First Person Accounts
as written by American Indian Students
at Hampton Institute, 1878-1923

Compiled and edited by Jon L. Brudvig, Ph.D. ©1994 and 1996 All rights reserved.

Section Three


Henry, or Hepapetela, was a Sioux Indian from the Cheyenne River Agency in South Dakota. He attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute from March 1894 until 1899. Harry returned home to Cheyenne River after leaving Hampton and worked as a teacher, farmer, and rancher. He remained active in the community and was elected President of the Indian Temperance Society and Secretary of the Cheyenne River Business Committee. Cora Mae Folsom, a teacher at Hampton Institute, reported that Henry was a "leading man on [the] reservation."

Kola Owasn
Indian Day 1899

Not long ago we gathered in this same Hall and joined our fellow colored students to celebrate the day on which Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the American Negroes free from their many years of slavery and bondage.

Today I have the pleasure and honor to extend to you all a hearty welcome in behalf of the Indians present to rejoice with us in celebrating the 11th Anniversary of the passage of the "Dawes' Severalty Bill". This Bill gave the Indian that right which every man who loves his country should have, citizenship, a voice in the governing of this great land of ours.

In section 6 it provides as follows - that upon the completion of all allotments the civil and criminal laws of the state or Territory shall extend over the reservations, and no State or Territory shall make laws denying Indians within its jurisdiction the equal provision of law.

All Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States to whom allotments shall have been made through this Act, or to whom allotments have been made under previous Acts or treaty provisions, and all who have voluntarily rendered apart from any Indian Tribe and have adopted civilized life, are declared citizens of the United States, and are entitled to the rights and privileges of such, without losing right to tribal or other property.

The success of this Act was due to the untiring efforts of that great friend of the Indian, ex-Senator Dawes, a generoushearted man who looked ahead for the welfare of the Indian.

We are aware of and appreciate the great work the Indian Rights Association is doing for us. Every one of us should know something of each member of this committee so that we may appreciate more fully the importance of the work they are doing for us.

It is true that Indian mechanics of all sorts are needed to work among our people, but what I think is the most beneficial to the young Indian is the knowledge of agriculture. What is to become of all that land we have lying idle at our homes. I acknowledge, I for one have not had even so much as a plow dragged over my field. Those of us who have spent several summers on New England farms note the hard labor put on those small farms and see the wonderful results, come back here and study our agriculture lesson more eagerly because we look back to our homes and we realize the value of land. It is good for us. It is the very kind of training we need so we may know what to do with the land which has been left to us in severalty.

The application of fertilizers on soil is entirely unknown among many of the Siouxs. Instead of applying manure on his farm it is dumped over banks into the river as worthless; instead of turning under green foliage the garden is carefully cleared of this aggravating stuff and the ground left perfectly bare. It is considered ready to plow and when they do plow, the plow point is allowed to drive at its will into the ground beyond the power of the ponies. The ponies stop, and the Indian makes up his mind that the white man's machine is a horse killer and he prefers a hoe or spade to complete his task.

One of our duties is to become familiar with different fertilizers and the use of implements so as to convince our people that manure and green foliage are valuable when applied to the soil, and the white man's machine is not a horse killer but a useful implement when managed rightly.

I am quite certain that the young Indian women have an important part in solving the problem of land in Severalty. It does not matter how influential a farmer may be, if the home to which he goes back is not inviting. The young women must learn the value of Domestic Science work remembering that they are to be models from which the less fortunate will copy. A mutual action on our part will do more for the average Indian than anything else.

Mr. Booker T. Washington, in one of his speeches delivered here, said that he never asks a man to take off his hat when he comes into his house but he would have his rooms so nice that it would make the visitor take off his hat. A splendid thought for each one of us to remember. Not only by voice but by example we can lead our people.

In order to become good law-abiding and useful citizens we are to acquire as much as possible of Civil Government so that we may cast our votes with a little fore-thought as to what may be the result.

Have we ever realized the fact that we are sufficient in numbers to turn completely a presidential election? Yes, I think such is the case. We will never be respectable citizens until we acquire all that which goes to make up a good citizen.

P. S. I can't make a decent ending. Fielder

Commencement 1899
The Transition Period Of The Indian

This has been a most wonderful century, the century we are so soon to look back upon. An era that we would not hesitate to record in our country's history. It has been a period of progress for the uncivilized as well as for the civilized. It has been an age of scientific inventions and discoveries. There is no sign of declining where christianity is the foundation. But you white people understand all this better than I do. Therefore I shall try and tell you something of the transition period of the Indian. A subject with which I am more familiar.

