y m* Si .
HOUSE No. 46.
REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONERS
THE CONDITION OF THE INDIANS
[Feb. 1849.] HOUSE— No. 46.
Commontoealti) of J»asssad)US*tt!S
Council Chamber, )
February 21, 1849. )
To the House of Representatives :
I herewith communicate, for the use of the Legislature, the
Report of the Commissioners, appointed under the Resolve of
the Legislature, passed on the 10th of May, 1848, " to visit
the several tribes, and parts of tribes, of Indians, remaining
within this Commonwealth, to examine into their condition
and circumstances, and report to the next Legislature what
legislation, in their opinion, is necessary in order best to pro-
mote the improvement and interests of said Indians."
These scattered and poor remains of tribes, who were once
the numerous and powerful occupants of our hills and valleys,
our lakes and rivers, of which advancing civilization has dis-
possessed them, have the strongest claims upon the government
of the Commonwealth to do every thing in their power to pre-
serve their existence, protect their rights, and improve their
I commend the subject to your consideration, with the hope
that the Report of the Commissioners, who have given to it
great labor and attention, will lead to such legislative provisions
as are demanded by justice and humanity.
GEO. N. BRIGGS.
©omtttimtotaltf) of fflnut>Ml)uutttn.
'Hv9 \Extetteney, Ogorge iV. Briggs:
^hc Commissioners, appointed by yonr Excellency, under a
■•• ..Respire jQf.tbs Legislature, of May 10th, 1848, " to visit the
•*!*so>VeYtfl tribes, and parts of tribes, of Indians, remaining with-
in this Commonwealth, to examine into their condition and
circumstances, and Report to the next Legislature, what
legislation, in their opinion, is necessary, in order best to pro-
mote the improvement and interests of said Indians," respect-
fully submit the following
The duty imposed upon us by the first two clauses of the
extract, recited from the Resolve, has proved far more laborious
than was supposed, when its performance was commenced ;
especially the recommendation of measures " to promote the
improvement and interests of the Indians," requires a wisdom
to which we dare not claim, and involves a responsibility which
we hesitate to meet.
Unwilling, as we should have been, to have assumed the
task, had we been aware of its difficulties and importance, we
have yet endeavored to carry out, to the extent of our abilities,
the intentions of the Legislature. We have visited all the
tribes and parts of tribes of Indians in the Commonwealth,
except, perhaps, a few scattered over the State, who have long
since ceased to be the wards of the State, and who are, practi-
cally, merged in the general community. We have seen them
in their dwellings and on their farms, in their school-houses
and meeting-houses, have partaken of their hospitalities of bed
and board, have become familiar with their private griefs and
public grievances, have congratulated them upon their privi-
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 5
leges, and consulted with them on their disabilities. Encoun-
tering, at first, not unnaturally, jealousy and distrust, we have
found that these, almost invariably, yielded before the exhibi-
tion of our own kind sympathies, and our assurances that the
Commission had its origin in none but the most friendly mo-
tives on the part of the government of the State. Reserve once
removed, we have found them, almost without exception, com-
municative and confiding. If we fail in making a satisfactory
statement of their condition and wants, it will not be for want
of opportunities of observation.
We are tempted to turn aside from the path to which our in-
structions point us, and enter upon a field full of materials for
historical inquiry and antiquarian speculation. We are among
the " stricken few" who remain of the once undisputed sover-
eigns of the Western World. The blood of Samoset and Mas-
sasoit runs in their veins; and the same spirit which prompted
the " Welcome, Englishmen," which greeted the weary Pil-
grims, and relieved their fears of Indian hostilities, has ever
since controlled the intercourse of nearly all the tribes, of
which they are the remnants, with the whites.
During Philip's war, the " Praying Indians" formed a bul-
wark between the hostile Indians and the feeble colonists ; and
subsequently, when in their own quarrels, or as allies of a
foreign foe, other tribes eagerly embraced the opportunity to
take bloody vengeance for the wrongs of their race, these have,
with more than Christian forbearance, uniformly favored their
invaders. It might be useful to illustrate more fully this fact
as constituting a claim for the most generous treatment by the
State.* It would be interesting to rescue from oblivion some of
these fast fleeting mementoes of a people, soon to become ex-
tinct. We must leave, to the historian and the antiquary, what
is not strictly within our province.
The names of the different tiibes in the State are as follows :
Chappequiddic, Christiantown, Gay Head, Fall River or Troy,
Marshpee, Herring Pond, Grafton or Hassanamisco, Dudley,
Punkapog, Natick, and Yarmouth.
The whole number of Indians, and people of color, connected
with them, not including Natick, is 847. There are but six or
* See Appendix F.
eight Indians, of pure blood, in the State ; one or two at Gay
Head, one at Punkapog, and three, perhaps four, at Marshpee.
All the rest are of mixed blood ; mostly of Indian and African.
This fact, of the admixture of African blood, usually predom-
inating, in amount, over the Indian, is the only one common to
all the different tribes; beyond that, the condition and circum-
stances of each are so peculiar as to require separate considera-
tion. — In giving the statistics, we have, in all cases, taken all
known to belong to each tribe, respectively, and supposed to
be living, who may, if they should return, be entitled to what-
ever privileges and immunities belong to this people. — Under
the head of foreigners, we include all, one or both of whose
parents are not of Indian blood.
The Chappequiddic Tribe.
This tribe occupies a part of the small island of the same
name, being a part of Martha's Vineyard, and separated from
Edgartown by a narrow arm of the sea, which forms the har-
bor of that town. Their territory comprises 692 acres. It is
on a bleak exposure, and the soil is barren, and yields a pre-
carious subsistence to the most unremitting industry. The lo-
cation appears to be remarkably health)'', not an individual, at
the time of our visit, being confined, by either chronic or acute
disease. The whole number of the tribe is 85.* In 1828, the
number of the tribe was 110.
Under 5 years.
From 5 to 10,
" 10 to 21,
" 21 to 50,
" 50 to 70,
The ages of the three oldest are 71, 82, and 94, all natives.
* For names, sec Appendix, A.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 7
The Chappequiddics depend for subsistence entirely, with
the exception of those who go to sea, and of some few women
who go out to service, upon agriculture. They are generally
very industrious, securing, by economy and hard labor, a com-
fortable living, and some few adding, from year to year, to
their little property, generally in the way of improvements of
their lands. A few realize considerable sums in the summer
from the sale of blackberries to the people of Nantucket.
Under the judicious oversight and counsels of their guardian,
Hon. Leavitt Thaxter, they are far in advance of any other
tribe in the State, in improvements in agriculture, and, indeed,
in the arts and even elegancies of social and domestic life.
Twenty years ago, they were preeminently a degraded people,
unchaste, intemperate, and, by consequence, improvident ; now
they are chaste, not a case of illegitimacy, so far as we could
learn, existing among them; temperate, comparing, in this
respect, most favorably with the same population, in the same
condition of life, in any part of the State, and comfortable, not
inferior, in dress, manners, and intelligence, to their white
neighbors. These favorable changes, they attribute partly to
the division of their lands under the act of 1828, each occu-
pant now holding his land in fee, and not liable to be dispos-
sessed at the pleasure of the guardian, as under the old law,
but mainly to the salutary influence exerted over them by their
guardian. The result has been, new incentives to industry
and economy, arising from an assurance of their rewards, and
a love of approbation, and self-respect, which are at once the
fruits and the guarantees of progress. Nearly all live in good
framed houses, most of them comfortably furnished, and many
of them with their " spare room" handsomely carpeted, and
adorned with pictures and curiosities collected in the eastern
and southern seas. Each family owns and improves from 5 to
30 or 40 acres. Generally they are tolerably well supplied
with agricultural implements, and nearly all who live by agri-
culture have one or more yoke of oxen. The stock of the tribe
is as follows : — 1 horse, 31 horned cattle, 39 swine, 161 fowls,
and 12 sheep. The value of estates, at their own estimates,
varies from 200 to 1,000 dollars. Perhaps about half of the
8 INDIANS. [Feb.
land owners are in debt from 10 to 100 dollars, generally expect-
ing to pay during the year. — Previous to 1828, the lands were
all in common, the law of February 27, 1810, having provided
that the commissioners appointed under that act should make a
division which should continue ten years, and authorizing the
guardian, at the expiration of that time, to make a new divis-
ion. The commissioners, appointed under the act of March
10th, 1828, made a permanent division of the whole territory,
dividing 487 acres among 17 families, and reserving 205 acres
for public purposes, and for apportionment to any members of
the tribe then absent who might afterwards claim a share.
This division, though it was, of course, impossible to make it
universally satisfactory, seems to have been made as wisely
and fairly, as, under the circumstances, could be done. — The
annual public income is about eight dollars, arising from the
rents of the common lands, and applied to the support of the
poor. There are now two paupers, who receive aid from the
State, amounting, for the present year, to 128 dollars. We have
no means of ascertaining the whole amount appropriated by the
State to this tribe, as the guardian's account embraces also the
appropriations to the Christiantown tribe. Both amounts will
be stated when we come to speak of that tribe. Beyond the
aid furnished, as above stated, by the State, the poor are assist-
ed, so far as needed, in addition to the small sum received from
the rent of the public lands, by voluntary contribution. As
races, they have acquired, in the long school of oppression and
proscription, a ready sympathy for individual suffering. In
the language of Mr. Thaxter, " They are kind and considerate
to each other in sickness and poverty."*
They have a school, taught by a female, for three or four
months each year. When we visited them, the school was
closed, so that we cannot speak particularly of its condition.
They receive from the State about forty-six dollars annually,
being thirty dollars from the school fund, under the act of April
18th, 1848, and one quarter of the income of 1,200 dollars of
the surplus fund, under the act of March 21, 1837. This con-
stitutes their whole means of support for the school, being
* Appendix B.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 9
really unable to increase the amount by voluntary subscription.
The whole number, between the ages of 4 and 16, is 15. With
so small a school, and such limited means, their educational
privileges must be of comparatively very little value. — They
have no preaching or religious teaching of any kind. They
raise no money themselves for the support of the Gospel, and
receive none from the State, or from benevolent societies. For-
merly, they received, from the President and Fellows of Harvard
College, who are trustees of the "Williams Fund," a portion
of the income of that fund. For reasons to which we shall refer
more particularly when we come to speak of the Gay Head
tribe, they have received, for several years past, nothing from
that source. They are allowed to attend meeting, occupying a
"respectful" position in the meeting-house of the whites on the
Litigation is almost unknown. Probably in no part of the
State, embracing an equal population, are there fewer difficul-
ties resulting in a necessity for legal adjudication. At this mo-
ment, a difficulty in relation to a cranberry meadow exists,
which will, however, undoubtedly be adjusted by the guardian.
This fact, especially, considering the imperfect definition of
their legal rights, is very creditable. They rarely commit
offences, and they have learned patience under grievances.
The Chappequiddic tribe is governed by the act of March
10, 1828. As the same act applies to the Christiantown tribe,
we reserve an examination of its provisions as applicable to
Although litigation is rare, still, owing to supposed imperfec-
tions in the -division of their lands in 1828, and to the illy
defined position and maintenance of their legal rights against
their white neighbors, there are difficulties among them, oc-
casioning social alienations among themselves, and more or
less of bitterness towards their neighbors. Difficult of adjust-
ment as these are, — impossible of adjustment, indeed, as that
class is which grows out of the prosperity due to the superior
intelligence and thrift of a portion of the tribe, they are still
such as to require legislative attention, and to justify, from a
10 INDIANS. [Feb.
good hope of the practicability of remedy, legislative inter-
The difficulties among themselves relate principally to the
peat lands, the cranberry patch, and the fences. A portion of
the peat lands are still held in common, and the arrangement
is, that those, whose territory, under the division of 1828, did
not include a portion of peat lands, might cut peat from the
common lands, according to a particular rule. This arrange-
ment almost necessarily leads to difficulty, and we concur with
the guardian in the opinion, that it is desirable that these com-
mon lands should be wholly and finally divided."*
The circumstances relative to the cranberry patch are fully
stated by Mr. Thaxter. We agree with him in regard to the
position of this dispute as a matter of equity, if not of law.
But as there is some little ambiguity in the language of the
Commissioners, and as the difficulty arises less from the value
of the matter at issue, than from a propensity, in a few of the
proprietors, to stickle for supposed legal rights, we endorse his
suggestion that the conflicting claims should be settled by ex-
The Indians have as yet been, and still are, unable to fence,
respectively, their allotments. They are obliged to pasture their
cattle in the tethering rope. Farmers will readily understand
the serious inconvenience of this necessity, and other troubles
arising from the absence offences.
By the act of January 26, 1789, the object of which was to
provide for the division of the territory of the Island of Chap-
pequiddic, " between the patentees and other purchasers, and
the Indians on the said Island," the division line between the
whites and Indians was defined, and it was declared that the
"said patentees and other purchasers shall be at the sole and
whole charge and expense of making, maintaining, and repair-
ing the said divisional fence, and fences, any law to the con-
trary notwithstanding." Additional acts, more clearly defining
and enforcing this obligation, were passed June 19, 1790, and
June 16, 1796; and, by the act of March 2, 1829, "the
guardian is authorized to compel the patentees and other pur-
* See Appendix B.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 11
chasers of lands on said Island, or their heirs, to make and
maintain the divisional fence, commonly called the Indian line
fence." It seems to us that this obligation cannot be legally
evaded. The guardian, however, entertains some doubt about
it, and has not yet thought best to attempt to enforce the law.
The fence is now in a very bad state, and the crops of the In-
dians are constantly in danger from the cattle of the whites.
Gradual encroachment upon the territory and the rights of the
Indian, — the immemorial law, — has lost none of its prescriptive
strength. No opportunity for its enforcement is still allowed to
pass unimproved. The whole Island, say the Indians, be-
longed to their fathers. A large portion of it has been wrested
from them, sometimes it may be, with the show, seldom with
the reality, of an adequate consideration. By the act of 1789,
the white man received the lion's share. They feel that they
have the right to expect protection in the enjoyment of the few
acres left to them. Whether additional legislation is necessary
or not, the white proprietors ought to be compelled, as they
have received the benefits, to fulfil the obligations, of the act
There is a tract of common land, covered, many years ago.
with valuable wood, now almost entirely worthless. It is un-
fenced, and, since the wood was cut off, the cattle belonging to
the whites browse upon the young shoots, and prevent their
growth. It is hardly worth enclosing, and the sooner it is sold
for the benefit of the tribe, or divided among them, the better.
We believe provision now exists for dividing this land.
There is also some complaint of the want of well-defined
highways. Not unfrequently, if a "shorter cut" to a point of
destination lies across a piece of cultivated land, drivers, par-
ticularly white men, do not hesitate to take it. In the case of
one or two tracts, this is a matter of serious inconvenience. —
The Indians also complain, that the whole of the highway,
from the landing opposite Edgartown, and surrounding their
territory, is on their side of the line fence, thus depriving them
of several acres of their territory, and preventing the fencing
of their allotments, without crossing the highway ; whereas
they claim, and justly as it seems to us. that one half, at least,
12 INDIANS. [Feb.
of the highway, should be on the land of the white men. and
that it should be fenced on both sides.
Our inquiries here, as well as elsewhere, were directed par-
ticularly to the question, whether they desire a removal of the
guardianship, and the enjoyment of the privileges, with the
liabilities of citizenship. A very few of the male adults, per-
haps only one, wished the removal of the guardianship. Prob-
ably a majority consider, that, as far as themselves individually
are concerned, they are able to take care of themselves; but wish,
if the guardianship should be abolished, that a counsellor might
be appointed to advise them in difficulty, and assist them to
improvement, say for five or ten years, until they felt entirely
capable of self-control. Upon the whole, however, they are of
opinion, that it will be better for them, as a whole, to remain
as they are. A few are now voters, being taxed for lands,
which they own in Edgartown. As a general thing, they feel
no inclination to enjoy the privilege of voting, and incur the
liability to taxation. No portion of the Indians of the Com-
monwealth are so well prepared to exercise the elective fran-
chise as the Chappequiddics. Still, we have been compelled to
abandon the hope we had cherished, that we might recommend
a removal of their civil disabilities, and to express our decided
conviction that, in the present state of the tribe, and of public
opinion, it is best they should remain as they are. Where
shall they go? Few towns are willing to receive them, with
the liability to support their paupers. Why should they go?
The elective franchise is a barren privilege, unless it carries
with it, not merely constitutional and legal, but practical eligi-
bility to office. When the social disabilities resting upon a
conquered and servile race are removed, the elective franchise
may be a blessing worth coveting. While those exist, it cannot
even be appreciated by an oppressed and proscribed people, still
The territory of the Christiantown Indians lies on the north-
western side of the Vineyard, bordering on the Vineyard sound,
and comprises 390 acres. The soil is what farmers call hard
HOUSE— No. 46.
and strong, difficult of cultivation, but yielding, to persevering
industry, remunerating returns. The location appears to be a
healthy one; still, a comparatively large number have recently
died, and, at the time of our visit, several were sick, of both
chronic and acute diseases. The whole number of the tribe is
$28, the number oj
tribe was 4S.
Under 5 years,
From 5 to 10, .
" 10 to 20, .
" 21 to 50, .
" 50 to 70, .
The pursuits of this tribe are agricultural, with the ex-
ception of those who follow the sea. — A general remark may
here be made, applicable to all the tribes, that those who
go to sea are less thrifty, and more improvident, than those
who depend upon agriculture for support. — Their condition
is very similar to that of the Chappequiddics, though behind
them in intelligence, social condition, and domestic comforts.
