The Indian Dispossessed
sanguine could hope that most, or even a large majority, of the Indians would take readily to the new way, but this was the natural way, the shortest step, and the first step, and the Government set out in good faith to first teach the Indians agriculture.
In view of subsequent history it is instructive to read in the agency reports of forty and fifty years ago of the earnestness and industry that characterized the Indian's beginning in agriculture and stock-raising. It does seem as though the very pathos of his simple efforts would have impressed upon the Government with new force the double right of the agricultural Indian to the best of the land, and protection upon it during his long endeavor to come into the better way,—the right of a man striving to do a man's work, and his prior traditional right to all the land.
But the great, voting public's interest in the Indian has been sentimental, not material,—often at a high pitch over some newly revealed injustice, but always effervescent, and rarely persisting until election day; and Congress—created by votes, perpetuated by votes, recognizing sentiment only as expressed in votes—has always in Indian affairs more or less narrowly represented the interests of the voters on the frontier, uninfluenced by public sentiment.
The typical frontiersman was a survival of strenuous conditions; a man of forceful action, with an insatiable desire for more land, and the best land,