Compiled and edited by Jon L. Brudvig, Ph.D. ©1994 and 1996 All rights reserved.
WALTER DAVID OWL
Walter David Owl entered Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in September 1909. After his graduation in 1915, he attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Walter graduated from Springfield College in 1918. He worked for the Y.M.C.A. and taught at Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. He left a good position at Haskell to enter Colgate-Rochester Seminary in New York, receiving a bachelor of divinity degree in 1927. Owl spent the majority of his career ministering to the Iroquois Indians of the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York. He was the 1932 recipient of the Golden Arrow Award presented by the American Indian Council Fire for his notable contributions to the improvement of American Indian life. In 1969, Owl was recognized as the nation's outstanding Native American for his efforts on behalf of all Indians and his contribution to the improvement of Indian Life.WALTER DAVID OWL
Indian Day 1913
My dear friends, officers, teachers and students of the school, we welcome you to our exercises today. Last month we celebrated together the 50th Emancipation Day of the Negro race, and today you have come here to celebrate with us, the twenty-seventh Indian Citizenship Day.
From the earliest days up to twenty-six years ago the Indians of this country were not citizens. Senator Dawes of Massachusetts felt that the people of my race should become citizens and presented a Bill to Congress to this effect. The Bill was passed and was signed by the President, February 8, 1884. This was known as the Dawes Bill and gave citizenship to all Indians owning lands and to those outside of reservation limits who have taken up civilized life.
We are glad that we have a day, as you do, to celebrate. This day means a great deal to the race, not that it is the eighth day of February only, but what it has done to raise the standard of the Indian. This day has been celebrated here for twenty-six years and since the first celebration our number has decreased considerably up to this time.
Our small number this year is due to the Government appropriations being taken away last spring, but as time goes on I am sure that we will never regret working our way through school and we hope it will lead more to do the same thing. We feel that it makes us more manly, thoughtful and better men and women.WALTER DAVID OWL
Quill Club, New York
The dance and songs which we have just presented to you are ancient customs of the Indian people which have been handed down, and up to this day a few of the ceremonies still exist. These ceremonies, in many cases, were religious, and lasted for several days. The dancing and fasting was their means of communication with the Great Spirit.
In our dances we do not do them to make fun of the customs of our ancestors, but we believe that these are worth knowing and worth preserving as a tribute to our forefathers. From this stage of civilization the Indians has risen, until now it is the desire of every parent that their children be educated in the white man's ways and taught about the white man's God.
Reservations are set apart throughout the country for different Indian tribes. A government school is placed where it is possible for the Indian youth to receive training. When the students in these small schools attain certain standards they go to larger schools for Indians.
Ten years after General Armstrong founded Hampton in 1868 for the Negro, the Indian was admitted. Since then over one thousand Indians have attended Hampton. For thirty-three years government appropriated money for the support of the Red man at Hampton. In 1912 the government thought best to withdraw this support and did so. With it were withdrawn only a few of the students who were studying there. Those who wished to continue their studies and training were now thrown upon their own resources for the first time in their educational career. Those of us who have remained at Hampton have realized that to be thrown upon our own resources was the best thing, and we feel that by being able to stand firm in school we may be able to stand firm out of school.
The question comes to us: why do Indians go to Hampton so far from home and people when they can go to others schools where they may receive education free, clothing and board free?
The name of Hampton has a wide circulation and is historic, but that is not the cause of Indians going there. It is because they have seen the output of students and believe that Hampton is the place to go for a well-balanced training.
In the Trade School, practical work is done in all the trades, and on the farm real farming is done. Four years complete the Trade or Agricultural courses. These mechanics and farmers go out and become leaders in their communities and are examples in home-making and clean living.
This Institution does not aim to train the hands alone. At Hampton we live in a Christian atmosphere, and we not only learn to make finished material out of raw material and learn the rotation of crops, but with all these fundamentals it is making finished men out of raw, green material, making strong men physically, intellectually and above all strong, morally-men with sound characters.
The Indian race needs more such men as Mr. Roe Cloud and others who are so ably upholding the Society of American Indians, and I believe that Hampton in a small way is producing men of their type who are realizing the real needs of service to their people.
I have been at Hampton for some time and regret that I cannot stay longer than this year. Still I feel and believe that the school has enable me, in trade and academic training, to meet some of the needs and problems of the Indians, but yet I am not satisfied. Next fall, I have planned to enter the YMCA College at Springfield, Massachusetts, so that I may receive advanced training in Christian work, and if I may, I will impart what I have gained to those Red brothers of mine who are still looking for higher and nobler things.WALTER DAVID OWL
Christian Endeavor Convention
It may be necessary to tell you who I am and just where I come from before I treat the topic assigned me. I am a member of the Cherokee tribe of Indians and I come to Hampton six years ago from the western extremity of North Carolina. I come here (before you) as a delegate from the Indian Christian Endeavor Society of Hampton Institute. This being the first time that our society has sent a delegate to a convention, I appreciate the honor of being the first.