This is, probably, to a great extent, owing to their distance
from the guardian, Mr. Thaxter, being some 12 miles, which
renders so constant a supervision impossible, and to their iso-
lated situation, deprived of the elevating influences which the
vicinity of Edgartown imparts to the Chappequiddics. This
isolation is not, however, without its advantages, as the temp-
tations to unchastity and intemperance are less. — Their stock
consists of 2 horses, 17 horned cattle, 11 swine, and 56 fowls.
Usually, they live in comfortable houses ; their whole territory,
as well as each individual allotment, is fenced, generally with
* For names, see Appendix A.
14 INDIANS. [Feb.
a substantial stone wall. The lands are held by the same ten-
ure as at Chappequiddic, 350 acres being owned in severalty,
and 40 acres still held in common. The common lands con-
tain valuable wood. The only source of public income is the
sale of wood from common land?, from which seven or eight
dollars are realized annually. This is appropriated to the sup-
port of the poor.
They have now no paupers, and receive no aid from the
State. They receive the same amount from the State for schools
as the Chappequiddic tribe, forty-six dollars, and the remarks,
in relation to the school at Chappequiddic, will apply to these.
They have no preaching, or religious teaching, the fund for-
merly appropriated to them being withheld for reasons before
alluded to, to be dwelt upon more fully hereafter. Litigation
is unknown; they have no grievances for which they ask re-
dress. They are a quiet, peaceable people. They are satisfied
with the guardianship system, and have no desire to enjoy the
privileges of citizenship. The saddest feature in their case is.
that they are too well contented in their condition of ignorance
Occasionally, an individual was found, who writhed under
the crushing weight of civil and social disability. We have,
among our notes, the case of one young man, of 22 years, be-
longing to a family of nine children, six older than himself, all
of whom had died in the pride of early manhood and woman-
hood, except one, and that one helpless and blind, in conse-
quence, undoubtedly, of ill treatment at sea. This young man
had been one of the best seamen who sailed from the South
Shore, and had risen to be second mate ; but had come home
discouraged, disheartened, with ambition quenched, and now
feeds the moodiness of a crushed spirit, by moping amid the
graves of his kindred, soon, we fear, to lie down with them,
"where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at
rest, where the oppressed sleep together, hearing not the voice
of the oppressor." We tried to awaken him to effort and en-
terprise, but found it a hopeless task. "Why should I try?"
he asked in bitterness. " The prejudice against our color keeps
us down. I may be a first rate navigator, and as good a sea-
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 15
man as ever walked a deck ;" (and Mr. Thaxter assured us
such was his reputation ;) "but I am doomed to live and die
before the mast. I might get to be second, first mate, and,
when at sea, I should be treated as such, because I deserved it ;
but the moment we fall in company with other vessels, or arrive
in port, and our captain invites other captains and mates to dine,
I am banished from the cabin to the forecastle. Why should I
try ?" We could not answer him, for we felt that we could not
pluck from his heart that "rooted sorrow."
The Indians of Chappequiddic and Christiantown are under
the law of 1S28, and under the guardian appointed under that
act. — The division of the lands, under this act, has, undoubt-
edly, operated to improve their condition. A portion was then
given to all natives, not under 21 years of age. Questions,
growing out of the necessity of dividing the property of de-
ceased persons among heirs, are arising, and puzzle the guar-
dian and legal gentlemen. What is the law of descent? For-
tunately, owing to the singularly unselfish disposition of the In-
dians, these questions have not yet become very complicated.
In about all cases of the death of original proprietors, the lands
remain undivided, or the heirs have made friendly partition
among themselves. It is hardly possible, however, that diffi-
culties will not, before long, be presented to the guardian, which
will render legislative interference necessary.
In common with all the Indians in the State, they are civilly
and politically disfranchised. For municipal purposes, if the
anomalous meetings, which they are allowed by the act to hold,
are entitled to the name of municipal, they can vote, and choose
certain officers; but, as citizens of the State and the Union,
ihey are totally disfranchised. They are required, by the act,
to meet in the month of March, or April, at which meeting, it
is the duty of the guardian to preside ; in case of his unavoid-
able absence, they may choose a moderator ; and then they
"may choose a clerk, two overseers, constable, field-driver,
pound-keeper, and other town officers." "It shall be the duty
of said constable to carry into execution the laws of the Com-
monwealth, within the territory of said Indians and people of
color." It will be seen, that the terms of the act leave it op-
16 INDIANS. [Feb.
tional with the Indians to choose these officers, or not, as they
please. Usually, perhaps uniformly, they have gone through
the process ; but the officers are merely nominal ; the legal con-
dition of this people being so anomalous, and so imperfectly de-
fined, that we believe no attempt has ever been made to enforce
municipal regulations. These meetings answer a good purpose,
as affording an opportunity for mutual consultation, and advice
from their guardian ; beyond this, they cannot go. The rights
of woman are fully recognized, the females taking the same
liberty of speech, and, when unmarried or in the absence of
their husbands, enjoying the same right of voting with the men. —
They cannot sue, or be sued, or be held to any contract,
without consent of the guardian previously given ; cannot re-
ceive wages for any voyage, if payment be forbidden by the
guardian ; may be sent to sea as u habitual drunkards, vaga-
bonds, and idlers," and the wages withheld by the guardian,
and cannot, under any circumstances, alienate their lands, or
any portion of them. These restrictions, particularly the lat-
ter, securing " the inalienability of the homestead," and others,
too numerous to mention, may mostly be necessary ; still, in
the hands of a guardian, disposed to abuse such powers, they
might become insupportably oppressive to the Indians.
But the third article of section fourth is perfectly atrocious,
and ought at once to be expunged. The material parts of this
article, enumerating the powers and duties of the guardian, are
as follows : " To punish, by fine, not exceeding twenty dollars,
or by solitary imprisonment, not exceeding twenty days, any
trespasses, batteries, larcenies under five dollars, gross lewd-
ness, and lascivious behavior, and disorderly and riotous con-
duct, &c. And said guardian, or other justice of the peace,
may issue his warrant, directed to the constable of said Indians
and people of color, or other proper officer, to arrest, and bring
before him, any offender against the provision of this act; and,
after judgment, he may order execution to be done by said consta-
ble, or other proper officer. And if said guardian, or other justice
of the peace, shall adjudge any offender to solitary imprison-
ment, such offender shall not, during" the term of said imprison-
ment, be visited by, or allowed to speak with, any person other
HOUSE— No. 46.
than the jailer or said guardian or justice of the peace, or such
other person as said guardian or justice of the peace shall
specially authorize thereto. Nor shall such offender be allowed
any food or drink, other than coarse bread and water, unless
sickness shall, in the opinion of a physician, render other sus-
tenance necessary." But no physician can visit or speak with
the prisoner, unless " specially authorized thereto" by the guar-
dian, so that this furnishes not the slightest check upon one,
not merely the guardian, but any Justice Shallow, who, for
hire or personal malice, may be disposed to abuse this mon-
strous power. The article goes on to provide very gravely
and magnanimously, "said guardian, or other justice of the
peace, shall keep a fair record of his proceedings;" ("fair"
probably means, in legible chirography,) " and any person, ag-
grieved at the sentence given against him by said guardian, or
other justice of the peace, may appeal therefrom to the next
court of common pleas, to be holden in said county," &c. The
right of appeal, for reasons which will at once occur, when re-
flecting upon the circumstances of these poor Indians, is entirely
nominal. It needs no explanation, illustration or argument, to
show the character of these provisions; and though there is
little danger that they ever will be abused, to the extent of
which they are capable, still, they confer an irresponsible and
summary exercise of power, which cannot safely be entrusted
to any man. They were unnecessary at the time of their enact-
ment, and have never, so far as we could learn, been enforced ;
and should no longer be allowed to deface our statute books,
and disgrace the Commonwealth.
The amounts appropriated to these two tribes, for the last
six years, are as follows : —
Salary of Guardian,
The Gay Head Tribe.
This tribe occupies a peninsula, forming the extreme west-
ern part of the Vineyard,* and connected with the rest of the
island by a narrow isthmus, a few rods wide, called Stone Wall
Beach. A small part of the eastern portion of the peninsula is
occupied by whites. The Indian territory is, however, almost
perfectly isolated, being bounded on three sides by the sea, and
on the fourth, touching the land of the whites only by the nar-
row neck lying between Squipnocket and Menemsha Ponds.
The whole territory comprises 2400 acres. Of this, 500 acres
are owned in severalty, and 1900 acres still held in corrtmon.
The whole number of the tribe is 174. f
Natives, k .
Under 5 years,
From 5 to 10,
" 10 to 21,
" 21 to 50,
" 50 to 70,
Over 70, \
le ages of these three are ^3 ; 7
'5, and 96.
le nroDortioii of foreigners anc
of sea-farine me
this tribe, than in any other. Twelve of the 162 classed as na-
tives are from Marshpee, Christiantown, and Chappequiddic,
but have gained a settlement here by intermarriage.
The pursuits of this tribe are agricultural, with the usual ex-
* The promontory, from which the peninsula takes its name, is formed by lofty clay
cliffs, and the brilliant appearance which the variegated colors of these clays reflect to
the western sun, has given to the promontory its appropriate name, Gay Head.
t See Appendix, A.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 19
ception of sea-faring men ; and of those even, the families usual-
ly own and occupy land, to which they look for partial sup-
port, and upon which the head of the family almost invariably
settles for life, after following the sea for a few years. Upon
the whole, their condition, as to the arts and comforts of social
and domestic life, is inferior to that of the two tribes considered,
though there are several families whose condition will compare
favorably with any tribe in the State. Asa general thing, they
are industrious, provident, temperate and chaste. But three
cases of illegitimacy are known to exist.
Generally, they live in framed houses, perhaps a majority
having barns. Some of their buildings are of split stone. A
number of families live in huts or hovels, some few in squalid
poverty. Their stock, as they stated to us, consists of 15 horses,
132 horned cattle, 57 swine, and 242 fowls. Not improbably
the horned cattle may be slightly overstated, as some few may
have called cattle their own, which they pasture " on shares."
Their territory is separated from that of the whites, by a rail
fence, and the separate lots are fenced, usually safely. Almost
the only articles cultivated, are Indian corn, with occasionally
other grain, and potatoes. In this respect, they are far behind
the Christiantown and Chappequiddic tribes, who are getting
to appreciate the luxury of " sauce gardens." Most of them
are in debt in sums from 10 to 400 or 500 dollars. Generally,
they expected to pay these sums, in the autumn, from the pro-
ceeds of the sale of fatted cattle. Some of them will shelter
themselves behind the exemption which the law provides. To
the credit of the tribe, however, it should be said, that this
number is small, and confined almost entirely to those who, by
intercourse with the whites at sea and elsewhere, have con-
tracted vicious and improvident habits. Each family has ap-
propriated lands, varying in amount from half an acre to a
hundred acres, and valued with improvements, at their own es-
timates, from 100 to 1500 dollars. The territory embraces al-
most every variety of soil ; a portion of the land is of the very
best quality, and capable, under good culture, of producing
most abundant harvests.
The legal condition of this tribe is singularly anomalous.
20 INDIANS. [Feb.
By the act of June 25, 1811, the governor was authorized to
appoint "three proper persons, to be guardians to the Indian,
mulatto, and negro proprietors of Gay Head." which guardi-
ans, in addition to the usual powers given to guardians, in such
cases, were " empowered to take into their possession, the lands
of said Indians, &c, and allot to the several Indians, &c, such
parts of said lands, as should be sufficient for their improvement,
from time to time ;" and the act further provides for the discon-
tinuance or removal of the guardians, at the discretion of the
governor and council. Under this act, three guardians were
appointed, and, in 1814, a new appointment was made; since
that time, no new appointment has been made. The Indians
became dissatisfied with their guardians, who resigned, and
the guardianship has disappeared. The act of 1828 provided,
that " whenever the Indians and people of color, at Gay Head,
shall, by a vote in town meeting, accept this act, and shall
transmit to his excellency, the governor, an attested copy of
said vote, then his excellency may authorize said guardian to
act as guardian, &c, at Gay Head, and may, upon their re-
quest, appoint suitable persons to divide their lands." The
Indians, cherishing no very favorable recollections of the guar-
dianship system, have never accepted the act.
For about thirty years, they have been without any guardi-
an, and the division of their lands, and indeed the whole ar-
rangements of their affairs, except of the school money, have
been left to themselves.* None of the lands are held, as far as
we could learn, by any title, depending for its validity upon
statute law. The primitive title, possession, to which has been
added, inclosure, is the only title recognized or required. The
rule has been, that any native could, at any time, appropriate
to his own use such portion of the unimproved common land,
as he wished, and, as soon as he enclosed it, with a fence, of
however frail structure, it belonged to him and his heirs forever.
That rule still exists. A young man arrives at maturity, and
wishes for a home for a prospective family, or a shelter when
* Whenever difficulties occur, they apply to Mr. Thaxter, who, though not sustaining
to them the legal relation of guardian, is looked to as counsellor and friend, and who has
usually been successful in adjusting all difficulties.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 21
he returns from sea ; he encloses half an acre, five acres, or ten
acres, as the case may be, and he has acquired a fee in the es-
tate ; and the most singular and most creditable fact, in connec-
tion with this, is, that, while one proprietor has but half an acre,
and another has over a hundred acres, there is no heart-
burning, no feeling that the latter has more than his share. " I
have all I want," says the former, and he is content. This
state of things is as happy as it is peculiar; how long it can
continue, is a problem yet to be solved.
As a part of this primitive system, almost realizing the wild-
est dreams of the communists, we may here refer to the sale of
their clay, and the picking of their cranberries. The clay from
the cliffs is of very fine quality, and valuable for various pur-
poses. A vessel comes for a cargo of clay ; notice is immediate-
ly given to the whole tribe, and, on a day fixed, all who please,
repair to the beach — men, women, and children, above a certain
age, two women, or two children, drawing the same pay as one
man. A bargain is made by agents appointed for the purpose ;
all assist in the work of digging and loading, and, at the close,
the money is equitably divided. Last year, they sold only
about 80 tons ; usually, they sell from 150 to 300 tons annually,
at prices varying from $2 75, to $3 00 per ton. The wages of
a man are usually about §1 25 per day, receiving nothing for
the clay. — So, also, in relation to the cranberry picking. When
the berries are in the proper state to be picked, notice is given
to the whole tribe, and, on a certain day, all who wish, go and
pick all they can, each being entitled to the gathering of the
day. The yearly produce varies from 150 to 300 bushels, worth
from $1 25 to $3 00 per bushel. These two sources of indi-
vidual income are of great value to the tribe.
The public income is derived from pasturing, on the common
lands, cattle sent from the Vineyard and the main. The in-
come from this source, is about $235 per year, and is appro-
priated," under the direction of a committee, to public pur-
poses, mainly to the support of the poor.
Applications for assistance from the State are rarely made.
For the last six years, only ninety dollars and thirty-seven cents
have been appropriated by the State for all purposes. — Some
22 INDIANS. [Feb.
years since, an appropriation was made by the State, for the
erection of a wind-mill, and the result has been of singular ben-
efit to the tribe. They are now relieved from the necessity of
going to Chilmark, " to mill," and thus saved from frequent ex-
posure to temptations to intemperance and extravagance. — They
receive sixty dollars per year, under the act of April 13, 1838,
which comes to them through Smith Mayhew, Esq., of Chil-
mark, and is appropriated under his direction, and thirty dol-
lars, as their portion of the surplus fund. These two amounts
constitute their school fund. The school has a male teacher in
the winter, and a female in the summer, and is kept, usually,
about five months each year. During the past summer, it was
taught by Mrs. Mary James, a native. The number present,
when we visited it, was 23; 10 boys, and 13 girls. 19 boys
and 24 girls had attended, more or less, during the summer.
The whole number in the tribe, between the ages of 4 and 16,
is 52. The wages of the present teacher is $1 50 per week,
she boarding herself. The appearance of the school was un-
promising in the extreme. The children, generally, appeared
bright, intelligent, and of active minds, but almost necessarily,
from the difficulty of securing good teachers, they receive but
little aid in the development of their powers. They are poorly
supplied with books, particularly with writing-books. A few
dollars' worth of the books of some of the new systems of pen-
manship, which have been supplanted by a newer system, and
now lumber the back rooms of the book-stores, would be of
great value to them. The great difficulty with this school, and
with all the Indian schools, is, they are isolated. They are
not under the supervision of the committee of any town, form
no part of our common school system, and receive none of the
impulses, which example and emulation impart to other schools.
Remove, from the schools of any town in the Commonwealth,
the influences which they receive as a part of the system, and
how long would it be, before they would be sunk to the level of
these Indian schools'?
The tribe have no regular preaching. They raise from 30 to
50 dollars annually, by voluntary subscription, for the support
of the Gospel. They are a moral and religiously inclined peo-
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 23
pie, and regret their deprivation of religious privileges. Until
within a few years, the Indians of the Vineyard received one-
third of the income of the "Williams Fund," and about the
same amount from the Society for Propagating the Gospel
among the Indians, the minister dividing his services among
the three tribes. A difficulty occurring, in regard to their last
minister, (without the slightest blame, we are satisfied, from a
full acquaintance with the facts, on the part of the Indians,) the
appropriations have since been withheld. We trust, upon a
knowledge of the circumstances of the case, the appropria-
tions will be renewed. — The Gay Head Indians are a quiet,
peaceable, contented people. There are among them too many
ignorant, degraded and vicious; but there are, also, particu-
larly among the foreigners, some of the most intelligent men
we have found. — Litigation is unknown; difficulties of any
kind rarely occur. They do not know, and they do not want
to know, under what law they live. They only know, that
11 while they behave well, they get along well enough." — They
are jealous of the whites, and with too good reason. They
will allow no white man to obtain foothold upon their territory.
