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people against whom he seeks to litigate. .I reserve the right to fight any such provision on the floor of the House. I wish that this committee, in considering this matter, would consider the Red Lake Indians as distinct and out of this transaction, because they are not a part of it, in my opinion.
The CHAIRMAN. How can the committee do that when all through this period the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been recognizing the integral right of all of these Indians ?
Mr. KNUTSON. I am frank to admit, or I will say this: That I think the Indian Bureau made a mistake in recognizing the general council, because a majority of them are as white as I am.
Mr. JEFFERIS. You think this is a socialistic move for somebody to get somebody else's property?
Mr. KNUTSON. I do not think so; I know it. I do not think this committee should have such concern about white Indians, many of whom are college graduates. I am more interested in the blanket Indians, the full blood, who is never heard down here, and there are very few that appear in his behalf. It is not necessary for me to go into the details of the White Earth scandal and the way the Indians were looted up there of everything they had—valuable pine claims that were worth $20,000 to $25,000 being sold for two or three thousand dollars, because they have got a few white Indians that they have given fancy prices to have act as decoys for the others. It is a matter of record, and I want to say, Mr. Chairman, that I hope that this committee will not report out anything that will bring a scandal into the sixth district of Minnesota. We have had enough scandals in connection with Indian affairs in our State. I know the plight of those Indians up there, and I am more concerned with seeing that they get something to eat and something to wear than that some lawyer here in Washington should get a fee that there is doubt that he has earned. There is want and suffering up there right now. Private charity is helping out and has been all winter, and for my part I am more anxious to see their suffering relieved than anything else. I want to thank the committee for having taken such favorable action on the bill to pay them $100 allotment.
I want to say in conclusion that I do not think Mr. Coffey is as black as he has been painted, by any means. I have never caught him in any deception, and he has had all kinds of opportunities to deceive me. The only time I ever made a misstatement on the floor of the House I made it on Mr. Ballinger's representation, and the chairman knows about it. I was new and I took his word for it, and I have often regretted having done so. That is all I have to say.
The CHAIRMAN. That finishes your remarks?
The CHAIRMAN. You were not here this morning when Mr. Davis appeared and gave his reasons for presenting the bill. Perhaps you would have said all that you have said if you had heard his statement. But he takes an absolutely reverse view of the situation from you, and claims to know the facts up there.
Mr. KNUTSON. When did he learn them?
The CHAIRMAN. That, of course, I do not know. He said he has lived there all his life.
Mr. KNUTSON. When was he up there? That would be interesting to know.
The CHAIRMAN. He made the statement that he knew about the Indian country there before Mr. Ballinger was born.
I think in closing the hearing on this matter that, perhaps, Mr. Meritt has something to say to us. It was the intention of the chairman to handle the matter in this way by an agreement with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, that after we had all of the testimony in here and had it typed, that he would come here and make a statement with regard to the matter. So just before we have the hearing ready to print and all the briefs have been filed, we will submit it to the commissioner and have him come here and make a final statement to close it up. If that is agreeable to the committee, we will have Mr. Meritt make a short statement this morning, and that will close the hearing for the present until the commissioner comes here to make a final statement.
Mr. COFFEY. I would like to answer
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). You had your day in court. This question of crimination and recrimination between two men who stand before the committee in practically the same light has gone far enough. Mr. COFFEY. His statement was not true.
The CHAIRMAN. There has been enough of that. You agree that each is not telling the truth, and we know that to start with.
Mr. MERITT. I concur in the statement of Mr. Knutson that we have had enough scandal in Indian affairs in the Chippewa country. The scandal resulting on the White Earth Reservation was brought about by reason of the act of Congress in an innocent looking amendment placed on the Indian bill in 1906 and further modified in the Indian bill of 1907. As a result of that innocent looking legislation 90 per cent of the adult Indians on the White Earth Reservation had their restrictions removed and we were powerless in the Indian Bureau to protect those Indians.
Mr. DALLINGER. Do you think it was done for a purpose, a selfish purpose?
Mr. MERITT. I think that Congress was imposed upon. Certain timber interests of the Chippewa country brought about this legislation so that they could get hold of these valuable timber allotments and pay a very inadequate price. The records show that that was done.
As to the bill now before the committee, I wish to invite the attention of the committee to the fact that if this legislation is passed it recognizes the principle that an attorney can go ahead and do work for an Indian tribe contrary to the provisions of existing law found in sections 2103, 2104, 2105, and 2106 of the Revised Statutes and later assert a claim against either the tribe or the Government. I do not believe that that is a sound policy for Congress to establish. Congress in the last Indian bill refused to make an appropriation for the General Council of the Chippewa Indians. That resulted in the Indian Bureau refusing to recognize either faction in the Chippewa country, and now that Congress has established that policy of refusing to make appropriations for either faction, we do not believe that Congress should recognize further a general council in this legislation that is now before the committee.
I believe that it is a wise policy for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Congress to refuse absolutely to recognize either faction or to give either faction any power by legislative enactment, and if you will leave this Chippewa matter to the committees of Congress and to the Indian Bureau, I think in a few years we will be able to work out the Chippewa situation to the satisfaction largely of both factions, but if we recognize either faction by legislative enactment, the feeling is so bitter between those factions that it will result in disorganization, discrimination, and injustice to these Indians.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, there is nothing but disorganization up there now. It could not be much worse than it is.
