1869—March 4, Ulysses Grant inaugurated as President. May 10, Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads join at Promontory Point, establishing first transcontinental rail line. September 13, Jay Gould and James Fisk attempt to corner gold market. September 24, government dumps gold on market to force down price; “Black Friday” brings financial disaster to small speculators. November 24, American Woman’s Suffrage Association organized. December 10, Wyoming enacts law giving women right to vote and hold office. December 30, Knights of Labor organized in Philadelphia. Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad is published.
1870—January 10, John D. Rockefeller organizes Standard Oil Company to monopolize the industry. February 15, construction of Northern Pacific Railroad begins in Minnesota. June, population of United States reaches 38,558,371. July 18, in Rome, Vatican Council declares Papal Infallibility a doctrine of the Church. July 19, France declares war on Prussia. September 2, Napoleon III capitulates to Prussia. September 19, Siege of Paris begins. September 20, William M. Tweed, Tammany boss, accused of robbing New York City treasury. November 29, compulsory education introduced in England. Production of paper from pulpwood begins in New England.
Although this country was once wholly inhabited by Indians, the tribes, and many of them once powerful, who occupied the countries now constituting the states east of the Mississippi, have, one by one, been exterminated in their abortive attempts to stem the western march of civilization. … If any tribe remonstrated against the violation of their natural and treaty rights, members of the tribe were inhumanly shot down and the whole treated as mere dogs. … It is presumed that humanity dictated the original policy of the removal and concentration of the Indians in the West to save them from threatened extinction. But today, by reason of the immense augmentation of the American population, and the extension of their settlements throughout the entire West, covering both slopes of the Rocky Mountains, the Indian races are more seriously threatened with a speedy extermination than ever before in the history of the country.
—DONEHOGAWA (ELY PARKER), THE FIRST INDIAN COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
WHEN THE CHEYENNE SURVIVORS OF the Summit Springs fight at last reached the Powder River country, they found that many things had changed during the three winters they were in the south. Red Cloud had won his war, the forts had been abandoned, and no Bluecoats came north of the Platte. But the camps of the Sioux and Northern Cheyennes were filled with rumors that the Great Father in Washington wanted them to move far eastward to the Missouri River, where wild game was very scarce. Some of their white trader friends told them that it was written in the treaty of 1868 that the Teton Sioux agency was to be on the Missouri. Red Cloud scorned such talk. When he went down to Laramie to sign the treaty he had told the Bluecoat officers who witnessed his touching the pen that he wanted Fort Laramie to be the Teton Sioux trading post, or he would not sign. They had agreed to this.
In the spring of 1869 Red Cloud took a thousand Oglalas to Laramie to trade for goods and collect provisions promised in the treaty. The post commander told him the Sioux trading post was at Fort Randall on the Missouri River, and that they should go there to trade and draw supplies. As Fort Randall was three hundred miles away, Red Cloud laughed at the commander and demanded permission to trade at Laramie. With a thousand armed warriors threatening outside the open post, the commander acquiesced, but he advised Red Cloud to move his people closer to Fort Randall before another trading season arrived.
It was soon apparent that the military authorities at Fort Laramie meant what they said. Spotted Tail and his peaceful Brulés were not even permitted to camp near Laramie. When Spotted Tail was told that if he wanted supplies he would have to go to Fort Randall, he led his people across the plains and settled down near that fort. The easy life of the Laramie Loafers also came to an end; they were sent packing to Fort Randall, where in unfamiliar surroundings they had to build up a completely new enterprise.
Red Cloud remained adamant, however. He had won the Powder River country after a hard-fought war. Fort Laramie was the nearest trading post, and he had no intention of moving to the Missouri or traveling there for supplies.
During the autumn of 1869 Indians everywhere on the Plains were at peace, and rumors of great changes came and went through the camps. It was said that a new Great Father had been chosen in Washington, President Grant. It was also said that the new Great Father had chosen an Indian to be the Little Father of the Indians. This was not easy to believe. Always the Commissioner of Indian Affairs had been a white man who could read and write. Had the Great Spirit at last taught a red man to read and write so that he could be the Little Father of the Indians?
In the Moon When the Snow Drifts into the Tepees (January, 1870) an ugly rumor came from the country of the Blackfeet. Somewhere on the Marias River in Montana, soldiers had surrounded a camp of Piegan Blackfeet and slain them like rabbits trapped in a hole. These mountain Indians were old enemies of the Plains tribes, but everything was changing now, and when soldiers killed Indians anywhere it made all the tribes uneasy. The Army tried to keep the massacre secret, announcing only that Major Eugene M. Baker had led a cavalry command out of Fort Ellis, Montana, to punish a band of Blackfeet horse thieves. The Plains Indians knew the true story, however, long before it ever reached the Indian Bureau in Washington.
