dignity, and childishness, this creature of a non-com mercial age, has been brought into a new day when all must live by conforming to a system that is as foreign to him as the life of the Buddhistic ascetic would be to us. Slowly through a century and more of torturous experience he has come to see that it is not our purpose tc do him harm; but he must learn to find his place in an economy that antagonizes every tra dition of his ten thousand years of his tory. How, then, are we to get into the mind of this soldier-sportsman the fact that the old order has passed away, and that the gentleman of today earns his right to live by his usefulness; that the American cannot be a man and a ward at the same time ?