SIOUX INDIAN DELEGATION
10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 28, 1877,
The White House
Sioux Indian Delegation
My good friends, you have desired to take counsel with me, and I have permitted you to come. I am glad to see you. I have attentively listened to what you have said. I have also heard Mr. Wm. Welsh and Gen. Crook, who spoke for you as your friends, and who have my confidence. I have well considered all that was said: now listen to my answer. I have your welfare sincerely at heart. I will be a good friend to you. The wishes you express I should be glad to gratify when it is in my power and for your own good. There is an understanding between you and the white people which I want to have carried out by both. That understanding is that you should go to your reservation and occupy it. That land should be yours.
I have removed the Poncas to the Indian Territory to give you more room. We promise to procure for you food for your people to eat. The Great Council of my nation, the Congress of the United States, resolved and your chiefs and head men agreed that the supplies to be furnished to you should be delivered near the Missouri river. I have fulfilled that promise; your supplies have been carried to the Missouri river, and there they are now, according to our promise. You say that you do not like to go to the Missouri river, but your supplies cannot be taken to any other place before your people will need them and before the cold days of winter come. If you do not go near the place where your supplies are your people will be hungry, and I shall not be able to give them food. I desire to do all for you I can, and therefore I want you to be in a place this winter where my helping hand can reach you; but I do not mean that you and your people shall stay near the Missouri river always; you shall stay there only this winter. When spring comes you shall select for your permanent abode such land on your reservation as you like best.
My agents will aid you in making the selection. Your country is large, and there is much land where you can cultivate the soil and raise crops and where cattle can be fed. That land is to be distributed among you. It is to be surveyed and allotted to each family to be its homestead. There your people can build cabins and make homes for their families to dwell in. When that land is so surveyed, and allotted, and your families have possession of it, I shall ask the great council of my nation, Congress, to give you cows and oxen and tools, with which to till the soil that you may be able to provide for your own necessities. I desire you to have schools for your children, so that they may be educated to take care of themselves, and become industrious and prosperous like the children of my people. I also wish your people to have churches, where they can worship. This is my desire. I shall speak a good many words for you to the great council of my nation, that it may grant your people these benefits. If you are wise you will heed my advice.
Game is fast disappearing from your country, and you cannot always live as hunters; neither can we for all time provide for your wants and feed your people and their children. If you want to live in security you must do as the white people do. You must work and learn to produce for yourselves that which you need. Cattle and hoes and ploughs will be more useful to you than ponies and guns. To be educated so as to know how to work and to gain their own living by raising cattle and tilling the soil will be better for your children than hunting buffaloes or dancing the war dance. When you look around you you will see that the white people are a great multitude which you cannot count. Every year their number increases by far more than the number of all red men in this great land. They cannot be kept away from the Western country, and year after year more of them go there.
If you live roaming around without homes they will sweep over you like a great flood of water. To sustain yourselves against that flood you must have homes in which you and your families permanently live, and land on which you raise that which is necessary to support you. Then you will have firm ground to stand upon, and the flood will not sweep you away. I am a good friend to you and your people, and as a good friend I give you this answer and advice.
Now I will speak a word to the Arapahoes. You desire to go West with your people to join the Shoshones and live with them as friends. But if you go you must provide for your own support. The great council of my nation has given me no money to aid you on your way. If without such aid you will make the journey, then I am willing that you should go, and the agent whom I have sent to the Shoshones shall also be the agent for you.
You have been good friends to the white people, and I hope you will remain so. You all have the best wishes of my heart. Let us live in peace and friendship together, and I will protect you with all the power I have. I heard yesterday morning that forty lodges of the people of Crazy Horse and Lame Deer have gone north. As long as those people are north we don't know our friends from our enemies among them. It is of the greatest importance that you should keep all of those people at the agencies. Then I know that your hearts are right. That will make you strong with me. It is impossible for me to let those people go up into the Tongue river country until we know that they are all our friends. It is necessary that all of the Indians should go down in the direction of the Missouri river to get their supplies, so as to be ready early in the spring to select the bestlands on White river and other places on the reservation for cultivation.