A New Nation Comes to the Indian Country
The Fur Trade New Settlers Miners Ranchers Missionaries and Teachers


Cattle Industry Develops

This request for special inspectors to certify the quality of the cattle being sent to Indian communities along the upper Missouri reflects a moment of self-interested benevolence. Senator John M. Thayer of Nebraska wanted to see Missouri River Indians become ranchers because he knew they needed a new food source and because he wanted to incorporate them and their lands into the growing American cattle industry.

Thayer’s letter is addressed to Secretary of the Interior Jacob D. Cox. The son-in-law of the evangelical leader Charles Grandison Finney, Secretary Cox had argued that if reservations were staffed by missionaries and supplied with tools and livestock, the Indians would soon be “elevated in the scale of humanity.”

John M. Thayer. Letter to J. D. Cox, Secretary of the Interior, Requesting a Cattle Inspector, 1870.

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