Education Families

I give this name to those bodies which have been commonly denominated Mission Families, because it seems better to describe their character, and may less offend the opposers of Missions. By an Education Family I mean, an association of individual families, formed of one or more men regularly qualified to preach the Gospel, to be at the head of such a family; of schoolmasters and mistresses; of farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, cabinetmakers, millwrights, and other mechanics-of women capable of teaching the use of the needle, the spinning wheel, the loom, and all kinds of domestic manufactures, cookery, &c. common in civilized families. This family to consist of men and women in a married state, with their children, all possessing talents for their respective offices, with a missionary spirit, devoted to their work; contented to labor without salary, receiving simply support. The size of these families to be proportioned to the importance of their respective stations, and to the number of Indians around them, who are to be educated. Such families have been established, and may be seen in actual operation, and accompanied with their fruits, among the Cherokee, Choctaw and Osage Indians. These bodies are to be the great instruments in the hands of the government, for educating and civilizing the Indians. 1

Improvements in Education Families and New Establishments Recommended

My instructions are “to report my opinion as to the improvements which may be made, and the new establishments, to pro” mote the object of the Government in civilizing the Indians, which can be advantageously formed.”

The number and location of the Education Families already established, the dates of these establishments and the religious associations who have made them are given in a table annexed to this work. The manner in which these families are formed, the purposes they are intended to accomplish, and the means they are to employ, have also been stated. The single improvement which I would here respectfully suggest, and recommend, is the following that, as fast as the course of things shall render expedient and practicable, Indian superintendants, agents, subagents, and all other officers of government, who have to do with Indians, for reasons stated in the last article, be either members of one or other of these Education Families, (the Families in future to be formed in reference to this purpose, and to contain persons qualified for these several offices,) or, so intimately connected with, and friendly to them, as shall bring all their official influence and authority over the Indians, to aid them in all their operations.

The advantages of such a course would be:

1st. An entire saving of all the salaries and expenses of these officers; because all the members of these families are without salaries, receiving merely support. What is now given to these officers from the United States’ treasury would, of course, go into the common treasury of the Education Families, and be expended in the same manner as are other funds, given by the government. The amount of this saving would be equal to the amount of all the salaries of the officers above named, who should be taken from the Education Families.

2dly. Were these officers members of Education Families, it would bring to these families all their official influence with the Indians. Channels, in this way, would be opened, numerous and extensive, for diffusing useful knowledge among them. The duties of an Indian agent, faithfully and affectionately fulfilled, are peculiarly well adapted to open the hearts, and conciliate the eaten and love of Indians.

3dly. The selection of candidates for these offices, by the several religious associations who form these Education Families, would greatly assist the government in discharging a delicate and difficult duty, and would happily divide with them the responsibility for the faithful discharge of the duties of officers so appointed. It can hardly be supposed, that men so selected, appointed, and inspected, would violate their trust.

It is extremely important that all these officers should be honest men, of fair moral character; men of discernment, of knowledge of human nature, of kind and affable dispositions and manners, of decision, promptness and energy in action. If to these should be added Christian piety, the character would be complete. , Were all the officers above named, of this description, their influence to do away existing prejudices in the minds of Indians, and to secure their affections and confidence, would be immense. On the character of these officers in future, very much will depend in effecting the object of the government. These offices should never be converted into mere sinecures.

Under this article it may be proper to suggest, the great importance of establishing, at every military post in the Indian country, an Education Family. By the union of these two establishments alone, in my opinion, can be formed, the kind of authority proper to be exercised over Indians, in their present state, with reference to I heir education. In this way, at the same time, would be imparted to the soldiery, that moral and religious instruction which is necessary to prepare them for wholesome and exemplary intercourse with the Indians. These military establishments, removed beyond the influence of civilized society and of its stated religious and moral institutions, without Chaplains, or any means to resist or check the natural propensities of man to become corrupt, have, in fact, degenerated into a lamentable state, exhibiting, at once, to Indians a demoralizing example; counteracting all the influence and exertions, of the Education Families, and weakening incalculably the strength of the defenders of our country. One sober, moral, pious soldier will effect more for the preservation of the rights and liberties of a nation, than ten of an opposite character. 2

In this view of the subject, Chaplains at all our military posts would be of most important benefit; but at the military posts established among the Indians, they are, in reference to their civilization, unquestionably indispensable. The Education Families, were they established at each of these posts, would fulfill all the duties of Chaplains, and other duties also, of much importance, and all this, without any additional expense to the government.

