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white river poems 327
their approval. I spent that night in Meeker's house,
and while we were eating supper a Ute came in
unasked, and said he wished to talk with me.
Later, when I came out, he would say nothing,
but sat there, sullen. Mr. Meeker asked me
into his private offi
ce, and we talked
till late that night about his situation.
He said his task was thankless, that the Utes
looked upon him at best as a provider,
chiefl y as an intruder, and somehow both
at the same time.
-- Q. ... but had not previous agents been attempting
to educate them, and show them how to farm?
-- A. Yes, sir. But I can explain to you the secret
of Mr. Meeker's failure. Mr. Meeker
went there with great enthusiasm to make
his agency succeed, and was a most
conscientious and enthusiastic
gentleman in his ideas of reform.
Now, from the beginning he confi ned himself
strictly within the letter of the law
and his instructions; something seldom done
by Indian Agents. Thus he was instructed
to issue the Utes' rations every Wednesday;
and if the Utes did not appear on Wednesday
they did not draw their rations. This was a strictness
previous agents never had observed.
Their habit was to issue a month's rations
at a time, and even then wink at the absence
of certain Indians, allowing someone else
to represent them. But not Mr. Meeker.
He undertook to hold them to the rules.
This was to check their hunting and their roaming
beyond the Reservation. -- Q. Were not the Utes
in part dependent upon game? -- A. Less so
than upon trading and begging from white settlers.