When I first entered Hampton I had no foresight, seemingly nothing to strive for. I was not a member of any church, but the influence of my mother had made so strong an impression upon my mind that when I came under the influence of Hampton, its core of teachers and students, my mind began to broaden. Now I feel there is something toward which I am working.
I first received the stimulus, which has been a big factor in my life thus far, in the I.C.E.S. It may be of interest to relate a brief history of our Society right here. In the earlier days there were more Indians at Hampton than there are now and it was thought wise to have an Indian organization of some kind when they could come together at least once a week. So, in 1892 Mr. Gleason, the man in charge of the Indian boys, and Miss Helen Townsend, the lady in charge of the Indian girls, founded the Indian Christian Endeavor Society at Hampton. This was a great step towards uniting or bringing the Indians together for a common good. There is one obstacle which has retarded the Indians' progress, and that is the difference in speech. The Cherokees speak one language,the Sioux another, and the Apache still another, and so on. So you can plainly see why it was an is hard to unite them under one common leader.
The I.C.E.S. then set ideals of unity which have been a source of help to many an Indian boy and girl who has gone from the Society. Since its organization in 1892 over three hundred Indian boys and girls have taken the pledge and in many cases have remained loyal to it. In looking over our list lately we found that annual Christmas letters are sent to members in thirty different states, and answers to these letters are read to our society in February. It is very encouraging to find how many received their first real knowledge of our Master in those meetings, and we hope that more good will be done in the future.
At present there are forty-five Indian students attending Hampton while there are some eight hundred Negroes. For thirty-four years the government supported the Indian Students, but and for the first time in our lives we were thrown upon our own resources. We felt that Hampton's training was too important to lose so most of us remained to fight our own way, and I believe it is making better men and women of us. Those forty-five who are there yet are an earnest bunch of students (quality is rather preferred than quantity sometimes.) Our membership in the Society this year shows a gain of one hundred percent, and out of the forty-five Indians, thirty-two are members. We hope to get the rest before the term is out. You cannot imagine how encouraging it is to belong to a group who are so intensely interested in the welfare of their people. The spirit of service seems to dominate their lives.
I have been a member of the Society five years, and its influence has led me to become a member of the church. The influence of such an organization cannot be estimated until one has experienced its meeting and fellowship, constantly keeping in mind the pledge which has been a guiding star to many a young man and woman. I am young as compared with some Christian Endeavorers, so my experience is limited; but that experience is evidence enough to show what good the society is really doing.
Many of our American people misjudge my Indian people because of a lack of knowledge of them, and that you might know more about the Redman and his hardships from time immemorial, I shall take my own people, the Cherokees, as an illustration.
In the earlier history of our country the Cherokees lived in the southern mountains in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee where they owned an area twice that of Massachusetts. In 1820 they numbered twelve thousand. The climate in this southern country was such that practically all of their subsistence was through agricultural pursuits. Corn, potatoes, cotton and cattle were raised extensively. The whole nation was progressing and they were gradually awakening to the civilized ideas of the time.
There was still a further step towards higher things, a step which has ranked the Cherokees as one of the foremost of the Indian tribes. This was the invention of the Cherokee alphabet by Sequoyah in 1820. With a little difficulty the Indians accepted this syllabary, but it was so adopted to their tongue that it spread throughout the nation, every man and woman being a pupil or a teacher. Instruction was given in the home and on the roadside. The invention of the alphabet and the unanimous adoption of it led the people to set up a printing press three years later. The first paper was called the Cherokee Advocate which was ably managed by a missionary and educated Indian colleagues.
At this stage the people of Georgia began to spread out. More land was wanted. The question agitating the public at this time was the removal of the Cherokee to the Middle West. Able men of both races opposed removal-- they had lived there from antiquity and wished to remain and die in the land of their birth. In spite of all that could be done by Chief Ross and other politicians a treaty was signed, by unfair means, by a number of Indians. The bill passed both houses in Washington and two years were given for the Cherokees to get to their new home Oklahoma. The two years passed, but no move had been made. The U.S. militia were sent down in order to round up the Indians just as if they were cattle. They were driven from their homes to a nearby camp, If there was any resistance they were treated as mere beasts. In 1838 the mountains and caves were searched, and the long perilous journey began. The details of this march on foot cannot be given here, but truly it was a trail of tears.
There were a number of these Indians who vowed that they would never leave their homes and the graves of their fathers. These escaped from the soldiers in the round up and remained in the East. By the aid of a trader land was secured in the western extremity of North Carolina where we are located at present. We number 1,800 and live a simple life. A Government School is located in the heart of the reservation, and all Indian children are compelled to attend for ten months of the year. The students who go to larger Government Schools usually return to their people and become factors in the general uplift of the people.