The young Indian in his primitive home was happy, he loved to roam on the prairies and in the woods; he loved to chase the buffalo and snag the long-horned stay in the thickets; he loved to wrestle with the deer in the snow drift; he loved to drift silently in his canoe down a stream and send his noiseless arrow into a flock of geese. But let another tribe intrude in his hunting grounds, he would paint his face and fill his arrow bag, dance for eight or ten days, standing the severest torture and then filled with all the terrors that a savage could possess, he would go to war with the determination that he will conquer or die. Such was the life of a young Indian.

The old Indians stayed at home, but never idle, they fished and trapped for the family's food and made arrows by the hundreds for the young warriors who were out fighting for their hunting grounds.

The women prepared the food, dressed the skins and hoed the corn. They must always be on the alert to move at the approach of the enemy. Such was the life of an Indian family only a few years ago.

The Government of the United States established Agencies among different tribes and issued to them rations. At first the Indians did not approve of this method of being hemmed in, but their hunting parties failed to find the buffalo herd, they found instead white settlements and puffing engines bringing more white men to the west. They returned and submitted themselves under the care of our present Government.

I can remember very well some of the early ration days at home. The ration days came around very often in order that the Government might keep in touch with the Indians. Some incidents occurred in those days which did not seem very amusing at the time but later they were. Sugar, coffee, beans, rice, pork, tobacco, flour and meat were issued. Some of these supplies were put to very queer uses. Tobacco and meat were considered the best things issued. After a ration day a sack of flour would mark the place where a tipi had stood. Each buzzard and crow had a side of bacon to himself. From a distance you would think that the camp had been in the midst of ant hills but a closer inspection would convince you that they are only heaps of rice or beans which the Indians did not care for and had left behind taking only the sack which held the contents. Government wagons would go around and gather the abandoned supplies and return them to the ware houses.

The agent thought that if bakeries were established and the bread was baked for them that they might become accustom to that food, so that thousands of loaves were baked by the soldiers at the Fort near by, but no, "Poor Lo" did not care for the baked bread and left it on the camp grounds. So this plan was given up, but as less meat was issued to them they gradually learned the use of bread as well as other foods.

The adopting of the white man's clothing was another hard change for the Indian to undertake. It took a great deal of personal sacrifice to give up their old costume for a new one. They slowly adopted one piece of the clothing at a time until finally the whole suit was worn, but the two costumes they most dreaded to give up were the long hair and the moccasins. To this day you may see an Indian in a fine suit of clothes with long hair and very often with moccasins.

It was only a short time before I came to Hampton that the drum and the bells told of the Indian dance in a village, but now that has passed forever. Brass bands play instead at every Indian Agency. After all, the whiteman's ways are better fitted for the times. I have often heard our principal Dr. Frissell say that the United States Government had spent thousands of dollars fighting the Indian, but now those dollars were more wisely spent. It is being spent to educate the young Indians who will go out and fight their own people with the Bible and spelling book. That is just what Hampton students are doing.

Every year Hampton has sent back to the West young men and women who carry with them the great thought of Hampton. Over 500 of these are now at work in the West. About one hundred are doing fine work and over two hundred others are living Christian and civilized lives and setting an example to their people. A close record had been kept of those who have returned and there has been only 7 that have been reported as doing badly.

I can remember very well when there were no schools of any kind on my reservation. Now we have Camp Day Schools, very often taught by Hampton ex-students. These schools prepare the younger pupils for the Government Boarding Schools which are generally located at the Agencies. In the Camp Day Schools the Hampton spirit is especially felt. The little Indian boys and girls come to school in the morning, stay all day and return home in the evening with cleaner faces and neater clothes and carry with them a good many ideas about the care of the homes. In this way the old and superstitious Indian heart is reached and softened.

The Hampton girls are found in various departments of the agency boarding schools. They are employed as teachers, seamstresses, laundresses and cooks. Besides in these schools Hampton students are found in various responsible positions at the Agency. In nearly every trade shop Hampton is represented.

If you should travel over an Indian reservation today you would see a great difference in the care of the farms. Those who have had training in that line have better homes, better barns, better stock and the soil better tilled than those who have never had any instruction.

Today where the Indian once hunted the buffalo and the deer for meat, the sod is turned and wheat is being raised. The place where they once gathered and had a great feast and council preparing to make war on another tribe they still meet there, but for a different purpose. At their annual church convocation thousands of Indians came together, and on bended knees praise the Lord for His mercy on them in the past year. "My country, tis of Thee" is sung with a great deal of feeling. It may not be a "Sweet land of Liberty" to us but it is the "land where our fathers died" and that is enough for some of us.


Clayton Laymon was the child of a Dutch father and an Oneida mother in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He had attended Indian Government Schools in Oklahoma before coming to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute to study the printing trade in September 1920. In his last correspondence from St. Paul, Minnesota in 1922, he stated that he was planning to further his education by taking business courses.

Emancipation Day 1921

Members of the faculty, visitors and fellow students. I am very grateful for the opportunity of congratulating the colored race on their rapid progress in the last fifty-eight years. Since the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the colored people have made more progress than any other race in existence during so short a time.

