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The Commissioner of Indian Affairs Outlines Post-Removal Indian Policy
Digital History ID 678

Author:   T. Hartley Crawford
Date:1838

Annotation: The Commissioner of Indian Affairs spells out the directions of post-removal Indian policy: allotment of land to individual Indians, training in farming and handicrafts, and education in basic literacy.


Document: The principal lever by which the Indians are to be lifted out of the mire of folly and vice in which they are sunk is education. The learning of the already civilized and cultivated man is not what they want now.... In the present state of their social existence, all they could be taught, or would learn, is to read and write, with a very limited knowledge of figures.... To teach a savage man to read, while he continues a savage in all else, is to throw a seed on a rock.... If you would win an Indian from the waywardness and idleness and vice of his life, you must improve his morals, as well as his mind, and that not merely by precept, but by teaching him how to farm, how to work in the mechanic arts, and how to labor profitably.... Manual-labor schools are what the Indian condition calls for....

Unless some system is marked out by which there shall be a separate allotment of land to each individual whom the scheme shall entitle to it, you will look in vain for any general casting off of savagism. Common property and civilization cannot co-exist.... If...the large tracts of land set apart for them shall continue to be joint property, the ordinary motive to industry (and the most powerful one) shall be wanting.... A few acres of badly cultivated corn about their cabins will be seen, instead of extensive fields, rich pastures, and valuable stock....

Source: Senate Document No. 1, 25th Cong. 3rd. sess., serial 338, 450-56.

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