They have steadily refused to lease to white applicants a foot
of land, for the erection of works for the manufacture of clay
into the various articles which it is capable of making, though
tempting pecuniary advantages have been held out to induce
them to make only some temporary arrangement. They feel
their political and civil disabilities; they feel that they are
under the ban of an unrelenting social proscription : but they
see no exodus from this bondage: and they only ask to be let
alone, and not, by ill-advised legislation, to be constantly
reminded of their vassalage.
If there is a promising missionary field in the world, we be-
lieve Gay Head is that field. Of certain kinds of religious
teaching, they seem to have had quite enough. But the
teacher who goes to them in the Spirit of his Divine Master,
and of the early Christians, imitating the example of Him
11 who went about doing good" to the bodies as well as the
souls of men, feeling that he has reason for gratitude to our
Father in Heaven, not alone because he " forgiveth all our
24 INDIANS. [Feb.
iniquities," but, also, because he " healeth all our diseases,"
who will illustrate, in his daily life, the best mode of training
body, mind and heart, and who will devote himself to an intel-
ligent enforcement of the means of physical and spiritual im-
provement; such an one, — he need not be a great man, — would
reap a reward to gladden a philanthropic and Christian heart.
The cost of supporting a missionary in the other hemisphere,
for a single year, would nearly support one at Gay Head for
We do not see that legislation can do any thing, immediately
and directly, to improve the condition of the Indians [at Gay
Head. Whenever public sentiment shall have removed the so-
cial disabilities growing out of the unjust and unnatural pre-
judice against color, civil and political enfranchisement will
follow, as a matter of course. Whatever recommendations we
may make, will be intended to form the first step to a consum-
mation so devoutly to be wished. The conqueror and the op-
pressor, with his heel upon the neck of his victims, should deal
gently with their degradation.*
The Marshpee Tribe.
The territory of this tribe is bounded on the north, by Sand-
wich, east, by Barnstable, south, by the Yineyard Sound, and
west, by Falmouth.
The whole territory consists of about 13,000 acres, of which
about 11,000 acres are owned in severalty, and 2,000 held in com-
mon. The whole number of the tribe is 305.f
Under 5 years, .
From 5 to 10, .
" 10 to 21, .
* See Appendix G. t A]
spend ix A.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 25
From21to50, . . .103
" 50 to 70, . . . 48
Over 70, . . 9
Ages, 70, 73, 75, 77, 83, 85, S7, 104, 107.
At sea, ... 30
The pursuits of this tribe, with the usual exceptions, are ex-
clusively agricultural. The soil is various, but each allotment
usually contains enough of good soil to yield comfortable sup-
port to industry and good management. The only articles
produced are potatoes and the different grains, most of the
families raising enough potatoes for their own use, and from
ten to seventy or eighty bushels of corn annually. The larger
portion of the tribe secure a tolerably comfortable living;
quite a number are poor and improvident, ekeing out a scanty
support by begging. They are behind the tribes already con-
sidered in the social arts and domestic comforts ; none reaching
the condition of the best, very many falling below the worst.
The majority live in comfortable framed houses, while many
still occupy huts and hovels, amidst filth and degradation. As
to chastity and temperance too, they are behind the other
tribes, though the uniform testimony is, that in both these re-
spects, particularly in regard to temperance, there have been
very great improvements during the last 15 or 20 years. The
cases of illegitimacy, known now to exist, are 11. There is
great deficiency of self-respect and of love of approbation, (with
many laudable exceptions,) and, as a necessary result, of those
high aspirations and aims, so essential to progress.*
Their stock consists of 16 horses, 76 horned cattle, 43 swine,
554 fowls, and 19 sheep.
The legal condition of this tribe is peculiar. We do not pro-
pose to enter into an examination of the circumstances which
led to the passage of the act of March 31, 1834, establishing the
district of Marshpee. Those circumstances are still compara-
tively fresh in the minds of all who were at the time interested
in them, and the facts connected with them are matters of fall
record. The animosities leading to, attending and resulting
from, that controversy, have hardly yet died out ; as far as pos-
sible, we would avoid reviving them. That act conferred upon,
* Appendix C.
26 INDIANS. [Feb.
or recognized in, the proprietors of Marshpee, certain municipal
rights, but left them under the same disabilities, as citizens of
the State and the Union, with the other tribes. The commis-
sioner, appointed under that act, is simply a guardian under a
different name. The operation of the act has undoubtedly been
favorable ; still, perhaps not from any defect in itself, it has
failed to accomplish all that was expected from its operation.
The act of 1834 recognized the existing divisions of the land,
and confirmed each proprietor in the possession of such lands
as he had appropriated. The act of March 3d, 1S42,. providing
for the division of the common lands, has had a most important
bearing upon the condition of the tribe. That act provided for
the appointment of three commissioners, who were authorized
so to make partition of the territory, as to give to each legal
adult proprietor, male or female, to the children of such proprie-
tors, and to every person of Indian descent, who was born in
said Marshpee, or within the counties of Barnstable or Plym-
outh, and who had resided, or whose parents had resided, in
Marshpee, for 20 years or upwards previous to the passage of
the act of 1834, sixty acres of land in severalty, including what
each proprietor might have previously occupied. The act of
1834 prohibits the alienation of lands to persons not belonging
to the tribe, but allows of transfers among themselves. The
proprietors " are exempt from State and county taxation," and
their lands, from liability to be taken in execution. The act of
1842 provides for the assessment of taxes for district pur-
poses. One tax has been assessed, and about one half of it was
collected ; but it was found impossible to collect the balance, and
this shadowy exercise of municipal power, flattering as it at first
seemed to the proprietors, has been abandoned. Under this par-
tition of the lands, nearly every family now holds 60 acre_s; a
large number, where both husband and wife were original pro-
prietors, 120 acres; quite a number, inheriting, in addition to
their own, allotments by the death of original proprietors, 180
or 240 acres.
A large portion of the land thus allotted in severalty, was,
at the time of the partition, covered with valuable wood. This
has nearly all been cut off and sold, very many of the less in-
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 27
dustrions proprietors relying upon the proceeds of its sale for
support. In many instances, it has been cut at improper sea-
sons, and sold for much less than its value ; and now, not only
is the wood gone, but the reliance upon this easy means of sup-
port has, in very many instances, engendered indolent and im-
provident habits, and many are just beginning -to be thrown
upon their own resources, without the industrious and econom-
ical habits which, but for the ill-advised kindness which has
allowed this waste of their property, necessity would have com-
pelled them to form. It is too late, now, to regret it ; we have
only to do with the remedy ; but, had only an allotment of
land been made to each proprietor, sufficient for purposes of
cultivation and pasture, and the residue still held in common,
the proceeds of the sales of the wood would, under judicious
management, have constituted a fund which would have made
the district independent for all coming time.
Some estimate may be made of the value of the~wood of the
whole territory, from the sum realized from the sale of the
wood from the " Parsonage Lot." By the act of June 14, 1813,
the "Marshpee Parsonage" was established, embracing, in
1845, 45 acres . For reasons, the nature or validity of which
it is not material to discuss, the pastoral connection between
the Rev. Phineas Fish and the district having been dissolved,
and a compromise effected in accordance with which Mr. Fish
relinquished the Parsonage, in July, 1S45, the wood from that
lot was sold for $6952 00. The whole territory comprises 13,000
acres; it will be readily seen that enough might have been as-
signed to each proprietor, and a common territory left, which
would have been a fortune to the district.* We refer to this
* Hon. Josiah J. Fisk, who was appointed Commissioner to visit the Marshpee In-
dians, in 1833, in his Report, (Senate Document, No. 14, 1834,) says: "This plantation
consists of 10,500 acres of land, (it has been since surveyed, and found to contain 13,000
acres,) three fourths of which, at least, are said to be more or less covered with wood
averaging, by estimation, from five to ten cords the acre, consisting, principally, of pitch
pine and oak, the first, of the value of one dollar, standing, the latter of the value of two
dollars, standing. And there is a ready market for all this wood, at the landing-places
which lie upon the borders of the Plantation. By a Report of Commissioners, made to
the Legislature, in 1818, it appears that this whole territory, at that time, was estimated
at five dollars the acre, and the Plantation was then fourteen hundred dollars in debt.
From the late increased value of wood, upon the sea-board, this territory is thought to
28 INDIANS. [Feb.
as one of the mistakes of past legislation, throwing light upon
the causes of the present improvident habits of the tribe, and sug-
gesting the importance of care in avoiding similar mistakes in
The sources of public income are, the interest of the above
amount, about one hundred dollars a year from salt marshes,
and some small sums from sale_of 'wood from common lands
and from hiring out privileges ofjrout_fisliin^. The last item,
under good management, might become of considerable value
to the district. The Annual Reports of the Commissioner, Hon.
Charles Marston, contain so minute statements of the sources
of public income to the district, and of its distribution, that we
do not consider it important to enlarge upon this point.
Considerable uneasiness has been expressed in relation to
the amount which the State is called to pay, from year to year,
for the support of paupers at Marshpee. The condition of
Marshpee, in this respect, is peculiar. The number of foreign-
ers is not unusually large. The per centage of foreigners to
the whole population of the various tribes, is as follows :
Chappequiddic, 7 per cent., Christiantown, SJ, Gay Head,
have nearly douMed in value ; its whole debt has been paid off, and the tribe have a
balance of nearly a thousand dollars in the treasury." We have no doubt, that, from the
continued increase of the demand for wood, the value of the territory, had the wood been
properly managed, would have doubled since 1833. This appears from the sale of the
wood from the Parsonage, averaging about sixteen dollars per acre; so that, in this pro-
portion, the plantation, under good husbandry, might now have been worth, at least.
100,000 dollars. We would not be understood as blaming the present Commissioner ;
the fault seems to have been the unwise concession of the Legislature to the importunate
demands of the Indians, to be allowed the entire control of their lands.
We agree, however, with the Commissioner, and with the most intelligent men of the
tribe, in the opinion, that it is fortunate that this source of support, if the lands must be
thus allotted, is now exhausted. They are now thrown upon their own resources ; and,
though it will be long before the bad habits formed have been overcome, we have
no doubt better days await them. They may now enjoy the blessings of the primal
curse, — "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread."
We do not question the necessity of a division of the lands, in 1842. The mistake
was, in assigning so large a portion to each proprietor. The Commissioner, and others
who were in favor of the division, opposed the allotment of so much. Still, the owning
of the land in severalty, for the same reasons as on the Vineyard, has operated favora-
bly. The difficulty will soon regulate itself. As the law allows the transfer of land
among themselves, the indolent and improvident will gradually dispose of portions of
their lands to the more thrifty, and economical habits will be formed under the natural
laws of distribution.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 29
7, Marshpee, S^. But it so happens that, at this time, a large
proportion of the foreigners at Marshpee are very aged and in-
firm. Of the 9 persons, over 70 years of age, 4 are foreigners,
1 of whom is an idiot. Unless the Commonwealth resorts to
a remedy of more than questionable humanity, the forcible re-
moval of these poor creatures, several of whom are fugitive
slaves, from a community where they meet with sympathy and
kindness, it would seem that no consideration of niggardly
economy should prevent the State from allowing the district,
in the language of Mr. Marston, " the full sum actually and nec-
essarily paid for the support of the State paupers." The district
ask nothing for the support of native paupers. This class im-
poses a heavy burden upon the district, especially as, practically,
they are unable to assess taxes for their support. The over-
seers state, too, that this burden presses the more heavily, as
the cost of supporting the county roads, which pass through
their territory, is a serious item.
The amounts paid by the Commonwealth, for the last six
years, are as follows : —
Total, $2155 42
The amount, it is true, is somewhat large. It may be more
a matter of regret, when it is reflected that, with a more judi-
dicious rule of allotment, it might have been avoided ; still, the
necessity exists ; and it seems to us that, until, under the opera-
tion of elevating influences which we do not despair of see-
ing brought to bAar upon this people, they become capable of
self-support, every consideration of humanity and of policy
even, requires the adoption of a generous treatment.
One of the largest items of the State pauper account is an
appropriation of a dollar and a quarter per week, for the sup-
30 INDIANS. [Feb.
port of Polly Cetum, a lunatic State pauper. This individual
is under the care of Ebenezer Low and wife, who receive the
above sum from the State. She is afflicted with one of the
saddest forms of idiocy, and needs constant care and watch-
ing. We bear cheerful testimony to the extreme neatness of
the domestic arrangements of the house where she boards, and
of the apparently untiring efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Low, to minis-
ter to her comfort. They say, and we agree fully with them,
that the sum paid by the State for her support is entirely inad-
One fact may be mentioned here, in relation to the cause of
pauperism. Mr. Oaks A. Coombs, one of the selectmen, told us
that the district had not a single district pauper, except such
as are infirm from age or sickness, who is not intemperate.
It seems not unreasonable, that, as the white man has intro-
duced the sole cause of pauperism, he should provide liberally
for the result.
There are two school districts. The State appropriates 160
dollars annually for purposes of education, 100 dollars under
the 6Sth section of the 23d chapter of the Revised Statutes,
providing for the distribution of the school fund, and 60 dollars
from the income of the surplus revenue, under section 7th of
the act of March 21st, 1S37. The amount appropriated by the
district, in addition to the above was, in 1846, §111 97, and in
1S47, $50 43. The commissioner states, in his reports, that, in
1S46. the school was kept in the north district 2| months in
the winter, at a cost of §64 56, and 3 months in the sum-
* There seems to be no reason for designating foreigners, residing on Indian lands, as
" State paupers." The uniform legislation of the State has regarded all colored per-
sons residiug upon the Indian lands, as Indians, and subject to all the disabilities of
Indians. As Mr. Hallet says, in his argument before the Committee, in 1834, " By our
laws, a negro in Boston, who pays Si 50 tax, is a voter, while an Indian freeholder in
Marshpee is put under guardianship. So the negro in Boston is free : but, if he moves to
Marshpee, he is a minor." We disfranchise both foreigner and native ; declare them
incapable of making a contract ; deprive them of their earnings ; allowing them to as-
sess, we take away the power of collecting, taxes for the support of paupers ; and then
throwing upon them, without a shadow of justice for the discrimination, the support of
native paupers, we higgle with them upon the questions, whether we shall pay them
for the full support of what we term State paupers, or whether we shall allow them
forty-nine cents per week.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 31
mer, at a cost of $55 00; and in the south district, 3 months
in the winter, at a cost of $91 82, and 3 months in the sum-
mer, at a cost of $36 00. In addition, $10 57 was paid for
books. In 1S47, in the north district, the winter school was
kept 3 months, at a cost of $92 00, in the summer, 15 weeks,
at a cost of $37 50 ; in the south, winter school, 7 weeks, cost
$53 93, and summer, 12 weeks, cost $27 00. We regret that
we are compelled to say, that the condition of the schools, and
the benefit derived from them, do not seem at all to correspond
with the amount appropriated to their support. — The commis-
sioner, in his report of 1846, says "the number of scholars,
between 4 and 16, in both districts, is about sixty, and the
average attendance in both schools in the winter, is about 40,
and in the summer about 25. The scholars are well supplied
with text books." In his report of 1847, he says, after stating
that the whole number was about the same, "The average
attendance in both schools, in the winter, is about 36, and, in
the summer, about 30. The scholars are well supplied with
books." In his report of 1848, he says, the number remaining
about the same; "The average attendance in both, in the
winter, is about 40, and in the summer is about 30. The
school houses are convenient and well located, and the scholars
are well supplied with text books." We have been unable to
draw from observation, the inference which would seem to
follow from the above statements of the commissioner, in re-
lation to the schools. One only of the schools, the north, was
being kept at the time of our visit. This was taught by Miss
Lovell, a competent white teacher. The attendance during the
past summer had been very irregular, owing, in some degree, to
the prevalence of whooping cough. At the time of our visit,
ten only were present. The whole number who had attended
during the term was 45. (The whole number of children in
both districts, between the ages of 4 and 16, is 77.) Every thing
about the school, looked discouraging. We are compelled to
believe that almost the whole interest taken in the schools be-
gins and ends in the payment of the money. The teacher has
labored with few of those friendly visits, which are so impor-
tant as the aids and incentives to a teacher's efforts. Hon. B.
32 INDIANS. [Feb.
F. Hallelt, who became interested in this people, during the
difficulties of 1834, Rev. Mr. Shailer, lately their minister,
and a few others from abroad, were the only persons who
visited the school during the entire term. y-*
The condition of the tribe, as to religious teaching, is about
the same as in regard to schools. It is sad to Be obliged to say,
that sectarianism or denominationalism has pushed its own
schemes, at the hazard, if not at the sacrifice, of the welfare
of the Indians. We do not attribute wrong motives : there
have certainly been melancholy mistakes. — The district for-
merly received, from the Trustees of the " Williams Fund,"
$433 66 annually, being two-thirds of the^Bpme of that fund.
