Thursday, December 29, 2016

Indian Agents

The federal government had Indian agents responsible for contact with the various tribes.  Does anyone know if they had any financial involvement in sales of goods to the Indians?  Or were they just salaried employees?


  1. the Indian agents of the Old West era were known to be corrupt, as they controlled who traded with the Indians and/or operated on Indian lands. They also controlled the distribution of relief supplies- food, blankets, etc.- and often shortchanged the Indians, selling what was stolen elsewhere. But few actually got rich doing this.

  2. The agents I learned about, ones prior to the War of 1812, seemed to be paid to be the liasion between a tribe and the US officials. They would arrange treaty ceremonies, distribute gifts, translate (quite necessary) and implement Federal policy. This included the Federal policy to modernize the Tribes by teaching them agriculture and manufacturing. That changed with Jackson, who was more intent on removing the indians and used the agents to facilitate this. The role of indian agent changed again after the Civil War.

    Please note: Many indian agents in the early years were either half breed to one of the major tribes, or married into one. People like General Joseph Martin or Simon Favre.