The Negro and the Indian have been associated in this school since 1878, and on the whole have gotten along very nicely.

Both races have progressed very rapidly in spite of the lack of schools for the colored race and the disability of the Indian to speak the English language both of which were great hindrances to the progress of each race.

The colored race no longer looks forward to laboring for their masters from sunrise to sunset and the Indian no longer looks forward to hunting, fishing and scalping white people. But both races look forward to agriculture, bookkeeping, blacksmithing and other trades.

The injustices done to both races were numerous. The Negro suffered great injustice under the yoke of bondage, while the Indian was driven westward to face starvation and to make room for the white man.

In the spring of 1918 an Indian walked into an army recruiting office and stated that he wished to enlist. The recruiting officer asked, "Were you born in America?"

"Yes," the Indian replied.

"Are you a citizen of the U.S.?" the officer asked.

"No," the Indian said.

The recruiting officer passed him on, describing him as having a big face, dark complexion, and carrying a suit case. The Indian had a right to fight for his country, but didn't have the right to citizenship. All Indians do not live on reservations. Many of them live in towns and cities. The Oneida tribe of Indians of Wisconsin to which I belong, were given their citizenship on the first day of last January.

The Oneida Indians received very little from the government. They have sums of money coming from the Kansas claim which they were to receive last year, and every year since I could remember. My opinion is that they will always have some money coming.

The Oneidas receive thirty-four cents a year for the services that they rendered in the Civil War. By the time a farmer stops work for a half a day to go after his 34 he is three or four dollars in debt, and if they go after it in their Ford, they will spend that much more for gas. Many of the Oneidas that attended Hampton became successful citizens. Andrew A. Elm is an ex-Hampton student who is a successful citizen and is a credit to the school. Also Eugene Smith, who is a doctor practicing his profession in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Fred Bender was born in Sibley, Minnesota of a German father and a Chippewa mother. He entered Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute October 1911 and graduated in 1915. Fred was a star football player during his stay at the school. In 1917, he enilsted in the Army's Machine Gun Corps and saw action in Europe during World War I. After leaving the army he continued his education at the American Indian Institute and Fairmont College, both located in Wichita, Kansas. According to Fred's last correspondence in 1922, he was a State Highway Inspector in Ames, Iowa.

Indian Day

The signing of the Dawes Bill in 1887 gave the Indian the right to become true American citizens. A great many have taken advantage of this privilege and have proven by the use of their ballot that they were and are capable of using it to the best of the Nation's good. But there are still a large number of Indians who do not vote, not because they do not want to, but because they are not allowed to. This is something that time alone will remedy. We of the younger generation must therefore fit ourselves to become good citizens and use that right to the best of our knowledge.

Let us forget the thoughts that many of us have of what the government owes us and rather think of our duties toward the Government. Is it not true that if we do our duties faithfully and continually our rights will surely take care of themselves? Of course we must look after our rights too, but .hey should not come before duties. No people ever developed into their highest state, or expanded into their greatest power, who have continually thought of their own rights and forgot that a Government can give us rights only as we give it the power to do so. This is and has been an element that has hampered and retarded our people from grasping the light of civilization of the white man. This one element alone has kept many an Indian youth out of school because the old folks thought they were doing the government, and the world in general, a favor by allowing their boy or girl to go to one of its schools. But they see now that it is a duty to the Government and to the youth that he should get an education. He must have it if he is going to stand up with the men of the world and not be lost in the battle of life. He must have it if he is going to hit the mark and ring true every time.

Let us weigh our comparative influence upon the communities from which we have come. Let us diagnose the mental condition of the people in that community. Are they far-sighted enough to see that some day we must go as a people; that we can no longer hang on to our old ways, for that day is long since past? Do they see that we can no longer roam this country unmolested? All this was taken away from us long ago. When Senator Dawes made citizens of us, twenty-seven years ago, our last link with the old life was broken. We have got to accept the conditions of the present day and suit ourselves to our own environment. We cannot change the Indians of the older generation to our way of thinking. We cannot get them to see plainly the new light. Their eyes are dim and they cannot live their life over again.

As the tepee is different from the mansion, so must our views be different from theirs. Thus we must change with the life that surrounds us. Let us therefore get what only Hampton can give us to become leaders and go back to our people and do our humble work in bringing our people with us to the new light.

The Indian problem is a large one and at times it seems like it will not be solved in our day, but this should only make us the more determined to master it, and if we all work for it, with God's help we will triumph.

I am proud of the fact that I am an Indian, and glad that our problem is a hard one, and glad that we have been handicapped by unwarranted prejudice, because all of these have tended to make our march toward progress a hard one. The obstacles thus placed in our way have made the Red man a stronger people because he has had to overcome them.

