A Plague of Grasshoppers

James B. Thompson, back row second from left, with a delegation of Muache Utes

James B. Thompson was a brother-in-law of Territorial Governor Edward M. McCook and served as McCook’s Private Secretary. In August 1870, Thompson visited the Southern Ute Indian Agency at the request of McCook. He reported his observations in a letter. 
         
“The agency farm has not proved a success this season, owing to the almost insuperable climate and other difficulties to be surmounted,” Thompson wrote. “A tract of eight to ten acres was planted with oats, potatoes, turnips, etc. all of which might have made an average crop but for the advent of the grasshoppers.”
          “These insects devoured all the farm produce above ground in a single day. I am informed by the agent that a severe frost killed the grasshoppers the same night.”
          People talked for many years after this about the year of the grasshopper invasion.

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Wester History Collection
Quoted text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1870

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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McCook’s Brief Return

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

Edward McCook returned to office as Territorial Governor in 1874. Like Governor Elbert, whom he replaced, McCook served only one year.
          During the winter of 1874-75 a group of Sioux Indians attacked a Ute camp on the Republican River. The Utes retaliated, capturing 300 Sioux horses in a raid. Special Indian Agent James B. Thompson reported that the Sioux “have constantly kept scouts in the buffalo country looking out for Ute hunting-parties.” Thompson said if the Utes went to hunt buffalo, they went “prepared for a fight…as the Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes…Kiowas, and Comanches roam over that country in their own sweet will in large numbers, it is probable that, unless great precautions are taken by the several agents, a bloody battle between these life-long enemies will take place on the Republican this winter.”

Quoted text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1875

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Elbert’s Short and Quiet Stint

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

Samuel H. Elbert was the sixth Territorial Governor, serving one year (1873-1874) which was a fairly quiet time in Indian relations.
          Special Indian Agent James B. Thompson, based at Denver, reported that small bands of Utes “visit Denver nearly every week, from October to April…either on their way from the agencies, at White River and Los Pinos, to the buffalo grounds…or for the special purpose of disposing of the furs and skins they have taken in the chase, and to supply thenselves with the means of continuing their hunt.” The Indian Bureau did not authorize agents to pay for housing the Utes when they passed the city and Thompson said they were not welcome in the public-houses (hotels). They Indians depended on charitable Denver residents who might give them food and shelter.

Quoted text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1874

Published in: on June 20, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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McCook Cleaned House

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

Edward McCook replaced A.C. Hunt as Governor of Colorado Territory on June 12, 1869. Three months later McCook sent his first annual report  to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. (The government uses a fiscal year that begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th.)
          McCook noted his first official act as Ex Officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs was “advertising for proposals to erect the mills and other buildings on the upper and lower agencies provided for in that treaty [of 1868]…” He proudly announced that he had economized and saved nearly $11,000.00 over the amount that had been approved for this construction.
           McCook’s report appears in the Colorado Superintendency section of Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1869. The report A.C. Hunt sent just before leaving office appears before that of McCook.
          There is also a report for the Middle Park Agency dated July 1, 1869. It references events that took place in 1868 and the writer notes that he had been so busy he had failed to submit his report on time the previous year. However, the final paragraph reads:
          “I have discharged all the old employees of the government because I was convinced that they had been engaged in dishonest and disreputable practices under the former administration; the evidence in my possession I will make the subject of a future communication.” This report is signed Edward McCook with no official title as in other reports.   
          It appears that the Middle Park Agency report, except the final paragraph, was written by Agent D.C. Oakes, who was the Middle Park Agent in 1868. McCook apparently added the final paragraph by way of explanation for why Oakes did not sign the report.
          Beginnning in 1870, McCook was no long responsible for Indian affairs in the territory and the annual reports were written by the individual agents. The position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the territories was abolished in 1871.

Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Government Delays



Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

The 1869 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior included a report from the recently displaced Colorado Territorial Governor, Alexander C. Hunt, as well as a report from his replacement, Edward McCook.
          Governor Hunt served just one year as Territorial Governor. In his report he took the opportunity to vent his frustration with federal government delays in delivering goods and services promised to the Indians by treaty.  

“In my years of experience among the various tribes I have found delays the most fruitful of all causes which engender war. An Indian, who is the soul of punctuality, cannot comprehend why the officers of a government in the possession of unlimited wealth cannot be as prompt as a poor untutored native; nor can this failure, so often repeated, be explained satisfactorily to him.”

A.C. Hunt,
Governor and ex officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Colorado Territory