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Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs

Report of Agent In Iowa

Report of Sac And Fox Agency.

Sac & Fox Agency, Toledo, lowa, August 30, 1897

Sir: I have the honor to submit my annual report of affairs at this agency for the year ending June 30, 1897.


The Government building is located on the Indian land at a point 3 miles from the corporate limits of Toledo, 21/2 miles from the corporate limits of Tama, and 4 miles from the agent's office by the usual traveled highway. This building has heretofore been occupied as an industrial day school and used as the home for the teacher. The day school was abandoned on June 30, and the building will henceforth be occupied as a home for the farmer. It is centrally located for his work and makes a desirable home.

The agent's headquarters, post-office address, and telegraphic address are at Toledo, the county seat of Tama County. The Indians do nearly all their trading at Toledo, Tama, and Montour, and receive their mail at these towns, according to their individual convenience. The agent meets the Indians almost daily, either at his office or at their villages, and holds such councils at the Government building with the headmen of the tribe as the affairs at the agency require. It has been my policy to hold as few councils as possible, thus giving little prominence to tribal relations, and I have attempted to deal largely with the Indians individually.


The land upon which the Indians reside comprises about 3,800 acres, and is situated in Toledo, Tama, Columbia, and Indian Village townships, Tama County, Iowa. The land is owned by the Indians and is held in trust for them, some by the governor of Iowa and some by the United States Indian agent, although a transfer of this trusteeship from the governor of Iowa and the United States Indian agent to the Secretary of the Interior is now in process, under special acts of jurisdiction between the State of Iowa and the United States in 1896. Of their land two farms are rented to white men. One, of 520 acres, was rented on the 16th day of September, 1892, on a five years' lease, for an annual rental of $740; the other, a farm of 187 acres, is this year rented on the shares, the Indians receiving two-fifths of the crop.

The land rented is classified as follows:
Plow land, good………………….875 acres
Pasture and meadow……………..130 acres
Timber and rough grazing………..187 acres
Waste………………………………15 acres
Total………………………………707 acres

The land occupied and fanned by the Indians may be classified as follows:
Plow land, good…………………..635 acres
Pasture and meadow……………...544 acres
Timber and rough grazing………..585 acres
Bluff, timber and underbrush…….167 acres
River waste……………………….162 acres
Total…………………………….2,093 acres

The land classified as plow land and pasture and meadow is almost entirely first and second river bottom, a deep black loam, and very productive. Properly farmed it can not be excelled. Nearly all the land classified as timber and rough grazing could be made excellent grazing land by clearing out and removal of the underbrush. The land classified as bluff, timber and underbrush, consists largely in abrupt elevations and depressions, covered with a young growth of white-oak timber and underbrush. About one-half of the land classified as river waste is taken up by the present and former channels of the Iowa River, which pass through the Indian land from the northwest to the southeast, and are very circuitous in their courses. The other half of this land is of some value for rough grazing and for the growth of light timber that skirts the banks of the river and bayous, and could be made good pasture land by clearing and the removal of underbrush.


Our Indians pay taxes on all their lands, and before the present year their taxes were coextensive with the taxes of their white neighbors, and last year amounted to $554.29. By an act of the Iowa legislature in February, 1896, the lands of the Indians were exempted from school, pauper, soldiers' relief, insane, and State University taxes, and under this act are taxed for road, bridge, county, and State government purposes, which this year amounted to $286.21. It will be seen that by this act their taxes have been reduced about one-half, and it was the purpose of the act to relieve them from all taxation except that from which they derive direct benefit. Their personal property, has never been assessed.


