Department of the Interior and Office of Indian Affairs
47th Congress, 2d Session
Download Full Text (115 KB)
This transcribed document, dated March 30, 1883, contains a letter from Henry M. Teller of the United States (US) Department of the Interior to Hiram Price of the US Office of Indian Affairs outlining perceived problems among Indigenous tribes in the US. This letter is followed by a set of rules written in response to the expressed concerns. These rules are commonly referred to as The Code of Indian Offenses. Teller expressed concern about religious practices among Indigenous tribes, including sacred dances and the leadership of medicine men. He was also concerned about plural marriage and practices surrounding property ownership. He felt that traditional practices were a hinderance to the “civilization” of Indigenous people and that something needed to be done to curb these practices. Hiram Price wrote The Code of Indian Offenses to address these concerns, outlining specific offenses that correlated to Teller’s concerns. Punishment for these offenses included, withholding of rations, hard labor, fines, and jail time. The practice of outlawing religious practices among Indigenous people in the United States legally persisted until 1978 when the US Congress passed American Indian Religious Freedom also known as the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (sometimes abbreviated AIRFA).
Code of Indian Offenses, religious practices, plural marriage, property ownership, medicine men, civilization
Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs
Henry M. Teller, Hiram Price
Government Printing Office
American Politics | Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law | Indigenous Studies | Law and Politics | Native American Studies | United States History
Price, Hiram. Rules Governing The Court of Indian Offenses. March 30, 1883. https://commons.und.edu/indigenous-gov-docs/131/.
Cultural Institutions Notice
Collections and items in our institution have incomplete, inaccurate, and/or missing attribution. We are using this notice to clearly identify this material so that it can be updated, or corrected by communities of origin. Our institution is committed to collaboration and partnerships to address this problem of incorrect or missing attribution.
Open to Collaborate
Our institution is committed to the development of new modes of collaboration, engagement, and partnership for the care and stewardship of past and future heritage collections.