Indian and White
In the History of the Northwest
By Holice and Pam
Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing this book. The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers! Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with genealogists!
AN IMPENDING CALAMITY TO OUR CATHOLIC INDIANS.
We have before us an official circular of the Hon. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated Washington, D. C., June 9, 1892, and addressed to the Indian Agent in our State. The Hon. commissioner announces that "a new Indian industrial training school has been established at Fort Shaw, Montana, and that the Superintendent, Dr. W. H. Winslow, physician and principal teacher at Chiloco, Oklahoma, has been directed to proceed to Fort Shaw and enter upon the duties of his new position." he then declares that, "it is the hope of the Office to make this a large school and, eventually, one of the most important in the Indian Service." Having pointed out the advantages of the location, on account of buildings, facilities for agricultural pursuits, etc., the Commissioner continues as follows:
It is the expectation of the Office that a large number of children will be transferred from your reservation to this new school, and you are directed to co-operate heartily with Superintendent Winslow and with Supervisor Parker in their efforts to secure a large enrollment for Fort Shaw, as soon as the school is ready to receive pupils.
Children transferred should not be under twelve to fourteen years of age, and they should have a fair knowledge of English. It is desirable that the children should have been previously in attendance at some other School.
T. J. Morgan, commissioner.
We call the attention of all fair-minded people to this official document, whose salient points we take the liberty of putting in italics.
That everyone may be fully able to judge for himself of its importance, we need but state that the simple fact that of the Indian youth from twelve to fourteen years of age in Montana, nine-tens are Catholics and in actual attendance at Catholic schools. This we know to be perfectly true, and but a glance at the official school tables for Montana will convince anyone of the accuracy of the statement. With regard to the Jocko or Flat Head reservation, the case does not even admit of one solitary exception, all Indian youth there being practical Catholics.
It is, therefore, evident, that the new school at Fort Shaw will have very few pupils, or that if it is to have many, nine-tens of the number must be drawn from the Catholic Indian children in actual attendance at Catholic schools. In the former case, the school is not needed and has no reason for existence; in the latter, it is an outrage and a crying injustice against helpless Catholic Indians.
Will the honorable commissioner consent to the appointment of a priest, as spiritual director of his Fort Shaw institution? Will he have a Catholic chaplain to instruct those children in their faith and administer to them the comforts of their religion? One might sooner expect lambs to be protected by wolves, than see the ministrations of Catholicity extended to these youth under officials of the Morgan and Dorcester type.
The Fort Shaw school is meant to be anon-sectarian institution, we are told, and, of course, it must needs be conducted as such. And we know well what that means. It not only means that all Catholic instruction is to be excluded from it, but it means worse condition still. Catholic children will have their religion positively untaught to them.
The Indian Agents throughout Montana are officially directed to "co-operate heartily in the efforts to secure a large attendance of pupils for Fort Shaw." This explains itself and needs not comment at our hands. We can easily surmise what this co-operation is likely to be; it will be both hearty and very heartless at the same time. We cannot doubt it. "Three acres and a cow" will be the price paid Indian parents, to have them consent to the "promotion" of their Catholic children to this new school, or to some other of the same kind. We know of a case where "three Cows," instead of one, was the consideration for such a bargain; and by the irony of thins, the youth is just one
of those doubtful, "amphibious," Crees, who are Canadian subject when attending a Catholic contract school, but who, on entering a non-sectarian government school, become at once full-fledged and native born American Indians. But what the "three acres and a cow" method, what bribes and well-known Indian "tips" may fail to do, the "suspension of ration," that is, the starving out process, is sure to accomplish. An empty stomach, we all know, is a very strong argument, and its reasonings are never without a peculiarly convincing force of their own.
The new administration started out with the publicly avowed purpose of discontinuing all Indian contract school, and replacing them with others of the non-sectarian kind. That this policy was inaugurated, and is continued in by the administration, principally, to do away with the Catholic Indian schools, is no longer a matter of guess or doubt; it is on record and blazoned conspicuously all along its course and tenure of office.
It is true that in the 23rd Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commission for 1891, page 134, we find the following declaration from Commissioner Morgan:
In reference to the contract schools, the present policy of the Government is to preserve the statu quo and not interfere with the schools already established. It will allow maters to take their own course.