During the weeks following that rumored massacre, some strange things happened across the upper Plains. In several agencies, Indians demonstrated their anger by holding meetings in which they condemned the Bluecoats and called the Great Father “a fool and dog, without ears or brains.” At two agencies, feelings ran so high that buildings were set on fire; agents were held as prisoners for a time, and some white government employees were chased off the reservations.1
Because of the secrecy surrounding the January 23 massacre, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs did not learn about it until three months later. A young Army officer, Lieutenant William B. Pease, acting as agent for the Blackfeet, jeopardized his career in submitting the facts to the commissioner. Using the pretext of the theft of a few mules from a wagon freighter, Major Baker had organized his winter expedition and attacked the first camp in his line of march. The camp was undefended, consisting mostly of old men, women, and children, several of whom were ill with smallpox. Of the 219 Piegans in the camp, only 46 escaped to tell the story; 33 men, 90 women, and 50 children were shot to death as they ran from their lodges.
As soon as he received the report, the commissioner demanded an immediate investigation by government authorities.
Although the commissioner’s anglicized name was Ely Samuel Parker, his real name was Donehogawa, Keeper of the Western Door of the Long House of the Iroquois. As a youth on the Tonawanda reservation in New York, he was Hasanoanda of the Seneca Iroquois, but he had soon learned that the owner of an Indian name was not taken seriously in the world of white men. Hasanoanda changed his name to Parker because he was ambitious and expected to be taken seriously as a man.
For almost half a century Parker had been battling racial prejudice, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Before he was ten years old he went to work as a stable boy on an Army post; his pride was hurt when the officers teased him because of his poor command of the English language. The proud young Seneca immediately arranged to enter a missionary school. He was determined to learn to read and speak and write English so well that no white man would ever laugh at him again. After graduation he decided that he could best help his people by becoming a lawyer. In those days a young man became a lawyer by working in a law office and then taking a state bar examination. Ely Parker worked for three years with a firm in Ellicottville, New York, but when he applied for admission to the bar he was told that only white male citizens could be admitted to law practice in New York. No Indians need apply. Adoption of an English name had not changed the bronze color of his skin.
Parker refused to quit. After making careful inquiries as to which of the white man’s professions or trades an Indian could be admitted to, he entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and mastered all the courses in civil engineering. He soon found employment on the Erie Canal. Before he was thirty years old, the United States government sought him out to supervise construction of levees and buildings. In 1860 his duties took him to Galena, Illinois, and there he met and made friends with a clerk in a harness store. The clerk was a former Army captain named Ulysses S. Grant.
When the Civil War began, Parker returned to New York with plans to raise a regiment of Iroquois Indians to fight for the Union. His request for permission to do so was turned down by the governor, who told him bluntly that he had no place for Indians in the New York Volunteers. Parker shrugged off the rebuff and journeyed to Washington to offer his services as an engineer to the War Department. The Union Army was in acute need of trained engineers, but not Indian engineers. “The Civil War is a white man’s war,” Parker was told. “Go home, cultivate your farm, and we will settle our own troubles without any Indian aid.” 2
Parker returned to the Tonawanda reservation, but he let his friend Ulysses Grant know that he was having difficulty getting into the Union Army. Grant needed engineers, and after battling Army red tape for months, he finally managed to have orders sent to his Indian friend, who joined him at Vicksburg. They campaigned together from Vicksburg to Richmond. When Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Lieutenant Colonel Ely Parker was there, and because of his excellent penmanship Grant asked him to write out the terms of surrender.
During the four years following the end of the war, Brigadier General Parker served on various missions to settle differences with Indian tribes. In 1867, after the Fort Phil Kearny fight, he journeyed up the Missouri River to investigate the causes of unrest among the northern Plains Indians. He returned to Washington with many ideas for reformation of the nation’s Indian policy, but he had to wait a year before he could start putting them into effect. When Grant was elected President he chose Parker to be the new Commissioner of Indian Affairs, believing that he could deal more intelligently with Indians than any white man.
Parker entered upon his new duties with enthusiasm, but found the Indian Office even more corrupt than he had expected. A clean sweep of the long-entrenched bureaucrats appeared necessary, and with Grant’s support he established a system of appointing agents recommended by various religious bodies of the nation. Because so many Quakers volunteered to serve as Indian agents, the new plan became known as Grant’s “Quaker policy,” or “peace policy,” for the Indians.