Looking over the field of difficulties which every young educated Indian has to meet in one way or another, we find the greatest problems are intoxicating liquors, mescal, trachoma, diseases of all sorts, ignorance race, prejudice, and grafters.
My friends you do not know how strong a character and what ideals one must possess in order to meet all of these evils fairly squarely, and intelligently. All of these problems are discussed from time to time in our society, so you can see what marks our Indian students are to aim at if they are to be of any use to their people. Many of these problems exist among you, and through your societies they can be remedied.
I should like to take each of these evils and give you facts concerning their work of destruction, but there is not time for all. Briefly, I will tell you the story of my father and time applies to other fathers as well. My father was a full-blooded Indian who, in his younger days, acquired a fairly good education in the Trinity College in North Carolina. He was over six feet in height and distinguished himself as a blacksmith. He was popular also among his white friends as an athlete -- a baseball player. There was not a more sensible man when sober and there was not a fiercer man when under the influence of liquor. The family was large, but fortunately, all of the older children were always in a government school. While in school we heard more of our parents than we saw them. The news would spread about sundown every Saturday in his last few years "Lydowl is drunk." Without permission I would go home to stay over Sunday as a protector and there were many a scuffle I've had with my old man. The habit of drink grew worse and he became fiercer, until we older children persuaded our mother to go to South Carolina among her own people until he could get rid of the habit. He tried to quit, but it had too strong a hold on him. So during my second year while working at the blacksmith's trade at Hampton, for I expected to go back to help him, the news came, "Your father was killed last Saturday." I was not surprised, and it was too late for me to go home for he had been lying out from Saturday night to Monday morning before he was found. This was a hard blow, but it did not discourage the family and I hope that we can profit by his mistakes. At present there are three Owlets at Hampton. After graduating from Hampton last spring my sister went to Philadelphia where she is learning to be a trained nurse, and next fall I hope to enter the YMCA College in Springfield, Massachusetts that I might be some service to my people. I use this illustration because I am familiar with it through experience. These same conditions exist on most of the reservations, and I see no better way that this problem can be met than by setting high ideals for the children in the homes.
There is another evil that exists and is spreading among our western Indians. That one is the mescal habit. The Indians come together much as we do for our religious meetings with their drums and other dancing instruments. The peytoe or a mescal bean is eaten which has some effect upon the brain, and causes the Indian to see many different things. The ceremony lasts for many hours and when they come back to their normal state they are weak. In this way their vitality is lowered, and it helps to keep up the high death rate among the Indians. The older Indians did not know of our God, but had a religion of their own. Their communication with the Great Spirit, their God, was through dancing and fasting. These customs are vanishing, but their idea of God and Jesus is not quite through their heads yet, but the time is coming when all of them will know our God. It is obvious that if this generation is to save the race, the one foundation upon which it is to work is that of Christianity rather than paganism. The call is for men with strong characters who are willing to sacrifice something for the good of the race.
As the student goes back to labor among his people, he must consider the sanitary and economic conditions. Without a thorough knowledge of these conditions the returned student finds himself drifting back into the old ways of living - the expression is, "back to the blanket."
The things that I have spoken of in regard to Indians may be applied to others also, for it is evidence that in order to progress there must be something we are to strive for or our efforts will be in vain. All of us cannot be preachers, teachers, lawyers or mechanics, but we can form ideals in our various vocations which we may strive to attain, and we will reach them only through many difficulties. Some young chaps may be shaping their lives after ours, something that we might have no knowledge of. What we do, they do. It would be a double sin on our part if we led one or a half dozen astray who had taken us as their ideal. So you see how important it is for us to be straight. We older Endeavorers are not forced to accept other people's ideals, but we form our own.
There are two kinds of ideals as there are two roads - high ideals and low ideals, and sooner or later we pass our judgement as to which one we are to strive for. May our choice be that one which will benefit as and those with whom we come in contact. I close with this quotation from Grady W. Saws...
