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    Alfred J. Vaughan's Indian Agent Report for 1853. Fifteen light-blue ruled pages, 8" x 12.5", Fort Pierre [South Dakota], September 20, 1853. Alfred Vaughan served as the Indian agent for the Upper Missouri Agency at Fort Pierre. In this, his first annual report, the sympathetic agent writes a lengthy report about the condition of the various Indian tribes under his agency. Vaughan has signed the final page. Page six includes an attachment (secured by a single pin). Two other additions are also included, though unsecured. All text and the signature are clearly written in bold, black ink. Docketed on the final page, "Annual Report for 1853. Sent to the Post Office at Kanesville per Express the 20th September 1853." The report is bound by string. Staining, soiling, with some tape repairs.

    The opening paragraph of the report states its purpose: "In obedience to the regulations of the Department I present the following as my annual report and Condition of the Indians Tribes within this Agency. I making this report I am compelled to make it more lengthy than I would desire owing to the many Tribes under my charge and the fact of their differing so materially in their manners habits and customs." Vaughan then gives details about the "many serious obstacles & difficulties" he found at the agency when he arrived (such as "small pox measles and cholera" which the Indians "attribute solely to the Emigrants passing through their country"). He also mentions the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851); the numbers of Sioux "who receive their presents at this place"; and the scarcity of game. Vaughan writes details about individual tribes, including the Sioux, Blackfeet, and Crow, and he discusses how diseases brought by European Americans have devastated all tribes. The Blackfeet, the agent singles out, as a "reckless people, committing murder and stealing everything that passed in their way." Vaughan also comments on how most of the Indians under his charge do not farm "and never will. They live exclusively upon the Buffalo Elk Deer and antelope." The agent was more optimistic, however, about those who did cultivate the soil. For those, Vaughan suggests "to the government in its humane and benevolent feelings towards its Red Children that a portion of their presents be in agricultural implements and balance in provisions." Vaughan also reports on the buffalo harvest, which he estimated at around 400,000. Much of that harvest came as a result of hunting by American fur trading companies. Near the end of his report, the agent takes the liberty to make recommendations to his superiors, such as suggesting that twenty Indian leaders be taken to Washington, D.C., to "see the strength and resources of the U. States as well as their Great Father the President as many of them express a great wish to do." This is a fascinating report with important information about the Plains Indians in the early 1850s. It deserves much further research. From the Donald P. Dow Collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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