« PreviousContinue »
The educational field agent, whose duty it is to encourage public school attendance by Indian children, has in many cases extended his responsibility in an endeavor to pave the way for admission of these Indian children into the public schools of the adjacent area. Since there has been no concentrated movement by Indian families, the geographical spread of these newer problems of school attendance has tended to nullify the effectiveness of such endeavors. Much of this loss of education is irreparable, for most young Indians are not yet ready to place the need for education above the opportunity to earn wages, to marry, or to assume in other ways the responsibilities of adulthood. Therefore it is doubtful if many of the older children will return to the classroom. On the other hand, Indians in the armed forces have been learning the value of education. Hundreds of young men and women, returning to their homes on furlough, have emphasized the promotional advantage they have enjoyed as a result of vocational training received in Indian Service Schools, or lamented their failure to obtain such training when they had the opportunity. The armed forces have been quick to recognize and make use of the technical skills gained by young Indians in the vocational schools of the Indian Service and in the Civilian Conservation Corps camps. Similarly, those boys and girls who entered war industries on the strength of their vocational training have realized the advantage they possess; and these have advertised on the reservations the need for Indians to make the most of educational opportunities offered in Federal schools. During the year, the Navajo tribe, the education of whose children has been seriously neglected by the Federal Government, demanded by resolution that the United States fulfill its pledge given in the Treaty of 1868 to provide a classroom and teacher for every 30 children of school age. There are today almost 20,000 Navajo children between the ages of 6 and 18, and the school facilities on the reservation will care for less than 60 percent of them. During the war period the lack of road maintenance and the limitations on tires, gasoline, and school bus replacements have interfered seriously with the maintenance of the day schools. As a result, the largest enrollment ever recorded has crowded into the boarding schools of the area, and it has been necessary to turn away hundreds of children whose parents wished them to have the advantages of education. Inadequate transportation for students has made it necessary to close day schools on several other reservations. The end of the war may permit the replacement of school buses, and as the transition to peacetime economy proceeds, funds may be made available for the restoration of needed road maintenance and construction. It is still too early to predict the part which may be played by the vocational schools of the Indian Service in the training to be offered under the several veterans' bills. Nine Indian Service boarding high schools have been accredited by State vocational directors for training under the G. I. Bill of Rights, and under Public Law 16, which covers the retraining of disabled veterans. During the year just past only five of these schools have received enrollees under either of these acts; but, in view of reservation sentiment in many areas, it is believed that an increasing number will apply to the Federal schools in the year ahead.
During the past year half of all the food, both meats and vegetables, used in the Indian Service boarding and day schools, was raised in school gardens, or on school farms and ranches, through the cooperative effort of students, parents, and employees.
During the year four significant publications have issued from the presses of Indian schools: The Hopi Way by Laura Thompson and Alice Joseph; Pueblo Crafts, by Ruth Underhill; Iroquois Crafts, by Carrie Lyford; and Education for Action, edited by Willard A. Beatty, Director of Education. The last-named volume, a compilation of articles from the Bureau's fortnightly publication, Indian Education, presents a summary of the philosophy, policy, and practice of Indian schools.
HEALTH The United States Indian Service offers medical attention to more than 400,000 beneficiaries of the Federal Government in the continental United States and Alaska. This is the only agency that makes available to its clientele complete medical attention throughout the life-cycle of the individual. The activities of the health service include health education, disease, and accident-prevention procedures, palliative treatments, rehabilitation, and sanitation.
During the fiscal year 1945 there has been increasing community participation in health activities throughout the service; and health councils, representing the people, are active on a number of reservations.
There are at present 77 hospitals and sanitoria, with a bed capacity of 4,064. The Indian Service also has contracts with a number of State, county, and private hospitals. During the past year 750,000 out-patient treatments were given, and 40,000 patients were hospitalized with a total of 865,590 in-patient days. Forty percent of the cases involved operations, of which half were major. A conservative estimate of the annual value of these services at current rates would be no less than $15,000,000.
As the Indian Service is not a war agency, war activities and private practice have drawn heavily on its health personnel, temporarily limiting its activities to curative and palliative measures. This situation will improve rapidly in the postwar period.
WELFARE Despite all employment opportunities, it has been necessary to give relief to needy Indians. Although the number of cases has been reduced, available funds have been insufficient, and the problem of relief during the coming fiscal year will be even more serious.
Much attention has been given to the matter of rendering necessary services to veterans and to those returning from outside employment. The Indian Service makes available to the Indian veteran all information concerning benefits to which he is entitled under veterans' legislation, and urges him to take advantage of the provisions which will help him to continue his education, or to establish himself in business, agriculture, or industry.
During the past year the Territory of Alaska enacted three laws removing discrimination against the natives in the matter of mothers' pensions, in dealing with juvenile offenders, and in the matter of admission to hotels and other institutions serving the public.
More and more tribes and tribal councils are adopting resolutions providing that Indian custom marriage and divorce shall no longer be recognized. In accordance with the request of the Klamath Indian business committee, the Congress passed a law in December of last year which abolishes Indian custom marriage and divorce on the Klamath Reservation.
During the year the State of Iowa enacted a law providing aid to dependent children for Indians of the Sac and Fox Reservation.
