Character of Plains Settlers

In a letter to Manypenny, September 12, 1856, [Fort Laramie area Indian Agent] Twiss pointed out that the Indians were “not being improved, but rather deteriorating, and becoming worse from year to year.” This condition was due, in part, to the fact that all too often “those whites who reside among the Indians of the prairies are neither the pioneers of civilization nor settlements, but emphatically fugitives from both…. It is impossible for them to reside in the States or organized Territories, because the relat.ions of peace and amity between them and the courts of justice are inter- rupted…. [They] teach the Indians lessons in their own school of depravity.” Good missionaries and teachers, and honest traders – desirable at all times – were far from plentiful.

Twiss thus appears to have been firm in upholding his own rights and the rights of his department; ready to do the best by the Indians a.s he saw the best; keenly alert to Indian problems; but ever pessimistic or questioning the ultimate fate of the Red Man.