Our Indians each year labor tinder the disadvantage of not having their horses and ponies properly housed during the winter, and therefore not in a suitable condition for farming purposes in the spring. Besides, the ownership of agricultural implements is vested in the tribe, and this system has materially militated against progress in this line. Not until we have arrived at individual ownership in all property will the best results be attained. But notwithstanding the many drawbacks incident to farming among these people, their crops have been quite satisfactory. They have raised their first wheat this year, amounting to 352 bushels, which was put out by six individuals, and which sold on the local market at 65 cents per bushel. They have thrashed 750 bushels of oats and have in the field about 500 acres of corn, which it is estimated will make 12,500 bushels, and they have harvested 100 tons of hay and millet. Besides this, their present crops are estimated as follows: Potatoes, 300 bushels; turnips, 25; onions, 15; beans, 150; and they have a fair crop of squashes and pumpkins, which they use to a large extent in their domestic economy. All the labor on the Indian land has been performed by the Indians, and the agent has strictly enforced the rule to allow no white man to work on the Indian land, except by permission, and then only in such emergencies, as the harvesting of grain, where machinery was necessary which the Indians did not possess.

The appointment of the additional farmer for the entire year instead of for six months, as has heretofore been the case, has contributed much toward the usefulness of this position, and on account of this additional service the stock of the Indians has been much better cared for and their work advanced more satisfactorily than heretofore. The Government building formerly occupied as an industrial day school will, after September 1, be occupied by the fanner and his family, and this location will render the farmer's service much more advantageous. Heretofore he has maintained his residence several miles removed from his work.


I do not know that our Indians enjoy work any more than the average Indian, but I do know that they are coming to enjoy the fruits of industry and are exercising considerable zeal in their agriculture and the care of their property. During the last winter they made 2,500 posts, and during the spring and summer many miles of fence have been built and repaired. From this work I paid them from their tribal fund a moderate wage, and there was little difficulty to secure laborers for this work when they saw the reward at hand. My experience is that they will take hold of almost any kind of work where they can realize that it will bring them a quick return.

One of the greatest barriers to their progress and industry is the love of the dance and the visitation of Indians from other tribes during the busy season. These festivities, including the squaw dance, the gift dance, the corn dance, the dog feast, and their many religions services occur most frequently during the summer season, and it seems almost impossible to restrain them.


Our Indians have of live stock 100 horses, 400 ponies, 10 head of cattle, 15 head of swine, and about 600 domestic fowls. The stock is owned as individual property. Our Indians are strongly opposed to cattle raising and almost as strongly opposed to raising hogs, although most of the Indians are fond of pork and many of them eat beef. I am hopeful that some more advanced steps can soon he taken among these people in the matter of stock raising, but I do not believe that satisfactory results will be obtained until we have a division of land and tribal ties are broken.


The population of the tribe on the 30th day of June, 1897, was 394 and is classified as follows:
Males - - - - 200
Females - - - 194
Total population - - - 394

Indians between 6 and 16 - - 97
Males above 18 - - - 102
Females above 14 - - 114

In order to give a comparative view of the population of this tribe, I herewith submit a tabulated report of its population for the past ten years:

Classified As 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897
Males 193 198 202 200 196 195 198 200 208 200
Females 188 195 197 190 196 194 194 198 185 194
Total Population 381 393 399 390 392 389 392 398 393 394
Indians, between 6 & 16 years 101 89 105 94 102 100 107 106 105 97
Males, above 18 years 86 89 96 99 101 95 98 98 98 102
Females, above 14 years 115 127 128 118 126 123 125 125 113 114

There were 17 births and 16 deaths during the year. It will be observed from the foregoing table that the number of births and number of deaths has been about the same each year during the past ten years, and the increase of population from 1888 to 1889 is to be accounted for by the enrollment of Indians adopted from other tribes.

Besides the Indians enrolled in our census report, there are 10 to 15 Indians residing here who belong to the Sac and Fox Agency of Oklahoma, and about 30 Winnebagoes and Pottawatomies from Nebraska and Kansas.

There is but slight mixture of blood among our Indians, but some of the Indians from Oklahoma are mixed with the negro and some of the Winnebagoes and Pottawatomies' are mixed with other tribes and white blood. The Musquakie, or Sac and Fox Indian of Iowa, takes special pride in the boast that his tribe is untainted with the blood of foreign tribes or of the white race.


