In United States history, an Indian agent was an individual authorized to interact with Native American tribes and First Nation band governments on behalf of the government.
The federal regulation of Indian affairs in the United States first included development of the position of Indian agent in 1793 under the Second Trade and Intercourse Act (or the Nonintercourse Act). This required land sales by or from Indians to be federally licensed and permitted. The legislation also authorized the president of the United States to "appoint such persons, from time to time, as temporary agents to reside among the Indians," and guide them into acculturation of American society by changing their agricultural practices and domestic activities. 58 Eventually, the U.S. government ceased using the word "temporary" in the Indian agent's job title.:
From the close of the 18th century to nearly 1869, Congress maintained the position that it was legally responsible for the protection of Indians from non-Indians, and in establishing this responsibility it "continue[d] to deal with Indian tribes by utilizing agents to negotiate treaties under the jurisdiction of the Department of War."
In the 1830s, the primary role of Indian agents was to assist in commercial trading supervision between traders and Indians, while agents possessed the authority to both issue and revoke commercial trading licenses.
In 1849, the Bureau of Indian Affairs decided to place the position of Indian agent under civilian jurisdiction. This came at a time when many white Americans saw the role of Indian agent as largely inefficient and dishonest in monetary and severalty dealings with various Indian tribes. 405:
By 1850, many citizens had been calling for reform of the agents in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Their wish had been granted when in 1869 the bureau created the civilian-controlled Board of Indian Commissioners. The board "never more deeply felt, that Indian agents should be appointed solely for merit and fitness for their work ... and should be retained in the service when they prove themselves to be efficient and helpful by their character and moral influence." :251 This civilian run board was charged "with responsibility for supervising the disbursement of Indian appropriations" from state and federal governments. :406 However, the United States Army command was extremely dissatisfied of the transfer of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the Department of War to the Department of the Interior by 1849, so they began to make public complaints about the corruptive nature of the civilian presence in the job of Indian agent. Despite its deeply felt convictions that its Indian agents were appointed and removed on merit, the civilian Board of Commissioners was frequently deemed corrupt, portrayed derogatorily in print and propaganda, and inadvertently assumed the scapegoat for the perceived inefficiency of Indian-White affairs: the Indian agent.
By the late 19th century, the job title of Indian agent began to change slightly in the wake of the recent attempts to 'civilize' Indians, assimilating them into American culture. Despite the public scorn for the agents, the Indian Office stated that the "chief duty of an agent is to induce his Indian to labor in civilized pursuits. To attain this end every possible influence should be brought to bear, and in proportion as it is attained ... an agent is successful or unsuccessful." :218
By the 1870s, due to president Grant's Peace Policy, the average Indian agent was primarily nominated by various Christian denominations due to the increase in civilization reforms to Indian-white affairs, especially over land. 409Part of the Christian message of reform, carried out by the Indian agents, demonstrated the pervasive thought of Indian land ownership of the late 19th century: civilization can only be possible when Indians cease communal living in favor of private ownership. Many citizens still held the activities of Indian agents in poor esteem, calling the agents themselves "unprincipled opportunists" and people of low quality. :
When Theodore Roosevelt reached the presidency at the turn of the 20th century (1901–1909), the Indian agents that remained on the government payroll were all replaced by school superintendents. 257:
Distinguished individuals who have served as Indian agents include the following:
The Arapaho are a people of Native Americans historically living on the plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Lakota and Dakota.
The Cheyenne are one of the indigenous people of the Great Plains whose language is of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne comprise two Native American tribes, the Só'taeo'o or Só'taétaneo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese. These tribes merged in the early 19th century. Today, the Cheyenne people are split into two federally recognized Nations: the Southern Cheyenne, who are enrolled in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, and the Northern Cheyenne, who are enrolled in the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana.
Ouray was a Native American chief of the Tabeguache (Uncompahgre) band of the Ute tribe, then located in western Colorado. Because of his leadership ability, Ouray was acknowledged by the United States government as a chief of the Ute and he traveled to Washington, D.C. to negotiate for the welfare of the Utes. Raised in the culturally diverse town of Taos, Ouray learned to speak many languages that helped him in the negotiations, which were complicated by the manipulation of his grief over his five-year-old son abducted during an attack by the Sioux. Ouray met with Presidents Lincoln, Grant, and Hayes and was called the man of peace because he sought to make treaties with settlers and the government.
The Medicine Lodge Treaty is the overall name for three treaties signed near Medicine Lodge, Kansas, between the Federal government of the United States and southern Plains Indian tribes in October 1867, intended to bring peace to the area by relocating the Native Americans to reservations in Native American Territory and away from European-American settlement. The treaty was negotiated after investigation by the Indian Peace Commission, which in its final report in 1868 concluded that the wars had been preventable. They determined that the United States government and its representatives, including the United States Congress, had contributed to the warfare on the Great Plains by failing to fulfill their legal obligations and to treat the Native Americans with honesty.
Red Cloud was one of the most important leaders of the Oglala Lakota from 1868 to 1909. He was one of the most capable Native American opponents that the United States Army faced in its mission to occupy the western territories, defeating the United States during Red Cloud's War, which was a fight over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. The largest action of the war was the Fetterman Fight, with 81 U.S soldiers killed, and was the worst military defeat suffered by the United States Army on the Great Plains until the Battle of the Little Bighorn ten years later.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 non-fiction book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century. The book expresses details of the history of American expansionism from a point of view that is critical of its effects on the Native Americans. Brown describes Native Americans' displacement through forced relocations and years of warfare waged by the United States federal government. The government's dealings are portrayed as a continuing effort to destroy the culture, religion, and way of life of Native American peoples. Helen Hunt Jackson's 1881 book A Century of Dishonor is often considered a nineteenth-century precursor to Dee Brown's writing.
