Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Lesson Plans > American Indian Reservation Controversies

Back to Lesson Plans

Native Americans sitting near tipis.

[Detail] Ta-Her-Ye-Qua-Hip or Horse-Backs Camp. No-Co-Nie.

The Department of the Interior
Bureau of Indian Affairs

From: Zachary Sherman, Undersecretary, Bureau of Indian Affairs

To: Woolman Naylor, Candidate for Agent Position

Re: Interview for Indian Agent position, Comanche Reservation

Mr. Naylor,

I should like to congratulate you for being selected as a candidate for the position of Indian Agent for the Comanche Indian Reservation. Your interview has been scheduled for Monday, October 27. This appointment is a very sensitive one. The people in that area of Texas are largely Scotch-Irish and with your Quaker background, you can expect some resistance. Part of the reason you are a candidate is the long history of fair dealings your religion has toward the Indians. I have recently heard from Dr. Eleazar Thomas (by way of Pastor Oscar Penn Fitzgerald, page 140), about the dangerous situation with the Modoc Indians and Captain Jack out in California. Dr. Thomas also notes (his chapter starts on page 75) that the "Quaker policy," while sometimes successful, is quite different from other more popular approaches.

As you can understand, your appointment is subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. With that in mind, it is imperative that you understand and can communicate to me that you understand the concerns and rights of Texans as much as your community has also demonstrated toward the Indians. I expect that you are familiar with the history of the relations of the Comanche with the Texans, the fears and concerns of all persons in the state. Here are some of the areas that you will be expected to discuss with me:

  • What are potential problems?
  • Past and present problems and issues?
  • Successful and unsuccessful approaches used by other agents?
  • And, how you will effectively protect both the Comanche and the Texans' lives and property without stirring up controversy?

You may bring with you any documents and resources you feel would assist you in your efforts. Please make use of my staff members to put you in touch with experienced people in this matter. The Library of Congress is at your disposal as well.