The Indian policy of the Administration in that of civilization. Latterly, despite the unpromising character of the material to be molded into peaceful and industrious communities, there has grown up a strong hope that the long-studied Indian problem is to be solved by treating these wild creatures as human beings, teaching them the arts of peace, and winning them to habits of thrift. The results of some of the experiments of the Government have given us reason to believe that, after all, the Aborigines, or what remains of them, may be assimilated into the selfsupporting population of the country; so that the end may not be extermination, but absorption. We believe that Gen. Parker, whose retirement from the Indian Bureau as lately announced, is to be credited with the soundest and most practical view of this whole question ever entertained by any public officer who has had aught to do with Indian affairs; and the present Administration will always be remembered as one that has done much to prove that the Red Man, bad, shiftless, and disreputable as he is, has yet some spark of humanity, and is fit for something better than bloody extermination.
Not so, however, thinks and believes the average frontier settler. He considers the Indians unmitigated nuisances, hindrances, vermin, whose lives are unnecessary and whose end is to be slaughtered. Officers of the Government--civil and military--who have passed much time among the Indians, and have made them a study, are convinced it is possible that they may be measurably reclaimed from their cruel, vagabond ways, and they have thus been won over to the later humane policy of the Government.
In Arizona, where the meanest, wildest, and most intractable Indians--the Apaches--still rove, a few were collected on a reservation at Camp Grant, not far from Tucson. From the official report of Lieut. Whitman, commanding the post, we learn that the number of Indians there assembled had increased to five hundred and ten, with constant accessions. These people, men, women, and children, were engaged in gathering hay for the Government, and their food was supplied in army rations, supplemented by such simple harvests as were garnered by the women and children in the neighboring hills. The experiment of bringing together Indians in a small community, and gradually teaching them to subsist peacefully, was a success at Camp Grant. But we all know how the bloody end came. The settlers at Tucson, remembering that Apaches had killed white men, made a descent upon the defenseless creatures, and cruelly butchered the women and children, the men having escaped at the first warning.
This was the protest of white Arizona against the humane policy of civilizing Indians. These settlers insist that the Apaches shall be exterminated; and when an attempt is made to teach them to be peaceful, they break up the slowly-succeeding scheme by murder. It will not do, they argue, for Indian wars to cease; if there are no Indian wars, there will be no troops to feed and no military contracts to fill. The United States Paymaster furnishes the basis for prosperity for a greater proportion of the white people. To see the Indians at peace, bringing in hay at low prices--this is bitterness to the soul of the white Arizonian, who chooses that there shall be a small army kept in the Territory, and that he shall have no aboriginal competitor in supplying its quartermaster. It is likely that the same obstacles to Indian Civilization exist in New-Mexico, here Gov. Pile has just stopped a causeless raid by white men upon the Indians of that Territory. It is pitiful, but it is true, that the chief obstacle to-day to the humane policy of gradually winning the Indian from improvident wildness is the selfish meanness of the White Man.
[New York TRIBUNE, July 21, 1871, p.?]