About three years ago the Society of American Indians was formed for the purpose of joining together the Indians of all the tribes in the country, thereby forming all the Indians under one head. It has taken for its purpose the work of obtaining from the Government all the claims and legal rights that the different tribes may have. The Society firmly believes that if all the tribes will test their claim in this way, Congress will take the time to listen to it, (but Congress surely has not the time to listen to the bickering of the different tribes in their petty ways). If the entire mass were put into a form that could be settled in question and answer, it could soon be settled. No nation of the size of this country could afford to hold from a few of its people justice that is justly theirs. Let us therefore, my friends, give to this Society the best that is ours to give. Support it with all your intellect and energy for it has the one solution for our problem. We must not stand at a distance and watch it fail ultimately, or make good as best it can. It needs our support and it needs it now. It needs the cooperation of every Indian in the United States. It cannot be a success if the majority does not support it. The quicker we do this the sooner will the Society be able to get the proper justice and settlements for the Indian. The longer we wait the longer will justice be delayed. Can any people afford to stand stili? Is it not true that we must progress or else we will retrogress? What is worse than the back sliding of any people? We must progress or we will slowly but surely be erased from the face of the Earth.

The Indian is solving his own problem today, and by the help of different schools he is establishing himself throughout the country as an industrious, law abiding citizen. The red man of this land is fast becoming the educated man who is a community leader in his own district. Give the American Indian of today two percent inspiration and ninety-eight percent perspiration and he will disprove the incorrect popular impression that he is a lazy good-for-nothing loafer who would rather enslave his own women than work himself. Of course, there are many of the older people who are living out their blanket existence, and there are many who scorn the idea of the young Indian who has educated himself to American standards.

However, the old Indians are passing and their places are being taken in Council by the younger generation, who are bringing with them the new ideas and customs of the white man. They are firing the minds of the Indian youth with a desire to get an education, a desire to be broadened out practically and intellectually. Give the Indian a chance. If you don't he will make one, and he will prove to you that he can make good. Today the sober, and industrious red men are to be found in all walks of life from reliable laborers to the professions. Some are in politics, two are in the U.S. Senate, one a Representative in congress, one is Governor of Oklahoma, and hundreds are in minor political positions. You will also find them in law, in the pulpit, in medicine and in hundreds of different positions. Thousands of them are farming and are proving by farming that the land is the original place for the red man, because they can make a success of agriculture.


John Walker came to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in August 1896 from the Navajo Agency, in Fort Defiance, Arizona. He was the son of a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and a Navajo mother. John graduated from the school in 1899 but decided to remain for a two-year postgraduate course in business. After leaving Hampton John found a job as a clerk in the government service. In 1904, Walker was the manager of the Navajo Trading company store in Leupp, Arizona. Through grit and determination John became part owner of the trading post after only a few months on the job. He maintained a good reputation for giving the Navajo Indians fair prices for their wools and blankets and strengthening the Navajo economy. Walker's student file reports that he moved to Los Angeles in 1912 to study law.


Friends, as you know, I have been here over a year enjoying Hampton's superior facilities for the education of Negro and Indian youth; and in all this time I have not yet found the occasion to say a few words in behalf of my people, the Navajoes. Very likely you have heard, through one source or another, more or less about this remarkable tribe of Indians inhabiting a large barren Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona.

A great deal has been written about them; some that is true, of course, and some that is not true. Like anything else which people undertake to discuss it is shaded according to the character of the parties who discuss it. Looking at them from a cowboy's point of view we would see them as thieves: a land grabber would point them out as lazy and worthless cumbers of the soil; while a missionary would speak of their moral degradation and gross superstitions. It is just to the different representatives to say they are to a certain extent right. There are thieves among them: some are lazy cumbers of the soil and as a rule moral degradation reigns over the majority.

No one unacquainted with those forsaken regions of our country offering few if any inducements for the civilization either of the Whites or Indians, can form any idea of the brave struggle the Indians are making against poverty and ignorance.

Some writers have represented the Navajoes as greatest among Indian warriors, but in one's intercourse with them he notices the absence of even a latent warlike spirit. This may be attributed to the fact that for the last thirty years they have been, to some extent, thrown upon their own resources. They have been compelled by the pangs of hunger and poverty to turn their attention to the soil and make an attempt to get a livelihood, if possible, from that source by their rude implements, oftentimes not having more than a stick. Water is very scarce and all cultivated lands need irrigation, and the country is such that it would be quite an embarrassment even to the most skilled engineer to construct a canal that he was sure would carry water to a desired point.

The Indians have often, with their limited means, made bold attempts to build ditches, but being constructed without any knowledge of engineering of course it failed to convey water.

For these reasons a very small portion of the country is under cultivation. Only along the valleys of the small streams, or in spots at the base of the mountains favored by some spring have the Indians found any return from the soil.

