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Taft on Native AmericansFrom Taft's Annual Message: 3 December 1912
Another function which the Interior Department has to perform is that of
the guardianship of Indians. In spite of everything which has been said in
criticism of the policy of our Government toward the Indians, the amount of
wealth which is now held by it for these wards per capita shows that the
Government has been generous; but the management of so large an estate,
with the great variety of circumstances that surround each tribe and each
case, calls for the exercise of the highest business discretion, and the
machinery provided in the Indian Bureau for the discharge of this function
is entirely inadequate. The position of Indian commissioner demands the
exercise of business ability of the first order, and it is difficult to
secure such talent for the salary provided.
The condition of health of the Indian and the prevalence in the tribes of
curable diseases has been exploited recently in the press. In a message to
Congress at its last session I brought this subject to its attention and
invited a special appropriation, in order that our facilities for
overcoming diseases among the Indians might be properly increased, but no
action was then taken by Congress on the subject, nor has such
appropriation been made since.
Contributed by Gifford, Katya
3 October 2004