But these promises were not made to keep and, as shown by the facts, they were soon cast to the winds. The bulldozing by the Commissioner of the Catholic Indian Mission Bureau established by the Catholic Hierarchy, to look afire the school and mission interests of our Indians; the diminished number of allowed pupils in Catholic Indian contract schools; the erection--unnecessarily and at a lavish expenditure of the people's money--of non-sectarian Government schools, side by side with, and in opposition to the Mission schools; school inspectors, supervisors, superintendents, of pronounced anti-Catholic propensities, whose principal duty would seem to be to find fault with and run down whatever is Catholic, and the conduct of several of whom has been at times more noticeable for coarseness and shocking vulgarity, than polite, gentlemanly breeding; all this, with more that could be added, is evidence enough that the status quo is not being preserved, and that Catholic Indian schools are not only
interfered with, but gradually done away with , by a policy that aims at rendering their continuance practically impossible.
And yet, despite all the odds against them, these schools are well conducted, efficient and successful, and, as a matter of fact, superior to the non-sectarian Indian schools under the charge of Government officials. And this they are not merely in the opinion of friends, but in the eyes and testimony of public officials, who frequently have been detailed to inspect them and who were prejudiced and unfriendly rather than partial. It is again our Catholic Indian schools as models and examples for imitation, and that they have directed matrons, teachers, and other attaches of Government Indian school, to acquaint themselves with and follow Catholic methods. A like testimony from such witnesses is more than an unlooked-for compliment paid to our Indian schools; it is their best vindication.
Let the Honorable Commissioner of Indian affairs make known to the American public and to genealogists at last the official reports bearing on the point at issue, and which he has received from Montana during his term of office. Let him publish these reports verbatim et literatim, without doctoring them and with a jot or title being added to, or taken from them, and we and every catholic in the land will abide contentedly by the verdict. If, in the testimony of such official documents, Catholic contract school in Montana are not superior to every non-sectarian Indian school of the government in everything substantial in education, that is, in morals, good manners, discipline, industry, diligence, efficiency as well as proficiency, we shall be the first to dry them down and to call on our teachers and missionaries to give up on and abandon the field.
But that all may know still better the real merits of the case and actual state of catholic Indian education in Montana, it is necessary to particularize somewhat. Hence we shall summarize, as briefly as possible, what ha been said in the preceding pages; we shall present, in other words, a birds-eyes view of the whole subject, schools, teachers, pupils, improvement, etc., with such other additional information as may be of interest, or may help to better understanding of the whole question before us.
The following are the schools:
St. Ignatius, on the Jocko or Flat Head Reservation, in Western Montana. It was founded in 1864. Free-will offerings or contributions kept it up for several years previous to its becoming a contract school. During the summer months the teachers went from one mining camp, to another; begging for their own and their Indian pupils' subsistence from the kind-hearted mines of Montana. It has three departments, including the kindergarten, and a branch school at Arles. All told, and dependencies included, it counts some 400 pupils in attendance and possesses accommodations for two hundred more.
It first became a contract school in 1876, with an allowed number of 40 pupils at the rate of $108 a year per pupil. In 1884 the number was increased to 75, and some later, to 150, since 1889, congress has made a distinct annual appropriation for the schools at St. Ignatius, raising the umber of pupils to an even 300, and the per capita to $150. And this favorable legislation was brought about by the action and vote of fair-minded non-Catholics, the number of Catholics in the U. S. Senate and in the House of representative being very small.
The schools count thirty-three unsalaried instructors; while a number of little papooses in the kindergarten receive no support from the Government. For they are under four years of age, and for all such no allowance is made by the Indian Department.
The improvements at St. Ignatius in church and school buildings, furniture, equipment, agricultural implements, outhouses, machinery, etc., cannot fall short of the estimated value of $180,000. This is mostly the result of the combined efforts of the frugal and economical habits of the founders and their successors in continuing the work, whether as managers, teachers or assistants.
Among the factors contributing to the success of this institution, may also be reckoned the comparative freedom from interference which it has enjoyed so far. Obviously, even bigotry and prejudice seem to have had some respect for the goof work done among these people.
This, however, is no longer to be the case. Only a short time ago a number of pupils were ordered dropped from the rolls, on plea that they are not American subjects, but Crees from across the border. On the same ground, payment also is with-
held for a number of pupils in attendance at other Mission schools. Yet the children in question were all born on American soil, where the parents have had their permanent residence for the last twenty-five years. Furthermore, omitting that these selfsame pupils were not objected to in the past, it is a fact that several of them have brothers or sister in government institutions, without any objection whatever being raised against them on the score that they are not American subjects. Is not this using two measures?
The second school is that of St. Peter, near Fort Shaw, in northern Montana, established about the same time as the one of St. Ignatius. Its aim is to educate the youth of the Indian tribes living in that northern country, the Blackfeet or Piegans.