The United States Government has also made an attempt to build a canal to carry water into the heart of the country of the Reservation which would have been a great impulse to agricultural pursuits; but being placed in the hands of inefficient and unscrupulous persons, it failed.

The Indians early foresaw the necessity of adopting some other means of securing a livelihood and so turned their attention to rearing large numbers of that noble and useful animal, the sheep. They are now decidedly a pastoral people, their whole existence being wrapped up in their large flocks of sheep, and herds of cattle and ponies. If the sheep perish it means death to the Indians.

Their chief diet is mutton, not so much as a matter of choice, as a case of necessity. When starvation stares them in the face it is horse flesh.

During the Spring the sheep are shorn of their fleece, some to be exchanged for groceries at the trader's store and some to be made into those well known Navajo blankets on which the Navajo woman lavishly displays all her artistic tastes and mechanical ingenuity. The industrious Navajo wife seated by the cheerful fireside in the snug turf-covered hogan, carding and spinning the fleece of the sheep, is a picture familiar to the traveller among them. These blankets are made by the women, not that the men are inclined to shift the burden and cares of life on to the shoulders of their women, but because it's considered a delicate work befitting her sex. This accusation may be true of most Indians, but I feel safe in saying that the position of women among the Navajo Indians is far in advance of most people under similar circumstances.

Not only in the manufacture of blankets have the Navajo showed their skill in mechanical lines, but their silver bridles and belts, whose value often reaches up to forty and fifty dollars, are works that would find a place among the best wares of uncivilized people.

A Native Navajo blacksmith will take a few worn out horse shoes and with his rude implement shape a bridle-bit as neat and serviceable as ever stopped a bronco mustang. Again he will make from the native pine tree, a saddle as neatly trimmed and durable as a horse ever carried on his back.

I have barely been able here to state a few facts owing to our limited time. In order to enumerate all the characteristics of these simple hardworking people, one must be prepared to handle quite an extensive subject.

In closing I want to say that I think it has at last dawned upon the intellect of the Navajo that he must choose between two things; he must either conform to the superior civilization of the White Man or utterly perish from the land - a stand which all Indians sooner or later must take. The sooner the better. He must lay down his bow and arrow and give his attention to work before he can see the benefits to be derived from labor and peace.

It is true most of the prudent and most sagacious among my people do not encourage any intimacy with the Whites nor on the other hand do they desire any trouble with them. Naturally they judge their friends by the unprincipled traders and land grabbers who infest the adjoining countries of the Reserve, only too ready to pounce upon the ignorant Indian and deprive him of his few belongings through dishonest dealings; and if, by chance, he questions the honesty of the deal he is immediately brow beaten. As I have stated it is natural the Indians should receive wrong impressions of the whites from such representatives, but on the other hand, we must acknowledge that the race has not been left without a representation of the better element. Such personages as the Rev. Mr. Antes, Mrs. Eldridge and the late Mrs. Wythe are noble examples of people who believe that the Indian can be christianized and taught the blessings of industry and peace.

From what little I have said I hope you have received an idea as to the conditions of affairs among my people. What is true of the Navajoes I suppose is true of most tribes.

When we are commemorating our Franchise Day let us also remember that we have great battles to fight on extensive fields for the emancipation of the Indians from indolence, ignorance and superstition. Let us go out with a resolve to be fitting representatives of Hampton and to be the defusers [sic] and advance guards of the civilization of our race.

Southern Western Indians
Indian Day 1898

There lies in the South western part of our country a wonderful land with which the average citizens of the East is very little acquainted and of which I am sorry to say my knowledge is quite limited. I refer to Arizona and New Mexico, principally, a land which, every since it came under the control of the United States half a century ago, has been characterized as the home of the reckless cow-boy, the Mexican bandit escaping across the border line or the haunt of the Apache in his raid across the American desert, left to mark his path the ashes of some lonely hamlet or the bleaching bones of some unfortunate settlers who happened to cross his path. vThe land of the southwest, however, also exhibits the good and progressive side of the Indian as well as the barbarous and degraded.

In looking back over the history of the continent we see that long before the Anglo-Saxon, or any other European nation set foot on American soil, it had a happy semi-civilization of its own. The people lived under a very good and stable government, and had remarkable mechanical skill and building instincts. Four and six-storied honey-combed houses surrounded by massive walls or perched on almost inaccessible mesas or canyons are today some of the few remaining monuments to the grandeur of the former civilization.

A civilization that was gradually extending its influences from the south towards the north and in time would undoubtedly have wrested the entire American continent from barbarism but for the coming of the Spanish who wrecked the whole commonwealth in their thirst for riches. We today find the remnants of these crushed and disheartened people, but very little in evidence of what they were four centuries ago.

With the exception of the Navajoes and a few others, these people are still hard tillers of the soil, and the practiced irrigation, the one great redeeming feature of the West, and the chief promoter of a large population long before America was known.

