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Ottawa Reservation

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American | No Comments

The Ottawa reservation is situated in the west part of the agency. It is diagonal in shape and contains in all 14,860 acres. The land in this reservation is about one-third timber and two-thirds prairie. The reservation has fine stone for building and other purposes. A quarry has been opened and some beautiful specimens taken out. The stone is almost as white as marble. Tombstones are made of it, which are used on this and other reservations in the vicinity.

The Ottawas number 137 in all, 82 males and 53 females, of whom 130 speak and 46 read English.

Their farms are mostly small, and with a few exceptions are not well cultivated. There are only about 3,000 acres under cultivation and some 6,500 acres fenced, most of which was done by white people, and leased for grazing cattle. Since they have taken their land in allotment they are doing better as farmers. They put under cultivation some 300 additional acres in the last year. The stock of horses, mules, cattle, and swine is small.

Only two or three have the full-blood appearance, or claim to be full bloods, and these are quite old. Many are intelligent and capable. Their indolence is attributed somewhat to intermarrying with worthless whites. They are quite healthy in appearance, and the women seem to retain more of the Indian appearance than the men. All dress in citizens’ clothing. The women are the more industrious, but not the most clean and tidy. Some few have made good housekeepers. The children are more intelligent than the older people, and many have a great desire for education. Most of their houses are small, built of logs, and not kept in good repair. Some of the more thrifty ones have frame houses, barns, and comfortable accommodations for stock.

These Indians have no annuity money paid to them. They are strictly farmers, depending on the white man for all mechanical work. They seem to have no desire to learn trades. The younger ones who have learned trades at industrial schools make no use of them after returning to their homes; in fact, they have no opportunity to do so unless they go to the states and live with the whites, which they dislike to do.

They have a written language, and have hymn books, the Testament, and prayer book, with the Indian language on one side and the English on the other. These books are kept only as curiosities, as there is not one of them that can read the Indian side of the book. The teaching of the Indian language has been discouraged by the government officials. While with very few exceptions the English language is spoken before whites, they still talk Indian among themselves.

There, being no schoolhouse on the reservation, they send their children to boarding and industrial schools in different parts of the country to which they have access.

The Ottawas have no church at this time, but there is one in course of construction by the Society of ‘Friends. They are about equally divided as to their religions beliefs between the Methodists and Society of Friends. Each of these denominations has had a small tract of land donated for church and school purposes.

These Indians have dropped all traditions and legends. Indian dances have been abandoned.
They have their chief, who is elected by the people each year, and his power is very limited. They have councils, at which the chief presides. These councils are held for the purpose of trying to better their condition.

Polygamy has been abandoned and the marriage relation is kept sacred, the ceremony being performed by the minister of the church of their faith.

Crime is almost unknown on the reservation, except that which is committed by the whites. The Indians are law-abiding, and have an Indian police. The agent settles all their differences, which are not many. They have lost the art of making trinkets, beadwork, and bows and arrows. Their lands have been allotted in the same manner as to the other Quapaw tribes, in 160, 80, and 40 acre tracts.


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