This school has net with considerable opposition on the part of on-Catholic clergymen and Indian agents. Furthermore, by the reduction of the reservation, the school has been left some seventy-five miles away from where the tribe is now located. These and other difficulties could not but hamper the progress of the school. It had to be closed at the beginning of the Piegan trouble, 1866; but was re-opened at its termination, some eight years after.
It became a contract school in 1885, with some thirty pupils in attendance, the number gradually increasing to over 200. Of these 190 are provided for by the Indian Department at the rate of $9 a month per pupil. The school can accommodate today 400 children; the buildings are substantial, beings tone, and supplied with all educational facilities. The estimated value of these improvements is in the neighborhood of $70,000. Apart from some $10,000 indebtedness, the remainder has accrued from the same source mentioned with regard to St. Ignatius. The staff consists of twenty unsalaried persons.
St. Labre, among the Tongue river Cheyennes, in south-eastern Montana, is the third Catholic school, and was founded in 1884. It is a contract school, with an allowed number of 40 pupils, though it could easily accommodate about twice as many. The funds for its establishment were obtained by the rt. Rev. Bishop Brondel ina lecturing tour through some of the eastern States undertaken by him for that very purpose. The improvements are valued at $15,000. Perhaps no other Catholic Indian
School has had to contend with greater difficulties than St. Labre. Still, if not all that it would have been under more favorable circumstances, its progress has been gratifying. The Government schools for the same tribe of Indians are located at the Agency, some twenty miles off.
St. Paul, among the Assiniboines and Gros Ventres, in north-eastern Montana, comes fourth. Its establishment dates from 1886, as previous to that time Catholics were not permitted to do any school and mission work among these Indians. This was also the case with the Blackfeet and Crows, though all these tribes had asked for yeas to have Catholic teachers among them.
Borrowed capital supplied most of the funds for the erection of buildings, which are being supplemented by new and substantial buildings. The total cost of these improvements, including those under way, borders on $40,000. The school has a contract from the Government for the education of 145 Indian children at a per-capital of $108 a year. The actual attendance, however, has been all along in excess of the number provided for by the Indian Department. The staff is composed of fifteen teachers and assistants, none of whom draw any salary. The Government schools for the same Indians are located at the Agencies of Fort Peck and Fort Belknap.
Fifth in turn is St. Xavier, on the Crow reservation, in southern Montana. It was begun in 1886-87 and has been brought up to a remarkable degree of efficiency for the short time it has been in existence. It has a Government contract for the schooling of 120 youth, while it could accommodate twice as many. Buildings and equipment have cost $48,000. The teachers and assistants who lend their services at St. Xavier's and its dependency, on Pryor Creek, without any salary, number twenty-one.
The funds for the establishment of this school and that of Holy Family--of which we shall speak directly--were furnished by the Misses Drexel, of Philadelphia. These noble American ladies, the honor of their sex and their country, have taken the greatest interest in assisting and promoting mission and school work among the Indians and our colored people. Their benefactions in this regard have been both unstilted and without number. Indeed, not content with giving to the cause her princely
fortune, Miss Katherine Drexel, now Mother Katherine, is giving to it today her very life. For she has just founded a Community of brave American women, whose ambition it is to devote themselves to the welfare of the poorest of human beings on earth and the most despised by the pride and sensual effeminacy of the age, the Indian and the Negro. Verily, the hand of the Lord is not shortened! And Mother Katherine's humble work may yet standout and be acclaimed as the heroic deed of the century.
There only remains to mention the last school, that of the Holy Family, in northern Montana. Great opposition was made as stating it, the Catholic missionaries being even ordered off the reservation by the despot in charge of that Agency. Authority to proceed with the school was granted by Congress. After the erection of all needed accommodations, the funds for which were furnished by Misses Drexel, of Philadelphia, an allowance for the education of one hundred Indian children was asked from the Government. A bill to that end, introduced by Hon. T. H. Carter, Delegate from Montana, passed the House, and also the Senate, although because of the opposition of the Indian Office the Senate Committee had reported it adversely.
The school is conducted by twelve teachers and assistants who receive no compensation or salary for their services. The pupils in attendance number 120, of whom 100 are supported by the Government at the rate of $125 per hear a year. The improvements, with equipment, furniture, and all the rest, have cost in round figures, $30,000.
Considering its short existence, the results of the Holy family school are very gratifying.