This fund, amounting to §13,000, in the^^Kage of the donor,
was bequeathed "to Cambridge Colleg^%i New England, or
to such as are usually employed to manage the blessed work
of converting the poor Indians, to promote which, I design this
part of my gift." Rev. Phineas Fish, a congregationalist
minister, was ordained over the tribe, in 1811, and continued
their minister until 1835. In May 1836, a large number of the
Indians petitioned the President and Fellows of Harvard
College, the trustees of this fund, for the appropriation of the
whole or a part of this fund to them, most of the tribe being
Eaptists. In July of that year, the Board voted to pay to
Rev. Phineas Fish, one third of the income of this fund for his
services as missionary, and religious teacher and instructor to
the Indians of Marshpee and Herring Pond, and one third to
the district, to be expended, by the selectmen, under the super-
vision of the commissioner, "in such manner as shall in their
judgment be best adapted to promote the religious instruction,
improvement, and conversion of the Indians of Marshpee, they
rendering annually, to this board, an account of the manner in
which they have applied and expended the money so received,
such account to be first examined by the commissioner." The
principal reason for this change is stated, in the preamble to
the votes, to be, because " a considerable number of the Indians
of Marshpee, from various causes, not attributable to the de-
fault or neglect of Rev. Mr. Fish, in the discharge of his min-
isterial duties, do not, and probably will not, attend on his re-
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 33
ligious instructions, and will not derive the benefit from this
fund, in religious instruction and improvement, which was in-
tended for them in common with the rest of the tribe." We
have no means of knowing how large this " considerable num-
ber" was at that time; undoubtedly it constituted a very large
majority of the tribe. Since that time, the trustees have ap-
propriated another third of the income of this fund to the dis-
trict. This sum of $433 66 constitutes the whole amount ap-
propriated for religious instruction. In 1S30. Joseph Amos,
or " blind Joe," a native self-made preacher, was, in his own
words, " ordained as a missionary, according to the Baptist
order," and " preached round," Mr. Fish occupying the meeting-
house. Since the dismissal of Mr. Fish, they have had several
ministers, blind Joe among them. Last summer, Rev. Mr.
Wakefield was settled, or employed. The general complaint
among the people, is, that their ministers do not visit the peo-
ple, do not become familiar with their daily wants, and assist
them in making improvements in their daily pursuits. Judg-
ing from the appearance of the congregation, on the Sunday
when we attended their church, the labors of the ministers
have been most barren of beneficial results.* Some fifteen or
twenty natives were present; and though, as we were in-
formed, the usual attendance is much larger, yet the neglect
of public worship is too common. Habits of non-attendance,
formed during the ministry of a single individual for twenty-
seven years, are not easily overcome. There has been a sad
want of adaptation in the preaching to their spiritual condi-
tion and wants ; still there has been a great change for the
better, in this respect, of late years, and its effect upon the peo-
ple has been marked. — We are impressed with the conviction,
founded upon our own observation and the assurances we re-
ceived of the very great improvements in the religious condi-
tion of the people within the last 15 years, that here, as on the
Vineyard, is a most promising field for a faithful minister.
* The people cherish a grateful remembrance of the labors of Rev. Mr. Perry, who
was their minister about three years. He seems to have exerted himself heartily and
intelligently, for their welfare, until the failure of his health compelled him to leave.
34 INDIANS. [Feb.
Mr. Wakefield seems to have commenced his labors at Marsh-
pee, with an earnest desire to do good ; if there be connected
with this, frequent pastoral visits, sympathy with their daily
wants, and counsel as to their daily pursuits, we predict the
happiest results from his efforts. — The want of a parsonage is
a serious hindrance to the efficiency of the minister's labors.
He is now obliged to reside at too great a distance from the
people. We trust that, through the liberality of the State, or of
benevolent individuals, this difficulty will, before long, be
The Legislature has no control over the disposition of the
M Williams Fund ;" but we trust it will not be considered out of
place for us to suggest to the trustees of that fund the propriety
of inquiring into the expediency of adopting a different rule for
its appropriation. We doubt, whether the present mode of ap-
propriation comes within the scope of the intentions of the do-
nor. Rev. Mr. Fish is now the minister of a white congrega-
tion. This fund, with the addition of $200, granted annually
by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the In-
dians,f constitutes his whole salary, with the exception of such
* The place and occasion were fitted to awaken the most interesting memories, and
to enkindle the most ennobling inspiration. The meeting-house is situated in a secluded
spot, surrounded by the few " brave old oaks" which time and Mammon have spared.
The graves of " the rude forefathers" of the tribe are beneath our feet as we step upon
the threshold ; the spirits of Eliot and May hew are among the " great cloud of wit-
nesses" to our solemn services. It seems impossible not to catch something of the
spirit of the apostle to the Indians, now gentle and winning as the accents of Calvarv
now terrible as the denunciations of Sinai, — " quot verba tot fulmina, as many thunder-
bolts as words." We mourn that he left not his mantle behind him. — One feature of
the service left a fresh and pleasant impression. It was the appearance of Mr. Amos,
the native preacher. He was one of the choir; and, when he struck the first note upon
his accordeon, the associations of so novel an instrument, we confess, somewhat dis-
turbed our notions of propriety ; but, as he warmed to the service, and stood tall and
manly, with a phrenological development which Spurzheim might have envied, with
his face turned to heaven, and his sightless sockets swimming with tears, he seemed
the very personification of the loftiest spirit of rapt devotion.
t This society is probably one of the oldest private corporations in this country. Its
act of incorporation was passed by the Legislature of the Commonwealth, in 1787, under
the name of "The Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and others in
North America." It gives us pleasure to say, that the managers of this Society, as well
as the Trustees of the " Williams Fund," have uniformly exhibited a disposition to yield
to the denominational preferences of the Indians, both at Marshpee and on the Vineyard,
and to allow them to choose their own minister, upon the sole condition that he should
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 35
voluntary contributions as his hearers choose to make. The
average attendance of Indians upon his preaching is believed
not to exceed five or six.* It would seem that the good to be
expected from his labors, "in the blessed work of converting"
this number of " poor Indians." hardly justifies the annual ap-
propriation of between 400 and 500 dollars. This mode of ap-
propriation is, unquestionably, very satisfactory to the white
congregation, who, literally, receive the Gospel i: without money
and without price." The justice of the arrangement, we re-
spectfully submit, is a matter worthy of the consideration of
From the argument of Hon. B. F. Hallett, before a commit-
tee of the Legislature, in 1S34, we gather the following statis-
tics of the tribe : — In 1767, the population was 292. In 1771, it
was 327, of whom, 14 were negroes married to Indians. In 1832,
give good promise of usefulness. — We notice that, at a late meeting of the Board of Over-
seers of Harvard College, a distinguished member of the Board proposed that an appli-
cation should be made to the Supreme Court or to the Legislature, for leave to appro-
priate the income of the " Williams Fund" to the support of a College Professorship of Di-
vinity, at Cambridge. We would suggest that it would be as well to include the funds of
the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians. It is hardly worth while " to
make two bites of a cherry." True, the managers of this Society might object. But
that would be a trifling obstacle. The clearly expressed intentions of the dead are to be
disregarded; why not the rights of the living? Besides, the end sanctifies the means.
It would only be a very "pious fraud." We take the liberty, also, to suggest, that the
most appropriate day for the consummation of this purpose would be, the date of the
will of Rev. Daniel Williams giving this fund for the "blessed work of converting the
poor Indians. " — Seriously, we have no fear that this proposition will be adopted, if pub-
lic attention is directed to its nature ; but we feel that we are entitled, in behalf of the
"poor Indians," to enter their protest, in advance, against it, as a misappropriation of the
property of the Indians, and a violation of the intentions of the donor.
* On the Sunday in September, when we attended his church, one Indian was present.
On Sunday, February 11th, 1S49, five were present. We have made careful inquiry, and
the average attendance is put, by our different informants, from 5 to 10. One of our cor-
respondents, who states the facts as known to him, by attending Mr. Fish's church and
from inquiry of those who attend constantly, says : "On last Sunday, (February 11th.)
five were present. I learn, upon inquiry of them who attend there constantly, that the
average attendance is 6 or 8. There are sometimes but 2 or 3. The two women named
above, Mrs. Amos and Mrs. Williams, are very constant. Sometimes there are as ma-
ny as a dozen in attendance; and there are about 20 who sometimes attend there." —
We think that justice to the Indians requires that these facts should be known. To all
applications for appropriations for their benefit, the uniform answer has been — " See
what large amounts have been appropriated by these benevolent societies, and then see
how little good has been done." The true answer should be given — these sums have not
been expended for the Indians.
36 INDIANS. [Feb.
it was 315, of whom 16 were negroes. In 1848, it is 305, of
whom 26 are foreigners, all negroes or mulattoes.
For the last six years, we find that the principal expenditures
of the district have been as follows : —
1843. 1844. 1845. 1846. 1847. 1848.
For the poor, $539 16 $611 08 $618 25 $718 00 $777 22 $747 61 $4011 32
" schools, 252 78 235 32 27125 278 97 237 43 173 76 1449 51
* 44 28 45 02 83 22 405 12 526 38 171 56 1275 58
-For S6j6ct* ^
men's ser- \ 145 00 145 00 145 00 145 00 90 00 90 00 760
Comm'rs and )
treasurer's \ 100 00 100 00 90 00 85 00 85 00 85 00 545 00
Clerk's services, 15 00 16 07 16 75 15 00 62 82
Incidental, 70 00 45 02 56 64 88 33 60 03 109 73 429 75
During that time, they have received from the State, as fol-
lows : —
1843. 1844. 1845. 1846. 1847. 1848.
School Fund, $100 00 $100 00 $100 00 $100 00 $100 00 $100 00 $600 00
Surplus, 55 00 55 00 60 00 60 00 60 00 60 00 350 00
State paupers, 32111 317 34 290 22 346 15*446 10 434 50 2155 42
Add to this, amount paid Charles Marston, and N. Hinckley,
in 1843, commissioners for dividing Marshpee lands, $905 50,
amount paid the same, and S. Hinckley, in 1845, $226 37,
for bridge, $140, and we have a total of $4377 29, appropriated
by the State for the last six years. — Deducting, from the whole
amount of expenditures, $8533 98, the amount included in
these items, appropriated by the State, $3105 42, and we have
the sum of $5428 56, which the support of their internal af-
fairs has cost the district, being an average of $904 78, per
year, equal to a tax of $15 87, upon every family, or $2 96,
upon every man, woman, and child, in the district. We are
* Of this amount, 8116 20 was paid back, in 1847. This reduction would slightly
vary the result.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 37
not sure that this is not larger than the average paid by the cit-
izens of the State, enjoying all the privileges of citizenship. — We
do not think the guardians of the State treasury need be seri-
ously alarmed. Especially, when we compare this paltry sum
of $4377 29, with the princely donations which the State has,
during that time, made to her public charitable and benevolent
institutions, we cannot believe that the too long oppressed rem-
nants of the red man will form the only exception to the gener-
ous treatment, which it has been the pride and the glory of the
Commonwealth to extend to the degraded and unfortunate.
This tribe have no particular grievances to present. Litiga-
tion among themselves is very rare. They suffer inconvenience
from the encroachment of the whites upon their fishing privi-
leges. For the adjustment of these, however, under the coun-
sels of the commissioner and with the aid of legislation which
may result from their petition to the present Legislature, ade-
quate provision already exists. The intelligent men of the
tribe hope that the time may come, when their political and
civil disabilities may be removed. For the present, they sug-
gest no material alteration of the system. They feel that they
have not realized, from the act of 1834, all the benefit they
expected. The difficulty is rather in the mode of administra-
tion than in the system itself. The misfortune is, that eleva-
ting influences have not been brought to bear upon them, which
should gradually prepare them for the privileges of citizenship.
We feel that we should neglect our duty, did we not give our
testimony to the wonderful improvement which has taken place
at Marshpee, since the passage of the act of 1834. Previous
to that time, they were indolent, ignorant, improvident, intem-
perate, and licentious. It is not strange that so general a dis-
trust was entertained, at that time, of their ability to manage
their internal affairs. But we believe it is admitted now, even
by those who most earnestly opposed that law, that the experi-
ment has succeeded ; and, though the result may not be all that
the most sanguine dreamed, yet, all circumstances considered,
it has been all that could rationally be expected. That act
provided for the withdrawal of the depressing and degrading
influences of the guardianship system, protection against the
38 INDIANS. [Feb.
extortions of greedy and unprincipled speculators, and the par-
tial removal of civil disabilities. All they need now is, judi-
cious counsel and encouragement, in managing their schools, in
introducing farther improvements in agriculture and in their
domestic arrangements; and, above all, the opening of the way
to complete civil and political enfranchisement. With these in-
fluences fully at work, we feel entirely confident, that, in a few
years, the district of Marshpee may claim a place by the side
of the other towns of the Commonwealth. ***
We cannot close the examination of the condition of this
tribe in more appropriate language than the following eloquent
appeal of the tribe, in their memorial to the Legislature in
1834: — '-'We do not know why the people of this Common-
wealth want to cruelize us any longer; for we are sure that our
fathers fought, bled, and died, for the liberties of their now
weeping and suffering children, the same as did your fathers
for their children, whom ye are, who are now sitting to make
laws to suit your own convenience, and secure your liberties.
Oh ! white man ! white man ! the blood of our fathers spilt
in the revolutionary war, cries from the ground of our native
soil, to break the chains of oppression, and let our children go
Herring Pond Tribe.
The territory of this tribe is in the easterly part of Plymouth,
a small portion lying in the westerly part of Sandwich.
It includes about 2500 acres, of which about 100 acres are
owned in severalty. The whole number of the tribe is 55 *
Families, ... 12
Males, ... 28
Females, ... 27
Natives, ... 49
including several from Marshpee and Yarmouth.
Foreigners, . ... 6
Under 5 years, . . 5
From 5 to 10, . . 9
* See Appendix, A.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 39
From 10 to 21, . . 16
" 21 to 50, . . 22
" 50 to 70, . . 1
" 70 and over, . . 2
Aged 70 and 90.
At sea, ... 2
The pursuits of this tribe are similar to those of the other
tribes. There is one house-carpenter. Their condition is much
superior to that of their neighbors at Marshpee. They live in
comfortable houses, and will compare favorably with the Chris-
tiantown tribe in the arts and comforts of life. Their stock
consists of 2 horses, 5 homed cattle, 6 swine, and about 100
fowls. They are generally free from debt, and the rule for
dividing the land is the same as at Gay Head, each one appro-
priating such as he needs, under the direction of the treasurer.
Fortunately, the common lands have never been divided, as
were those at Marshpee, and they form the source of a fund
now amounting to $2511 69 ; and, under the judicious man-
agement of Mr. Marston, (the act of 1834, providing that the
Commissioner of the Marshpee Indians shall be treasurer, and
quasi guardian of the Herring Pond Indians,) this amount is
increasing, from year to year. From the reports of the treas-
urer, we find that the net receipts from the sale of wood from
the common lands, for the last five years, have been as fol-
lows : —
1844, . . $324 91
Total, $2106 97
The plantation is free from debt, and, in pecuniary matters,
is independent. — A comparison of the amount of territory at
Herring Pond, with that at Marshpee, will show what might,
have been the condition of the Marshpee tribe, but for the un-
fortunate division of the lands of that tribe. Instead of being
40 INDIANS. [Feb.
in its present state, it might have been, at least, as independent
as the Herring Pond tribe.
The whole amount paid by the State to the plantation, for
the support of State paupers, and indeed for all purposes what-
ever, for the last six years, is $169 52. The average cost per
year, for several years past, of supporting the poor, has been
The state of their school is somewhat better than at Marsh-
pee; but, owing to similar causes, is far from what it should
be. The number of children, between the ages of 4 and 16, is
23. The school was not open when we were there. It is kept
from four to six months, each year. They receive from the
State 38 dollars per year, for purposes of education; 20 dollars
from the school fund, and 18 dollars from the income of the
surplus revenue. In addition to this amount, from 70 to 80
dollars is appropriated annually, from the funds of the planta-
tion, for the school.
The other principal items in the expenditures of the planta-
tion are for medical services, and the salary of the commis-
sioner and treasurer. Forty dollars per year is paid from the
funds of the plantation, for medical advice. Eighty dollars per
year is paid to Mr. Marston, for his services as commissioner
They have no regular preaching. By an arrangement with
Rev. Phineas Fish, growing out of his former missionary rela-
tions to the Marshpee tribe, he is under obligation to preach for
them one sixth of the time. Living, as he does, some 14 miles
from the plantation, he very seldom sees them, except on this
sixth Sunday, which is a sort of day of jubilee to this poor peo-
ple. Mr. Amos has preached for them, more or less, of late
years ; occasionally, a stranger breaks to them the bread of
life; but, owing to the want of continued pastoral visits and
counsels, their religious privileges are of the smallest possible
benefit. They feel that " no man cares for their souls." We
hope that their improving pecuniary condition will, before long,
justify the appropriation of something to purposes of religious
teaching. We hope, especially, that the appropriation, made by
the "Trustees of the Williams Fund," and by the Society for
HOUSE— No. 46.
the Propagation of the Gospel among the Indians, will be so
arranged as to secure to the " poor Indians" the entire services
of a Christian missionary.
The Herring Pond Indians are a quiet, industrious, temperate
people. The children are unusually intelligent and interesting.