Frel McDonnel Owl was an excellent student during his years at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. After graduating from the school in 1920, Frel continued his education at Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He later graduated from Dartmouth College in 1927. Frel was deeply concerned with the mutual understanding between Native Americans and other races. Through this concern he devoted his life to the field of American Indian education. He taught at schools in South Dakota, Kansas, and Wisconsin for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Frel later became an agency superintendent for 16 years in several states. After his retirement from the Depatment of the Interior, Frel returned to Cherokee, North Carolina, as the owner and operator of the Piney Grove Camp. He became the Chairman of the Cherokee Planning Board and Treasurer of the Cherokee Historical Association. Dartmouth College recognized Frel's lifetime achievements by awarding him a Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree in1969. Frel Owl died in 1980.FREL OWL
Hampton Meeting At Hotel Chamberlain, Easter Sunday 1919
People acquainted with American Indian history know that during the early settlement of this country, there lived in the mountains of western N.C. and neighboring states a large tribe of Indians, called the Cherokees. Early explorers speak of them as peaceful Indians who were not rovers, but who made permanent homes and raised the necessary food for subsistence. The fastness of the mountainous region made them formidable for centuries, but the appearance of the first pale face marked the beginning of the downfall of a great tribe. Numerous wars followed the unruly gold seeker and land grabber, the results of which forced the Cherokee tribe as a weakened power to abandon, time after time, parts of his dearly loved land. Treaties with the government availed them nothing. They were broken again and again by people who looked upon the Cherokees merely as vermin to be exterminated. In 1813, they helped the government to defeat the Creek Tribe in the battle of Horse Shoe Bend. After this war they lived in peace and by 1827, people considered them wonders for the remarkable advance they made towards civilization. A national government had been formed and schools were rapidly increasing. The invention of the Cherokee alphabet by Sequoya helped them greatly. Some of the most influential men of the tribe were college graduates. Then the thread which held success in sight was suddenly snapped by the discovery of gold in the Indian country. Demands, like gunshot, went immediately to the government for the removal of the Cherokees. Lawless bands of men raided their land, plundering and killing without mercy. Even missionaries were killed or thrown into prison. John Ross, their wonderful chief, stood alone against bloodshed, and yet appeals for help were useless. It was against their will to move west, but a false treaty compelled them to do so. In 1836, they were given two years to move west, but only a few went. In 1838, 7,000 troops were sent to force them like a herd of cattle from the land of their fathers.
There were a few hundred out of 17,000 who could not leave that beautiful mountainous country, so they remained behind, staying in caves, eating chestnuts, acorns, and roots, while U.S. soldiers scoured the land around for them.
A few years later, friends of the remaining Cherokees secured land in the extreme western part of North Carolina for them to live upon, known today as the Cherokee Reservation. It is from this sturdy little band that I am descended. Today we exceed 2,000 in number and own 63,000 acres of land. It is queer that many people still think of the Indian as a person wrapped in blankets and adorned with beads and feathers. One with such thoughts would readily change if he could but see the fine Cherokee farms and splendid homes; or the annual Indian Fair where the best types of animals and farm crops are exhibited; or the well dressed and cultured crowd at a church or social gathering; or an Indian traveling along the road with fine horses or a car. Indolent persons do not always accomplish such things. The government supports two day schools and one boarding school, which cares for about 175 students until they are ready for higher schools. Competent students are admitted to Haskell, Chilocco, Hampton, and other schools. The greater number go to the large government schools, but the work of Hampton students especially appealed to my parents for I am following the trail of one sister and three brothers at Hampton. All finished Hampton but one, and he was called to the colors during his senior year. He had his share of the Hun and is now a sergeant in the army of occupation. My sister and the two other brothers were later called to the service, but not until two of them had finished elsewhere.
In the war, the Cherokees have a glorious record. None are millionaires, but young and old have investments in liberty loan bonds and war saving stamps. Red Cross and other war drives for money are always heavily subscribed to.
Nearly a hundred young men represent the Cherokees in the army and navy. Some have returned home from camps better educated and destined to lead their people; some have returned from France bearing the scars of battle, but determined men; others walk today upon the soil of France and Germany; but several of our gallant men will never return or be forgotten for they have paid the supreme sacrifice. The Indian race, although small in number, has freely given to the cause of Democracy in men, labor and money. Leadership based upon Christianity and service to fellow men is what the Indian race now needs, and Hampton must not be overlooked among schools for such training. Hampton Indians become leaders because the Christian training together with the sound training of the mind and skilful hand, enable them to serve their fellow men in the Christian spirit.
The success of Hampton Indians is sufficient proof that Indians given the opportunity and proper training make leaders who realize the seriousness of the Indian problem and who are determined that it shall be solved.
Charles Doxon, a full-blooded Onondaga of New York, was the first American Indian work student to enter Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Unlike other tribes, Iroquois Indians did not receive financial assistance to attend the school. While at Hampton he held positions of considerable responsibility until his graduation in 1889.
After his graduation, Charles worked as a stationary engineer for Sweet's Manufacturing Company in Syracuse, New York, and the New York Central Railroad Shop. He later returned to Hampton as the "Wigwam father" and assisted in the Trade School to recuperate from work-related injuries. He was instrumental in encouraging other Iroquois students to seek an education at Hampton on the work student basis. Charles Doxon founded the Onondaga Indian Welfare Society shortly before his death on February 3, 1917.CHARLES DOXON
When you speak of industrial education you generally have in mind the skilful side of it rather than the intellectual side. With your permanent habit of industry you develop your intellectual power without the inherited resistance with which we, the backward race, have to contend. Your boys and girls take up higher studies as a matter of course as soon as they can find an elbow room and with the enthusiasm, fascination and firm hope they may soon rise to that standard of knowledge which secures them the reward for which they seek. But in the case of the race you found on this continent, whose permanent habits are so different from yours, we cannot suppose that it will succeed quite as fast in its search for wisdom. From my experience with your civilization I think I can see some of the reasons for our discouraging condition. In the first place the Indians naturally wished to live by themselves and continue the life which they believed to be the best. Hence whenever they were forced to make treaty they always insisted upon this separation as the condition and the other party was only too glad to grant it. In this way the reservation system became established and we were allowed to remain in barbarism - even to this day in some parts of the country, and in other parts of the country where the tribes are supposed to be in the midst of civilization we have gone into even worse than barbarism because, having lost our primitive virtues, and being in our infancy, we reach only that of the lowest. The best fruits grow on the higher branches.