The wigwam and the wickiup: The houses, dress, religion, domestic customs, and habits of these people are essentially the same as were those of the Indian of one hundred years ago. In describing their homes, as he found them in 1829, Caleb Atwater writes:

The wigwam we visited was a fair sample of all we saw afterwards in the Indian country. It was covered with white-elm bark, fastened on the outside of upright posts fixed in the ground by ropes, made of barks, passed through the covering and tied on the inside around the posts. I should suppose this dwelling was 40 feet long and 20 feet wide; that 6 feet on each of the sides, within the doors, was occupied by a place where the family slept, Their beds consisted of a platform raised 4 feet from the earth, resting on poles tied at that height to posts standing upright in the ground opposite each other and touching the roof. On these poles were laid blankets and the skins of deer, bear, bison, etc. These were the beds. Between these beds was an open space, perhaps 6 or 8 feet in width, running the entire length of the wigwam. In this space fires were kindled in cold and wet weather, and here, at such times, the cooking was carried on and the family warmed themselves, ate their food, etc. There was no chimney, and the smoke either passed out through the roof or out at the doors at the end of the wigwam. On all the waters of the Upper Mississippi no better dwelling is to be found among the Indians.

The above description by Mr. Atwater is an accurate description of the present summer wigwam of the Musquakie as he now lives in Tama County, except that for the skins of deer, bear, bison, etc., must be substituted mats of their own weaving and blankets, and in some instances boards for poles and bark.

But the Musquakie is something of an aristocrat. He maintains both summer and winter quarters. The above is a description of his summer quarters. His winter quarters is the historic wickiup of the Sac and Fox. It is oval in form, from 10 to 20 feet long, and from 8 to 10 feet high in the center, and is covered with a matting woven by squaws from rushes gathered along the banks of the rivers. These houses being small there is no room for platforms, and the Indian eats, sleeps, and lives on the ground. When the trunks, hunting sacks, guns, bedding, eatables, cooking utensils, and other articles of domestic life are placed about the sides of the wickiup, the medicine bag and the dance gourds tied to the poles in the roof and mats spread upon the ground, the curtain dropped at the entrance, and a cheerful fire blazing in the center, the squaw, whose labor has erected the winter residence, feels that her lord is carefully protected from the winter blasts.


Force of circumstances has compelled the Iowa Indian to undergo some changes in the manner of his dress, but in the majority of cases a description of the personal habit of one of the warriors who besieged Fort Detroit would be an accurate description of the Indian who still cherishes the customs of his fathers, although so far removed from them. Of course cloth has given place to the skins of deer, bear, and other animals that formerly roamed the plain. But the Tama County Indian is a blanket Indian. Nearly all of the elder men of the tribe are attired in moccasins, leggings, breechcloth, loose-flowing shirt, and blanket, with a carefully arranged scarf about the head, from which frequently stand feathers of variegated colors. By force of necessity and for convenience many of the young men are now adopting to a greater or less degree essential articles of dress characteristic of the whites, but there are few of these Indians who do not at some season of the year appear in the blanket and genuine Indian costume. While these Indians are always attired in such fashion that they would not be easily mistaken for a member of the " Four Hundred,'' it is during the summer season, and especially when dances are on hand, that they copy most nearly the hero of former years. Their manner of dress at this time is strikingly characteristic for its scantiness, the elder Indians wearing nothing but moccasins, breechcloth, and looseflowing blanket, and many of the Indian children wear no article except a looseflowing shirt; in fact, it is not uncommon for the Indian children to appear during the summer months without any article of clothing.

The women have made more progress in dress than the men. This has been largely due to the influence of a Presbyterian mission, which has been maintained among these people during the past twelve years. The squaws are rapidly adopting the style of dress of the plain white woman, and many of them are learning to wear undergarments and hosiery. All cling to the blanket, moccasins, beads, and bracelets, and a Musquakie beauty is as proud of the jewelry about her neck and arms as the fashionable ladies of modern society are of their own more costly evidences of ancestral barbarism. In this particular it would be quite a task to undertake to show a Musquakie squaw wherein the jewels of the Duchess of Marlborough are the rewards of any higher civilization than that which gives her the privilege to wear those wrought by native hands from German silver.