The idea of having Indians everywhere see nothing in white people; but what will give them favorable opinions of civilized life, and of the Christian religion, cannot be too strenuously urged, nor too deeply impressed on the public mind. The Indians quickly perceive the coincidence, or the contradiction, between professions and conduct, and their confidence or distrust, follow of course. This distrust, unfortunately, exists already extensively among the Indians. In repeated interviews with them, after informing them what good things their Great Father the President, was ready to bestow on them, if they were willing to receive them, the Chiefs significantly shook their heads, and said – ** It may be so, or it may be not. We doubt it. We don’t know what to believe.” Unless this distrust be removed from the minds of Indians, and their confidence in the Government established, the best efforts for their benefit will be impeded, if not wholly frustrated.

I am happy in the explicit sanction of the President and Secretary of War to the sentiments now expressed, contained in their Regulations for distributing the funds deposited in their bands for the civilization of the Indians. 3 They say, “it is considered to be the duty of all persons, who may be employed, or attached to any institution, not only to set a good example of sobriety, industry and honesty, but, as far as practicable, to impress on the minds of the Indians the friendly and benevolent views of the government toward them, and the advantages they would derive by yielding to the policy of government, and cooperating with it in such measures, as it may deem necessary for their civilization and happiness. A contrary course of conduct cannot fail to incur the displeasure of government, as it is impossible that the object which it has in view can be effected, and peace be habitually preserved, if the distrust of the Indians, as to its benevolent views, should be excited.”

In these just and excellent sentiments, we have the pledge of the government, that they will remove at once every officer in the Indian department, who does not “set a good example of sobriety, industry and honesty,” to Indians, and that no office r in any branch of this department will be appointed in future, who is not a “sober, industrious, and honest man. This pledge is invaluable, and cannot fail to receive the applause and gratitude, and to command the confidence and warm support, of the religious community.

New Stations for Education Families

Under this head I shall simply name these stations, and refer to the Appendix for my reasons for naming them.

  1. In East Florida, among the Seminoles, and the remnants of tribes in that Territory, at the place where it is proposed to collect these now scattered Indians. [App. N. n.]
  2. Among the Creeks, one or more.
  3. Several more among the Cherokees and Choctaws, in addition to the stations already occupied.
  4. Among the Chickasaws, one or more.
  5. Among the Potawattamies and Ottawas, on the south east shores of Lake Michigan. [App. O. o.]
  6. On Flint River, and another on Saganau Bay, in Michigan Territory, west of Detroit. [App. p. 20.]
  7. At L’Abre Croche, on the east shore of Lake Michigan, thirty-six miles south west of Mackinaw. [App. p. 26.]
  8. At Mackinaw. [App. p. 6.]
  9. At Green Bay. [App. p. 50.]
  10. On the new purchase made by the Stockbridge Indians, with some portion of the Six Nations, on Fox river, between the Menominee and Winnebago Indians. [App. P. p.]
  11. At Chicago. [App. pp. 108 and 140.]
  12. At Fort Armstrong.
  13. At Prairie du Chien. [App. Q, q.]
  14. At Sandy Lake. [App. pp. 30,31, 33, &c.]
  15. At St. Peter’s near St. Anthony’s Falls. [App. R. r.]
  16. At Council Bluffs. [App. S. s.]
  17. Several more among the Osages, Cherokees, Kansas, and Quapaws, on Osage, Arkansaw and Kansas Rivers.
  18. At or near Natchitoches, in Louisiana.
  19. On Columbia River.

For reasons stated in the Appendix, all these are favorable openings for the establishment of Education Families.Citations:

  1. * See Appendix.[]
  2. The following facts exhibit in a convincing light, the effect and value of Christian Ordinances, and instruction.”A gentleman of large landed property (in England) lately declared, that on one of his estates the people were quiet, and sober, and industrious, and were never disposed to injure his property; whilst on another they were turbulent and profligate, and idle, and injurious. And he publicly confessed that the difference arose from the people, in the first case, having the instruction of faithful, pious ministers, and in the other not. If pure Christianity were universally known and obeyed, the whole face of human society would be changed.”
    Rev. Thomas Scott[]
  3. See App. p. 290.[]


Morse, Rev. Jedidiah. A Report to the Secretary of War of the United States on Indian Affairs, Printed by S. Converse, 1822.

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