The cures is not to amputate our bruised hands, but to train them and lift us up higher where industry becomes cheerful by the training of our heads and our hearts also. Civilization is an unmixed blessing to those that are trained, but it is cruel to the untrained, and it was through seeing how much we are suffering here in the east, I think, that the country finally realized its duty and began to break down the walls which it had put up, first by establishing schools, and as fast as seems best, giving the Indians the rights of citizenship. Our thanks are due to General Armstrong and Captain Pratt for showing a way. Hampton, Carlisle and other schools are demonstrating that the Indians can learn.
A few years ago I visited one of the large western schools and as I looked on those students in their recitation rooms and their shops my heart was filled with joy and sympathy; joy because of the opportunity they were having and sympathy because of the difficulty with which they must soon be struggling difficulties with which I am familiar.
When a young man I was afraid of going outside of the reservation because I could not understand the English language; and the word work used to frighten me. So it took all the courage I could gather up to enable me to make up my mind to leave the reservation and find work among the white people. But I did it, and my experience has taught me that as a rule success must depend upon the method and the length of time of training. Many of the graduates and returned students have already acquired an advanced grade of civilization and have become self-supporting and independent citizens. The majority are not quite so successful and are as yet only half civilized. Now if you half civilize a man he will still remain half barbarian. I think I have seen a few such men in the shops where I have worked; and I know that they are not desirable employees, nor desirable fellow-workmen, nor desirable neighbors. No employer wishes to keep a man or a woman who will or can do only half of their duties; no intelligent workman wishes to work along side of a half foolish man; and no decent family wishes to live next to a half careless family. So half trained men meet opposition all round which makes them discontented and grumbling. When you properly train every man and woman in ~he country the labor problem, the Negro problem and the Indian problem will be solved, I think.
But your patience is taxed because once free from school we do not go on and improve ourselves. We stop right where you leave us, because we are not working on the principle of fascination. Hence our great need, I think, is of a more complete training with such methods as shall make us permanently skillful in our hands, intelligent in our heads and Christian in our hearts, the qualities without which no man can ever hope to become a desirable employee, fellow-workman or neighbor.
Whatever success I have had, it is due to my ability to hold my own along side of many white workmen. And my ability to hold my own is largely due to the kind of training I received at Hampton. I went there with a few words of English; my main object being to learn that language. When I got there I found that as a New York Indian I would not get any aid from the Government, and that if I would stay I must work. I decided to stay and they put me at the engineer's trade and into night school. In the first year I worked from four o'clock in the morning until six in the evening every week day and from five A.M. to six P.M. on Sundays and holidays. The night school kept me busy until nine o'clock every night. After six years I was able to speak English fairly well; I had a trade and an academic diploma. Then began my life in shops which lasted sixteen years. At first it was not all smooth and pleasant. The men look upon me as a sort of curiosity. This was partly because I was the only Indian in the shop. But I found out afterwards that every new man has to undergo some sort of test and if he shows a character equal to the demands made upon it he has no more trouble. My test was by no means any easy one. I learned that I was up against men of more nature judgement than my own and felt my limited knowledge of the world. It was only by my greatest efforts to improve myself that I was able to hold the confidence of my fellow-workmen; and finally by the aid of a correspondence school my work became more and more interesting and even at times inspiring.
Being disabled from my work by an accident I spent my last winter at Hampton with the Indian boys. During the term six of the boys organized themselves into what is known as an Educational Committee. They met one night each week and discussed matters of the Indian problem beginning from Hampton, going out all over the country, and from the present day back to their darkest days and still further back into their brightest ages when the games, fish and fruits were free to all then back again not stopping at the present day but went on into glorious future where they could see their well ordered homes over which waves the emblem of protection with its stars and stripes in the charming colors of red, white and blue. Coming back to their own they discussed the subject of the returned students. And, having come from different parts of the country and from different schools they soon brought out the records of both the good and the bad. These records proved beyond doubt that the successful ones are those who have had the most training. In consequence of all this the boys drew up a petition, in a very modest form, which they hope to present to the people asking for an advanced industrial school to which young Indians coming from the non-reservation schools can go and perfect themselves in their trades by the actual labor of all day and every day, by the practice of steady industry which must mean self-support even while still in training. I believe that if such a school could be established it would in a short time through its students advance the Indian race more rapidly and surely than anything else and prove a great help toward settling the Indian problem forever. Will the Government do this for the western boys and girls? Will the New York State do this for the boys and girls, once powerful Iroquois within its boundaries? Still ignorant of the great necessity, the children are asking for their children, not for what the parents have taken from them, but for what the parents have withheld from them, the industrial education and full citizenship.
