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One hundred years ago, in 1914, Indians were supposed to have totally assimilated into the great American melting pot like other immigrants and yet Indian people and their tribes continued to exist. Reservations had been created in the nineteenth centuries as a way of segregating Indians from non-Indians and congregating in order to assimilate them into American society. Listed below are some of the Indian events of 1914 concerning reservations.

New Reservations:

In Nevada and Utah, the Deep Creek Reservation was created for the Gosiute by presidential executive order.

The Kalispel Reservation in Eastern Washington was established by executive order.

In Oklahoma, the Keetowah Cherokee petitioned President Woodrow Wilson for their own reservation. The request was denied as the government saw this as a backward step in the assimilation process.


In Idaho, an Indian baseball team from the Nez Perce reservation left the reservation to play baseball. The superintendent of the Nez Perce Indian School sent Samuel Tilden, a Nez Perce tribal policeman, to the train depot in Joseph to determine if any of the returning players were bringing alcohol back to the reservation. There was an altercation and Tilden shot William Jackson. Tilden was arrested by state law enforcement officers.

The U.S. Attorney applied in federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus for Tilden. In Ex parte Tilden, the court, however, determined that the state had jurisdiction as the murder took place on a railroad right-of-way which was no longer considered to be a part of the reservation for the purpose of conveying jurisdiction to the United States under the Major Crimes Act.

In Idaho, the Indian agent for the Fort Hall Reservation prohibited the Shoshone and Bannock from putting on their traditional Sun Dance as he felt that this was a backward influence on the community. Community leaders organized the Sun Dance in defiance of the ban and 1,500 Shoshone and Bannock attended.

In Idaho, the Indian Office directed the Indian agent for the Fort Hall Reservation to purchase 20 Hereford bulls and 452 heifers using money held in trust by the Treasury Department for the Shoshone and Bannock. The tribes were not consulted about the purchase and they learned about it only when the cattle showed up on the reservation. The new bulls were infected with scabies and exposed the individually-owned Indian herds to the disease.

In Montana, the Indian Office began killing horses on the Fort Belknap Reservation which showed any evidence of a disease called dourine. While non-Indian stock mixed with Indian stock on the reservation, non-Indian horses were not killed. The Gros Ventre protested the action, calling themselves progressive horse breeders.

In Montana, the new superintendent for the Northern Cheyenne reservation felt that dry farming should be more important than irrigation agriculture. He discontinued the maintenance of the “Birney Ditch,” an irrigation project begun by an earlier superintendent. The Indians, however, were still required to pay for the irrigation system.

The Sioux began to stage “singings” at reservation dance halls in South Dakota as a way of raising money to pay for their fight to regain the Black Hills. The agents on the reservation prohibited the “singings” and the Indian Office refused to release any tribal money for pursuing their claim.

In Washington state, the Spokane Chamber of Commerce wrote to the Secretary of the Interior asking for the Colville Reservation to be opened up to farming by non-Indians. They urged that the reservation’s timber lands be cleared for agricultural use by non-Indian settlers and suggested that the Indians would be better off if there were non-Indian farmers providing them with examples of the right kind of agricultural development.

In Wyoming, the Indian agent on the Wind River Reservation began recording “full blood” or “half blood” beside the names of the people on the Arapaho tribal roll. While non-Indian government officials felt that blood quantum was an important criteria for determining “Indianness”, the Arapaho viewed this differently. For the Arapaho, Arapaho identity was determined by participation with other Arapahos in reciprocity networks.

In Arizona, the government put an allotment plan into effect on the Pima Reservation and some tribal members took up ten-acre plots.

The Indian Office began to cooperate with the Arizona Cotton Growers Association regarding the use of Indian labor. The Indian Office sought to establish a stable system of employment for Indians as cotton pickers. By this time some Tohono O’odham were complaining that growers were hiring Mexican migrants rather than Indians.

Also in Arizona, a missionary criticized the Commissioner of Indian affairs for allowing a dance for Dr. Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai-Apache) to be held on the Salt River Reservation in Arizona. He complained that such dances “inflame the animal passions” and that the dances led to fights, jealousies, and domestic difficulties among “these unmoral and half-civilized people.” The assistant commissioner of Indian Affairs told the Yavapai-Apache on the Salt River Reservation that Indian dances were “relics of the old-time customs” and that they are “incompatible with the modern civilization which the Office desires to see the Indians accept.” Commissioner Cato Sells informed the superintendent of the Salt River Reservation that

“You may prohibit any of the old time barbarous dances from being held on your reservation” because these dances are “injurious to the moral welfare of the Indians.”
In Oklahoma, the Creek found that Congress had unilaterally reduced the amount for equalization of their allotments from $1,040 to $800. Individual Creek were to be paid only a small deposit of the money owed to them and the balance was to be held for them by the Indian Office.

In Washington state, the Lummi were given permission to hold a dance. According to the Indian agent, the purpose of the dance was not to teach young people the old ways,

“but by way of giving them a page out of the past Indian history that they might realize the progress that has been made by the race.”
The Mission Indians entered into an agreement with the United States which allowed for a hydroelectric facility, power lines, and access roads on the Rincon Reservation in California. The United States agreed to provide the reservation with some power and water.

In North Carolina, the Eastern Cherokee organized a fair where the Cherokee were able to showcase their own crafts and attract non-Indians to the reservation. The fair was highly successful and the tribal council’s appropriation of $200 to finance it was not used. Some traditionals had protested the appropriation.

In Utah, the Mormon settlers in Grayson (later named Blanding) contacted the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to demand the removal of the Ute Indians:

“The Indians are not making any decided advancement and we feel that the strong arm of the Government should manifest itself and have the Indians placed where they can be advanced along civilized lines and relieve the good people of the County of the burden of being preyed upon by a reckless bunch of Indians.”
In Colorado, Tsenegar (also spelled Tse-ne-gat), son of Ute chief Old Polk, was accused of killing a Mexican sheepherder on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation.

In Washington, Palouse chief Tilcoax died on the Umatilla Reservation. He had been chief of the village at Fishhook Bend.

Originally posted to Native American Netroots on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:40 AM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Invisible People.

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