An observer in his journey along the valleys of the Rio Grande and Gila River will see the neatly kept gardens, fields of waving corn or wheat, orchards and vineyards made possible by the irrigating canals that spread thread-like over the ground around each compact little village. In other words, these Indians, with primitive tools and farming implements have made the arid land to produce luxuriantly of every vegetable and product.

They are however, not satisfied simply with the returns from the soil, or from their flocks from whose fleece costly blankets and other articles of apparel are produced, but as I have said, some of them show a remarkable mechanical skill, although their work is yet carried on in a very primitive way. The native, supplied with nothing more than a piece of railroad iron for an anvil, a sheep skin bellows, a common hammer he got in exchange for a goat skin, and a few other handmade implements for which at present I can not find a name, takes his material, welds it, beats it out and shapes it into almost anything he is in need of.

With very little change in his tools but with a great change in his material, he has risen into another vocation. He is not a blacksmith now, beating out bridle knives and making general repairs on his government wagon, but a silversmith requiring for more skill. He has a delicate task on hand, that of pleasing the women with their bracelets, necklaces, silver belts, bridles and other ornaments, all for which they have a great fondness. He has succeeded in attracting the attention of the curiosity hunter and ethnologist who send in their orders for souvenirs. He accomplished his work with credit to himself and generally succeeds in satisfying his customers.

These people like many of the North American Indians have succeeded in making a very good quality of earthen ware and their bowls and water jars show a high degree of skill and artistic taste. The paste-like heavy clay that is deposited along the valleys of the small streams or water courses after a heavy rain, is gathered up in desired quantities, mixed with pulverized fragments of ancient pottery. It is worked over in about the same way as the modern baker kneads his dough, then is drawn out into long slender rolls, which are wound round and round, one layer upon another till the water jar, or any other desired vessel, is completed. Then it is stored away in some shady spot to dry slowly before it is put through the process of hardening by placing it in a hot fire.

In this way a very useful utensil with a hardness almost equal to that of a stone j-ar is added to the list of household necessities. The Zunis and Pueblos, who make the best grade of pottery and who for years past have had the monopoly of its distribution among the neighboring tribes, cover the surface of their semi-glazed ware with elaborate designs and figures of different kinds.

I say distribution among the neighboring tribes because quite a trade is carried on among these Indians. Some of them were prehistoric traders, exchanged their wares with people of Mexico and other tropical countries or carried them far into the North. Each little community has discovered and utilized its natural advantages so it can get the very best returns for its labors. The Pueblo loads his faithful little burro with the products of his fields and orchards and starts on his long journey to the land of the Navajoes where he can get in exchange for his merchandise their blankets and silver ornaments. But he is not satisfied with the results of his visits he may continue to follow his little pack animals hundreds of miles farther to secure some of those beautiful mantos or dresses, the product of the moqui loom.

I have in this short time given you a very imperfect idea of the conditions and native occupation of the Southwestern Indians. We do not know what the future of these people will be, but certainly to say the least, it looks quite encouraging, and we are justified in expecting a great deal of a people, who represent the aboriginal civilization of America.

We look forward to the time when a modern civilization, more progressive, more enlightening, and elevating, shall rise upon the ruins of that one that perished when Cortez stood upon walls of the conquered city of Mexico.

Indian Day 1900

When the Indians first celebrated the passage of the Dawes' Bill, a few weeks after it was signed I have been told, that on this platform, a flag was planted in an ivy wreathed stand and these words spoken "The Nation opens to us its long closed door of freedom, she holds out to us her flag. Man's voice and God's voice say to us 'go forward'."

After the lapse of these twelve years, we can look back and say that the Indian has gone forward, not only here at Hampton but in no period of the Indian's history has he made as much progress as he has in these last ten years. Although noticeable advancement has been made we realize that we have just commenced, and a great deal has yet to be accomplished before we will be in a position to use, in the right way, the privileges that the Dawes' Bill has conferred on us.

No other Institution, in proportion to the number of students it trains, is meeting this question of making a better citizen out of the Indian than Hampton, who as we know is sending out every year Indians who go back to their Reservation, seeing the true conditions of things, and feeling the responsibilities they have taken on themselves, for having learned better, and they are leading their people into better ways of living. As a sample of what the Indian must do for himself we are only to follow them back into the communities to which they go and see there the good work they are accomplishing. You have just been told how Miss Dawson and others of our young women are trying to introduce a better home life among the people, and this is needed on every Reservation. The small log-shack which has replaced the tipi, and into which the family is crowded with cook stoves, tables, beds, harnesses and saddles is becoming a common sight on my reservation and is also true of other Reservations, and is just as demoralizing to the Indians as the one room log cabin is to the colored people of the South. The food is also ill prepared. "It is hard to reason with the old women," I have heard Miss Dawson say, "that a sheep which has died a natural death and is found out on the plains, at that, was not fit to be served on the table." When we know that people are fed on such miserable food and live in such homes as I have described we are not to be astonished at the high death rate among them. The wonder is that they are not passing away more rapidly. Here, then is ... to be remedied, some homes to be reconstructed, a work which can be better done than by our young educated women, for as our Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs said on this platform two years ago, "The solving of the Indian problem lies more with the women, than with the men and without their aid little can be accomplished. We look to them to carry home the refinement that shall really elevate the race".

