Protecting Citizens in Indian Country 1859

J. L. Collins, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico Territory, believed in punishing Indians for crimes against settlers. He also thought settlers needed to protect themselves.
          “It is not practicable,” he wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1859, “to have [military] troops in every neighborhood, and it seldom occurs, when a depredation [crime by an Indian] is committed, that a notice can reach the troops in time to enable them to effect anything.”  
          “How were the frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee defended in the first settlement of those States? …[hearing] an alarm of Indians aroused every [male] citizen; they shouldered their rifles, and rallied to the rescue, leaving their noble wives and daughters to defend their homes and firesides, while [the men] followed the enemy…”
          Collins had little patience with people who complained that the military did not do enough to protect settlers in the vast New Mexico Territory. “…Now, we expect the government to do everything. In place of fighting to defend our own interest, we spend our time writing letters and newspaper editorials, condemning a policy that has been approved by the wisdom of each successive administration for the last thirty years.”

Map by M.A. Leonard

Text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1859


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