The reason for the splendid condition of the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indians should not be lost upon our officials and Indian Committees in authority in Congress.
They have been surrounded by a high class of white people, and have been left alone to develop and progress. While they have been protected by the State of Maine, no discrimination has been made against them, as in the case of Indians in Oklahoma, Minnesota, California and elsewhere. They enjoy the same citizenship as is conferred upon Whites, and its does not consist of "paper promises," but is real and effective. Theirs is no story of dishonesty and disease.
The past summer, while on an archaeological expedition on the St. John River, I visited three villages occupied by Malacite Indians, in New Brunswick, Canada. All of them are well situated, one at the mouth of the Tobique River; another at Edmonton; and a third near Woodstock. While these Indians are poor, there is no general pauperism, and their general health is better than among the Indians I have visited in our United States (exclusive of Maine).
In one respect the plans followed by the Canadian officials are superior to ours, and evidence more ability (or rather stability) in the handling of the Indians. Instead of allotting these Indians, giving theirs deeds to valuable property, permitting them to be swindled by unscrupulous white persons, and then spending years in profitless litigation, in an attempt to make grafters return property taken from the Indians, these Canadians have continued the reservation system under a modified form. The Indians own their tracts of land, as with us, but do not hold deeds, or trust patents to same, therefore the lands cannot be sold or mortgaged; thus the incentive to fraud is removed.
The Indians serve as farmers, guides, carpenters and fishermen. Most of them are Catholics, and there is a priest located at the Tobique, village. He lives among them and encourages them in various arts. The census gives a few Indians as residing in our eastern states, but they are white people in every way, save color. To discover the next body of Indians exceeding more than three or four hundred, we must go down South where we find a few bands of Cherokees in Swain and Jackson Counties, North Carolina; and scattered throughout Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama there are 1100 or 1200 residing on what was originally a part of the habitat of this great nation.
Some of the Iroquois still reside in western New York, notably in settlements not far from Buffalo. These Indians, as in the case of the North Carolina Cherokees, are chiefly mixed-bloods, have adopted our
There has recently developed agitation seeking to break up their reservation. This is most unfortunate, as the tracts are small; the Indians are doing well and desire to be let alone. They deserve to remain in peaceful possession of their old-time homes.
All of the remaining Indians east of the Mississippi, and south of the Great Lakes need not enter into our discussion. Save for a noticeable Indian color in the case of some individuals, the bulk of them have ceased to be real Indians. The New York Iroquois, in recent times, have made creditable progress in arts, and have produced a number of prominent men and women: A large number of them serve in responsible positions and so far as they are concerned there is no Indian problem. We may, therefore, eliminate the eastern half of the United States, with the exception of Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida.
In Florida we have the descendants of the Seminoles, estimated at 600, and are an offshoot of the Creeks, or Muskokis. These still cling to their ancient homes in the Everglades, and have withstood all attempts to make of them either educated Indians or agency Indians. During Mr. Leupp's administration, he proposed to me that I go to Florida and spend a winter cultivating the friendship of these Indians and see if it were not possible to persuade them to send their children to school. I was unable to carry this mission into effect, but I understand that recently the Government sent a Special Agent there, who has compelled a number of the children to attend school. The draining of the Everglades is now well under way, and soon the hunting and fishing-grounds of these people will be very much restricted. They have always been self-supporting and they merit consideration, and should have our help. It is to be hoped that before the ditching of the Everglades is completed, these Indians will be properly provided for. This is a subject I would commend to the attention of the Federal authorities.
In Wisconsin we have quite a large number of Indians at the present, time, located on reservations, or clustered about schools. These number 9,930, and Wisconsin ranks ninth in the entire country in point of Indian population. Wisconsin is the first State, on our inspection tour from the East to the West, wherein we find a large body of Indians still in the transition period. They belong to the following bands: — the Ojibwa (Chippewa), Menominee, Potawatomi, Oneida, Winnebago and a few others.