Law and order problems have increased during the year, and juvenile delinquency, both on and off the reservations, has become a major problem.
INDIAN RESOURCES The 56,000,000 acres of Indian lands, constituting about 3 percent of the total area of the United States, are estimated to be worth $260,000,000
Standing timber on Indian lands, estimated at 35,000,000,000 feet, and valued at approximately $90,000,000, is about 2 percent of the total volume of standing timber in the United States.
No estimate of the value of oils and minerals on Indian lands is available.
Indian livestock, numbering more than 361,000, is worth approximately $40,000,000, as compared with 82,000,000 head for the entire country with an estimated valuation of $5,500,000,000.
The physical plant of the Indian Service is valued in excess of $60,000,000. Roads on Indian lands represent an investment of $50,000,000.
Indian Service irrigation projects serve 840,000 acres of land, three-fourths of which is owned by Indians. This total compares with 28,000,000 acres served by all irrigation projects in the United States, according to the 1940 census report. The present investment in Indian irrigation projects is $67,000,000, to be compared with a total investment of more than $1,000,000,000 for the United States, according to the census of 1940.
SERVICES TO INDIANS While it is impossible to place a money valuation on all services rendered to Indians by the Office of Indian Affairs, it may be stated with accuracy that for each dollar spent on extension activities in agriculture and stockraising, $46.80 was realized by the Indians in 1944.
Health services rendered to Indians by the Office of Indian Affairs, if paid for at current rates, would cost $15,000,000 annually.
According to the latest bulletin published by the Office of Education, 24,562,473 pupils were enrolled in the public schools of the Nation for the school year 1941-42, with an average attendance of 21,031,322. The total expenditure for that year was $2,067,660,387, and on the basis of average attendance, the cost per pupil was $98.31.
During the same period, 32,658 pupils were enrolled in schools maintained by the Indian Service, with an average attendance of 26,617. Total expenditures for the maintenance of these schools was $4,632,610 and the cost per pupil, on the basis of average attendance, was $174.05. In this connection it should be noted that a rather large percentage of Indian pupils attend boarding schools, where they are fed, clothed, and housed. Also, in practically all Indian Service day schools, it is necessary to serve a substantial poon meal; and, as Indians usually live in poorly developed regions and are scattered over large areas, transportation must be furnished.
INDIANS IN THE WAR
By the Spring of 1945, the number of Indians serving in the armed forces had reached a total of 24,521, exclusive of officers. These were in all branches of the service, in every part of the world. Several hundred Indian women have enlisted in the women's reserves, and almost every reservation and tribe lists members of the WAC, the Waves, the Army Nurse Corps, or the Cadet Nurse Corps.
Indians have won nearly all decorations, including two awards of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The first of these was won by Lt. Ernest Childers, Creek, in 1944, and President Roosevelt presented the second to Lt. Jack C. Montgomery, Cherokee, of Sallisaw, Okla., at the White House in January 1945. The Office of Indian Affairs has recorded 51 awards of the Silver Star to Indians, 70 of the Air Medal, 34 of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and 50 of the Bronze Star Medal. There are certainly many more which have not been reported. Pfc. Ira H. Hayes, a full-blood Pima Indian from Bapchule, Ariz., was one of the six men who raised the flag on the summit of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, as shown in the famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal. Many Indians took part in the battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, as the casualty lists show. A Ute Indian, Pvt. Le Roy Hamlin, was with the first group to cross the Elbe River and make contact with the Russian Army, on April 25, 1945. Another Ute, Pfc. Harvey Natchees, wearer of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart, was the first American soldier to enter the center of Berlin. Many Indian prisoners of war, released from German camps, have returned to the United States. Among those freed from Japanese prisons in the Philippines was Maj. Caryl Picotte, Sioux-Omaha, from Nebraska, who spent 32 months in captivity. Major Picotte served in the heroic defense of Bataan, where he was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star, and was in the “death march” to Cabanatuan prison. Lt. Col. Ernest McClish, Choctaw, who was reported missing in action at the time of the surrender on Bataan, came home after nearly 3 years as guerrilla leader in the Philippines where he helped to organize both civilian and military resistance. During the past year Indians continued to leave the reservations for jobs in the war industries. Navajos and Hopis provided the manpower for ordnance depots in New Mexico and Arizona. Pueblo Indians traveled to Utah to work in the naval supply depot at Clearfield, returning during the summer months to farm their lands. More than 40,000 Indian men and women annually took war jobs away from their reservation homes. Indians not only increased food production at home, but contributed to victory by working for the Red Cross and for the war loan drives. Many communities, where cash incomes are small, have made large contributions to the Red Cross, and war bond quotas have frequently been oversubscribed. In April 1945 more than 400 Aleuts, who had been evacuated from the islands when the Japanese invaded the Aleutians in 1942, returned to their homes. They had been resettled on the mainland, near Juneau and Sitka, where, for nearly 3 years, they worked in canneries and engaged in fishing. The Army and Navy, with the help of Indian Service architects, will rebuild their war-wrecked villages; and Indian Service teachers and special assistants are helping the natives to reestablish themselves in their homeland.