The Treaty of Fort Laramie is an agreement between the United States and the Oglala, Miniconjou, and Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota and Arapaho Nation, following the failure of the first Fort Laramie treaty, signed in 1851.
Jicarilla Apache, one of several loosely organized autonomous bands of the Eastern Apache, refers to the members of the Jicarilla Apache Nation currently living in New Mexico and speaking a Southern Athabaskan language. The term jicarilla comes from Mexican Spanish meaning "little basket", referring to the small sealed baskets they used as drinking vessels. To neighboring Apache bands, such as the Mescalero and Lipan, they were known as Kinya-Inde . The Jicarilla called themselves also Haisndayin translated as "people who came from below", because they believed themselves to be the sole descendants of the first people to emerge from the underworld, the abode of Ancestral Man and Ancestral Woman, who produced the first people.
The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was signed on September 17, 1851 between United States treaty commissioners and representatives of the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Crow, Assiniboine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations. The treaty was an agreement between nine more-or-less independent parties. The treaty set forth traditional territorial claims of the tribes as among themselves.
Ute are the indigenous people of the Ute tribe and culture among the indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. They have lived in the regions of present-day Utah and Colorado in the Southwestern United States for many centuries. The state of Utah is named after the Ute tribe.
Forming a part of the Eastern Shoshone linguistic group in southeastern Wyoming who moved on to the buffalo Plains around AD 1500, proto-Comanche groups split off and moved south some time before AD 1700. The Shoshone migration to the Great Plains was apparently triggered by the Little Ice Age, which allowed bison herds to grow in population. It remains unclear why the proto-Comanches broke away from the main Plains Shoshones and migrated south. The desire for Spanish horses released by the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 may have inspired the move as much as pressures from other groups drawn to the Plains by the changing environment.
The San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, in southeastern Arizona, United States, was established in 1872 as a reservation for the Chiricahua Apache tribe as well as surrounding Yavapai and Apache bands removed from their original homelands under a strategy devised by General George Crook of setting the various Apache tribes against one another. Once nicknamed "Hell's Forty Acres" during the late 19th century due to poor health and environmental conditions, today's San Carlos Apaches successfully operate a Chamber of Commerce, the Apache Gold and Apache Sky Casinos, a Language Preservation program, a Culture Center, and a Tribal College.
The Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs was an official position of the U.S. state of Oregon, and previously of the Oregon Territory, that existed from 1848–1873.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Reservation were the lands granted the Southern Cheyenne and the Southern Arapaho by the United States under the Medicine Lodge Treaty signed in 1867. The tribes never lived on the land described in the treaty and did not want to. Recognizing this fact, on August 10, 1869 President Grant issued an executive order to set aside lands on the North Fork of the Canadian River for the tribes. The lands were located in western Indian Territory south of the Cherokee Outlet and north of the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Indian Reservation. However, a portion of it was split off later to form the Caddo-Wichita-Delaware Indian Reservation. The area occupied by the tribes is now referred to as the Cheyenne-Arapaho Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area.
The Cherokee Commission, was a three-person bi-partisan body created by President Benjamin Harrison to operate under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, as empowered by Section 14 of the Indian Appropriations Act of March 2, 1889. Section 15 of the same Act empowered the President to open land for settlement. The Commission's purpose was to legally acquire land occupied by the Cherokee Nation and other tribes in the Oklahoma Territory for non-indigenous homestead acreage.
John Homer Seger was an American educator best known for his work with the Arapaho tribe in Oklahoma.
Corn Creek Indian Farm was a farm established in 1855 for the Pahvant Utes on Corn Creek in Millard County, Utah. It was located just downstream from the Pahvant village of Kanosh. It was abandoned in 1867.
President Ulysses S. Grant sympathized with the plight of Native Americans and believed that the original occupants of the land were worthy of study. During the 19th Century, the term "Indian" was used to describe Native peoples of America. Grant's Inauguration Address set the tone for the Grantadministration Native AmericanPeacepolicy. The Board of Indian Commissioners was created to make reforms in Native policy and to ensure Native tribes received federal help. Grant lobbied the United States Congress to ensure that Native peoples would receive adequate funding. The hallmark of the Grant's Peace policy was the incorporation of religious groups that served on Native agencies, which were dispersed throughout the United States.
The Joint Special Committee on Conditions of Indian Tribes was formed on March 3, 1865, by resolution of both houses of U.S. Congress for the purpose of “directing an inquiry into the condition of the Indian tribes and their treatment by the civil and military authorities of the United States”. The Senate resolution was sponsored by James Rood Doolittle who was then the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He became the Chairman of the new Joint Special Committee, leading it to be called the “Doolittle Committee.”
The Seuvarits Utes are a band of the Northern Ute tribe of Native Americans that traditionally inhabited the area surrounding present-day Moab, Utah, near the Grand River and the Green River. The Seuvarits were among the Ute bands that were involved in the Black Hawk War. The Seuvarits and other Ute bands were eventually relocated onto reservations by the United States government after their population severely declined after exposure to disease and war during the latter half of the 19th century.
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