JF Ptak Science Books Post 1708
[This is one in a series of posts prompted by my current reading of Larry McMurtry's novel, Lonesome Dove.]
The Indian of the Plains had few options in the 1860s and 1870s. The buffalo were gone and hunting lands were being taken over by white settlers. With this dissipation of their food source came displacement resulting in inadequate food supply and (in many cases) starvation. The government offered reservation systems, but these in general flawed results of flawed and hurried thinking. In one attempt to determine the efficacy of the government's response to the growing crisis in caring for the removed Indian population, a committee under the titular leadership of Senator James Rood Doolittle of Wisconsin (Republican turned Democrat, 1815-1897), created in January 1867 a report (The Condition of the Tribes, Report of the Joint Committee...) containing a wealth of information about the state of Indians on the reservations, drawing on the results of a questionnaire completed by 27 high-ranking respondents in Indian affairs, including eleven army officers, thirteen agents or superintendents, one teacher, one missionary, and one physician. It does not paint a pretty picture, even coming at the hands of a Congressional investigation.
On the first page of results, the author(s) state:
I've done a very broad, executive summary of the document and its major points:
On Population decline. Almost all agreed that the Indian population was declining; most attributed the decrease to intertribal warfare, while others laid blame on the encroachments of white people, sickness, and intoxication.
General Carleton put it very bluntly;