PONCA INDIAN DELEGATION
November 10, 1877
I will now reply to what you have said to me yesterday. I have carefully considered what you have said to me. I know that you have always been good friends to the white people. There is none of their blood on your hands, you have always listened to what the government of the white people said to you, and you have done what you were told to do, you have therefore my sincere and hearty sympathy and I will do all I can to help you. You were removed from your old reservation to guard you from collision with other Indians who are unfriendly to you. I desire that you should live in peace and security. For this reason you were taken away from the Missouri river and for the same reason I think it would not be good for your own welfare that you should travel back so great a distance to the same place. Your people are now in the Indian Territory together with other Indian tribes who are friendly to you and with whom you can live in peace and good neighborhood. You complain that on the land you now occupy you are exposed to much annoyance from bad men who steal your cattle and ponies and demoralize your people with whiskey. Mindful of your conduct, I desire to consult your wishes. There is much good land in the Indian Territory further away from the white settlements where you will not be exposed to such annoyances. For the land which you left on the Missouri river, you shall have a tract as large and as fertile with plenty of lumber and many water courses.
I will permit you to send out some of your chiefs to make a selection for your people among the lands which still belong to the government in the Indian Territory. The land so selected you shall have and cultivate it and raise crops and cattle for yourselves and your children. I know that you left behind you on the Missouri river, log cabins and agricultural implements. I shall see to it that on the land you are to occupy, houses shall be built for you as good as those which you had on the Missouri river, and you shall yourselves be employed in building there, and paid for the work you do. I will also ascertain what agricultural implements you left behind you, and you shall be supplied with a like quantity, and also cattle, so that you shall lose nothing. I will try to see to it that you have schools for your children to give them knowledge of many things that are good for them, and to bring them up in industrious habits. I know that the first settlement in a new country is attended with much hardship, and I sympathize with you. But if you go to work with a good heart, making good use of your time in planting fields and raising crops, your condition will soon be better, and you will be as prosperous and contented as the many thousand Indians who settled there before you.
When the white people first came to the country through which you have traveled on your way here, and in which you have seen such flourishing farms and large towns they also were poor and they suffered much hardship; but they went to work with courage and industry, and they became as rich and happy as you now see them. You must follow their example and go to work, and thus you will soon better your condition. If you do that, I shall remember that the Poncas are good Indians and I shall do all that is in my power to lend you a helping hand. I mean to be a good friend to you as you have been good friends to the white people. I have been glad to see you here and my best wishes will be with you in your new homes.
I want to say a few words more to my good friends. I understand that you do not quite know whether they may go back to the old Ponca agency they came from. That land has been given up to other people so they cannot have it again; but I want to give you as good land as the government has in the Indian Territory.
RESPONSE OF THE PONCA DELEGATION
My complaints and wants are by degrees, and the first is what I told you yesterday. Whenever your young men come out west to that country, I always think about you, and remember the word that you have sent out to us. I have got so that whenever I see anybody with my own eyes trying to do anything, I say to myself, I will go and try to do as that man is doing. Whatever the great Father sends out to me, farming implements and all such, I used to work with and I was getting right up in Civilization, and all at once I was taken down, as if a Steamboat went under the river. Whatever you advise me I keep it right here. I used to see how the whites were doing and do just like them. I used to raise Corn and wheat and sell them; and after a while I made hay and sold it to the Whites, and such as that. I appreciated it and I was going right up, but all at once I am as I am now. That man over there has been here once or twice before and my father came with him, and the Great Father advised him to go to work and do what he could for the tribe and not to fight the whites; and we have done it. Since this Chief and my father were here and the Great Father advised them to raise all they could from the ground, we have understood that. We began and did as the Great Father wished us to do, until this day we have met with this and do not feel very good. The Great Father advised me not to go to war any more, nor have any revenges. Also the Great Father advised us if any other tribe did anything to us, to try and not take revenge because the Great Father will settle all such matters for us.
Tomorrow is the great holy day and the next day I wish to lay before you all my complaints and wants. What you said yesterday my folks back yonder, the women and children will all hear and they will all be pleased. I have never seen you before, but whenever I have heard a word from you I have always made it a rule to say, "my Great Father has sent word to us so and so, and you must all obey the word." What you have said to us, we will take it home and make what we can out of it, and if any other tribe living around us do not make anything out of it, we will tell them of it.
Father, I saw you yesterday and it was just as if I saw nice weather where there were no bad clouds. I always wished that I could see my Great Father and lay my complaints before him face to face. When I had my recollections, I heard that some of our forefathers came here and made a treaty. This man's father and that one over yonder; and when our forefathers brought the news home to us, it was all very good. They told us that the Great Father had told them that what money was given to them was no object at all but what they did for themselves in cultivating the ground would be the biggest object to them.
When I heard this I took the words right up and went to work. I made me a new house and stable, made me a new chicken coop, etc., also I heard that the Great Father had requested that if any of his white men should, be traveling through the country they might need hay occasionally and I went to work and put up plenty of hay in case the white man should need it. All my wants I sent to the Agent and I got what I wanted, and I thought I was climbing right up, until when I got to a certain distance I came down all at once. But as I fell, I thought to myself what is it that I have done wrong? I have accomplished all that the Great Father requested me, and if he wants me to go down to the Indian Territory, I will go, and I have done so. Of course there are a great many white people in this world but they always pick out the best one to be above them and that man always tries to do the best for the Indians. If any of us try to help ourselves and work along and meet with misfortune, we always expect the Great Father to help us and we always get the Agent to write as often as we can. You have sent out a man among us to be our agent, he is here. He has seen our reservation up there. Coming down we all saw how people were raising wheat, when I saw that I thought differently. With all other agents it has been as if I just got along as I pleased; this man has always tried to help me.
Father, I have always wished that I could see you, and I have done so today. A great many other people I do not wish to shake hands with, but I wish to shake hands with you. My forefathers came here and shook hands with the President I was too young and did not want to come at that time. When our forefathers came home, they told us the Great Father advised us to till the ground and said that was the only way for us to live. The Great Spirit made you, and made me the color I am now; but still I have a right to the ground also. In the beginning before we ever saw any whites, we always used the shoulder blades of Buffalo to stir the ground, but since we have seen white men, we have used iron and I always thought that a great thing. What words you have sent out, I have listened to and kept in my heart. Who has put me in the way I am now? I had a reservation up yonder and I have the papers to show for it, but your soldiers came to send me to the Indian Territory. I thought I would find the truth sometime, and I have come to see about it. I am not ashamed to tell you of it, I got my agent to give me an account of all my debts coming down on the road. We all cried whenever any died, and he has account of it now. All the cattle that you have given me, I brought them down and I saw them all dying in every direction and the agent saw them also. I came to talk to you to day, and I want to have a fair understanding before I leave.
I am glad to see you all. What ever you have advised I have kept in my heart. All the advice you give me I always keep it in mind, but some how I got lost all at once, and I have come to you for help. Of course you always want to try and do for us the best you know how. That is the reason I wanted to come and see you and when I did come, it was open daylight for me to see you. Of course when we have rights the Great Father gives us papers to show and I have a paper showing my rights, but it is as if you had torn it all up and thrown it one side. Everything like that I want to have mended up; I lay before you all my complaints, and next week when the great day is over, that is the time I want to lay before you my complaints. Of course I am like all other Indians. The Indians that you think I am afraid of, I am not afraid of them at all. I am afraid of the whites, and that is the reason I always thought you would give me my rights.
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