The Mrs. Fletcher, Blackwell, Gardner and Bartlett are sis-
ters from Yarmouth, of the maiden name of Lindsay. The
families, in which they are wives and mothers, comprise 24 in-
dividuals, nearly half the tribe ; and their condition elevates
very much the average of the intelligence of the tribe. As a
tribe, they are under the same disabilities, civil and political, as
the Marshpees, in a sad state of conscious depression, ignorant
almost of the nature, entirely of the remedy, of the social pro-
scription which crushes them and their races.
The Troy or Fall River Indians.
The territory occupied by this tribe, is within the limits of
the town of Fall River, some 3 or 4 miles from the village. The
whole amount of territory is about 190 acres, of which about
20 acres are owned in severalty, and the remainder held in
common. The soil is generally good ; but the indolent and im-
provident habits of the tribe render it of little use to them as
means of support. The population of the tribe is 37.*
Under 5 years,
From 5 to 10, .
" 10 to 21, .
" 21 to 50, .
" 50 to 70, .
Cynthia CufTee, born in Westport, aged 74.
* See Appendix A-
42 INDIANS. [Feb.
Eighteen or twenty of the above, who are considered as be-
longing to the tribe, do not live on the territory. Many of
them will probably never return, unless it should be to claim a
portion of the territory, in case of a division. — The means of
subsistence are mostly day labor. The whole stock of the tribe
consists of 2 pigs and 20 or 25 fowls. They have no public in-
come, (except some 25 or 30 dollars a year from rent of pasture
lands,) no schools and no preaching. Of the five children un-
der 16 years of age, 4 are bastards, belonging to a family not
residing on the Indian lands.
The present guardian, Benj. F. Winslow, Esq., was appointed
in May last, under the resolve of April 16, 1836, authorizing
the governor to fill the vacancy in said guardianship, whenever
it should occur. The salary of the guardian, so far as we can
learn, is not fixed by law. The usual sum allowed, of late
years, has been $35 00 yearly. — It might be expected, from the
above statement of the condition of the tribe, that the appropri-
ations by the State, for the support of their paupers, have been
large. For the five years previous to 1848, they have received
from the State the following sums : —
Salary of guardian, for five years,
To Holder Wordell, in 1848, upon final
settlement of guardian's account,
Total for 6 years, $1122 90
The case of this tribe is clearly one in which the benefits of
the system of guardianship have not been commensurate with
The Dudley Tribe.
The territory of this tribe, amounting to about 30 acres, is in
the town of Webster. It has never been divided. The territory
* Appendix D.
HOUSE— No. 46.
originally occupied by the tribe lay in the centre of the town of
Dudley. This was sold, some years since, by order of the Leg-
islature, and the present territory purchased for them. The
balance of the proceeds of the land has been expended. The
whole number of the tribe is 48.*
Under 5 years,
From 5 to 10,
" 10 to 21,
" 21 to 50,
" 50 to 70, .
Over 70, .
1 aged 74.
About half of the number live on the territory. This tribe
have reached a lower deep than any other in the State. A few
get an honest living by cultivating their land, and by going
out to work. The rest subsist upon the bounty of the State,
and by prostitution. They have no schools and no preaching,
are ignorant, improvident, and degraded to the lowest degree.
They have received from the State, as follows : —
1843, . . $101 97
Salary of guardian 5 years,
213 84 f
500 00 %
The guardian is appointed, under the resolve of Feb. 24, 1829,
* Appendix A*
t Including salary of guardian, and $22 74, to Daniel Davis, for medical advice.
t For repairs of buildings.
44 INDIANS. [Feb.
and his salary, 50 dollars annually, was established by resolve
of April 16, 1836. The present guardian was appointed in 1847.
The Hassa?iamisco, or Grafton Tribe. "*
This tribe are found in Grafton. The whole territory in
Grafton, besides small amounts owned by individuals in ad-
joining towns, is 25 acres. They have no common lands. The
number of the tribe is 26.*
Families, ... 5
Males, .... 12
Females, ... 14
About two thirds of the above number may be regarded as
residing on the territory. Generally, the Grafton Indians are
industrious, temperate, and comfortable. They had formerly a
respectable fund ; but it was totally lost, while in the hands of
a former trustee. By the resolve of April 9, 1839, an appropri-
ation of $50 00 annually, for ten years, was placed in the hands
of the judge of probate, for Worcester County, to be applied, at
his discretion, for their benefit. In addition to this sum, they
have received from the State, in 1845, 30 dollars, and in 1847,
10 dollars. The State is still indebted to the tribe for the fund
which was lost under her management. — Of course, this tribe
has no separate schools, or preaching. Their children attend
the public schools. They will soon undoubtedly lose their
individuality, and become merged in the general community. —
Their annuity expires this year. If there should be a necessity
of continuing it or any portion of it, it will be provided for,
under the general recommendation we shall have the honor to
submit, towards the close of the report.
The Punkapog Tribe.
The remnant of the Punkapog Indians reside in Canton and
Stoughton. The number is 10: —
Males, ..... 4
Females, ..... 6
* Appendix A.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. . 45
They have no lands and no property of any kind, the last
of their lands having been sold by their guardian, Hon. Thomas
French, a few years ago, and the whole of the proceeds having
been expended in support of the poor. With few exceptions,
they are industrious, temperate, and capable of supporting
themselves. Four have of late received aid as State paupers ;
but one of them has lately died, one has come into the receipt
of a pension from the general government for military services
of her deceased husband, and another, who has long been in
very feeble health, has recovered. The amount needed from
the State will probably be materially less hereafter. The
amount, paid by the State for 6 years, has been as follows : —
For support of paupers, . . $901 72
The salary of guardian was fixed, in 1847, at 50 dollars
annually. In 1846, the sum of 200 dollars was paid to the
guardian, in full, for services for 20 years to that time.
The Natick Tribe.
We have taken no statistics of the Natick Indians. There
are a few in and about Natick with more or less of the blood of
this tribe in their veins, and others scattered over the State ; but
it is now several years since they have asked any aid from the
State, and they will probably never ask more. Practically, the
tribe is extinct. The last of their lands were sold under the
Resolve of March 4, 1828. — There is a fund in the hands of
Elijah Perry, Esq., their guardian, arising from the sale of
these lands, amounting to $1,291 13. The present guardian
was appointed in 1838, at which time the fund amounted to
$1,226 86 Since that time, Mr. Perry has appropriated,
annually, to certain individuals belonging to the tribe, none
of whom now reside in Natick, small sums, amounting very
nearly to the income of the fund. — By a resolve of Febru-
ary 27, 1810, the governor is authorized to appoint the guardi-
ans to the Natick Indians. By a resolve of June It, 1814,
this authority is renewed, with the addition, " the guardian
thus appointed shall be held to render an account annually
to the governor and council." By a resolve of February 13,
46 . INDIANS. [Feb.
1819, the guardians are " authorized to expend and appropriate,
under the direction of the overseers of the poor of said town,
all or any part of the funds in their hands, belonging to said
tribe ; and a certificate, under the hands of said overseers, of
the expenditure and appropriation of said funds, shall be a
sufficient voucher for said guardians in the settlement of their
accounts as such." Through a misapprehension of his duties,
Mr. Perry has rendered no such account since his appointment.
He has presented to us a statement of the amount of this fund
at the time of his appointment in 1838, and of the sums appro-
priated by him since that time, accompanied by a certificate of
its correctness from the selectmen of Natick. He has allowed
six per cent, interest, and has charged two per cent, on the
amount of the fund for his services. The fund is invested at
the discretion of the guardian, and upon his personal security.
As far as we can judge, Mr. Perry has managed this fund judi-
ciously ; still, as the State holds it in trust for the benefit of the
Indians, it will not be regarded as intimating a suspicion of Mr.
Perry's integrity or responsibility, to express the opinion that
something more than individual liability should be required for
the security of the fund.
The Yarmouth Indians.
This remnant of the Yarmouth Indians reside in Yarmouth.
They have no Indian territory, their lands having been many
years ago sold to the whites. The Indians allege that these
lands were illegally conveyed, they not having power to sell
them without the consent of the Legislature. Whether this be
so, and whether possession gives the white occupants a title to
the lands, are questions which we have not assumed to decide.
These Indians have generally intermarried with the whites ;
they have not received or asked aid from the State for many
years, and most of them gain, by their own industry, an honest
and comfortable living. Practically, they are a part of the
The whole number is . . . 58*
Males, ..... 32
Females, .... 26
* See Appendix A.
in the State, not includ-
ing the Natic
k tribe, ,
The following note is from the life of Eliot in Sparks's
American Biography. Among the Massachusetts Indians are
included the Nipmuck, whose territory now embraces the
towns of Oxford, Uxbridge, Dudley, Webster, and Woodstock,
the Natick, Nonantum, Neponset, Wamesit. (now Tewks-
bury,) and Punkapog, and some smaller tribes.
" The following estimate of the whole number of ' Praying
Indians,' in 1764, is taken from Judge Davis's Note to Mor-
ton's Memorial, (pp. 407-415,) where may be seen further
statements of the situation and number of the Christian natives
at subsequent periods : —
In Massachusetts, under the care of Mr. Eliot, . . 1,100
In Plymouth Colony, by Mr. Bourne's and Cotton's ac-
count, ....... 530
Additional number, under Cotton's care, in Plymouth
Colony, ...... 170
On Martha's Vineyard and Chappequiddic, under the
care of the Mayhews, ..... 1,500
Upon a review of this whole matter, one subject seems to
48 INDIANS. [Feb.
demand, both from its importance and from the prominence it
held in the motives which led to the appointment of this com-
mission, especial consideration. We refer to
The Pauper Question.
We do not share in the alarm which some seem to feel, in re-
gard to the amount of appropriations to the poor Indians. It
appears, that, for the six years from 1843 to 1848, inclusive, the
whole amount, paid by the Commonwealth, on account of the
Indians, was .... $10,059 25
Of this amount there was paid to the commis-
sioners for dividing Marshpee lands, $ 1131 87
Salaries of guardians, . . . 1715 00
Leaving, as the amount received by the Indians, $7212 38
being an average of 1202 06 annually, or about one dollar and
a half to each individual. The total yearly cost of the State gov-
ernment is about $900,000, or one dollar to each individual in
the State. We submit, that 900,000 citizens, who enjoy all the
privileges of citizenship, at a cost of one dollar per year, ought
not to complain of the burden of paying one dollar and a half
per year to the 800 persons who are kept in a state of complete
political and civil disfranchisement. It would be difficult, we
trust, to find 800 citizens of the State, who would submit to the
same disabilities, for fifty cents a year.
" But the 900,000 citizens contribute to the support of the
government." So would the 800, but for the almost immemo-
rial unjust legislation of the State towards them.
But, be the cost of supporting them greater or less, we take
the ground, that the State owes it to them, not as a gratuity, but
as a debt which cannot be honorably, or even honestly, evaded.
We have brought them into their present condition. The dis-
abilities under which we have placed them, while they de-
clare their unfitness to perform the duties, have produced and
perpetuated their unfitness to bear the burdens, of citizenship.
The history of all conquered and proscribed races and classes,
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 49
illustrates the impossibility of elevating such races and classes,
while under civil and political disabilities. It was among the
principal objects of the colonization of this country, in the lan-
guage of the charter of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, that
11 the good life and orderly conversation of the colonists may win
and incite the natives of the country to the knowledge and obedi-
ence of the only true God and Savior of mankind and the Chris-
tian faith, which, in our royal intention and the adventurer's free
profession, is the principal end of this plantation." But, until
the conversion of the Indians was accomplished, they were
treated as heathen, and, of course, unfit to be members of a
Christian Commonwealth. The early colonial legislation in
regard to the Indians was dictated by the spirit which excluded
all, except members of the church, from any agency in political
or civil affairs. The progress of civil and ecclesiastical liberality
has released all but the Indian from these disabilities. The
African, the Turk, the Japanese, may enjoy, in Massachusetts,
all the privileges of American citizenship. The Indian alone,
the descendant of monarchs, is a vassal in the land of his
fathers. Even the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of
Rights, our State Constitution, brought no deliverance from op-
pression, no recognition of unalienable rights, no constitutional
guarantees to the poor Indian. — The inconsistency of our past
and present treatment of the Indians, with the whole spirit, and.
indeed, with the letter of our constitution, is so well exhibited by
Mr. Hallett, in his argument before referred to, that we offer no
apology for making the following extracts, as applicable to all
the Indians in the State: —
"They must be either hereditary vassals, or servants by
right of conquest, or public enemies held as hostages and pris-
oners, or paupers, or persons individually, not collectively, in-
capacitated and non compos mentis, or citizens."
The constitution recognizes no distinction of color, and no
civil inability in classes or communities. It declares govern-
ment to be a V social compact, by which the whole people cove-
nants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people,
that all shall be governed by certain laws, for the common good."
In the second article of the 1st chapter, it leaves all the rights
50 INDIANS. [Feb.
of citizenship to every male inhabitant, of twenty -one years and
upwards, possessing certain property qualifications, " and, to re-
move all doubt concerning the meaning of the word inhabitant
in this constitution, every person shall be considered an inhabi-
tant in that town, district, or plantation, where he dwelleth or
hath his home."
Inhabitant and citizen, therefore, are synonymous terms, with
the sole exception of aliens, paupers and persons under guardi-
anship, that is, under guardianship by general laws, affecting
all citizens who come under their provisions, and not by special
laws made for a whole community, without discrimination.
2. The Marshpee Indians are not aliens. They are not a do-
mestic nation, as the Cherokees are declared to be, by the su-
preme court of the United States. They have no rights secured
by treaty, and no other rights than those of property and person,
applying to them as to all other citizens.
3. They are not our vassals, slaves, or servants. They were
not conquered by our fathers, but were the friends of the whites,
before the war of the revolution, and, in that war, fought on our
side, for which some of them now receive pensions.
4. Are they paupers? They cannot come under this head,
for they are all freeholders in common, and the law permitting
them to take the poor debtor's oath, makes an express exception
of their landed property.
5. Are they incapacitated? Not naturally. They are not
non compos mentis. How then are they incapacitated ? To
justify the placing of the property and person of the citizen un-
der guardianship, he must individually be incapacitated. Every
individual of the Marshpee tribe must then be proved to be in-
capacitated, to justify taking away his rights of person and
property, and they must be placed under the general laws of
guardianship. You cannot declare a whole community to be
incapacitated from the exercise of individual rights. As it
regards the Marshpee Indians as a community, it is false rea-
soning to take it for granted that they are incapable of self-
government ; because they have never had a fair opportunity of
testing their capacity, and because, they are now as well in-
formed and as temperate as many of the plantations were,
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 51
when originally incorporated into towns. On what principle,
then, is it, that there has always been a distinction between the
laws made for governing the Indians, and those made for the
whole people, when the constitution declares that "all shall be
governed by certain laws for the common good."
It began in the necessity of guarding against the hostility of the
Indian tribes ; but this necessity ceased to exist, (if it ever did
exist in relation to the Marshpee tribe,) long before the revolu-
tion. Now, by what process of reasoning can it be shown, that
the Indian inhabitants of this Commonwealth, were not in-
cluded in the first article of the bill of rights? viz. : " All men
are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and
unalienable rights ; among which may be reckoned the right of
enjoying and defending their lives and liberties ; that of ac-
quiring, possessing, and protecting property ; in fine, that of
seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."
We dwell upon this point, not to indulge in useless fault-find-
ing or regrets over past legislation, but for the purpose of direct-
ing attention to these disabilities as producing and perpetuating
the degradation of the Indians, and so constituting a claim upon
the State which has established, and which still sustains, the
system. No man can say what would have been the present
condition of the Indians, but for these disabilities. It will not
do to say that the Indian is incapable of improvement. The
experiment has never been fairly tried. Efforts have been made
to Christianize and elevate them ; and we are gravely told, that,
because they always have failed, therefore ; they always must
fail ; but, it seems to have been forgotten, that the effect of
these efforts has always been controlled by the crushing influence
of civil and political disability, and, as a necessary result of
these, of social proscription. It is, as Frederick Douglass says in
relation to the incapacity of the African race for improvement
— himself an eloquent refutation of the falsity of the affirma-
tion: — "Sixteen millions of Anglo-Saxons grind to the very
dust three millions of Africans. Take your heels off of our
necks, and see if we do not rise." — We have treated the Indians
as wards, serfs, vassals, slaves. We have taken the manage-
ment of their property, and have allowed it to be squandered
and lost. We claim the right to dispose of their persons, giving
52 INDIANS. [Feb.
their guardians the power to bind them out, as minors, and to
appropriate the proceeds of their labor, at their own almost
irresponsible discretion. That this power has not been abused
is owing to the character of the guardians, and to a state of
public opinion, which, unfortunately, has not yet infused itself
into the laws. Can we hesitate, as to the duty of the Com-
monwealth to those whom Chief Justice Parker terms " the
unfortunate children of the public?"
We need not argue the question of the legal obligation of the
Commonwealth to provide for the Indians. In the case of
Andover vs. Canton, (Mass. Reports, vol. 13, p. 547,) that mat-
ter was adjudicated upon and settled by the supreme tribunal
of the State. The following extracts, from the decision of Chief
Justice Parker, are pertinent and important, alike from the legal
principles settled and the humane spirit which characterizes
them. " It is not an admissible idea, that a tribe of Indians, of
whom the Legislature had assumed the guardianship, whose
land or other property is taken into public custody, and even
whose labor is disposed of, without consulting the inhabitants
of the town within which they may dwell, should become
chargeable to the town, in case of poverty, merely because they
lived within its limits. There is always supposed to be a
consideration, past or present, for the obligations of towns to
rest upon, in the support of paupers. They have received some
benefit from their property or that of their ancestors, by taxa-
tion, or otherwise; and they may dispose of them in service.
