« PreviousContinue »
to a colony in the West Indies, and those who were left from the fever after two years came back to the United States, and every dollar expended was thrown away. Washington, this negro in Alabama, has struck the keynote. It will take years to carry it out, and he has the prejudices of his own race and the prejudices of the ignorant whites against him; but he deserves the commendation of all the people, not only of the United States, but those of the civilized world.
Mr. President, the Jesuits have elevated the Indian whereever they have been allowed to do so without interference of bigotry and fanaticism and the cowardice of insectivorous politicians who are afraid of the A. P. A. and the votes that can be cast against them in their district and States. They have made him a Christian, and above even that have made him a workman able to support himself and those dependent upon him. Go to the Flathead reservation, in Montana, and look from the cars of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and you will see the result of what Father De Smet and his associates began and what was carried on successfully until the A. P. A. and the cowards who are afraid of it struck down the appropriation. There are now four hundred Indian children upon that reservation without one dollar to give them an hour's instruction of any kind. That is the teaching of many professors of the religion of Christ in the Protestant churches. I repudiate it. I would be ashamed of myself if I did not do it, and if it were the last accent I ever uttered in public life it would be to denounce that narrow-minded and unworthy policy based upon religious bigotry.
This A. P. A. did me the greatest honor in my life during their last session in this city, two years ago. They passed a resolution unanimously demanding that I should be impeached because I said what I am saying now. Mr. Presi
dent, the knowledge of the constitution of this country developed by that organization in demanding the impeachment of a United States senator for uttering his honest opinion in this chamber puts them beyond criticism. It would be cowardly and inhuman to say one word about ignorance so dense as that.
Mr. President, as I said, go through this reservation and look at the work of the Jesuits, and what is seen? You find comfortable dwellings, herds of cattle and horses, intelligent, self-respecting Indiang. I have been to their houses and found that under the system adopted by the Jesuits, the new system, as I may call it, after the failure of that which was attempted for twenty years, to which I have alluded, after they had educated these boys and girls and they had intermarried, the Jesuits would go out and break up a piece of land and build them a house, and that couple became the nucleus of civilization in the neighborhood. They had been educated under the system which prevented them from going back to the tepee after a day's tuition. The Jesuits found that in order to accomplish their purpose of teaching them how to work and to depend upon themselves it was necessary to keep them in school, a boarding school, by day and night, and to allow even the parents to see them only in the presence of the brothers or the nuns.
I undertake to say now and every senator here who has passed through that reservation will corroborate my statement—that there is not in this whole country an object les son more striking than that to be seen from the cars of the Northern Pacific Railroad, the fact that these Jesuits alone have solved the problem of rescuing the Indians from the degradation in which they were found.
Mr. President, these Jesuits are not there, as one of them told me, for the love of the Indian. Old Father Ravaille told me, lying upon his back in that narrow cell, with the crucifix above him, “I am here not for the love of the Indian, but for the love of Christ,” without pay except the approval of his own conscience. If you send one of our people, a clergyman, a politician even, to perform this work among the Indians, he looks back to the fleshpots of Egypt. He has a family, perchance, that he cannot take with him on the salary he receives. He is divided between the habits and customs and luxuries of civilized life and the self-sacrificing duties that devolve upon him in this work of teaching the Indians.
The Jesuit has no family. He has no ambition. He has no idea except to do his duty as God has given him to see it; and I am not afraid to say this, because I speak from personal observation, and no man ever went among these Indians with more intense prejudice against the Jesuits than I had when I left the city of Washington to perform that duty. I made my report to the secretary of the interior, Senator Teller, now on this floor, and I said in that report what I say here and what I would say anywhere and be glad of the opportunity to say it.
Mr. President, every dollar you give these day schools might as well be thrown into the Potomac River under a ton of lead. You will make no more impression upon the Indian children than if you should take that money and burn it and expect its smoke by some mystic process to bring them from idolatry and degradation to Christianity and civilization. If you can have the same system of boarding schools supported by the government that the Jesuits have adopted after long years of trial and deprivation, I grant that there might be something done in the way of elevating this race.
- The old Indians are gone, hopelessly gone, so far as civilization and Christianity are concerned. They look upon all work as a degradation and that a squaw should bear the burden of life. The young Indian can be saved. There are 3,000 of them to-day in the Dakotas-in South Dakota, I believe—who are voters, exercising intelligently, as far as I know, the right of suffrage. Go to the Indian Territory, where there are the Five Civilized Tribes, and you will see what can be done by intelligent effort, not with day schools, but with schools based upon the idea of taking the children and removing them from the injurious influence of the old Indians and teaching them the arts of civilization and of peace.
If I have ever done anything in my whole career in this chamber of which I am sincerely proud it is that upon one occasion I obtained an appropriation of $10,000 for an industrial school at St. Ignatius, in Montana. A few years afterward, in passing through to the Pacific coast, I stopped over to see that school. They heard I was coming and met me at the depot with a brass band, the instruments in the hands of Indian boys, and they played without discrimination Hail Columbia and Dixie. They had been taught by a young French nobleman whom I had met two years before at the mission, who had squandered the principal portion of his fortune in reckless dissipation in the salons of Paris and had suddenly left that sort of life and joined the company of Jesus and dedicated himself to the American missions. He was an accomplished musician, and he taught those boys how to play upon the instruments.
I went up to the mission and found there these Indian boys making hats and caps and boots and shoes and running a blacksmith shop and carrying on a mill and herding horses
and cattle. The girls and boys when they graduated, intermarrying, became heads of families as reputable and wellbehaved and devoted to Christianity as any we can find in our own States. They were Catholics. That is a crime with some people in this country.
Mr. President, are we to be told that a secret political organization in this country shall dictate to us what we ought to do for this much-injured race whom we have despoiled of their lands and homes and whom God has puts upon us as an inheritance to be cared for? I accuse no senator here
any other motive than a desire to do his public duty. I shall do mine, and I should gladly vote for an amendment to this bill infinitely stronger than that of the senator from Arkansas. I would put this work, imperative upon us, in the hands of those who could best accomplish it, as I would give the building of my house to the best mechanic, who would put up a structure that suited me and met the ends I desired. If the Catholics can do it better than anybody else, let them do it. If the Presbyterian, the Methodist, the Congregationalist, or any other denomination can do it, give the work to them; but to every man who comes to me and says this is a union of church and state, I answer him, “ Your statement is false upon the very face of it.” Instead of teaching the Indian children that they must be Catholics in order to be good citizens, they are simply taught that work is ennobling, and with the sense of self-dependence and not of dependence upon others will come civilization and Christianity. These are my feelings, Mr. President, and I would be glad if I could put them upon the statute books,