My primary source offering today is actually dated August 2, not August 12, 1862. But it is a companion source to tomorrow’s letter dated August 13. Listen in as officials in Washington D.C. pass the buck on the subject of the 1862 annuity payment that Dakota people and Indian officials in Minnesota had all expected to arrive by mid-July, 1862.
This is my transcription of a holograph of a letter I found in the Letters Received by the Secretary of the Interior at the National Archives branch in College Park, Maryland.
Charles E. Mix to J.P. Usher August 2, 1862. Letters Received by the Secretary of the Interior, 1862. NARA 2.
Department of the Interior
Office of Indian Affairs
August 2nd 1862
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the letter of the Secretary of the Treasury of the 29th ult. in reply to your communication of the 22nd ult. forwarding a copy of a letter form this office of the 19th ult. requesting $ 110,954.17 in Coin to pay annuities to the Indians of the Mackinac Agency and the Sioux of the Mississippi; referred to this office on the 1st inst. for a Report in which he states that “the money when paid will doubtless forthwith pass into the hands of the traders, and I respectfully submit to you the question whether it is necessary that it should be paid in coin, and if so for what reasons.”
In reply I have to state that the action of this office was based upon the letters and estimates of the Superintendent Thompson and Agent Leach together with the Treaty stipulations with the Indians which have heretofore been faithfully observed by the government. The Treaties with these Indians provide that per capita payment shall be in coin and the pay rolls of Agent Galbraith in this office show that in AD 1861, he paid to the Upper Sioux $9.00 each in coin beside the Additional sum to chiefs and head men amounting to $36,544.22 and to the Lower Sioux $20.00 each besides the additional sum to chiefs and head men amounting to $46,786.48 total $83,328.70. And the payments to the Indians of the Mackinac Agency have been made in the same manner according to treaty stipulations, Agent Leach having paid in Annuity payments in 1861 the sum of $40,454.17 averaging $5.95 6/10 a head.
Superintendent Thompson states in his letter transmitting estimates that “Seventy one thousand dollars will be required in coin, as it is paid out to wild and troublesome Indians” — “I wish you would send the Treasury Warrant directly to the Assistant Treasury [sic] in New York with instructions to forward to me immediately by Express the $71,000 in coin and place the rest to the credit of my disbursing account. I ask this much for the reason that the Sioux are already collecting to secure their annuity, and are becoming so troublesome that I have been obliged to make a requisition upon the Forts for troops to keep good will.” He has also informed this office by Telegraph “that the Indians are clamorous for their money and that they must return at once or lose their corn crop.” These Indians, never having been accustomed to the use of paper money, have no idea of the relative value of the different notes, and in paying their little debts to the traders, and in making purchases they will be liable to be greatly defrauded, besides they all will have reason for saying that the great Father at Washington has broken his treaty with them.
I have only to add, that it is the opinion of this office that at this time, it is a matter of no small consideration that the government observe its treaty stipulations with the Indians along our Western frontier, and show to them that the Government does exist and will perform its promises, as well as demand the same on their part.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your Obt. Servant
Charles E. Mix
Hon. J.P. Usher
Assistant Secretary of the Interior