Indians when they have been faithfully trained, have met with success in the school rooms, shops and on the farms, but we find very few young men, on our reservations, who are competent to conduct their own business affairs and probably not until the days of allotment of the land to the Indians not until they see their land and property slipping away from them will they sadly realize the need of a business training. At my home on the Navajo Reservation, where some wool and blanket trade is carried on, some of the Indians seem already to understand the necessity of knowing how to buy and sell things, although their ideas on business education is rather to be limited to a few elementary things, as may be illustrated by a little incident that took place in a trader's store at Fort Defiance. I was standing in a store when an Old Indian stepped in and after carefully sizing me up from head to foot, asked, "How many years have you been out East?" "Four years", I said. Pointing to a pair of scales that was on the counter he asked, "Do you know how to handle that thing? Do you know when that hole in the side of the weight is larger than it ought to be?" I confessed I did not know much about scales whereupon, he left the room, perhaps thinking that my five years of training did not amount to much if I could not tell him when he was getting short weight.

It is just because of this fact, that they do not know when they are getting short weight, that the Navajoes are eking out a bare living, a hand to mouth struggle, when their trade would be more than enough to put them in comfortable circumstances, if they would put into hands of reliable men, who would seek a market outside of that where they are more obliged to sell. The wool, blankets or pelts, as the case may be, are taken into the store-room and weighed, but not one cent of cash money passes hands, but the Indian is told how many pounds of sugar, coffee, flour or tobacco he is to receive.

If he wants to get a bedstead or a table with which to furnish his house, he must haul his wool forty or fifty-miles over rough roads before he is able to send it off to Albuquerque or Santa Fe, where this furniture is to be procured and then haul it back to his home. The Bank note or check, as you see, is replaced by wool or blankets, very valuable articles to sure, but a very clumsy medium through which to do business in a modern way.

The price of blankets has gone down so now that the once famous blanket is quite a difficult thing to find on the Reservation. The art of making them is gradually passing away and unless things soon change for the better it will be entirely forgotten. Why should they spend weeks and months on a blanket that is to be sold for two or three dollars, the exact value of the wool that is in it? Why not utilize the cheap spun yarn, and in two or three days scurry through a half woven article and sell that for what it will bring. This lack of a better market is killing the blanket industries on my Reservation, and will eventually do away with the making of Pottery and beautiful bead work of other Indians. This should never be allowed to be done because these are some of the few things that are peculiarly Indian, something that we can call our own, and of which we should never be ashamed no matter how enlightened we may become. What is true at my home is also true of other Reservations, all have plenty of land. Some have cattle and horses which are just as good as so much dead weight on their hand because they do not sell them where there is a demand for stock where good prices will be paid for them.

Therefore, when we are trying to find out what the Indian must do for himself, I think it is worth while to consider whether the spirit of commercialism, which is figuring so prominently in the progress of the Anglo-Saxon, would not prove also beneficial for the American Indian. Would it not tend to make him more economic, more thrifty and lead him to develop the resources that are to be found on every reservation?


Ralph White, a full-blooded Sioux, came to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute from Standing Rock, North Dakota. After receiving his Diploma in 1908, he remained at Hampton to take the post-graduate Business Course. Ralph worked as a carpenter, printer, and clerk in the Department of Interior's Reclamation Service. In 1919, he returned to farming in Little Eagle, South Dakota.

Indian Day Speech 1909
Making An Individual Of The Indian

The discovery of the new world was the making of a race problem, or in other words, the colonizing of American was the origin of the Indian question. The problem, in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon race, proved to be perhaps the most perplexing one that it had ever had to contend with. This was due directly to the fact that the problem involved the greatest range of social phenomena, as well as the conflict of races and principles. The national government, in the person of the government employee and the missionary, worked side by side with the greedy adventurer and swindler. Many injustices were done to the apparent advantage of the white man and disadvantage of the Indian. The bad element took great advantage of the Indian because of his ignorance and because he had no legal status. The Indian, prior to the enactment of the Dawes' Bill was not a citizen, neither was he an alien or foreigner, and therefore he could not sue or be sued in the courts of the United States. His status was such that Attorney General Cushing called him "a domestic subject". Daniel Webster declared him, "to be of that class who are said by jurists not be citizens, but perpetual inhabitants with diminutive rights".