But with respect to this tribe of Indians, the town of Canton
could never have received a benefit in any way, having no
right to tax their property or their polls, or to diminish the ex-
pense of supporting them, by placing them out at service.
Probably the Legislature will consider the remaining tribes
and parts of tribes of aboriginals, which yet remain within the
confines of this Commonwealth, as the unfortunate children of
the public, entitled to protection and support, when their means
of subsistence fail, and when it shall be found that they are in-
capable of civilization, so far as to be admitted as citizens.
Such seem to have been the humane views of the successive
Legislatures of the Colony, Province, and Commonwealth ; they
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 53
having, at various times, empowered agents to take care of the
lands which were allowed to be the property of native Indians ;
and, in several instances, having provided means for their sup-
port, comfort and instruction. It certainly would be more wor-
thy of the liberal character of this Commonwealth, to make a
general and permanent provision for the maintenance of such
of the tribes, or individuals of the tribes, as shall be brought to
indigence, than to throw the unequal burthen upon the towns
where they may have chiefly resided; those towns not only
never having derived any benefit from their labor or property;
but, on the contrary, having generally suffered disadvantage
from having considerable landed property exempted from tax-
ation, and from the unsettled habits and manners of such a pop-
ulation." It seems to us therefore, that, from every considera-
tion arising from our past treatment of the Indians, from a
uniform recognition of the obligation by the Legislature, and
from the simplest requirements of humanity and justice, we
owe to them comfortable provision and support ; not, indeed,
such support as will perpetuate habits of indolence and im-
providence, but such treatment as, while it shall relieve from
present suffering, shall tend to form habits of self-reliance and
They should not be treated as paupers. "VVe find that they
nearly all have that feeling of pride, which shrinks from being
the objects of charity. This feeling, which is almost the only
vestige, and which a wise legislation should foster as the germ,
of a hopeful self-respect, we should not wantonly wound. — They
are not State paupers. The legislation of the last 180 years
has recognized as Indians, all descendants of Indians residing
upon Indian lands. — AVe plead for them, not as paupers, or as
public beneficiaries, but as entitled to the pittance which is ne-
cessary to their comfort; and instead of compelling them to ap-
ply for scanty relief, year after year, to the Committee on Claims,
which is generally composed of new men, who cannot become
acquainted with the subject, who are usually too much influ-
enced by the fear of being regarded as more extravagant than
their predecessors, and who, as the history of the past shows,
and from the nature of the case, are liable both to withhold and
54 INDIANS. [Feb.
to grant unwisely, we think, to requote the words of Chief
Justice Parker, " it would be more worthy of the liberal charac-
ter of this Commonwealth, to make a general and permanent
provision, for the maintenance of these unfortunate children of
the public." How shall this be done ?
It would be worse than useless to make this change, unless it
formed part of a system which should tend to make them capa-
ble of self-support, and fit them for the privileges and duties of
citizenship. This brings us to the most difficult part of our
If we have succeeded in exhibiting the situation of this peo-
ple, all will admit that the problem is, not to contrive means to
supply their present wants, but to take them out of their present
peculiar and anomalous condition. Under the present laws,
any of the descendants of these Indians, now scattered over the
world, in whose veins shall run a single drop of Indian blood
generations hence, may return to the Indian lands, and claim to
be treated as the wards of the State. The only remedy is to be
found in annexing their territory to the adjoining towns and
merging them in the general community. This must be done
at once, or prospectively.
Almost without exception, they are opposed to being annexed
to the adjoining towns, and the towns are probably equally op-
posed to receiving them. If there were no other obstacle, the
liability of taxation would involve necessarily the alienability
of their lands; and this alone, in their present condition, is an
insuperable objection. The only alternative is, a system which
shall, making due provision for their present wants, prepare
them for the privileges and liabilities of citizenship.
During the time which has elapsed since we visited the In-
dians, and became familiar with their conditions and wants, we
have given, to the solution of this problem, our constant and
earnest study ; and the result has been the following
Basis of an Act
for the improvement of the Indians and people of color residing
on the Indian lands within this Commonwealth.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 55
1st. A repeal of all laws relating to the Indians, (with a modi-
fication of those relating to the district of Marshpee, and the
Herring Pond Plantation, at least, in relation to a separate com-
missioner,) and the enactment of a uniform system, to apply
to all the tribes in the State, in the spirit of modern philanthropy.
2d. The merging of all, except those at Marshpee and Her-
ing Pond, and Martha's Vineyard, in the general community,
giving to the selectmen of the towns to which they are annexed,
the management of the funds belonging to them, and of the sums
appropriated by the State for their support, not as paupers, but
as the wards of the State, the inalienability of their lands being
secured, except when it is voluntarily surrendered, by the as-
sumption of the elective franchise, as provided in the next sec-
3d. Grant to any one who wishes it, the privileges o^ citizen-
ship, involving the liability to taxation, when any one accepts the
privilege of voting; the privilege of voting to be allowed to
those accepting it, and paying a poll tax, whether the towns
tax real or personal property, or not ; and when the towns do
tax the real or personal property of one^thus accepting the priv-
ilege of voting, they shall become liable for the support of the
individual and his descendants, as in the case of other citizens ;
and when the privilege of citizenship is once assumed, and the
right of taxation once exercised, the individual, from that time
forth forever, shall be, to all intents and purposes, a citizen of
the State, and debarred from returning to the condition of an
4th. The appointment of one Indian Commissioner, who shall
direct the application of all moneys appropriated by the State
for the benefit of the Indians, and who shall devote his whole
time, if need be, to their improvement, especially to devising
means for gradually preparing them for the privileges of citizen-
Upon the first point, we think there can hardly be a difference
of opinion. The legislation has been exceedingly loose and
variant; sometimes it has been in the form of a general law,
sometimes, of a special law. sometimes, of resolve; and, of the
latter, sometimes an annuity has been settled upon a particular
56 INDIANS. [Feb.
individual, and, at another time, an appropriation has been made
to a guardian, or judge of probate, for the benefit of an individual
or a tribe. We have found it a most perplexing task, to go over
the legislation of the last two hundred years, together with the
records of executive proceedings, in order to ascertain the legal
condition of each tribe; and we do not wonder that successive
Committees on Claims and Accounts, amid the pressure of other
legislative duties, have abandoned the task of inquiry as to
laws now in force, in despair, and have been compelled to re-
sort to a temporary expedient, which has only made the con-
fusion worse confounded. This difficulty demands a remedy,
and we believe the one we recommend is the only one which
will fully meet it ; that is, the enactment of a system of Indian
laws, in compact and definite shape.
In this connection, we would urge particularly the impor-
tance of confirming the titles of proprietors of lands held in
severalty, and of fixing the law of division and descent.
At Gay Head, particularly, serious difficulties are already
arising, which threaten the introduction of a spirit of litiga-
tion ; a result which cannot be too earnestly deprecated. We
regard the adjustment of these questions as a matter of the ut-
most importance to the future peace and welfare of this tribe.
2d. The merging of the smaller remnants in the general com-
munity. We entertain not the slightest doubt, that this, with
the restrictions afterwards indicated, is desirable and practi-
cable. The Fall River, Dudley, Grafton, Punkapog and Natick,
are few in number ; and, as the inducements to remain on their
lands are small, they are more and more scattering every year,
never to return. They have but little land, or property of any
kind, have no separate schools or preaching, and receive no
money for these purposes, either from the State, or benevolent
societies. They will soon lose their individuality as other
tribes have done. The lands of the Punkapog and Natick
tribes are already all sold; the Legislature will undoubtedly,
before long, be called upon to provide for the sale of the lands
of other small tribes. The course we recommend, we believe
to be in accordance with sound State policy, and with a hu-
mane regard for the welfare of the Indians.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 57
3d. There are difficulties connected with the matter of grad-
ually extending to the Indians the privileges of citizenship ;
but none, we are convinced, which may not be overcome by an
earnest and intelligent effort to accomplish so desirable a re-
sult. We need not repeat our conviction, that the only way to
provide for the permanent improvement of the Indian, is, to
show him the path of escape from political and civil disfran-
chisement ; and we believe that the plan we recommend, with
the restrictions suggested, and others which will occur to those
whose duty it shall be to arrange the details of the law, while
it imposes no liabilities either upon the Indian or the town,
which they do not voluntarily assume, opens to the Indian a
certain prospect of civil, political and social elevation.
4th. But, whether the other recommendations be adopted or
not, we regard the appointment of a single commissioner, in-
stead of the several guardians and the commissioner of Marsh-
pee, as indispensable to the improvement of the Indians. They
have been so long under disabilities, as to be, as a whole, in-
capable at present, of self-government ; still there is enough
of the Indian impatience of restraint to make them dislike the
idea of guardianship. They need counsel, advice, encourage-
ment ; almost universally they are teachable and accessible to
kind influences. A single commissioner, intelligent, sagacious,
and prudent, acting upon system, and devising means of per-
manent improvement, entrusted with discretion to apply the
funds appropriated by the State for their benefit, would con-
tribute, more than any other instrumentality we can conceive,
to their permanent welfare and to prepare them for the priv-
ileges of citizenship. The influence of the guardian must be
purely parental. The smallest element of dictation or control
in any system designed for their improvement, will defeat all
its aims. They have too good reason to be jealous of the
white man, to be ready to acquiesce in any measures which
are not, to their own comprehension, benevolent in their mo-
tives and tendencies. The whole success of any system of
measures, the only hope of any permanent improvement, will
depend upon the character of the commissioner. The amount
now paid annually, for the salaries of the commissioner of
53 INDIANS. [Feb.
Marshpee and Herring Pond and the several guardians, is
$540 00. This is somewhat less than the average for the last
six years. A small addition to this amount would secure the
services of a competent person, as Commissioner, for the whole
State. The advantages arising from the familiarity of the
Commissioner with the facts necessary to be known to the
Committees of the Legislature, would alone equal the amount
of his salary. We earnestly recommend this matter to the
favorable consideration of the Legislature.
We have endeavored to represent, faithfully, truly and im-
partially, " the condition and circumstances" of nearly 900 of
the inhabitants of this Commonwealth. Our commission did
not originate in any petitions by the Indians for redress of
grievances ; but in a humane design, on the part of the Legisla-
ture, in the words of the resolve, " to promote their improve-
ment and interests." While, therefore, the Legislature should
not impose upon them any change which they do not volun-
tarily adopt, they owe it to the advantages of their position to
recommend such measures as they think would conduce to
their improvement, and to tender to them every facility for a
fair trial of those measures. Disfranchisement and depression
have almost become the normal condition of the poor Indians:
they cannot appreciate the almost miraculous power of a cordial
recognition and a practical application of the principle of Lib-
erty, Equality, and Fraternity, at whose Ithuriel touch, nations
have, during the past year, been literally " born in a day." We
boast of the successful solution of the problem of self-govern-
ment; but we exclude from its operation, nearly a thousand of
our citizens. It is not enough to assert, until the Indian has
been brought within the reach, at least, if not under the full
influence, of complete civil and political enfranchisement, that it
will not exert the same vivifying influence upon him as upon
the Anglo-Saxon. There is a profound philosophy in the words
of our Savior — " If any man will do the works, he shall know
the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of my-
self." The operation of a system cannot be known until it has
been fairly tried. We ask for the Indian a full share in the
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 59
rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence and our Bill
of Rights, and guaranteed by our Constitution. If these fail, it
will be time enough then to abandon the race, as forsaken of
man, and cursed by God.
We leave this subject with the guardians of the interests and
the honor of the Commonwealth, with the chosen protectors of
the " unfortunate children of the public." We are shut up to
the conclusion that a system, substantially like that we recom-
mend, is the only one which can save this people from the fate
which has befallen nearly their whole race. Expulsion or ex-
tinction has been the alternative. As the red man has wit-
nessed and felt the gradual encroachment of the pale face, he
has been compelled to say, —
" They waste us, — ay, like April snow
In the warm noon, we shrink away ;
And fast they follow — as we go
Towards the setting day ;
Till they shall fill the land, and we
Are driven into the Western Sea."
We do not believe either this result, or its alternative, — ex-
tinction, is inevitable. If, as we confidently hope, the exhibi-
tion of the condition and wants of this people, which our ap-
pointment has enabled us to make, shall lead to the adoption
of a system, wisely and humanely adapted to secure their
entire political and civil enfranchisement, and thus their
social elevation, we should cherish our agency in the result,
among the most pleasant memories of our lives.
F. W. BIRD,
Names of Members of the several Tribes in the State.
Lawrence Prince, Aged 57
William H. Murray,
Charlotte M. Murray,
Frances E. Curtis, .
Love P. Curtis,
Elizabeth Charlotte Curtis, 5
Samuel P. Goodrich,
Harriet R. Belain, .
Ann E. Simpson,
Mary B. Belain,
George H. Simpson,
Charles Frederick Webquish, 19 ms.
Sophronia Sams ,
Isaac Joab, .
Jane A. Joab,
Jane A. Jackson,
Jackson, . 3
Daniel T. Webquish,
James W. Brown,
Emily Brown, . A
Thaddeus Cook, . Aged 23
Edwin L. Brown,
George A. Gardner,
William H. Mathews,
Margaret P. Mathews,
Isaiah Belain, Jr.
Prince W. Mathews,
Cornelius Johnson, .
Lucre tia Belain,
Lydia M. Brown,
John D. Laton,
Thomas James, . Aged 72
Charlotte Belain, . A
George E. James,
Eliza A. Simpson, .
William S. James, .
John A. Spencer,
Eunice Elizabeth Spencer,
William Grant, Jr.,
Sarah A. Mingo,
James W. De Grasse,
James A. Weeks,
Lucinda C. De Grasse,
Henry J. De Grasse, 5
Sophronia Weeks, .
George W. De Grasse,
Frances De Grasse, .
GAY HEAD TRIBE.
Jane Cook, .
Bethiah Bassett, . »
John Devine, Jr.,
Hebron Wamsley, Jr.,
Eleanor Wamsley, .
Aaron Cooper, Jr., .
Tolman Wamsley, .
Esther Howaswee, .
Lucy C. Oooper, . 2
Johannes Salisbury, .
William A. Yanderhoop,
Druzilla Salisbury, .
Louisa Yanderhoop, .
Patience Cershom, .
Anna Yanderhoop, .
Edwin Yandorhoop, . 8
Algernon S. Johnson,
Remember Cooper, .
Isaac D. Rose,
Samuel Peters, Jr., .
Harriet A. Rose,
Charlotte M. Rodman,
Mary Jane Rodman,
Benjamin Rodman, .
HOUSE— No. 46.
Mercy A. Devine,
Joel Jerrod, .
Tamerzane Weeks, .
Triphosia W r eeks,
Anna J. Madison,
Charlotte Madison, .
Elizabeth C. David,
Hepsibah Aucouch, .
Bathsheba Hoskins, .
Ann E. Nevers,
Abby A. Corsa,
Henry P. Sylvia,
Thomas Cooper, Jr.
James Sylvia, . 18
Joel Sylvia, . . 6
. . 39
, Laura A. Jeffers,
Mary C. James,
Mary Ann Shepherd,
Nancy Williams, . A
Diadama Toby, . A
Minerva Williams, .
Mary Toby, .
Oaks A. Toby,
Levi S. Webquish, .
Hannah P. Webquish
Mary Jones, . 3
Kilborn W. Webquish,
Naomi A. Sanford, .
Elijah W. Pocknet,
William H. Mills, .
James S. Mills,
Solomon Attaquin, .
Elizabeth S. Mills, .
Ebenezer Attaquin, Jr.,
William H. Simon, .
Lucy M. Simon,
Love A. Simon,
Daniel S. Simon, . 3
Susan Nys, .
Ezra Attaquin, Jr., .
Oaks A. Coombs,
Dinah B. Coombs,
Maria A. Coombs, .
Watson Hammond, .
George R. Coombs, .
Daniel C. Coombs, .
Euphrasia A. Ockry,
John D. Brown,
HOUSE— No. 46.
Sarah Brown, . A
Isaac Jones, .
Emeline Brown, . 3
Anna F. Amos,
Isaac C. Amos,
Sarah B. Amos,
Sarah A. Tompom, .
Lucinda Tompom, . 8
Ebenezer Attaquin, .
Benjamin Attaquin, .
Elizabeth Attaquin, .
Pamela Attaquin, . 2
Sarah A . Hicks,
Andrew Gardner, . 6
Mercy H. Keeter,
Mary A. Holland,
Nathan S. Pocknet,
Charles De Grasse,
Christina De Grasse.
Elias De Grasse,
Susan De Grasse,
James H. Apells,
Silas P. Apells,
Mary F. Apells,
David Mys, .
Lucy Ann Young,
Alice A. Webquish,
Isaac Simon, Jr.,
Lot C. Jonas,
Jeremiah Mys, . -
Hannah G. Alves,
Charles F. Alves,
Rebecca J. Alves,
Daniel Q. Amos,
Infant, . . 1
Daniel B. Amos,
Elizabeth Gardner, .
Mary A. Brown,
HOUSE— No. 46.
Philander Brown, Aged 15 months
Simon Low, .
Mercy Low, .
Mary Low, .
Uriah Low, .
Lydia Mys, .
Martha A. Mys,
James Mys, .
Peter S. Foller,
Priscilla Quippish, .
Christopher Hinson, .
HERRING POND TRIBE.
