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Rev. Frank Wright, a Choctaw Indian

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Third session,
Thursday morning, October 17

Rev. Frank Wright, a Choctaw Indian, was introduced as the next speaker.

Rev. Frank Wright. With the Choctaws the land question is, When shall we get hold of our land? All we want is the land. We were the first of the five tribes to agree to take it in severalty, and we are the last to get our allotments. I do not know why. So far as making farmers of the Indians, in dealing with a man you have got to take him as you find him. You cannot make blacksmiths of all the Indians, and you can not make farmers of them all. Some will turn to the ministry, some to medicine, and some to law. You can make no hard and fast rule about it. But the first principle to teach him is that he must labor to take care of himself. The Indian must become self-dependent. We have been giving them rations till they are pauperized. It is a scandal and a shame, and I shall be glad when rations are absolutely cut off and the Indians must work or starve. I have worked among the Apaches, who were held as prisoners, and have established missions among them, and I want to tell you what I have found there. These prisoners were compelled to work, and it had a wonderful influence on them. It gave them an incentive; it took away their aimless life; it took them away from gambling; it showed them how to do things. I am in favor of compelling Indians to work. These Apaches worked eight hours a day; they lived in houses; they had plenty to eat every day, and I rejoiced with them. They raise corn and cattle, and are compelled to save their money. They have over 2, 000 head of cattle, and they are taught to breed and take care of them like any other person. The result is that they are getting along, and when they are free they will know how to take care of themselves.

If you could go down to the Cheyenne camp and build a guardhouse and compel the men to work and teach them how, it would be a good thing. But they must be taught and helped or they become discouraged. They are not in touch with the whites. The missionaries build their houses near the railroads. I believe if farmers would go among them and live near them the Indians would learn to work, but as it is there is no one to show them how. They must be taught to work and then thrown on their own resources. That alone will give them independence of character.

Mr. Meserve. Mr. Wright has been a missionary for some time, and has established missions among the Indians. He had a station where the Mohonk Lodge is. I have traveled for days with him, and I wish there were hundreds of such missionary workers.

Adjourned at 1 p. m.

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