In addition, a Board of Indian Commissioners composed of public-spirited citizens was formed to act as a watchdog over operations of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Parker recommended that this board be a mixed commission of white men and Indians, but politics interfered. Because no Indians could be found who had political influence, no Indians were appointed.
During the winter of 1869–70, Commissioner Parker (or Donehogawa of the Iroquois, as he thought of himself more and more) was gratified by the peaceful condition of the western frontier. By the spring of 1870, however, he was becoming disturbed over reports of rebellion coming from Indian agencies on the Plains. The first inkling he had of the cause of unrest was Lieutenant Pease’s shocking account of the Piegan massacre. Parker knew that unless something was done to reassure the Indians of the government’s good intentions, a general war would probably break out during the summer.
14. Ely Parker, or Donehogawa, Seneca chief, military secretary to U. S. Grant and Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Photographed around 1867. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.
The commissioner was well aware of Red Cloud’s dissatisfaction, of the Sioux leader’s determination to keep the country he had won by treaty, and of his desire for a trading post near that country. Although Spotted Tail had gone to Fort Randall on the Missouri River, the Brulés were already among the most rebellious of the reservation Indians. With their enormous followings among the Plains tribes, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail seemed to the commissioner to be the keys to peace. Could an Iroquois chief win the confidence of the Sioux chiefs? Donehogawa was not certain, but he decided to try.
The commissioner sent a polite invitation to Spotted Tail, but he was too shrewd an Indian to use a direct message to solicit a visit from Red Cloud. Such an invitation most likely would have been received by Red Cloud as a summons to be proudly scorned. Through an intermediary, Red Cloud was informed that he would be a welcome visitor to the Great Father’s house in Washington if he wanted to come.
The idea of such a journey intrigued Red Cloud; it would give him an opportunity to talk with the Great Father and tell him that the Sioux did not want a reservation on the Missouri. He could also see for himself if the Little Father of the Indians, the commissioner named Parker, was truly an Indian and could write like a white man.
As soon as the commissioner heard that Red Cloud wanted to come to Washington, he sent Colonel John E. Smith out to Fort Laramie to act as escort. Red Cloud selected fifteen Oglalas to accompany him, and on May 26 the party boarded a special coach on the Union Pacific and started the long journey eastward.
It was a great experience, riding on their old enemy the Iron Horse. Omaha (a city named for Indians) was a beehive of white people, and Chicago (another Indian name) was terrifying with its noise and confusion and buildings that seemed to reach to the sky. The white men were as thick and numerous and aimless as grasshoppers, moving always in a hurry but never seeming to get to whatever place it was they were going to.
After five days of clatter and motion, the Iron Horse brought them into Washington. Except for Red Cloud, the members of the delegation were dazed and ill at ease. Commissioner Parker, who truly was an Indian, greeted them warmly: “I am very glad to see you here today. I know that you have come a great distance to see the Great Father, the President of the United States. I am glad that you have had no accident, and that you have arrived here all safe. I want to hear what Red Cloud has to say for himself and his people.”
“I have but a few words to say,” Red Cloud responded. “When I heard that my Great Father would permit me to come to see him I was glad, and came right off. Telegraph to my people, and say that I am safe. That is all I have to say today.” 3
When Red Cloud and the Oglalas arrived at the Washington House on Pennsylvania Avenue, where a suite had been reserved for them, they were surprised to find Spotted Tail and a delegation of Brulés waiting for them there. Because Spotted Tail had obeyed the government and moved his people to the Missouri River agency, Commissioner Parker feared there would be trouble between the two rival Tetons. They shook hands, however, and as soon as Spotted Tail told Red Cloud that he and his Brulés thoroughly hated the Dakota reservation and wanted to return to their Nebraska hunting grounds east of Fort Laramie, the Oglala accepted the Brulé as a returned ally.
Next day, Donehogawa of the Iroquois took his Sioux guests on a tour of the capital, visiting the Senate in session, the Navy Yard, and the Arsenal. For their journey, the Sioux had been outfitted with white man’s clothing, and it was obvious that most of them were ill at ease in their tight-fitting black coats and button shoes. When Donehogawa told them that Mathew Brady had invited them to his studio to have their photographs taken, Red Cloud said it did not suit him to do so. “I am not a white man, but a Sioux,” he explained. “I am not dressed for such an occasion.” 4
Donehogawa understood immediately, and let his visitors know that if it so pleased them they could dress in buckskins, blankets, and moccasins for dinner at the White House with President Grant.
