No. 286.
Mr. Saurin to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

Sir: With reference to Mr. West’s note of the 12th January, and to your note of the 20th of December last, 1 have the honor to inclose herewith, for your information, copy of a report, transmitted by the department of the interior to the Governor-General of Canada, from the officer commanding the Wood Mountain post, on the subject of the movements of half-breeds and hostile Indians in the vicinity of the Milk River, Montana Territory.

I have, &c.,


Inspector Macdonell to Colonel Irvine.

Sir: Your letter of the 7th instant, inclosing copies of dispatches from the department of the interior, northwestern mounted police branch, received.

In reply, I will state as briefly as possible exactly the situation. I may state at once the report that the Milk .River country is overrun with Canadian half-hreeds is not correct.

You are aware that the half-breeds for some years past have been in the habit of wintering on the Milk River. During last fall I informed them that the United States. Indian agent at Poplar River had received instructions from his Government to arrest and prosecute any trespassers found in the reservations. They then decided on wintering here. There has not been this winter, nor is there now, a Canadian half-breed wintering in the reservation.

An occasional hunting party go out for meat, as they say they must either get meat or starve. As regards what are called the hostile Sioux, their numbers are so insignificant that it is absurd to say that the country is overrun by them. They have been all winter, and are now, camped about six miles from this post. They hunt principally on this side. Occasionally a few cross, and as they are on good terms with the agency Indians they are treated by them as friends.

I am reliably informed that there are no Crees there. “Little Poplars.” with thirty-five lodges, has heen all winter south of the Missouri. The reservation does not extend south of the river.

There are about 300 white hunters on the reservation. The United States authorities at Poplar River are reported to have said that they have not force enough at their command to drive them away.

These white hunters are looked upon as being a lawless set, principally made up of professional horse-thieves and outlaws.

The scout Culbertson, mentioned in one of the dispatches, was at one time employed as Sioux interpreter at this post; his reputation for veracity stands very far below par. I know him well, and have no hesitation in stating that I would not believe him on his oath. In plain English, the information he is reported to have given the officer commanding the United States troops at Poplar River—viz, that the reservation [Page 495] was overrun with half-breeds and Sioux Indians—is false; nor do I believe for one moment that there is the slightest probability of there being any hostile collision. However, should anything of moment Occur I will advise you at once by special.

I have, &c.,