A great deal has been said about the pernicious effect the different "Wild West" and other Indian shows have had upon the Indians engaged in them, but little or nothing has ever been done about it. Now it looks as if a step in the right direction were taken at last.
During the last two or three years the success of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show has caused the Indian reservations to be drawn upon for performers by the managers of other entertainments of the name class, so that there are now between three or four hundred "wards of the nation" employed in exhibiting to the untutored white man the customs and habits of the savage tribes. The Indians being under the control of the Secretary of the Interior, cannot leave their reservations without his permission, and while the department has not yet issued orders prohibiting any more of them from going with shows, a rule to that effect will probably be established. This spring there are a larger number of applications for savage performers than ever before, and the Secretary of the Interior has caused reports to be made by the agents of tribes from which recruits have heretofore been drawn, as to the effect of this new business upon their morals and general behavior.
The reports are almost unanimous in condemning the practice of permitting Indians to travel with shows. Those who have gone, the agents say, have almost without exception returned in a demoralized condition, with a distinction to work, and often show the effects of vices and diseases contracted during their absence. The report of Agent Shuler, of the White Earth Agency, is a sample of the others that have come. He says:
Fourteen Indians under my charge have been traveling with the Wild West Show, and have come back worthless vagabonds, whose principal desire is to live in idleness and gain a living by trafficking in whisky. Their influence is bad on those with whom they associate, and in may judgment the government should take prompt measures to suppress these shows and have the Indians return to their reservations. —Mail and Express.