No sooner had the red man conceded his land rights and signed his peace treaty than the government crowded him into a reservation; an institution which has done more to degrade and deteriorate him than anything else. Thus the noble but rather fierce figure of the North American Indian in his full regalia of war paint and feathers, lost its romantic interest when the white intruder confined him to a reservation and fed him on rations. There, being sapped of his inherent manly virtues, he deteriorated, and became of no more interest than a caged, stall-fed animal. It was then and there that we lost the hero of our modern romantic writers. But there appeared on the scene another Indian, the individual or modern Indian by the act of 1887 and that of 1901. This new individual, Indian only in blood and tradition, has come to supplant the stall-fed reservation Indian. This short-haired, dark-faced man in overalls, is no more a ward of the nation and he may be a Kiowa Indian farmer who is cultivating his own land and supporting himself by the sweat of his brow on the irrigation work in Montana, or he may be a Hopi workman on the work of the Zuni dam in Arizona, to say nothing of others who are quietly solving their own problems in the different sections of the country. Since the passing of the Dawes' Land Allotment Act the government, notably the Indian Bureau, has been trying to make an individual of the Indian, that is to get him into his own home, on his land and to work for himself. The results of these untiring efforts are such as to give encouragement to every candid mind that the Indian can and will live like any other man. It may be also said that the results differ according to circumstances in the various localities, but all bear witness to the fact that the Indian has begun to realize his responsibility. At first, tepees were replaced by cabins and later frame houses were built as the Indians were able. The land was also cultivated with more or less skill, from which the Indian supported himself. The most encouraging feature at this time is the fact that he has been made to realize that his destiny in the social, political and material life lies in his own hands; that his rights to citizenship, in the full sense of the word, are no longer in the hands of legislators, if he only shows himself worthy, and that he is no longer treated as a unit of his traditional tribe, but as a member, and individual, and integral part of the Union.

Theoretically, by the act of 1901, every Indian in Indian Territory is a citizen and by the act of 1887, there were two possible classes of Indian citizens. One class includes every Indian who has voluntarily taken up his residence apart from the tribe and has acquired the habits of civilized life. The other includes every allottee of land in severalty, with the exemption of certain tribes, chief among which are the Seneca tribe of Indians. Thus a large number of Indians were made citizens and a larger number have since that time been placed theoretically on the same footing as their white neighbors. The very fact that those tribes, who are exercising some or all the rights of citizenship, are making favorable progress, only goes to show that others are just as capable. We have encouraging reports of those who have had the franchise for some time. The Ottawas and Chippewas are reported to be well advanced in civilization and show marked improvement in regard to breaking land and building houses. The Santee Siouxs are peaceable, industrious, and well advanced in the arts of life, while the Winnebagoes show steady improvement in condition and the Omahas have made considerable advancement in agriculture, and civilization.

The legislation of recent years shows conclusively that the public demands an end to the Indian problem. Yet people differ as to the advisability of granting the Indian full franchise. Among other arguments is this: that political rights are the last in order to be acquired by such people as the Indians, and that if given his rights now, they would result only in his ruin. On the other hand, some say that since he has been given right to citizenship in name, why not give it in fact, and let him control his property and his interests. Citizenship to the Indian means self-responsibility and that will open the door of hope to those who are capable of rising to meet it. The doubtful minds seemed to be relieved when the Burke Bill was passed in 1901.

While the bill materially modified the Dawes Act and practically repealed it so far as the postponement of citizenship is concerned, yet it furnished just the kind of a law that was needed. The bill provided that the government should manage the affairs of the helpless class of Indians, and at the same time remove from the roll of wards the increasing number of Indians who no longer need the supervision of the government. We have every reason to believe that the present policy, supplemented by legislation which shall enable the pro rata shares of tribal funds to be paid to competent Indians, will bring about the radical solution of the problem. Whatever the future policy may be, this "vanishing policy" seemed to be the only right solution of the question. It will mean the survival of the fittest or the strongest and the best, which is the natural process in the development of races. While some people advocate the necessity of having supervision over the Indian and safeguarding his interests, for a few more years, every good and true friend of the race will agree with me that the time has come when the Indian must, should be made to be responsible for himself. The white people have done their duty toward him as a ward. They treated him with the utmost kindness possible and with perfect justice as far as they could see and have tried to confer upon him the blessing of Christianity and civilization.

They have done what Henry Clay generously appealed to them for, in that memorable speech in Congress, when he said, "Let us treat with the utmost kindness and the most perfect justice the aborigines whom Providence has committed to our guardianship. Let us confer upon them, if we can, the inestimable blessings of Christianity and civilization, and then if they must sink beneath the progressive wave, we are free from all reproach, and stand acquitted in the sight of God and man". And so grant the Indian his rights as a citizen; let him make his own living and let him be responsible for himself. Let him rise if he will or let him sink beneath the progressive wave.

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