Not in Keeping with “Civilization”

Indian Office Orders End of Long Hair, Dances, and Feasts
Washington, D.C.
December, 1901

William A. Jones, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the Office of Indian Affairs, has ordered his agents and superintendents on the reservations to see to it that Indian men not be allowed to wear long hair. Jones states that long hair is “not in keeping with the advancement they are making or will soon be expected to make, in civilization.”

According to Jones’s order, if Indian men who are employed by the government do not comply, their food rations should be stopped. If they became troublesome, Jones believes that “a short confinement in the guard-house at hard labor, with shorn locks, should furnish a cure.”
Jones also ordered his reservation officials to end face-painting and traditional dances and feasts and to encourage the discarding of Indian dress.

When reporters questioned whether he had gone too far, Jones responded that his actions were in line with the policies set down by Secretary of the Interior Henry M. Teller. “At one extreme there is a cold brutality which recognizes the dead Indian as the only good Indian, and at the other a sickly sentimentalism that crowns the Indian with a halo and looks up to him as a persecuted saint,” Jones told reporters. “Between the two,” Jones continued, “will be found the true friend of the Indian, who, looking upon him as he really is and recognizing his inevitable absorption by a stronger race, are endeavoring to fit him under new conditions for the struggle of life. With these I desire to be numbered.”

Jones was appointed in 1897 by Republican President William McKinley. A business man from Mineral Point, Wisconsin, Jones has been very active in the Republican party.

By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Grade Level

3-6, 8-12

Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change