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The enumeration of the Kickapoos was made before my arrival, but upon examination I find that it was correctly done.
The mental capacity of these people is high. They are smart, intelligent, and bright men and women. Their physical condition is good, and they are a clean, vigorous, and upright people.
Their economical condition shows many evidences of prosperity. They are raising good crops for the season. They are every year breaking up additional prairie land, fencing in their fields, improving their homes, setting out fruit trees, cutting fodder like white farmers, and otherwise adding to their comforts and purses. Virtue in both sexes is the rule. There is a growing disposition of the man to work and provide for the wants of the family, while the woman cares for the home and brings up the children. They have a church, built by themselves, and native preachers. They hold services twice on the Sabbath, regardless of the weather, and always with a good attendance. The preaching is in the native language. They are told to do right, to be honest, to be sober, to be industrious, to raise good crops, to get cattle and hogs, to get good homes, and to live like good white people; to stop finding fault, and take hold of life like white men; to be good husbands, wives, and children; to be virtuous men and women, and get better and do better every day and every year; to surround their homes with trees, cultivate good gardens, and plant fruit trees. Their creed is morality, duty, and honesty; they do not belong to any religious denomination, and are entirely independent of all other churches; but this creed is evidently doing a good work among this people, and in their own way. They have 2 native ministers, who are upright and respected men. They have attracted much attention recently.
These people, except in the color of their skin and their language, would be easily taken for early settlers in a new country. They all wear white men’s clothing. They are progressing steadily. In all things there is great, encouragement; except that many of the men out of the church will drink whisky. The children are sent to school, and a majority of the tribe speaks English. About 100 members, including children, are on their church roll. There is an officer of the church who is called “the whipper-in”, designed for the welfare of the children of the tribe, If any of the children absent themselves from church or behave badly when there, it is his duty to use the switch vigorously upon them and compel attendance at the services and good behavior.
The Kickapoos’ lands are their chief wealth, and many are now getting herds of cattle, hogs, and horses. The horses belonging to this tribe seem to be of much better stock than the ordinary Indian pony. Wheat, corn, and flax raising is quite an industry with them. Their houses are small frame buildings, comfortable, and built by themselves. They provide shelter for their stock in winter. Some have orchards, and nearly every house has a good well of water. They use stoves for cooking and for warming their houses, and sleep on bedsteads like the white people. Very few live in wigwams either in summer or winter.
These Indians are usually progressive in their ideas, but many are held back by their old chiefs, who oppose all progress and do not believe in improvements of any kind.
These old chiefs grieve because they have not their old influence and position, and also because they no longer receive the annuities of the tribe and the right to distribute them, They insist on the old Indian life, and say that when the Indian becomes educated and enlightened he will no longer be an Indian. They increase in number about as do the whites in a new country, the increase with them the last 10 years being a little over 5.5 per cent annually. They number 237, and hold 20,273 acres of land, which, divided among them, would give a little more than 85.5 acres each. Generally it would seem that allotment, unless the power to transfer is very carefully guarded for many years, would be disastrous to Indian tribes. Some years since 109 of this tribe were allotted their lands in severalty to the east of and near the present reservation. Only 27 of these people, by themselves or their heirs, now hold these lands, while the remaining 82 have disposed of their tracts, squandered their property, and are now living with the tribe on the reservation, and are a burden upon them; in fact half-way paupers, who are not counted as members of the tribe, but only as poor dependents. Their lands are valuable for agricultural purposes. They grow fine winter wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye, and flax, in fact all kinds of grain, fruits, vegetables, and grapes, of the finest quality. This land is well watered with streams, which in ordinary seasons afford an abundant supply of running water, while plenty of water is found a short distance below the surface of excellent quality. There is scarcely an acre of these lands which is not valuable either for cultivation or grazing. There seems to be ledge rock for all needed purposes and timber sufficient for fuel and posts. The agency buildings are in bad condition and have an appearance of neglect. The mission boarding houses also in very bad condition. One thousand five hundred dollars would be a very liberal estimate of its value.