American Indian and Alaska Native Newspapers and Periodicals, 1826-1924 - Vol. 1

By Daniel F. Littlefield Jr.; James W. Parins | Go to book overview

Apache wars, pending legislation concerning allotment of lands in severalty, and the Mohonk Conferences. Like Meacham, Bland believed that the solution to the Indian "problem" rested in "civilization" and citizenship. Editorially, he supported the off-reservation school system and opposed allotment against the Indians' will. He also sought reform at the agency level. He wanted the Indian Service purged of the bad agents and reported on their involvement in fraud. He charged V. T. McGillycuddy of the Pine Ridge Agency with fraud and closely monitored affairs at that agency. He spoke out against fraud in the leasing of grazing lands and attempts to open the Indian Territory to settlement.

In November, 1885, Bland published the platform of the newly formed National Indian Defense Association (NIDA) and published its constitution in the next issue. The issues signaled a change in direction for the publication. Bland was a founder and member of the executive committee of NIDA, and with the January, 1886, issue, he dropped the periodical's affiliation with the National Arbitration League and affiliated it with NIDA. He changed the name to The Council Fire, and, as originally, it was "devoted to the civilization and rights of the American Indian." He continued to publish much in the same vein as before, monitoring closely events in Indian country, particularly the Indian Territory and the Sioux reservations.

By late 1886, the publication was in financial difficulty. That year the Blands published only ten issues. Publication was apparently suspended from May to November of 1887, and no issues were published in 1888. The Council Fire was revived in January, 1889, but ceased with the December, 1889, issue.

Throughout its life, the publication changed little in format, except for Volume 5. Each issue consisted of sixteen quarto pages with two columns of print each. In Volume 5, size was reduced, but the number of pages was doubled.

While The Council Fire stands out as a strong pro-Indian voice during the decade of the 1880s, it is uncertain, in retrospect, whether the editors' appeal for "civilization" worked for the Indian's good. Nevertheless, it highlights the basic issues of debate in Indian affairs during the years preceding the General Allotment Act, which initiated a policy as devastating in its effects as the termination policy of this century.


Notes
1.
Robert M. Utley makes clear distinctions between Grant's Peace Policy and Quaker Policy, which are sometimes confused. He also deals with the failure of Grant's policy in "The Celebrated Peace Policy of General Grant," North Dakota History, 20 ( July, 1953), 121-142.
2.
Thomas Augustus Bland, Life of Alfred B. Meacham ( Washington, D.C.: T. A. and M. C. Bland, 1883), passim.

Information Sources

Bibliography: Thomas Augustus Bland, Life of Alfred B. Meacham ( Washington, D.C.: T. A. and M. C. Bland, 1883); Edward Sterl Phinney, "Alfred B. Meacham, Promoter of Indian Reform" (Ph.D. diss., University of Oregon, 1963)

-120-

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