Phebe Conet, . Aged 48
Betsey Hersh, . Aged 25
Adrian T. Csesar,
Benjamin F. Conet, .
Thomas J. Fletcher,
Maria E. Fletcher, .
Sarah A. Fletcher, .
Nathan J. Fletcher, .
Augustus R. Fletcher,
James H. Blackwell,
Julia A. Fletcher,
Roland T. Gardner,
Jane F. Gardner,
John C. Gardner,
Foster Gardner, . I
Phebe A. Gardner, .
Roland T. Gardner, .
Eliza J. Gardner,
Helen F. Gardner, .
Russel G. Gardner, .
FALL RIVER TRIBE.
Mahala Page, . A
Sarah Crank, . A
L ged 52
Mark A. H. Crank, .
Catherine C. Crank,
Thomas M. Crank, .
David Perry, Jr.,
Lucy Terry, .
William H. Crank, .
HOUSE— No. 46.
DUDLEY TRIBE, WEBSTER, MASS.
Rhoda Jaha, . Aged 32
Barzillai Willard, . Aged 28
Martha A. Jaha,
William H. Newton,
Joseph E. Bowman,
Esther Humphrey, .
George Humphrey, .
James E. Belden,
James E. Belden, Jr..
Lydia A. Sprague, .
Matilda A. Maria Nichols,
Henry Hall, .
Daniel C. Jaha,
Mary Jaha .
Julia Daily, .
Noyes B. Shelby, .
Henry Arnold, . Aged 60
Sarah M. Cisco, . /
James L. Cisco,
James L. Arnold,
Patience P. Arnold,
Mary A. E Arnold,
John C. Heetor,
Julia A. Heetor,
Richard A. Heetor, .
Sarah E. Walker,
Peter E. Heetor,
Moses C. Heetor,
Simon F. Heetor,
William H. Heetor,
Asa E. Heetor,
Aged 18 Susan J. Heetor,
10 Cornelia A. Heetor,
Samuel Baker, . Aged
Abby M. Baker,
Jane Baker, .
Stephen A. Baker, .
William Henry Harrison Bak
Martha Emily Baker, 16 months
Deborah J. Cash,
Thomas Nickerson, .
Charles Edward Cast
Desire M. Nickerson,
Lucy A. Cash,
Simeon Nickerson, .
Deborah J. Cash,
Deborah J. Nickerson,
Polly Cobb, .
Samuel Cobb, Jr.,
Allen Cobb, .
Sally Cobb, .
Deborah Freeman Rogers,
John G. Rogers,
William Albert Tayl<
ir, . 4
Thomas B. Nickerso
i, . 26
Mary A. Brooks,
Frederick E. Nickers
on, . 22
Susan J. Nickerson,
Ezra Baker, .
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 71
We addressed to the Commissioners of the Marshpee District, and
to the guardian of the Chappequiddic, Christiantovvn, and Fall River
Tribes, the following questions. Their answers are given in full.
1st. What is the present condition of your tribe, and how does it
compare with what it has been in former years ?
2d. What peculiar laws are now in force in relation to the tribe,
different from the general laws of the Commonwealth? Under what
disabilities are they placed? Should they be continued? If not, how
can they be removed?
3d. Is the present system of guardianship adapted to promote the
best interests of the tribe ? If defective, wherein ? Would you recom-
mend its continuance, modification, or abolition ? If either the two
latter, what change or substitute?
4th. Is the tribe capable of self-government? and would you rec-
ommend the extension to it of the privileges of citizenship, with all its
5th. Is the land held in severalty, or in common? If both, what
amount of each ? What is the whole amount of territory belonging to
the tribe? What portion of it is public property ? What other public
property belongs to the tribe ? What are the several sources of public
income, and what the total amount ?
6th. How many paupers? If supported by the tribe, how, and at
what expense ? If by the state, at what cost ? Is the present system
of supporting the paupers deficient in any respect? If so, wherein?
Can any thing be done to prevent or diminish pauperism ?
7th. Does the tribe, or any portion of it, suffer from contact or in-
tercourse with the whites? If so, in what respect, and what is the
8th. Is there any trouble about fences, boundaries, or titles to their
lands? If so, of what kind, and what is the remedy?
9th. What, in your opinion, has been, and is the effect of the ad-
mixture of foreign, or negro blood, by intermarriage?
10th. Are there any disputes or litigation among the tribe? If so,
of what kind, and to what extent? and what remedy would you pro-
11th. What are the principal avocations or employments of the
72 INDTANS. [Feb.
tribe ? What are their habits as to industry, economy, and thrift, and
do they generally receive a comfortable support?
12th. What is the condition of the tribe as to health, and what are
their facilities for medical advice?
13th. What are the habits of the tribe as to chastity and temper-
ance ; and how do they compare with their past condition in these re-
14th. What is the condition of the schools? How long kept?
What amount of money raised by the tribe, and what amount received
from the State, or other sources?
loth. What amount of preaching, or other opportunities of relig-
ious teaching is enjoyed? What amount of money is raised by the
tribe, and what amount by the State, or societies, for this purpose ?
16th. Can you suggest any measures which the Legislature can
adopt to increase the productiveness of the lands of the tribe? in a word,
to improve the physical, intellectual, or moral condition of the tribe.
17th. Please state generally such facts, and make such suggestions,
as may occur to you, in relation to the condition and wants of the
tribe, and the means of its improvement.
Letter from Mr. Thaxter.
Edgartown, Dec. 28th, 1848.
Dear Sir, — In compliance with your request, under date of 11th
inst, I improve the first leisure moment to reply to the several inquiries
Reply to Question 1st. They are generally moral, intelligent, and
industrious, conducting their affairs with prudence and economy.
They live in good frame buildings, comfortably furnished, and pro-
vided with most of the necessaries of life. Formerly, they were gen-
erally licentious, and immoral, given to intemperance, and other vices,
and comparatively indolent and idle, frequently not having the neces-
saries of life.
Reply to Question 2d. They are now under the special act of
March 10, 1828, which, in most of its provisions, seems well adapted
to their present condition ; but it seems to me that Art. 3d, of Sec.
4th, should be expunged from the Statute ; the provision in the gener-
al laws being amply sufficient.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 73
They cannot sell their lands, neither can they make any contract
that is binding, without the approbation and consent of the guardian.
These are salutary prohibitions, and satisfactory to the Indians.
I am of opinion that the law of 1828, except Art. 3, Sec 4, should
remain for the present. I come to this conclusion after much consid-
eration, believing that it accords with the feelings and wishes of the
I come to the foregoing conclusion, partly from the fact that no
tribe gives evidence of so great moral and intellectual attainments, or
of so much industry, thrift, comfort, and happiness, as the Chappe-
quiddic and Christiantown tribes, who are governed by said Act.
They are rapidly advancing from a state of ignorance and vice, to the
dignity of men and women.
Reply to Question 3d. I think the present system of guardianship
is adapted, for the present, to promote the best interests of the Indians,
but much must depend upon the character of the guardian.
Should the Act of 1828 be repealed, it seems to me, that it should
be done prospectively, on the petition of a majority of the Indians ; that
provision should be made for the settlement of all difficulties between
them and the neighboring whites, especially at Chappequiddic, where
the divisional line fence, between the Indians and whites, is frequently
a source of trouble, anJ sometimes litigation ; the whites, often ne-
glecting, though required by law, to make and maintain said fence.
You are aware that the Indians, at Christiantown, have their lands
well fenced with stone wall; but that very little land is fenced at
Chappequiddic, there being no material for that purpose.
At Chappequiddic, the cattle graze in the tethering rope, except
Repty to Question 4th. I think the tribes are capable of self-gov-
ernment, but not to the extent that more enlightened, and better in-
formed communities are.
I think the extension to the Indians of the privilege of citizenship,
with all its liabilities, would not be beneficial to them, and that they do
not, at present, desire it.
Several of them enjoy the privileges of citizenship, in consequence
of owning land not within the Indian territory.
Reply to Question 5th. A portion of the lands is held in severalty,
and part in common. By examining the Report of the Commission-
ers, appointed under the Act of 1828, deposited in the office of the
Secretary of the Commonwealth, you will see the division of the land,
74 INDIANS. [Feb.
to the several persons therein named, the quantity of land undivided,
and in common, and that set off for public uses.
The annual income of public land, at Christiantown, or Chappequid-
dic, which is their only public income, does not exceed fifteen (15)
dollars. This sum is expended annually, in assisting the needy.
Reply to Question 6th. There are, at present, but two persons,
both of whom are at Chappequiddic, who require permanent assist-
ance. One is Jane Saunders, some 85 years old ; the other William
Johnson, about the same age; the former, blind, the latter, nearly
blind. Jane receives seventy-eight (78) dollars, and William fifty (50)
dollars a year, from the State.
Although the Act of 1828 provides for assessing taxes for the sup-
port of the poor, none have yet been assessed. They prefer to do what
they can to assist the needy, by private charity. They are kind and
considerate towards each other, in sickness and poverty,
Reply to Question 7th. I do not know that the Indians suffer from
any illicit intercourse with the whites.
Reply to Question 8th. See reply to Question 3d, in part. The
principal trouble, as to title, occurred last fall. The Commissioners,
after dividing the lands, thought proper to say, (see the Report of the
Commissioners,) " The privilege of picking cranberries shall ever re-
main free for the Indians, and people of coloi ; but none shall be de-
barred from making any improvement upon cranberry swamps, within
their respective territories, which shall render them more beneficial to
At the time, there were a few cranberries on land set off to Ferribee
Harris. By cutting out the brush, and clearing the land, \he cranber-
ries have gradually increased, so that the annual produce is now from
8 to 15 bushels.
Three of the Indians thought they had a right to pick these cran-
berries. I told them they had not, and advised them not to meddle
with them, but they persisted, and picked them, having been advised
by some white persons to do so, as it was plain, (as they said,) that
they had the right.
In my opinion, the Commissioners transcended their authority, —
the incumbrance was inconsistent with the enjoyment of the land. I
shall probably be compelled to take some legal measures to settle this
A Resolve was passed, March 4, 1830, authorizing Daniel Fellows,
Jr., guardian, to bring suit against the whites, who would not make
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 75
their share of the divisional line fence ; but it is thought to be inade-
quate, and has never been tested. Perhaps, a law authorizing the
guardian, whenever the whites neglect to make, and maintain, said
fence, to make and maintain it, at the expense of the whites, would be
Reply to Question 9th. I think the admixture of negro, or foreign
blood, by intermarriage, has been beneficial.
Reply to Question 10th. There are occasionally disputes, but are
generally settled by the guardian, without litigation.
Reply to Question 11th. Their principal avocation is farming. A
few of the younger men go to sea, in the whaling business. These
latter are not so provident and moral as the former. Some of the
young women go out to service, in families, and are much esteemed as
Reply to Question 12th. They are generally healthy, but when
medical assistance is required, they have to send from three to ten
miles, for a physician.
Reply to question 13th. They are chaste, and temperate, with few
exceptions, and compare favorably with the neighboring whites. For-
merly, it was far otherwise.
Reply to Question 14th. Their schools are well kept, and generally
well attended. Their capacity for receiving instruction is equal to the
whites, of the same class. Their schools are kept from three to four
months, and supported by moneys received from the State, amounting
to about forty-six (46) dollars, annually, to each of the two tribes.
Reply to Question 15th. Formerly, the Society for Propagating the
Gospel, sent missionaries to the Indians, viz : at Narraganset, Gay
Head, Christiantown, and Chappequiddic ; but, in consequence of cer-
tain difficulties, they discontinued the mission, some few years ago. The
Indians frequently hold meetings among themselves, and the more gift-
ed exhort and pray. Occasionally, some one preaches to them. No
money is raised by them, or the State, for the support of the Gospel.
Reply to Question 16th. I cannot now make any practical sug-
gestion, in reply to this question, except one relative to their fences.
At Christiantown, their lands are well fenced with stone wall, and are
productive, yielding a competence to the industrious and prudent.
At Chappequiddic, they have no means wherewith to fence their
land but by buying posts and rails. Some have done so, but others
are unable, which lays those who can, under great disadvantage, as they
cannot compel their neighbor to make his half.
76 INDIANS. [Feb.
A two-rail fence, the material for which would cost seventy-five
cents a rod, would be amply sufficient, as they keep no sheep. If the
State would furnish them with the material for such a fence, they
would be able to erect and maintain it, and they would thereby be en-
abled to improve their lands to much greater advantage, and prevent
many unpleasant disputes, which now arise, mainly from the fact, that
they are compelled to pasture their cattle in the rope. Such a fence
would, unquestionably, greatly improve their moral condition also.
Reply to Question 17th. I have endeavored to reply to your several
questions, respecting the Christiantown and Chappequiddic Indians,
and it would, in truth, be gratifying to me, if I w r ere able to suggest
something more tangible, for the improvement of the physical, intel-
lectual, and moral condition of the Indians.
As the different tribes are surrounded with so many different circum-
stances, it seems necessary, to a proper understanding of the subject,
that each tribe should be considered separately, excepting the tribes at
Christiantown and Chappequiddic. They are both surrounded with a
white population, with whom they have intercourse, the tendency of
which, is, to assimilate them in manners, customs, &,c.
The Gay Head Indians are differently situated. They live on a
peninsula, and have little intercourse with the whites: consequently,
they are more peculiar in their manners and customs, and are not so
far advanced in the art and science of agriculture, as the two first-
They are extremely jealous of the whites, and not without cause.
By Sec. 11th of the Act of 18*28, it is provided that the Act aforesaid
may extend to the Gay Head tribe, but owing to certain difficulties with
former guardians, they have not, and I think they will not, accept of
the said Act for their government. Time will not permit me to en-
large. I have not time for revision, and having written " currentt
calamo," I pray excuse me if I have not fully met your expectations.
Very respectfully, yours, &,c,
F. W. Bird, Esq., Chairman of Indian Commission.
1849.] HOUSE— No. 46. 77
Letter from Mr. Marston.
Marston's Mills, December 22, 1848.
F. W. Bird, Esq.,
Dear Sir, — Your communication, making certain inquiries respect-
ing the Indians under my supervision, dated 11th instant, I duly
received. In reply, I have to say, in reference to the two tribes, the
Herring Pond Indians and the Marshpee Indians, of which I have the
care, as follows : —
^o question 1. The present condition of the Marshpee tribe is
what most of them call tolerably good, but it is not so good as could
be wished. Nothing is wanted to improve it, but their own industry,
economy and sobriety. When compared with the past, their condition
is better, in some respects, in others not so good. Their wood is
nearly all cut off, as the Commissioners already have seen.
The condition of the Herring Pond tribe is much better than in
2. See Act of 1834, and Act, March 3, 1842, in relation to Marsh-
pee. They are placed under no disabilities, except what they wish,
or most of them. They desire no alteration in their laws, nor do I
think their good requires any. They do not consider themselves
3. They do not wish any alteration in the law, in regard to the
Commissioner — they wish it to remain, believing it to be for their best
interest. They desire such an officer to have a general oversight of
their affairs, that they may not be led astray by designing white men,
in various matters. They need aid, particularly in pauper cases.
In one instance, they might have been saddled with a whole family
but for the untiring opposition of the Commissioner. A tract of land
was about to be taken from the Herring Pond Plantation, worth thou-
sands of dollars, and was saved by the efforts of the Commissioner,
and the title settled in favor of the tribe forever. At various times,
disastrous fires have threatened and attacked their wood, and it has
been saved by the prompt and efficient action of the Commissioner,
after the Indians had yielded, and left the wood to its fate. And,
chiefly, they need the services of such an officer as treasurer, especial-
ly to have the care of their invested funds.
78 INDIANS. [Feb.
4. The Marshpee tribe have all the self-government they wish.
The greater part of them do not care to have the privilege of voting
for State officers, nor do they want to be taxed to enable them to have
the right of suffrage. The Herring Pond tribe certainly do not
5. A small proportion of the land in Marshpee is held in common —
the greater part in severalty — say 2000 acres in common, and 11,000
in severalty. For the sources of public income, allow me to refer
you to my reports, in former years, especially of the last two years.
See Document, House of Representatives, No. 8, 1846, and Docu-
ment, Senate, No. 21, 1848.
6. Allow me, again, to call your attention to the printed documents,
above referred to, in relation to paupers. I do not know as any
thing can be done to prevent or diminish pauperism, besides what is
7. Contact with the whites cannot be prevented, if it were de-
8. There is no trouble about boundaries or titles, except in one
small matter, which, I think, the Commissioners have knowledge of.
9. The admixture of foreign, or negro blood, cannot be prevented.
The mixture has been there so long, and to such an extent, that it is
difficult to say whether it is an injury or not. My impression is, that
the Indian and negro races would be better off, distinct and separate.
10. There is very little litigation, indeed.
11. The principal avocation, or employment, is agriculture — but in
a small way — and seafaring. Their habits of industry are not very
good — they do not appear to care about accumulating property.
They procure, as a general thing, what they call a comfortable sup-
port, and, where they fail, it is because they are indolent, or intemper-
ate, or both.
12. They are as healthy as the surrounding white population.
There was considerable sickness among them, last summer and au-
tumn, as there was among the whites — as you already know, I think.
In former years they have had a physician, paid by the year, from
common funds, for the whole tribe. For several years past, the poor
have had a physician, paid by the District — those able to do so pay
from their own means. They suffer no inconvenience in procuring
medical advice. They employ the same persons as their white neigh-
bors, and select for themselves, among the physicians in their vicinity.