Joseph Metoxen, a full-blooded Oneida, came to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute from West De Pere, Wisconsin. His previous schooling included four years at Haskell, studying blacksmithing and engineering.
In 1911, he was the assistant engineer and football coach at an Indian boarding school in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Joseph later returned to Wisconsin to help his parents with their farm. A short time later World War I erupted and Metoxen was drafted in 1918. Joseph and was scheduled to go to France, but became ill with pneumonia and died at Camp McClellan, Alabama in January 1919.JOSEPH METOXEN
Indian Citizenship Day, which we are again celebrating, is a blessing to us and we assemble here to show the appreciation which we owe to our friends. Today we can rejoice over the opening of the door to our citizenship, which will always bear the name of our faithful friend, Henry L. Dawes.
Twenty-four years ago Senator Dawes introduced a bill which provided for the allotment of land in severalty to Indians living on various reservations and for the extension of legal protection by the Federal Government to the Indians.
Under the care of good agents and the instruction of efficient employees, from various Indian schools, the Indians themselves have lost in a great measure the fear of white people. Today they are living side by side with their white neighbors, occupying adjoining farms, engaging in their cultivation, and coming into daily contact with them. The Indians no longer go from place to place for their rations, but are supplied from individual farms on their own allotments. Now I believe that it is only by education of the coming generations that the best result can be obtained for the Indian race. All other measures adopted for their civilization are simply auxiliaries.
The most progressive Indians are those who receive very little support from the Government. It is said that the Osages receive a considerable amount of money from the Government, as well as a large income from leased land and oil wells. We find that this tribe, however, is not taking advantage of the more civilized life.
The Oneidas, on the contrary, have long ago abandoned the blankets and feathers. The tepee is unknown to them. They have always been the self-respecting and self-supporting people. They have never been the recipients of Government rations, neither have they held the strings of Uncle Sam's money bags. The only cash payment that has been made to them is the munificent sum of fifty-two cents per capita, which is now forty-four cents. This money they receive annually for the service rendered by their forefathers to the Government in the Revolutionary War. During the Civil War, this tribe furnished volunteers to the Union Army. The early association of the Oneidas with the first white settlers of this country, evidences the interest of Indian progress toward higher civilization. This interest has never flagged and every year has borne witness to some advancement in better farm and home life. While the Government has not done nearly as much for the Oneidas as it has done for other Indian tribes, still the Oneidas have a loyal respect for the Government's wishes, and are prompt to comply with any requirements that are suggested.
The Oneida reservation near Green Bay, Wisconsin, is a tract of beautiful farm land about ten by twelve miles in extent. The men plow the field and reap their crops with the aid of modern machinery. The hunting days and roving life are over for these Oneidas, who are now good farmers, as a rule, although the good, bad and indifferent are to be found among them. Yet it is a fair statement that the Oneidas get about as good crops as the average farmer of the state.
The reservation contains 67,000 acres of which 20,000 acres are under cultivation and owned by the Indians. This tract of land was opened up a few years ago and now 37,000 acres are owned by the white people. Most of the sold Indian land is in the hands of good white people who have developed it. Some of the land, however, is owned by the speculators and is lying idle.
The Oneidas were given trust patents when the land was allotted to them and now they are at liberty to have these trust patents exchanged for a fee simple patent. Some of them wanted the Government to issue fee simple patents to all the Oneidas, but this proposition was voted down. Now those desiring to sell their land must hustle around and get their fee simple patent through the reservation agent or some attorney and prepare themselves to pay taxes and become full-fledged citizens.
When the reservation was opened up, many of the Indians sold their land and practically squandered all the money they had received. They have profited by their blunders. I know of a Carlisle graduate who squandered the money he received for his land, but he soon woke up and found that he was walking side by side with men of a modern civilization. He learned by his costly experience. Now he has a large bank account and is dealing very successfully in real estate.
The Wisconsin Oneidas are examples of what Indians have done and are able to do.
The Indians as a whole, are grateful for what has been done for them. They are eagerly availing themselves of all their advantages and are becoming every year better educated. They are shouldering the responsibilities of citizenship. They are loyal to the United States and are making steady progress in all that belongs to civilized life.
I believe that to civilize the Indians is well within the range of possibility. I believe that the progress made by them promises still greater advancement in the near future. I believe that the sooner the Indians are thrown on their own resources, the sooner they will become excellent citizens of the United States.