At the White House reception the Sioux were more impressed by the hundreds of blazing candles in glittering chandeliers than they were by the Great Father and his cabinet members, the foreign diplomats, and congressmen who had come to stare at these wild men in the midst of Washington. Spotted Tail, who enjoyed good food, especially liked the strawberries and ice cream. “Surely the white men have many more good things to eat than they send to the Indians,” he remarked.
During the next few days, Donehogawa set about bargaining with Red Cloud and Spotted Tail. To obtain a permanent peace, he had to know exactly what they wanted so that he could balance this against the pressures of politicians representing white men who wanted the Indians’ land. It was not an enviable position for a sympathetic Indian to be in. He arranged a meeting at the Interior Department, inviting representatives from all branches of the government to meet with the Sioux visitors.
Secretary of the Interior Jacob Cox opened the proceedings with the sort of oration these Indians had heard many times before. The government would like to give the Indians arms and ammunition for hunting. Cox said, but could not do this until it was sure all the Indians were at peace. “Keep the peace,” he concluded, “and then we will do what is right for you.” He said nothing about the Sioux reservation on the Missouri.
Red Cloud responded by shaking hands with Secretary Cox and the other officials. “Look at me,” he said. “I was raised on this land where the sun rises—now I come from where the sun sets. Whose voice was first sounded on this land? The voice of the red people who had but bows and arrows. The Great Father says he is good and kind to us. I don’t think so. I am good to his white people. From the word sent me I have come all the way to his house. My face is red; yours is white. The Great Spirit has made you to read and write, but not me. I have not learned. I come here to tell my Great Father what I do not like in my country. You are all close to the Great Father, and are a great many chiefs. The men the Great Father sends to us have no sense—no heart.
“I do not want my reservation on the Missouri; this is the fourth time I have said so.” He stopped for a moment, and gestured toward Spotted Tail and the Brulé delegation. “Here are some people from there now. Their children are dying off like sheep; the country does not suit them. I was born at the forks of the Platte and I was told that the land belonged to me from north, south, east, and west. … When you send goods to me, they are stolen all along the road, so when they reached me they were only a handful. They held a paper for me to sign, and that is all I got for my land. I know the people you send out there are liars. Look at me. I am poor and naked. I do not want war with my government. … I want you to tell all this to my Great Father.”
Donehogawa of the Iroquois, the commissioner, replied: “We will tell the President what Red Cloud has said today. The President told me he would talk with Red Cloud very soon.”
Red Cloud looked at the red man who had learned to read and write and who was now the Little Father of the Indians. “You might grant my people the powder we ask,” he said. “We are but a handful, and you are a great and powerful nation. You make all the ammunition; all I ask is enough for my people to kill game. The Great Spirit has made all things that I have in my country wild. I have to hunt them up; it is not like you, who go out and find what you want. I have eyes; I see all you whites, what you are doing, raising stock, and so forth. I know I will have to come to that in a few years myself; it is good. I have no more to say.” 5
The other Indians, Oglalas and Brulés, crowded around the commissioner, all wishing to speak with him, the red man who had become their Little Father.
The meeting with President Grant was on June 9, in the executive office of the White House. Red Cloud repeated much of what he had said at the Interior Department, emphasizing that his people did not want to live on the Missouri River. The treaty of 1868, he added, gave them the right to trade at Fort Laramie and have an agency on the Platte. Grant avoided a direct reply, but he promised to see that justice was done the Sioux. The President knew that the treaty ratified by Congress made no mention of Fort Laramie or the Platte; it specifically stated that the Sioux agency was to be “at some place on the Missouri.” Privately he suggested to Secretary Cox and Commissioner Parker that they call the Indians together the next day and explain to them the terms of the treaty.
Donehogawa spent a restless night; he knew the Sioux had been tricked. When the printed treaty was read and explained to them, they would not like what they heard. Next morning at the Interior Department, Secretary Cox went through the treaty point by point, while Red Cloud listened patiently to the slow interpretation of the English words. When it was finished he declared firmly: “This is the first time I have heard of such a treaty. I never heard of it and do not mean to follow it.”
Secretary Cox replied that he did not believe any of the peace commissioners at Laramie would have told a lie about the treaty.
