Few townspeople liked Dr. Harry Hummer when he first came to Canton, primarily because he was replacing the very popular former superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, Oscar Gifford. However, Hummer eventually began to fit in and the Canton community stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him when the asylum was threatened with closure.
On September 28, 1933, the front page of The Sioux Valley News proclaimed that Sunday would mark the 25th anniversary of Hummer’s stewardship at the asylum. The paper also mentioned the community’s hope that he would continue in place, along with the asylum, in order that he and his wife could “remain active and interested residents in the promotion and welfare of Canton and Lincoln county and the state of South Dakota.” No mention was made of the asylum’s Indian patients.
The newspaper’s real interest and concern become especially clear on another page of that same issue, where it discusses the “first four rounds in the Indian battle of John Collier et. al vs. G. J. Moen, et. al.” The first round came when “Collier darted from his corner in a surprise attack and led with a right to the jaw calling in the Indians to Washington.” The second round found his opponents securing a ten-day stay. Moen went to Washington, D.C. in the third round, and “jabbed in another five days stay which busted up Collier’s plan of attack.” Before Collier could recover from these blows, said the paper, “Moen slipped in a haymaker to the jaw in the form of a federal court injunction, which tied Collier’s hands, sent him rocking on his heels and left him gasping for breath, amid the cheers from the local gallery.”
The paper concluded triumphantly that, “After all this fracus, we’ll bet John Collier got out his map and looked to see whether Canton was in South Dakota or South Dakota in Canton.”