There has been no physician at this agency since their residence in Iowa, but between the end of the fiscal year 1897 and the date of the present report the Department has authorized the agent to contract with a physician to wait upon the tribe in camp and to attend the new Indian training school. Heretofore their sick have been left to the care of the medicine man and the old squaw doctor. It is needless to enumerate the many hardships and cruelties which have entailed from the practice of these ignorant healers. Some of the most distressing circumstances which it is possible for pen to portray have been witnessed on account of the practice of these Indian doctors. The exigencies of some recent cases have thoroughly impressed the superiority of the white man's medicine upon the Indian mind, and we are hopeful that with the services of an attending physician the sanitation and the health of the tribe can be substantially improved and the alarming death rate, which has held the tribe in a stationary condition for a decade, reduced.

Cooking and eating

Our Indians have adopted to considerable extent the cooking utensils of the whites, but there are only five cook stoves in the tribe. Their changed condition of life from that of their fathers, and the introduction of more of the articles of food of the whites, has worked considerable change in their physique. They are not an active athletic people, and many of their men and women are fat and clumsy. The eating of greasy food, hot dishes, and the lack of exercise has done much to make them lazy, indolent, and careless. Nearly everything they eat is cooked in lard, and they are perfectly content if they have hot fried cakes, pork, and coffee. They cook and eat about the open fire on the ground without the use of any table, and only a few households in the tribe trouble themselves to spread a cloth for their meal. The only way I see open to improve their domestic economy is by the appointment of some good, faithful woman as field matron, who shall go among the women of the tribe and teach them.


Our Indians practice the religion of their fathers with a strictness that admits of no innovations. I believe they are the most religious and devout people I have ever known, and their services seem to have a sacredness about them that the white man little comprehends and can much less relate. I have diligently sought to learn something definite about their scheme of religion, but they guard their faith and their practice so carefully that it is almost impossible to get reliable information. However, through the friendly assistance of an educated Indian who understands their language, I hope to be able in the near future to give something specific and reliable on this subject. Although there has been a mission at the agency for about fifteen years not a single Indian has adopted the Christian faith.


During the past year, as heretofore, an industrial day school has been maintained at the Government building on the Indian land. The school was abandoned on June 30 and Mr. W. S. Stoops, who had it in charge, has been transferred as principal teacher of the boarding school at the Rosebud Agency, S. Dak. The building formerly occupied as a day school will now be used as a home for the farmer.

This school was abandoned because of the erection of the Indian training school, a new boarding school, which is being erected at this time on the Government site, a short distance west of Toledo, at a total cost of about $35,000. The dormitory for this school is now under process of erection and will be ready for occupancy about December 1. Plans for minor buildings are now under consideration in the Department, and it is hoped that the buildings will all be completed in time to open the new school January 1. Interest in education is growing, and during the past year two of our young men have attended Hampton Institute. I believe we will have little difficulty in getting a goodly number of the pupils into our new school, although there evidently will be some strong opposition on the part of some of the older Indians, and we may experience more difficulty in the matter of attendance than we anticipate.


The Presbyterian Board of Home Missions has maintained by the effort of the ladies of the Home Board of Iowa, a mission near this agency for thirteen years. The mission has a good building, erected at an expense of about $5,000, largely through the liberality of Mrs. T. C. Sinclair, of Cedar Rapids, and is constantly ministering to the wants of the tribe.

The New Highway

During the year a new highway has been established through the main body of the Indian land, crossing the Iowa River, and Tama County has erected bridges at an expense of about $6,000. The highway was established by due process of law and the Indians were awarded damage for the land required. Their rights were fully protected, and, although some of the tribe strenuously objected to the establishment of the highway, it is greatly to the benefit of the tribe, and the advantages to the Indians much more than compensate the damage done.

Thanking the Department for the kindly interest taken in affairs at this agency during the past year, I have the honor to subscribe myself,

Your obedient servant,
Horace M. Rebok, United States Indian Agent.
The Commissioner Of Indian Affairs.

[Department of Interior, Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1897]
Submitted by Cathy Danielson

Report Of Teacher Of Sac And Fox Day School.

Sac And Fox Agency, Toledo, Iowa, August 23, 1891.