Francis came to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in September 1893 from his home on the Cattaraugus Indian Resrvation in New York. Francis left the school in June 1899 after learning the machinist's trade and worked for a short time as a general laborer. Francis later owned and operated his own automoblie repair business in New York City.FRANCIS KENNEDY
Indian Day, 1898
Dear Friends and School Mates, there seems to be no subject better fitted for my people and others as well than industry.
For centuries, the Red man has been known for his quick eyes and skillful hands and now why can he not train them to be of some service to his race and his country? One of the chief ideas of this school is the training of the hands. The idea is that every one of us who is here today should become masters of the work of our hands. This is the greatest need of our race, more so, I believe, than a college education because we are not ready for it and because knowledge never goes to action until labor is applied. It is a great mistake when people say, "Knowledge is power". Knowledge never performs any work unless labor comes to its assistance. Knowledge is like a piece of work on the table of a planning machine without security. When the table moves toward the tool and strikes it, it throws the work off and the result is that there is no work done. So if any work is to be done, it must first have a good firm foundation that in time of resistance, it may do its work, and this what this school stands for, "the dignity of labor".
One who goes away to school and merely trains his head, is more likely to go back to the old ways for the very reason that he has not learned how to work with his hands.
The greatest question to each man in his work is whether he is going to be a master of it or whether the work will be the master of him. Today we have the chance to become masters at learning a good trade. To learn a good trade requires patience and self-control. The greatest hindrance to the progress of our race is impatience. When anything is not successful to the Indian his balance seems to almost give way, and a few successive failures throws him off entirely. Why do we never seem to realize how much self-control and bravery our forefathers has. In later years they used to endure torture, never uttering a groan over the terrible pain, but standing firm until life passed away. This proved to others that he was a brave man. Today we can show our bravery and our self-control, without the loss of life, by taking up a trade and going through with it, no matter if it takes years to reach our goal.
The greatest men on the world's roll of honor did not reach it in a single bound; neither did electricity, the great force of nature, give up its secrets until after many years of testing. So it must be through years of hard labor before anything can be accomplished, and the only way for us is that each one of us must sacrifice in order to as General Armstrong said, "Learn how to do one thing well."
General Armstrong not only fought to free our Black brothers from slavery, but also fought for the freedom of the Black and the Red races from ignorance and superstition, and he is the best example we can find for sacrifice.
When we learn how to work, we become independent or self-supporting men, and that is the greatest blessing for any race. Now, if we are going to rise we must show our work first. In order to show success in the great work that is before us, we must pound away like a miner who digs and pounds his way until he obtains what he is after - the cooper, the iron, the silver and gold - which make civilization possible and powerful.
We want good mechanics, blacksmiths, carpenters, bricklayers, and above all, good farmers. We must make our own plowshares and the farmer till the dormant lands, and then we shall be independent and rise as our white brothers -- the Anglo-Saxon have risen. Our race shall then be loyal to our God and country as long as the stars and stripes wave over this broad land of ours-the United States of America.FRANCIS KENNEDY
Indian Day 1899
No man, as the great teacher has told us, ever begins to build a tower or wage war against an enemy without first sitting down to count the cost. Today we have endeavored to contemplate on the future of our race for the coming century. We could not tell you very well without reflecting on the history of our pasts for what has been done and gained in the past will be in the future. Histories give our race too dark a mark. We often find the natives of America described as a blood thirsty race and their cause has not been told rightly, for no man ever lifted his hands against his brother without some cause unless he was utterly demoralized.
We often speak of patriots. Our father have also been great heroes in the defence of their native land. They sacrificed their lives for what they thought was right, for the ones who are ready to sacrifice their lives for what is highest within, are the lives that are worth living.
I have an extract from one of the talks of our renowned Chief Red Jacket that will express what I wish to tell you. These are his words:
This shows us that our fathers were unselfish, hospitable, charitable, loving, and law-abiding. They stood out enough to show that they worked with justice.
We who stand today as the representatives of our race must cultivate these habits. They will count for much in the noble work that lies before us.
Thus, knowledge was handed down by tradition until the wampum belt came into use. This mode of transmitting their thoughts into other forms and communication with one another by principles of the present telephone, was a great step in advance and showed that they were on the trail of civilization. The rude store implements showed they were in the stone age. Their time and direction were guided by the heavenly bodies, and the civilized astronomers set their time by them today.
With such a heritage, let us not sink back, for nothing is gained without great labor.
One great law of nature seems to have been almost forgotten by our people, and that law, "It anyone will not work, neither shall he eat."
Let us now observe this law and learn how to toil. A man need not expect to do any great work on returning home to the isolated reservation life without the knowledge of hard work. Put a man with a brain full of knowledge in an uninhabitable region to prove his leadership ability, but without knowing how to work he would merely sink down to the level of those whom he wished to raise.
You may sail up this river and find the ruins of Jamestown and there you may learn a lesson how nature beats on the one that shirks honest labor.
In order to succeed we must have those qualities that develop success, and they are patience, persistence and incessant labor.