“I did not say the commissioners lied,” Red Cloud retorted, “but the interpreters were wrong. When the soldiers left the forts, I signed a treaty of peace, but it was not this treaty. We want to straighten things up.” He arose and started to leave the room. Cox offered him a copy of the treaty, suggesting that he have his own interpreter explain it to him and then they would discuss it at another meeting. “I will not take the paper with me,” Red Cloud replied. “It is all lies.”
That night in their hotel the Sioux talked of going home the next day. Some said they were ashamed to go home to tell their people how they had been lied to and cheated into signing the treaty of 1868. It would be better to die there, in Washington. Only the intercession of Donehogawa, the Little Father, persuaded them to come back for one more meeting. He promised to help them interpret the treaty in a better way. He had seen President Grant and convinced him that there was a solution to the difficulty.
At the Interior Department next morning Donehogawa greeted the Sioux by saying simply that Secretary Cox would explain the new interpretation of the treaty. Cox spoke briefly. He was sorry that Red Cloud and his people had misunderstood. Although the Powder River country was outsidethe permanent reservation, it was inside the part reserved for hunting grounds. If some of the Sioux preferred to live on their hunting grounds instead of inside the reservation, they could do so. Nor would they have to go to the reservation to trade and receive their goods.
And so for the second time in two years, Red Cloud won a victory over the United States government, but this time he had the help of an Iroquois. He acknowledged this by coming forward and shaking the commissioner’s hand. “Yesterday, when I saw the treaty and all the false things in it,” he said, “I was mad, and I suppose it made you the same. … Now I am pleased. … We have thirty-two nations and have a council house, just the same as you have. We held a council before we came here, and the demand I have made upon you is from the chiefs I left behind. We are all alike.”
The meeting ended in a spirit of friendliness, with Red Cloud asking Donehogawa to tell the Great Father he had no further business with him; he was ready to board the Iron Horse and go home.
Secretary Cox, all smiles now, informed Red Cloud that the government had planned a visit for the Sioux in New York on their way home.
“I do not want to go that way,” Red Cloud replied. “I want a straight line. I have seen enough of towns. … I have no business in New York. I want to go back the way I came. The whites are the same everywhere. I see them every day.” 6
Later, when he was told that he had been invited to make a speech to the people of New York, Red Cloud changed his mind. He went to New York, and was astonished by the tumultuous ovation the audience gave him at Cooper Institute. For the first time he had an opportunity to talk to people instead of government officials.
“We want to keep peace,” he told them. “Will you help us? In 1868 men came out and brought papers. We could not read them, and they did not tell us truly what was in them. We thought the treaty was to remove the forts, and that we should cease from fighting. But they wanted to send us traders on the Missouri. We did not want to go to the Missouri, but wanted traders where we were. When I reached Washington the Great Father explained to me what the treaty was, and showed me that the interpreters had deceived me. All I want is right and just. I have tried to get from the Great Father what is right and just. I have not altogether succeeded.” 7
Red Cloud indeed had not altogether succeeded in getting what he believed was right and just. Although he returned to Fort Laramie with the good feeling that he had many white friends in the East, he found many white enemies waiting for him in the West. Land seekers, ranchers, freighters, settlers, and others were opposed to a Sioux agency anywhere near the rich Platte Valley, and they made their influence felt in Washington.
Through the summer and autumn of 1870, Red Cloud, with his lieutenant, Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses, worked hard for peace. At the request of Donehogawa, the commissioner, they rounded up dozens of powerful chiefs and brought them into Fort Laramie for a council that was supposed to decide the location of the Sioux agency. They persuaded Dull Knife and Little Wolf of the Northern Cheyennes; Plenty Bear of the Northern Arapahos; Chief Grass of the Blackfoot Sioux; and Big Foot of the Minneconjous, who had always been suspicious of white men, to join them. Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapas would have nothing to do with any kind of treaty or reservation. “The white people have put bad medicine over Red Cloud’s eyes,” he said, “to make him see everything and anything they please.”
Sitting Bull underestimated Red Cloud’s shrewd tenacity. When the Oglala leader discovered at the council that government officials wanted to put the Sioux agency forty miles north of the Platte at Raw Hide Buttes, he would have none of it. “When you go back to the Great Father,” he told the officials, “tell him Red Cloud is not willing to go to Raw Hides Buttes.” 8 Thereupon he went off to the Powder River country for the winter, confident that Donehogawa the Iroquois would set matters right in Washington.
The power of Commissioner Ely Parker was waning, however. In Washington, his white enemies were closing in on him.