1849.] HOUSE— NO. 46. 79
13. Their habits of chastity I cannot state about, with any precision.
There are very few illegitimate children — not more than one a year,
for the last ten years — which is much less than the average in former
years. There has been a great improvement in regard to temperance.
In years past, more than two thirds drank freely of intoxicating liquors,
and very few, if any, were free from the use of them. Now, few drink
at all, and still fewer drink to excess — and much less would be used, if
it was not furnished by the whites. Against this, there are now
stringent penal laws in force.
14. Their schools, generally, are good. In Marshpee, there are
two schools, kept about six months each in the year. The average
annual expense, for the last- ten years, has been $254 23, of which
$160 is drawn from the State treasury. The balance is from their
own public income.
15. They have preaching most of the time. It is all paid for from
money, from the income of the " Williams Fund" — $416 66 annually.
16. I know of no measure, which I would now recommend to the
Legislature, in regard to the Marshpee Indians, except as it relates to
17. I have spoken in reference, chiefly, to the Marshpee tribe.
The Herring Pond Indians are in good condition, have ample means
of living, and comfortable dwellings. Their land has some good wood
on it — and they have more than $2000 at interest, and owe no debt.
They have good medical aid, paid from their public treasury, a good
school-house, and good schools. The poor and aged are well pro-
vided for. Nothing is lacking among them, but more religious in-
struction. They have stated preaching, once in six weeks, and other
I should have been pleased to have replied more fully, and, at an
earlier day, but many engagements, and absence from home, have pre-
Respectfully, your ob't serv't,
80 INDIANS. [Feb.
Letter from Mr. Winslow.
Fall River, Dec. 14th, 1848.
Dear Sir, — Yours of the 12th inst. is at hand, and I must ask you
to make all possible allowance for the imperfect manner in which I
must, necessarily, answer the questions you propound, from my lim-
ited knowledge of the former condition of the tribe j I will, however,
do what is in my power, towards answering the same. And
1st. The present condition of the tribe is decidedly poor, but bet-
ter than in former years, in some respects.
2d. There are no existing laws, that I know of, in relation to the
tribe, excepting a Resolve, passed June 9th, 1818, appointing a guard-
ian ; no disabilities, except their not being allowed to vote, and I think
that to be no disadvantage to them.
3d. The present system of guardianship seems to be adapted only
to the relief of those most needy, as far as their physical wants are con-
cerned ; I think it might be improved by a limited appropriation, to be
expended by the guardian, for specified purposes, instead of leaving
it at his discretion; and that he be instructed or directed by the Legis-
lature, what course to pursue in regard to cultivation, or improvement
of the lands of the tribe.
4th. I think the tribe would receive no benefit from the privilege?
of citizenship, if conferred upon them.
5th. The land is held, both in severalty, and in common, some four
or five acres, to each of four families, and the remainder is held in com-
mon ; the whole amount of territory, is about one hundred and ninety
acres. I suppose the whole territory to be public property, and to be-
long to the State, as it was conveyed to the province of Massachusetts
Bay, by one Daniel Wilcox, and afterwards, in the year 1701, " it was
ordered, that the Indians be accommodated with a settlement for a
plantation upon said lands, to be holden by them of his Majesty's gov-
crment, within this province, during the pleasure of the government."
There is no other property of any kind, that I know of; no source of
income, excepting the small amount obtained from their woodlands,
which are held in common.
6th. There are seven who have been supported in part at the ex-
pense of the State, at an average cost of about forty dollars each, per
year ; the present mode of supporting them is probably as good as any
18490 HOUSE— No. 46. 81
I could suggest. I do not see any way in which pauperism can be di-
7th. The tribe, I think, have not suffered, in any respect, from con-
tact with the whites, otherwise than by depredations committed upon
their woodlands, in former years, by some of their white neighbors.
8th. There is some, and but very little, fence to be troubled abo t ;
the bounds which mark the several portions belonging to individuals,
or allotted to them, are entirely obliterated ; the bounds of the whole
tract, at the corners can be found. I have employed a surveyor to run
the lines, and find that the lands have been encroached upon, some-
what, by owners of adjacent lands ; the tribe have no title whatever to
the lands, I think.
9th. What is, or has been, the effect of amalgamation, I cannot say ;
but from present appearances, it seems that the half-negro is more dis-
posed to labor for a living, than the full blood native.
10th. There are none, at present, but have been some in former
years, I understand, in relation to the lands.
11th. The principal employment is day labor, and the majority be-
ing women and children, their labor amounts to very little; their habits
are not remarkably industrious; some few exceptions, however; gener-
ally speaking, they are decently supported.
12th. The health of the tribe, generally, is good, with one or two
exceptions, very good ; those are brought on by intemperance ; a few-
cases of small pox have lately occurred, in one family, but are now
well ; their facilities for medical aid, the same as other inhabitants in
the same neighborhood, which are good.
13th. The habits of the tribe as to chastity, are not bad ; and, as to
temperance, probably will not suffer in comparison with the whites ; there
has been improvement, in latter years, in respect to both chastity and tem-
perance, I think, from the best information I can get, relative to their
14th. The tribe have no schools, receive no money from the tribe,
State, or any other source, for that purpose; but the children, gener-
ally, have access to the public schools, the same as the children of any
citizens ; there are not over five or six children, who are situated so
they can attend school.
15th. The tribe enjoy the same privileges, in regard to religious
matters, as they do in respect to schools, the families, (four in number,)
living on the Indian lands, have no meeting that they can attend, with-
in about four miles ; those living near the village have all the privileges
S2 INDIANS. [Feb.
they could wish for, and, by a few of their number, they are well im-
proved ; there is no money raised from any source, for the purposes
before named, and never has been since they were under the care and
superintendence of the Commissioners of the Society for Propagating
the Gospel in North America, which superintendence was discontinued
some time before any guardian was appointed. The first guardian
was appointed in 1807, by a Resolve of the General Court.
16th. It seems to me, that, if the Legislature should, in their wis-
dom, deem it proper to make an appropriation, for the purpose of
fencing the lands, and otherwise improving the same, in some degree,
and make suitable provision for all such as will live upon, and improve
the land, (or such part as may be assigned to them,) in the best way to
obtain a living, that thereby their condition might be somewhat im-
proved ; or sell the land, and support them from the proceeds, who are
unable to support themselves, (as far as may be.)
17th. The general state, or condition of the tribe is such, that it
seems hardly possible to conceive of any plan, that would be conducive
of any great good to them, as a tribe; for they are but a " miserable
remnant," comparatively speaking, and are but little disposed to asso-
ciate, or make a society of themselves, but seem to live isolated, and
look for little else than the supply of. their physical wants; therefore, it
is almost impossible to do any thing for them, otherwise than in their
individual capacity. There are four families living on the Indian land,
and but two men among them, who are able to labor for their support,
two families living in the village, composed of women and young chil-
dren, mostly ; the males generally are at sea, those above the age of
It seems, by record in the Secretary's office, that, in the year 1764, a
Committee of the General Court appointed a surveyor, to renew the
bounds, survey, subdivide, and plan the tract of land, which he made to
be 193 acres and 64 rods, " granted by ye General Court, to Capt. James
Church and Company Inds., and subdivided the same into twenty-
eight equal parts, and erected suitable bounds, at ye corners of each
divisional part, or lot ; " each lot contained 6 acres and 128 rods, and
were then allotted to so many families, or individuals, as the case might
be. Now, I suppose, there is not one of the tribe, that can tell where
his, or her lot is situated, or any thing definite in relation thereto.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your ob't servant,
BENJAMIN F. WINSLOW.
F. W. Bird, Esq., Chairman Commissioners, &c., &x.
HOUSE— No. 46.
The following statements were furnished at the Treasurer's office ;
the first, to the Chairman of the Committee on Claims, last winter : —
Amount paid by the Commonwealth for support of certain Tribes of
Indians, from 1843 to 1847, inclusive.
Chappequiddic and Chris-
Fall River, -
Grafton, - - -
Marsh pee, -
Salary of Guardians not
Chappequiddic and Chris-
Fall River "
Punkapog " for 20
years, at $100 per ann.,
Charles Marston and N.
Hinckley, as comm'rs
for partitioning Marshpee
Do. and L. Hinckley,
Bridge over Santuit River,
" « _
2019 52 1252 20
* Of these two sums for support in 1845, there was paid back, in 1847, ,§116 20 on ac-
count of Marshpee,. and $12 46 on account of Herring Pond.
Amount paid fur support of certain Tribes of Indians, for the yeai
1848, including salaries of Guardians.
Chappequddic and Christiantown, L. Thaxter, including
$150 salary - ...
Dudley Indians, Daniel Davis, -
" " Amos Shumvvay, -
Fall River, Holder Wordell, ....
Gay Head, __.-_.
Hassanamesit, Judge of Probate for Wor. Co.,
Herring Pond, Charles Marston, ...
Marshpee Indians, -
Punkapog, Thomas French, -
Add amount for repairs of buildings for Dudley Indians,
Add previous amounts, -
Deduct amount paid back by Marshpee and Herring
Total amount paid by State in six years,
These statements do not include amounts paid from
We cannot avoid referring more particularly to the treatment which
the " Christian Indians," — the then powerful ancestors of the feeble
remnants, whose case is now before us, — received during Philip's
War. Not only were they really friends, but they were treated as en-
emies. " It was their hard fate," says Mr. Sparks, from whose life of
Eliot these facts are mainly gathered, " to have the good will of neither
party in the war; to be treated by Philip as allies of the English, and
to be sharply suspected by the English, of a secret, but determined
leaning towards Philip."
" The circumstances of the time account for this inflamed state of
IS 19.] HOUSE— No. 46. 85
popular feeling against the Christian Indians. A fierce and powerful
enemy was ravaging the country. The flames of burning villages
glared in the darkness of midnight, the scalping-knife, the arrow, and
fire-arms, were lurking in ambush by day. The passions of the people
were naturally exasperated to the highest pitch against those, the dread
of whose incursions disturbed the slumbers of night, and surrounded
the labors of the field with peril. The usual epithets applied to the
savage foe were 'wolves, blood-hounds, fiends, devils incarnate;' and
Increase Mather uttered the common sentiment, when he said, that the
English did not ' cease praying to the Lord against Philip, until they
had prayed the bullet into his heart.' "
By way of " accounting for, not justifying, this blind excitement,
which would not stop to separate between the innocent and the guilty,"
Mr. Sparks says, " under intense alarm, men are apt to lose sight of
the distinction between justice and injustice, between right and
wrong." We fear that this " common proscription of the praying In-
dians" may be more justly accounted for by attributing it to the almost
universal popular sentiment, which then, which had previously, and
which has subsequently, regarded the Indians as outcasts and outlaws,
— not only M aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel," but "stran-
gers " to every " covenant of promise." It was precisely the same
sentiment which justified, nay, demanded, the selling of the wife
and son — the queen and heir apparent, of Philip of Pokanoket, into
slavery. In the eloquent language of Mr. Everett's Address at Bloody
Brook — "They were sold into slavery, — West Indian slavery! an
Indian princess and her child, sold from the cool breezes of Mount
Hope, from the wild freedom of a New England forest, to gasp under
the lash, beneath the blazing sun of the tropics! ' Bitter as death; '
ay, bitter as hell ! Is there any thing, I do not say in the range of
humanity — is there any thing animated, that would not struggle
against this? "
It was under the influence of this rooted prejudice, inflamed by the
circumstances of the case, that the " praying Indians" were subjected
to the cruel treatment, to which we wish to direct attention. Without
the slightest reason, in the conduct of these poor Indians, to justify the
suspicion of [favoring Philip, the Natick Indians were first ordered to
be removed to Deer Island. When Capt. Thomas Prentiss, who was
appointed to superintend their removal, " arrived at Natick, and made
known to them the pleasure of the court, they sadly, but quietly sub-
mitted, and were soon ready to follow him. Their number was about
86 INDIANS. [Feb.
two hundred, including men, women, and children." They were first
ordered to a place called the Pines, on Charles River, two miles above
Cambridge ; and " on the 30th of October, about midnight," (fitting
hour for this ' deed without a name,') " the}' embarked in three vessels,
and were transported to their destined confinement, on Deer Island."
A melancholy parallel might be drawn between this scene, of a whole
people torn from their friends and the graves of their fathers, with the
venerable Eliot weeping his blessings and his farewell, and similar
scenes which have since occurred, as tribe after tribe have been driven
to the far West The settlement at Wamesit, (Tewksbury,) was brok-
en up, and the Indians scattered. The Punkapog and Hassanamesit.
(Grafton,) were also sent to Long and Deer Islands. In the summer
of 1676, a company of praying Indians, engaged in the war against
Philip, and proved faithful and efficient, " slaying not less than four
hundred of the enemy, in the summer of 1676." Philip himself, as is
well known, fell by the bullet of one of these Indians.
The old and feeble men, and the women and children, suffered ter-
ribly in their confinement, especially after the able-bodied men were
withdrawn. " Soon after this, the General Court gave permission for
their removal from the islands, taking care, however, to provide that it
should be done without any expense to the colony ! They were taken
to Cambridge, where Mr. Thomas Oliver offered them a residence on
his lands, near Charles River." Here they lived, by fishing and upon
charity, until spring, when most of them returned to their homes.
Homes? Alas! the hand of the spoiler had stripped their plantations
of the charm implied in that endearing word. Since that day, the
Praying Indian has had no home.
This transaction gave a death-blow to the efforts for Christianizing
the Indians. " After this rupture," says Mr. Sparks, " it was hard
work to reunite sympathies, which were broken before they had time
to coalesce firmly. There would be bitter remembrances, which might
be smothered, but would hardly fail to throw a chill upon the persua-
sions of the English Christians."
It is in behalf of the descendants of these persecuted tribes, that we
make an appeal, — feeble, and unequal to our own convictions and feel-
ings, to the Legislature of a magnanimous and generous Common-
wealth. We cannot add force to the eloquence of a simple statement
1849.] HOUSE—No. 46. . 87.
SUPPLEMENT TO HOUSE NO. 46.
Since that portion of the Report, relating to Gay Head, was written,
we have received the following communication. It was probably de-
layed by the obstruction in the transmission of the mails from the
Vineyard to the Main : —
To the Honorable Commissioners, that were appointed to visit the In-
dians of the Commonwealth.
Gentlemen, — The proprietors of Gay Head very humbly ask you
to present their petition, or make mention of it in your Report, asking
that we may be favored with the foregoing regulations. Knowing that
you were acquainted with us personally, we have drawn up this, with-
out the aid of any person ; so you will not be surprised at the feeble
manner it is done in. It is with lively emotions of gratitude, that we
call to mind the words that you said to us in the school-house, that
you would do all you could, reasonably, for us ; therefore, we put all
confidence in your honors.
Done in behalf of the proprietors of Gay Head.
Yours, with much respect,
ABRAM RODMAN, Proprietor's Clerk.
Gay Head, February 14, lS49.
The petition, accompanying the above communication, is as fol-
To the Honorable Senate, and House of Representatives, in General
We, the Indians and people of color, on Gay Head, in Duke's
county, would most respectfully represent, that we are satisfied with
that section of the law that says, Be it further enacted, that no action
shall be brought against any of the Indians, mulatto or negro proprie-
tors of said lands, for any debt, hereafter to be by them contracted
with any person or persons, for any sum whatsoever. And we are
also satisfied with that act that says, ho Indian, mulatto or negro, shall
bring an action against any white person, for debt ; and the presence
S3 INDIANS. [Feb. 1849.]
of this act shall he taken as evidence in any court in the Common-
wealth. Therefore, we pray your honorable body to continue the
We would farther represent, that our bound against the whites has
never been recorded ; therefore, we pray your honorable body to run
the line between us.
We would farther represent, that some men who have married women
thnt belonged on Gay Head, never come to Gay Head to live, but lived
in other towns, and were voters there. And, it so happened, that
their wives died before the children could take care of themselves, so
they were all sent on Gay Head. Others have married strangers,
;;nd never come on Gay Head to live, but their children or grand-
children will come, and claim to be full proprietors, which we think is
not right. We are willing to do all we can for Gay Head poor:
but we are not willing to maintain people that do not rightly belong
on Gay Head, for we have no means of supporting them ; therefore,
we pray your honorable body to enact such laws as you may think
best, to shield us from such -unfairness. We have but a very little
education, and, of course, cannot know much about the laws of the
Commonwealth; therefore, we look to your honorable body, with con-
fidence, to enact laws for us. And we, as in duty bound, will ever
Zeacheous Howwoswee, Francis Silvia,
Samuel Peters. Francis Mingo,
Lewis Cook, Hebron Wamsley, Jr.,
Isaac Johnson, Hebron Wamsley, Sen.,
George David, Amos Jeffers,
Tristram Weeks, Isaac D. Rose,
William Jeffers, Jonathan Francis,
Levi Cuff, Abram Rodman.
The line between the territory of the whites and that of the Indians,
is distinctly defined by a substantial rail-fence ; and we imagine there
is little danger of encroachment from the whites. Still, it would put
forever at rest a matter which might, possibly, otherwise, lead to liti-
gation, to have the boundaries legally defined and recorded.
The other subject, viz., the division of the lands, is referred to on
the 20th and 21st pages of the Report. Undoubtedly, the whole mat-
ter of division and descent, will require further legislation. Whether
the time for legislative action has come, and what shall be its character,
we leave to the wisdom of the Legislature, to decide.
} 9999 06547 166 4