Having an education of the hands and all the book learning you can get, you may say, as did the ancient philosopher after his wonderful discoveries, "Show me where to stand and I will move the world." Place your fulcrum on a good foundation and with your lever of education build up good homes and get good examples that will not cause anyone to stumble.
Let us show them that the Indians can work as one man, not only in time of defence, but also in the daily trials and duties, and the coming century will be ours.
Our chances are great, as good as any white citizen's and before the century is over our people may be wrestling with the problems of politics and racing with the swift-footed ideas as they run through the course of history.
Samuel George came to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute from Cattaraugus, New York in September 1892. After graduating from Hampton Institute in 1898 Samuel became a highly respected machinist in Worcester, Massachusetts. He did not hesitate to help Hampton graduates in finding positions. It is interesting to note that a small engine he built while at Hampton, was sent to the 1895 Atlanta Exposition.SAMUEL GEORGE
It is impossible for me to put before you the present state of the six nations without reference to the ancestors of this people, and that course of history which has continued their independence while nearly all other tribes have decreased or disappeared. The coming of the white man in the colonization of the Atlantic coast was at the time when the Iroquois confederacy - the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and the Seneca Indians had practically conquered the Algonquin tribes which in Canada, New England, the middle colonies and the south-west had long surrounded the New York tribes as a belt of fire. Unlike the Algonquins whose tribes had nothing to bind them together, the Five Nations or Iroquois had a constitutional bond of union described as a barbaric band of Indians. The Iroquois confederacy, existing in the wilderness, simple and powerful, with its capital 100 miles from the sea, and unknown until Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence, until Chaplain penetrated its forests, and Hudson discovered the beautiful river that now bears his name.
The traditions of the formation of this league are very old and are systematically and carefully preserved by the said nations. The league was called the "Cabin builders" or in other words the "long house" of which the Mohawks held the eastern and the Senecas the western door, with the great council fire or federal capital among the Onondagas. To simplify myself about the eastern and western doors. A council house or the long house had two doors, one at each end, and the council is usually held about the center of the house. New York State was then called a "house" by the five nations, the eastern door being the east end of the house, and the western door the west end of the house.
The organization of this league met for the first time on a slope of a hill north of Onondaga Lake in the State of New York.
The head of all the chief's said! "We have met, members of many nations, many of you a great distance from your homes, to provide for our common safety. To oppose our surrounding we must unite as a common band of brothers and we shall be safe. You Mohawks, sitting under the shadow of great trees, shall be the first nation because you are warlike and mighty.
You Oneidas, people who recline your bodies against the everlasting stone that cannot be moved, shall be second nation because you give good counsel.
You Onondagas shall be the third nation because you are greatly gifted in speech and are mighty in war.
You Cayugas whose home in everywhere shall be the fourth nation because of your superior cunning in hunting.
And you Senecas, a people who live in the open country and possess much wisdom, shall be the fifth nation because you understand the art of raising corn and making cabins.
You five great nations must unite and have one common interest and no foe from any of our surroundings shall be able to subdue us." And this is true about any of the Senecas because I have known cases of those who had a little training are the experts of my tribe today. It they were thoroughly trained they would be able to compete with the first class tradesmen of this country. And today I represent the trade and industrial department of this school. I represent those who are working toward the completion of different trades. There is only one way to learn how to do a thing, and that is to go and do it. No trade that requires skill is ever mastered at once. It must be wrestled with in long service before it gives up it secrets.
A man can learn how to saw wood in about fifteen minutes, and can then earn a dollar a day at that business the rest of his life. It is a useful occupation, but demands neither skill nor long training in its camping out. Muscle, with a moderate degree of intelligence, is all that is necessary.
Is that our object? No. Our object is going from the bottom to the top, and this hits the motto of the night school - senior class, "We Aim For Thorough Practice."
Those who have just entered apprenticeship will meet hard trails and difficulties. Boys, take advantage of them. There is nothing worthwhile doing without overcoming obstacles. The colts which are hardest to break make the best horses to drive. No young man should be discouraged by difficulties. They are the stuff success is made of. It is sometimes said and more often thought, that the greatest cause of success is labor. It is often stated that muscular labor produces the wealth of the world. This is a great mistake. Intellect and skilled hands are mightier, and of for more importance to success and the highest degree of happiness. Muscular energy does a very small part in the world's work today. Success is sure to crown the life of any person who has an average intellect, a disposition to work, who is ready to sacrifice if necessary and is willing to bear needful trials.
Now to you young people of the red and the black races of this country, the Master gives to every one a chance to win, and you select your occupation, and in order to succeed in life, one should early take this matter in hand. For what are naturally fitted? By this I do not mean simply what you desire to do, but what can you do. You cannot do all, but you can do one thing well. Be yourself. You have your own special place and work. Find and fill it. Do your work well. Your people and the world are in need of faithful, loyal workers.