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The Indian Agents And Traders

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General George A. Custer, in an article on " Life on the Plsins," in tbe March. numbfir of the Galaxy, has the following : The Iridian Las lio uieans oí'knowing how much in valuu or how many presenta of any particular kind the goverument, the " Great Father " as he terms it has sent him. Por knowledge on tliis point he must accept the statement ut' the agent. The goeds sent by the Governnient are generally those which woubï most please an Indisn's fancy. ïhe Indian ti ader usually keeps goods of a sim-ilar character. Tbc trader is most fre-quently a particular friend of the agent. often associated With him in business and in many instaücss holds his poaition ot' trader at the instance of the agent. They are always located near each othei'. The trader is usually present at the distribution of annuities; If the agont mstead of distributing to1 the Indians all .of tho goods intended for thoni by ' tho Govern ■ ment, only distrjbutes ono-halt' and re-tainsihe other half, who is to be the" wiser ? Ij ot the ludían, defraudad;' though he juay be, for he is ignorant of how much is coming to him. The srard of the aent is bis only guide. He may uomplain a little, express somc little disappointment at the limited aruount of presenta, and intímate that the "Great Father" has dealt out the annuities with a sparing hand ; but the agent explains it by referring to sorne depredations which he knows tho tribe to havebtea guilty of in times pabt ; or if he is not aware of any particular instance of guilt he charges xhsin generally with havhiL committed sueh acts, knowiug one can scarcely go amiss in accusing a tri! e ot oocasicnal!y slaying a white man, imu! ends up his charge by iuibrming tiieiiv that the " Oreat Father," Iearuing of these litíe irregularities in their conduct, and being paiued greatly thereat, fe)t compelled to reduce their allowartte of blatikets, sugar, cofi'ee, etc., wfopn at Iha same timo the missing portion of gaid allowanee is safely secured in the stuit - house of the agent near by. Wal], but how can he enrich himself io this m:inner ? it may be asktd. By dtnply, and unseeti by the Indians, transferring tho unissued portion of the annuities iïoiu the government store-housu to the tmiing establishment e# his friend fb trader. There the boxes aïe nnpaoked and Ihoir contents syweSd1 out for barter with í.'ük Indians. The latter, in gratifyiug Uuur wants, aro forced to purchase of the truder at prices whioli are scores of tiines th value of tho article offered. I have seen Indians dispose of buifalo robes to traders, which were worth tVoin lifteen to twen I y dollars each, attá get in return 6nly ten to twenty ciips of broWn sngar, the eutiro vahïe of whie'h did not exeeed tí? ev three This is oüe of the many ways agents and traders hav amassed sudden wealth. I have knawn the head ohïef of a tribe to rise in council in th.9 presence of other chiefs and of ofücer ei the and aceuse his agent, theu present, of these or similar dishonest Is i t to be woiidered at that the position of trader among tlie Indians is greatly sought aftcr by men deteriuiiied to beeome rich, but not particular a.s to the marnier of doing sc? Or is it to be wondered at that army oflicers, who l are otten made aware of tho injustico done to the Indian yut are powerless to prevent it, and who trace man y oi our difficulties with tho Indians to these causes, should urge the aboli.slmiciit of a sj'stewi which hos proven itself so fmitful in frand and dishonest dealing towatd tliosc whose interest it should bo Uluir dut y to protcot,


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Michigan Argus