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FUR TRADER AND INDIAN OFFICE OBSTRUCTION TO SMALLPOX VACCINATION IN THE ST. LOUIS INDIAN SUPERINTENDENCY, 1831-1834

William E. Unrau
Plains Anthropologist
Vol. 34, No. 124, Part 2: Memoir 23: PLAINS INDIAN HISTORICAL DEMOGRAPHY AND HEALTH (May 1989), pp. 31, 33-39
Published by: Maney Publishing on behalf of the Plains Anthropological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25668875
Page Count: 8
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FUR TRADER AND INDIAN OFFICE OBSTRUCTION TO SMALLPOX VACCINATION IN THE ST. LOUIS INDIAN SUPERINTENDENCY, 1831-1834
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Abstract

The smallpox epidemic that so devastated the Indian populations of the lower Missouri, Platte, and Kansas river valleys in the early 1830s provides the setting for examining the government's efforts to check the malady by vaccination, a medical procedure announced by Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796 and publicly advocated by President Jefferson to a group of Indian leaders in Washington in 1801. The limited success of the policy in checking the disease among the immigrant tribes of the Delaware and Shawnee Agency near modern Kansas City was in contrast to the tragic failure of the policy in the Kansas Agency father west, where private fur traders, operating under federal licenses, obstructed implementation. This paper analyzes the character of this obstructionism within the framework of the federal bureaucracy of the time, the practices of nefarious fur traders whose economic self-interest transcended claimed humanitarian concerns for tribal well-being, and the pattern of Kansa depopulation since the first major land cession treaty negotiated in St. Louis in 1825.

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