Sir: I have the pleasure of submitting to you my annual report of industrial day school at this agency. The school was in session ten months of the year with an average attendance of a little over twenty. A comparison of the former reports will show that this is the best attendance in the history of this school, and during the year many of the pupils were quite regular in attendance and made considerable progress in reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing, and local geography. Some of the headmen of the tribe have been a help to the school this year rather than a hindrance, as heretofore.

Considerable progress was made in our industrial work, and a number of the boys have learned to repair harness and houses and make tables, cupboards, etc. Through the school I have been able to introduce a number of new garden seeds among the tribe, and for the first time in the history of these people they have set out a number of cabbage plants.

Since the Government has begun to furnish medicine for the Indians, I have been able to render considerable assistance in sickness, and I am sure that some lives have been saved on this account, while at the same time this assistance has to some extent tended to weaken the influence of squaw doctors and medicine men.

On the 30th day of June the industrial day school was abandoned, and the work that has been going on at the day school for years will soon be taken up in the new boarding school with increased opportunities and, as we hope, with better results.

Respectfully, W. S. Stoops, Industrial Day School Teacher.

Horace H. Rebok, United States Indian Agent.

[Department of Interior, Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1897]
Submitted by Cathy Danielson

Indian School Sites

Tama County School, Iowa

By the Indian appropriation act of June 10, 1896 (29. Stat L., p. 345), there was appropriated by Congress the sum of $35,000 "for the erection and completion of suitable school buildings, including the necessary furniture of all kinds for the same, for an industrial boarding school at or near the reservation of the Sac and Fox Indians, in Tama County, Iowa, and for the purchase of a suitable site for the same."

July 31, 1896, United States Indian Agent Horace Rebok reported that he had carefully examined all the tracts that were for sale within reasonable distance of the Sac and Fox lands that were suitable for school purposes, and recommended the purchase from the heirs of D. D. Appelgate of 70 acres directly west of the incorporated town of Toledo, in Tama County, Iowa, at $75 per acre. This selection of land was concurred in by Inspecter C. C. Duncan.

August 20 the Secretary granted authority for the purchase, and October 10, 1896, Agent Rebok submitted a deed, dated September 10, 1896, from the heirs of David D. Appelgate, conveying to the United States, for $5,250, the east 70 acres of the S. ½ of the SE. Ό of sec. 16, T. 83 N., R. 15 W., with abstract of title, together with the certificates called for as to taxes, judgments, mortgages, or other liens on said land. The deed was declared by the Attorney-General, November 28, 1896, to pass a valid title.

Before steps were finally taken to pay over the consideration money, Senator Gear, of Iowa, filed, December 4, 1896, sundry petitions, with a map of a tract known as the Gallagher property and his own protest against the purchase of the Appelgate property in preference to the Gallagher property, on the ground that the former was not satisfactory to the citizens of Tama nor to the Indians.

December 8,1896, the Indian Office reporting to the Secretary on the merits of the tract selected stated that the proposed buildings would be erected at a point 1 mile west and one-quarter of a mile south of the proposed business street of Toledo and 5 miles by the usually traveled highway from the Indian village; that the land rises from the banks of a small stream known as Deer Creek, which flows through a portion of the east end and supplies the pasturage with living water, in a gradual slope to an elevation of probably 50 feet to the northwest corner, which is skirted with a natural grove of 6 acres.

Inspector James McLaughlin was directed to examine both properties, and he reported December 31, 1896, that the opposition to the Appelgate tract by the people of Tama and to the Gallagher tract by the people of Toledo was largely due to a local strife of the two towns and that it was impossible to get them to agree upon a site for the Indian school; that the Indians expressed no preference, and as the Appelgate tract met the requirements of the service, he recommended that that site be approved and the purchase consummated.

February 15, 1897, authority was granted for concluding the purchase of the Appelgate site and payment of the purchase money.

The deed was recorded February 22, 1897, by the recorder for Tama County, Iowa, in Book 118, page 139. It is recorded in Indian Office in Miscellaneous Record Book, Volume IV, page 171.

[Department of Interior, Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1897]
Submitted by Cathy Danielson

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