When the secretary of war, a few days ago, transmitted to congress a recommendation that all unused rifles and guns belonging to the government be turned over to the interior department, there was some adverse comment as to the propriety of such a movement. The objectors argued that it was poor policy to train the Indian in the use of firearms, but these objectors apparently forgot that the Indian, with very few exceptions, is more familiar with the rifle and gun than a great many who would be his teachers.
The recommendation of the secretary of war is received with favor by the officials of the Interior department. The Indian commissioner and the assistant commissioner say they want all the old rifles and guns that they can secure. It may appear strange to persons not familiar with the Indian office business that the department should desire the use of fire arms, but it is by the use of these same guns that the Indian department hopes to strengthen its hold on the Indian. The Indian officials say that when the Indian knows that he enjoys the confidence of the Indian officials there is no length to which he will not go to assist the department. He is ready to take up arms in case of war, to assist the department in suppressing a rebellion or to arrest a member of his tribe who has transgressed the laws of the country or the rules of the Indian office.
It is the desire of the department that the Indian pupil be taught the use of firearms so that when occasion demands he will be ready to assist the department. This is not all. The officials say that the Indian is entitled to all the privileges, amusements and delights with which the white children are favored, end that it is the intention of the department to give him such privileges. The Indian, In the argument made by the Indian department officials, is the only real, true American. It is to the Indian that the country owes a debt that can never be paid, and the least this government can do is to let them have a few of the joys of life. To do this is not a hard task. But in addition to all this there is another thing which makes the Indian worthy of consideration. When well treated he is more true to the department than many white persons. These are the exact words of the officials of the Indian department: "Trust an Indian. Give him your confidence, and you will find that he is true to you to the death." That the officials believe this is true is demonstrated by the fact that in many cases they have called upon the Indian police and Indian soldiers to assist in the administration of the laws of the land.
But outside of all this is the fact that the Indian schools are to be supplied with firearms. There are a great many Indian schools scattered throughout the country. It is the purpose of the Indian department to equip all these schools with firearms, to teach the Indian pupils how to drill, and how to use the weapons. They will be given as much instruction as is necessary to make them proficient in the use of the rifle or gun. The Indian department, meanwhile, desires that all discarded guns and rifles belonging to the government shall be turned over to the department for use in the Indian schools throughout the country.
[The Saint Paul Globe, [St. Paul, Minn.] Monday Morning, January 15, 1900. Vol. XXIII.--No. 15. Pg. 6]