There are, then, in Montana--including the kindergarten at St. Ignatius and the two dependencies at Arlee and on Pryor Creek--nine Catholic Indian schools, with accommodations for some 1,400 pupils, at an outlay--for buildings, equipment, upkeep repairs--of more then $400,00, which the Catholic Church contributes to the cause of Indian education. And what about the personnel required to teach and care for the one thousand and more Indian pupils in actual attendance at these schools? Are the services of managers, guardians, instructors, less appreciable, because nine-tenths of those who devote them-
selves to the work do so with no eye to material compensation of any kind, but altogether gratuitously?
As to the teachers and managers, it may be well to remark further, that those among them who hail from a foreign country have become American citizens by choice and naturalization, or have declared their intention to become such, as soon as the legal formalities will allow them, and that they all speak English fluently and correctly, though no one can expect them to speak the language with the accent of the native born. Unsalaried male teachers or guardians are all members of the Society of Jesus; while of the unsalaried teachers and guardians of the other sex, fourteen belong to the Sisters of Providence, and the others to the Ursuline Order.
Besides English, not a few of the teachers speak also the Indian language of the pupils under their charge. For many of the Indian youth to be educated are grown-ups, albeit infants in most of the things in which they need training. Hence they need more talking to and more reasoning with then would be the case were they less advanced in age.
We incline to think that Commissioner Morgan is fully aware of this, and our surmise rests on what he lays down anent the qualifications desired in the pupils to be transferred to the non-sectarian school at Fort Shaw. "The pupils," says the Commissioner, "should have a fair knowledge of English." And again: "It is desirable that they should have been in attendance at some other school." There can be no question about it, and it is all very clever. But if we understand the honorable gentleman, this simply means, turning these wild children of the forest into human beings first, making them tractable and docile, and giving them a fair knowledge of English, should be done preferably by others. With these previous qualifications, the rest become much easier. Furthermore, the work of others could be thus paraded as the result of his own system by the Commissioner.
The attendance at these schools I about equally divided between the two sexes. But, apart from a general superintendent the male and female departments are entirely separated, each
having its distinct and separate managements, separate buildings, separate grounds. Each department has also its own teachers, men teaching the boys, and women the girls, except in the kindergarten, where the wee lords of creation and the little girls are taught together by the same Sister.
To the Honorable Commissioner and others who find their ideal in co-education, this separation of the sexes savors too much of monasticism. It likely does, and we accept the criticism with entire tranquility of soul. But we must observe at the same time, that the managers of our Catholic Indians schools are all men of some experience, and know something of human nature in general and of Indian nature in particular. Nor can we doubt that the Honorable Commissioner, too, must have had by this time opportunities and evidence enough, to judge for himself which of the two, the mixed, or the unmixed educational system is preferable and more conducive to good morals. WE could accentuate this paragraph with facts and figures not unknown to the Indian Department; but do not care to soil our fingers. We pass on, instead, to add a word on the relative cost of Catholic India contract school as compared with the schools conducted by Government officials. And for this we have but to refer to official documents and figures.
As declared by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the average cost of an Indian pupil in the Government Schools is $175 a year. this is for support only, and to it must be added the pro rate of the amounts paid out in salaries, about as follows:
Ascending to this table an aggregate of some $13,000 is paid out yearly in salaries only in a Government Indian School containing between 150 to 160 pupils. To this must be added cost of buildings, equipment, furniture, repairs, tools implements, etc.
The Catholic Indian contract schools in Montana receive an average of $120 and sixty odd cents a year per pupil; and this amount cover everything building, equipment, repairs, board and salary of teachers, maintenance and clothing of pupils, books, stationary, tools and all the rest. It is made evident from all this, that an Indian pupil being educated ina Government school costs the Department more than twice the amount it pays for one educated in a Catholic contract school.
But, then, in the words of the Honorable Commissioner: "The United States with an overflowing treasury has at its command unlimited means and can undertake and complete this work" (this kind of extravagantly expensive Indian education) "without feeling it to be in any way a burden."
CONCLUSION OF FIRST PART.
But enough of this. Let us conclude this first part of our history.
From the tiny mustard seed first planted in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains among the natives, just half a century ago by Fatter De Smet, through god's grace, has sprung up a good sized tree, whose branches, spreading all over our fair State and far beyond the borders, have given shelter to, and saved from the beak and talons of the infernal vultures many precious and immortal souls.
Wonderful as it may seem, the energy of the bit of leaven hidden in the simple hearts of the Flat Heads, has been felt not only throughout the whole of Montana and adjacent States and territories, but also along the banks of the Mississippi, on the
Pacific Coast and even in frozen Alaska. For, not a few of the apostle men who have labored or are laboring in those fields, can trace their missionary calling to the movement toward Christianity that originated among the handful of remarkable Indians, misnamed the Flat Heads.
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