Although Red Cloud’s stubborn determination secured a temporary agency for the Sioux thirty-two miles east of Fort Laramie on the Platte, they were permitted to use it for less than two years. By that time Donehogawa was gone from Washington. In 1873 the Sioux agency was moved out of the path of the surging flood of white emigration to the headwaters of White River in northwestern Nebraska. Spotted Tail and his Brulés also were permitted to move from Dakota to the same area. Within a year or so, Camp Robinson was established nearby, and the military would dominate the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies through the troublesome years ahead.
A few weeks after Red Cloud’s visit to Washington in 1870, Donehogawa’s troubles began in earnest. His reforms had created enemies among political bosses (the so-called Indian Ring) who had long been using the Indian Bureau as a lucrative branch of the spoils system. His thwarting of the Big Horn mining expedition, a group of white frontiersmen who wanted to open the Sioux treaty lands, created enemies in the West.
(The Big Horn Association was formed in Cheyenne, and its members believed in Manifest Destiny: “The rich and beautiful valleys of Wyoming are destined for the occupancy and sustenance of the Anglo-Saxon race. The wealth that for untold ages has lain hidden beneath the snow-capped summits of our mountains has been placed there by Providence to reward the brave spirits whose lot it is to compose the advance-guard of civilization. The Indians must stand aside or be overwhelmed by the ever advancing and ever increasing tide of emigration. The destiny of the aborigines is written in characters not to be mistaken. The same inscrutable Arbiter that decreed the downfall of Rome has pronounced the doom of extinction upon the red men of America.”) 9
In the summer of 1870, a small band of Donehogawa’s enemies in Congress attempted to embarrass him by delaying appropriations of funds for purchase of supplies for reservation Indians. By midsummer telegrams began arriving daily in his office from agents pleading for foodstuffs so that hungry Indians would not be forced to break away in search of wild game. Some agents predicted violence if food could not be supplied quickly.
The commissioner responded by purchasing supplies on credit without the delay of advertising for bids. Then he arranged for hasty transportation at slightly higher prices than the contract rates. Only in this way could the reservation Indians have received their rations in time to prevent starvation. Donehogawa, however, had broken a few minor regulations, and this gave his enemies the chance they had been waiting for.
Unexpectedly, the first attack came from William Welsh, a merchant and part-time missionary to the Indians. Welsh had been one of the first members of the watchdog Board of Indian Commissioners, but resigned soon after accepting the appointment. His reasons for resignation were made clear in December, 1870, when he wrote a letter for publication in several Washington newspapers. Welsh charged the commissioner with “fraud and improvidence in the conduct of Indian affairs,” and blamed President Grant for putting into office a man “who is but a remove from barbarism.” It was evident that Welsh believed the Indians went on the warpath because they were not Christians, and therefore his solution to the Indian problem was to convert all of them to Christianity. When he discovered that Ely Parker (Donehogawa) was tolerant of the Indians’ primitive religions, he took a violent dislike to the “heathen” commissioner and resigned.
As soon as Welsh’s letter appeared in print, Donehogawa’s political enemies seized upon it as a perfect opportunity to remove him from office. Within a week the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations adopted a resolution to inquire into the charges against the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and summoned him to a grilling that continued for days. Welsh submitted a list of thirteen charges of misconduct, which Donehogawa had to prove were unfounded. At the end of the inquiry, however, the commissioner was exonerated of all charges and was complimented for convincing the Indian tribes “that the government is in earnest, and that it may be trusted,” and thus saving the Treasury millions of dollars by avoiding another war on the Plains. 10
Only Donehogawa’s closest friends knew how agonizing the entire affair had been to him. He considered Welsh’s attack a betrayal, especially the implication that as an Indian “but a remove from barbarism” he was not fit to serve as Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
For several months he debated what his next course of action should be. Above all he wanted to help the advancement of his race, but if he remained in office with political enemies constantly sniping at him because he was an Indian himself, he feared that he might do his people more harm than good. He also wondered if his continuance in office might not be a political embarrassment to his old friend President Grant.
Late in the summer of 1871 he turned in his resignation. Privately he told friends he was leaving because he had become “a rock of offense.” Publicly he said he wanted to go into business to better provide for his family. As he had foreseen, the press attacked him, intimating that he must have been a member of the “Indian Ring” himself, a Judas to his own people.
Donehogawa shrugged it all off; after half a century he had grown accustomed to the white man’s prejudices. He went to New York City, made himself a fortune in that Gilded Age of finance, and lived out his life as Donehogawa, Keeper of the Western Door of the Long House of the Iroquois.