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INVESTIGATION OF THE FIELD SERVICE
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Hon. HOMER P. SNYDER, New York, Chairman
JOHN A. ELSTON, California
INDIANS OF THE UNITED STATES.
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Muskogee, Okla., May 10, 1920. The subcommittee met at 9.30 o'clock a. m., at the Federal Building, Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. This hearing is called to-day as the second step in an investigation ordered by Congress in the appropriation law of 1920, section 28, that reads as follows:
SEC. 28. That during this Congress those members of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives, not less than five in number, who are Members of the Sixty-fifth Congress, are authorized to conduct hearings and investigate the conduct of the Indian Service at Washington, District of Columbia, and elsewhere, and the sum of $15,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, to be immediately available, is hereby appropriated for expenses incident thereto. The said committee is hereby authorized and empowered to examine into the conduct and management of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and all its branches and agencies, their organization and administration, to examine all books, documents, and papers in the said Bureau of Indian Affairs, its branches or agencies, relating to the administration of the business of said bureau, and shall have, and is hereby granted, authority to subpæna witnesses, compel their attendance, administer oaths, and to demand any and all books, documents, and papers of whatever nature relating to the affairs of Indians as conducted by said bureau, its branches and agencies. Said committee is hereby authorized to employ such clerical and other assistance, including stenographers, as said committee may deem necessary in the proper prosecution of its work: Provided, That stenographers so employed shall not receive for their services exceeding $1 per printed page.
As the committee are all well aware, we have held exhaustive hearings and compiled a record of the same as far as we could go at Washington. Not only a careful investigation of the bureau at Washington but of Indian affairs in the field as a whole, as far as we could go from that standpoint, is contemplated.
We are here to-day to take up the investigation of the bureau as to its relations with the bureau in the city of Washington and for the purpose of finding out how, if possible, the service can be improved, and how, perhaps, duplication can be eliminated, thereby reducing the expense not only to the Government and to the Indians but eventually bringing the service nearer to the Indians, so that when complaints are made or applications are filed they may be examined and final decision made on them.
For the purpose of getting information with regard to these matters, we desire to hear as the first witness Mr. Parker, Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes.
STATEMENT OF MR. GABE E. PARKER, SUPERINTENDENT FIVE
CIVILIZED TRIBES, MUSKOGEE, OKLA.
The ChairmAN. Will you just state your name and occupation?
Mr. PARKER. Gabe E. Parker, Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you state briefly just what your duties cover and what branches of the service are conducted for the Five Civilized Tribes here, as nearly as you can, in sequence, over which you have control and supervision?
Mr. PARKER. As provided by congressional act, the offices of Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes and Superintendent of the Union Agency were consolidated to be effective in September, 1914, and in lieu thereof a Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes at a salary of $5,000 per year was authorized. The Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes had, broadly speaking, duties with relation to tribal affairs, enrollments, allotments, and disposition of the tribal lands and property. The Superintendent of the Union Agency had to do with the individual affairs directly and indirectly of some 101,506 enrolled members of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Nations, known as the Five Civilized Tribes in eastern Oklahoma. Those duties, by virtue of the act of Congress referred to, came under the responsibility and jurisdiction of the Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes.
There are 40 counties in eastern Oklahoma in which the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes reside. The headquarters of the superintendent and his office force are in Muskogee, Okla. The field work has been divided at various times into different sized districts under the immediate supervision and jurisdiction of a field clerk. Formerly they were known as district agents. Until recently there were 19 such field districts and 19 field clerks. To-day there are 13 districts and 13 field clerks.
The field clerks coming in first contact with the Indian and his affairs must be the department in embryo. Practically all matters of interest to the Indians must come first before the field clerks.
They make investigations and reports to the Muskogee office and such investigations and reports as required to be submitted to the department at Washington are prepared on the basis of the field clerk's report and transmitted to the department for proper action. The members of the Five Civilized Tribes compose individuals from full blood and, in a great many instances, primitive people, through varying degrees of Indian blood to intermarried whites and noncitizen people and freedmen.
By acts of Congress and by operation of the acts conferring jurisdiction upon the Secretary of the Interior, restriction against the alienation of individual allotments has been removed from all freedmen, intermarried whites and other citizens, and from the surplus allotment of those from half bloods to three-quarter bloods, leaving, generally speaking, the homestead allotment of all enrolled members, of half blood and more Indian blood. The half blood has his homestead allotment restricted and both surplus and homestead allotments of members enrolled as three-quarters to full-bloods are still restricted.
Mr. Hastings. That is not entirely accurate as to those enrolled as exact half bloods.
The CHAIRMAN. I desire to have Mr. Parker, if you please, go ahead without interruption.
Mr. Hastings. There is a little inaccuracy about those supposed to be half bloods.
The CHAIRMAX. I appreciate that. We are listening to Mr. Parker as an authority on the question.
Mr. PARKER. I would not want to make an incorrect statement. The CHAIRMAN. Proceed.
Mr. PARKER. I mean to say that the restrictions from the surplus lands of the half-blood Indians and Indians enrolled of more than one-half blood up to three-quarter bloods have been removed.
The CHAIRMAN. The restrictions upon the sale of their surplus lands?
Mr. CARTER. In respect to surplus allotments, Mr. Parker explained that there are surplus and homestead allotments.
Mr. PARKER. Individual allotments to the members of the Five Civilized Tribes were made in what might be called two parts or classes, one the homestead allotment, the other surplus allotment, and the allotments range in the Five Civilized Tribes from 20 acres, valued at $6.50, the highest valuation for allotment purposes only to 4,146 acres of 25-cent land valued for allotment purposes, so that each allottee took a part of his allotment as a homestead and a part of it as a surplus allotment.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Parker, you have here a well-organized bureau, and I want to get some information from you as to its relation to the bureau in Washington and if your position as superintendent approximates, so far as the Five Civilized Tribes are concerned, the position of the commissioner in Washington in relation to all Indians. Is that correct? Then, the department next in importance is your inspection department; the next is the field supervision; and the next is the office review. Do you have all these offices or what approximates these three supervisory divisions?
Mr. PARKER. Yes, sir; I think so. We might not just call them by these names, but I happen to have here a tree, rather hurriedly prepared, showing the organization of the office.
The CHAIRMAN. That tree shows the plan of your office?
Mr. PARKER. Yes. There are a few inaccuracies in detail, but not in the general outline.
The CHAIRMAN. This plot that I am looking at now is the general plot. We will go into that further in detail as we go on.
Mr. PARKER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I am speaking of the three divisions in their relation to you—inspection, field supervision, and office review.
Mr. PARKER. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Field inspection takes in such matters as personnel, health, law and order, industries, school and agency buildings.
Mr. PARKER. That is with the Indian Office in Washington.
The CHAIRMAN. What I am trying to do is to compare that with this office here to see whether or not, so far as the Five Civilized Tribes are concerned, you do not either of you duplicate the other.