Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. West.
Washington, April 17, 1883.
Sir: With reference to previous correspondence between this Department and your legation concerning the raids of Canadian Indians into the northwestern Territories of this country, and particularly to your note of the 3d of May last,* submitting for the consideration of this Government a system of permits as a remedy for the evil complained of, I now have the honor to inform you that after full consideration of the proposition in question, which contemplates the issuance of permits, by the respective Governments concerned, to individual Indians to visit relations and friends across the boundary lines, under suitable restrictions and regulations, the President has reached the conclusion that while the proposed measure is not objectionable, it would not meet the requirements of the situation, as it is of the incursions and depredations of bodies of Indians that complaint is made.[Page 497]
The present circumstances of the northwestern Territories of this country are such as to require the adoption of more vigorous measures than the one above referred to. Settlers are pouring in in great numbers, and are entitled to protection in their attempts to make homes in thatremote region, while the available troops of this Government are too few in number to act simply as a guard along the border without exercising any repellent or preventive force. To arrest intruders with a view to their trial under section 2134 of the Revised Statutes of the United States would be impracticable as applied to any considerable force of Indians. Heretofore, notwithstanding repeated warnings, Dominion Indians have raided across the border, and, meeting with no effective punishment or loss when confronted or turned back by American troops, have had, apparently, in their own view, no risks to run in their incursions beyond temporary delays when discovered, as when they are arrested and put across the boundary they often return soon after the backs of the troops are turned.
In view of these facts the military authorities of this Government have recommended that when such intruders are arrested, their arms, horses, carts, robes and tents be taken from them; and that they then be put across the boundary. It is furthermore recommended that the property taken from such Indians, excepting their horses, be destroyed. These recommendations having been adopted by this Government, I have the honor to inform you that the course indicated will in future be pursued with all Canadian Indians who may be arrested while intruding upon the territories of the United States, it being of course understood that American Indians intruding upon British territory may he subjected to like treatment.
As this measure, however, does not dispose of the case of Indians who may escape pursuit, I inclose herewith copies of the agreement between this country and Mexico, giving the reciprocal right to pursue Indians across the boundary line,* which I should be glad to have you submit to the Canadian Government for its consideration with a view to determining the practicability of making a similar agreement, to be applicable to this subject, between this country and Canada.
I have, &c.,