Miss Frances Sparhawk and The Indian Industries League

Fourth session,
Thursday night, October 17.

After some singing by Rev. Frank Wright, the Conference was called to order by the Chair at 8 p. m.

Miss Frances Sparhawk was invited to speak on Indian industries.

The Indian Industries League.

By Frances Sparhawk.

The object of the league is to open individual opportunities of work to individual Indians, and to build up self-supporting industries in Indian communities.

In many communities the native Indian industries are especially adapted to this purpose. The league, in fostering these and other industries, holds it of the first importance to replace the desultory work of the Indians by the regularity of the white man’s occupation, that habits of industry may be attained. And it will labor to that end.

The league has been in communication with the honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs, with Government matrons, and with missionaries upon the reservations, and others, to learn the opportunities for systematic industrial work among the Indians.

In 1889, by a loan of money to the famous workers among the Cheyenne and Arapahoe at Colony, Oklahoma the Rev. and Mrs. Walter C. Roe the league stimulated that industry just at the time that it most needed help. Since then the league has secured for this beadwork, from a large Boston firm, orders to the amount of almost $1,000, with prospect of continuance of orders. Also, by teaching the Indians how to adapt the moccasin to the white man’s instep it has developed the moccasin among the whites from an article for curio lovers to a practical foot gear, and so a constant industry.

The league has built an industrial room among the Navahos, and for a time paid a matron in charge there, furnishing the room with a range for the instruction of the Indians in cookery; also with sewing machines. This room was intended for rug-weaving and further development in industries.

The league gave a young Indian member who had learned something of carpentry, at Hampton a course of study by correspondence, and, at his request, books on architecture, enabling him to become an efficient industrial teacher in a large Government Indian school. It has loaned money to Indians for industrial purposes; has spent money for tools for Indians; has several times sent contributions of money to Miss Carter for her lace industry; and done other work on these lines.

It has bought Indian goods at the Indians’ prices from the Pima, the mission Indians, from the Navahos, and beautiful baskets from the Indians of Washington State. Through friends of the cause it has been enabled to offer several prizes for excellence in basketry. It has sent materials for work to Mrs. Annie M. Sayre among the Pueblos, who are very poor; and it hopes by this means to be able to make a market for their needlework. It has also arranged for other needlework, and it has been prospecting among the Hopi, Paiute, Pawnees, Kickapoo, Ponca, Walapai, Piegan, and Northern Cheyenne.

Since a reservation, in its evil sense, is a condition rather than a place, the systematic labor of the Indians will, of itself, abolish the reservations; for what a man has outgrown that is he freed from.

Board Of Indian Commissioners. Thirty-Third Annual Report Of The Board Of Indian Commissioners. Government Printing Office. 1901.

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