The Role of the Frontier Indian Agent : Joseph Montfort Street, 1827-1840
Rayman, Ronald A.
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The problem. The role of the frontier Indian agent is not always adequately understood. Acting as an intermediary between the federal government and the Indians, the agent's position was unique. Joseph Montfort Street was an Indian agent from 1827 to 1840. An examination of Street's unusually long tenure as an agent, thirteen years, will shed considerable light on the frontier agents' position, the role he played in frontier Indian affairs, and provide a highly informative picture of Street himself. Procedure. Using secondary sources as an initial groundwork, the vast majority of the research involved dealt with primary materials. These were nearly completely composed of National Archives microfilm records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the years 1827-1840. Other primary sources were employed to supplement those microfilm sources. Conclusions. Joseph Montfort Street was an honest and dedicated Indian agent who wrestled with white antipathy to the Indians, governmental misdirection, nebulous Indian laws, and the unscrupulous graspings of white fur traders to aid the Indians under his charge. Street believed that only Indian removal from uncomfortable proximity to whites, combined with education and agricultural instruction, would save the Indians from extinction. Street's pro-Indian attitude created white antagonism towards him, but he tirelessly labored to better the Indian's lot, and earned the trust and respect of the Indians.
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