Mr. MERITT. The disorganization will not last very long if the Indian Bureau and Congress will refuse to recognize either faction and if we will refuse to pay the expenses of these so-called representatives to come down here to represent the factions. Personally, I believe that the sooner Congress refuses to open up this Chippewa matter, the sooner we will be able to handle the Chippewa Indian situation to the satisfaction of the Indians and of Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, Mr. Meritt, you realize how difficult it is for this committee and particularly its chairman, who is being importuned almost daily to hear bands of Indians from various sections of the country, to say to them after they have come long distances, “We will not hear you.” I don't think we can do it.
Mr. MERITT. I sympathize with your position.
The CHAIRMAN. I sympathize with them and want to hear what they have to say.
We must consider the matters between them and determine whether legislation with reference to one or the other of these bands would be in their favor or to their detriment. I do not think that Congress can afford to say that the bureau shall determine that matter definitely and then refuse to recognize anybody. I think that some one has got to conclude somewhere who is to be recognized, because you have to do business with them; but whether or not it is the policy to say we will not deal with anyone except the individual Indian, I doubt if that is good policy. It may be. I would want to think it over before I agreed to it.
Mr. MERITT. Knowing the Chippewa situation somewhat intimately, I believe that Commissioner Burke is pursuing the right policy in refusing to recognize either faction and dealing with the Chippewa Indians as a whole through the superintendents of the various reservations.
The CHAIRMAN. I have no doubt that he is doing the right thing. I have the utmost confidence in his ability-at least, in his endeavor to do the fair
thing, but just whether or not it will turn out the way he expects I am not SO sure,
Mr. JEFFERIS. What is the policy of the department, really, in permitting the council to employ a local lawyer to present some claim that they may have in reference to Indian properties?
Mr. MERITT. If Indians have a just claim against the Government, we have no objection to the Indians having attorneys to prosecute that claim in the Court of Claims. Heretofore we have been waiting as a general rule until after a jurisdictional bill passed Congress, and then we would enter into a contract with the attorney under the provisions of sections 2103, 2104, 2105, and 2106 of the Revised Statutes.
Mr. BURTNESS. You say if the claim is a just one. That is, after you have really judged of the merits of the claim. Why, then, if you have already determined that the claim is just should there be any necessity for it to be represented or litigated at all?
Mr. MERITT. Because they will need an attorney to present their claim before the Court of Claims in proper form.
Mr. BURTNESS. But there are some claims that are disputed which may be just or they may not be. There may be some question in the minds of the men in the bureau. How about those ?
Mr. MERITT. Where there is a prima facie claim we have no objection to the Indians having an attorney. There have been asserted claims amounting to millions of dollars against the Government of the United States, not necessarily by the Indians, but by the claims attorneys, and in order to protect the Government the present Commissioner of Indian Affairs is conservative in submitting favorable reports on these claim bills, and I have included in the record in the Wichita hearing a letter prepared by Commissioner Burke and addressed to the Secretary of the Interior setting out his views on these claims.
The CHAIRMAN. It has been my understanding, at least, that it is the universal practice of the bureau to supervise the selection of an attorney to present those matters at all times, whether before or after they have come to the conclusion that the claim is just. I think that is the practice to-day, is it not?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALLINGER. One question : Mr. Meritt, the timber frauds were known to the department in the nineties, were they not?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir.
Mr. RALLINGER. Was any action taken by the department looking to suit against the timber companies for the recovery of the timber? Mr. MERITT. I will place the answer in the record. That was 25 years ago. Mr. BALLINGER. Has any suit ever been brought against any lumber company?
Mr. MERITT. Yes. See United States v. Pine River Logging & Improvement Co. (89 Fed. Rep., 909).
Mr. BALLINGER. Was the question of ownership of the Red Lake Reservation by the Chippewa Indians brought to the attention of the department prior to the time I brought it to its attention?
Mr. MERITT. That question was never raised by anyone that I know of until you raised it, and it is very vigorously denied now by not only the representatives in Congress from that State, but by the Red Lake Indians.
Mr. BALLINGER. If my position should be ultimately sustained in the courts and you should proceed to distribute the Red Lake Reservation among the Red Lakes, it would lay the Government liable to several million dollars, would it not?
Mr. MERITT. We have not yet distributed the property of the Red Lake Indians. One reason for this controversy in the Red Lake and the White Earth Reservations is this: The White Earth Indians were allotted and a large majority of the White Earth Indians lost their property. We have not yet allotted the Red Lake Indians, and the Red Lake Indians own every foot of their diminished reservation. The White Earth Indians now propose to try to get part of the property of the Red Lake Indians after the White Earth Indians have lost their property.
(The statement above referred to is as follows:)
The following information in regard to the Chippewa Indians' funds is submitted to the committee for its information:
Statements showing receipts and expenditures of the tribal funds of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota arising under the acts of January 14, 1889
(25 Stats. L., 642); February 26, 1896 (29 Stats. L., 17); and June 27, 1902 (32 Stats. L., 400); also the accrued interests thereon to June 30, 1921 : Chippewa in Minnesota fund : Total receipts from Sept. 30, 1896, to June 30, 1921.
$13, 208, 023.36 Mille Lac judgment, act Sept. 8, 1916 (39 Stats. L., 823). 610, 354. 24
3, 966, 540.37
Analysis of expenditures :
Amount reimbursed to the United States on account of ex
penditures from reimbursable appropriations by Con
gress for relief, civilization, surveying, education, etc--Logging expenses, including estimators, cruisers, scalers,
etc., under act Feb. 27, 1902--
478, 353. 81 539, 666. 03 26, 827. 16 38, 316. 02 130, 139. 66 19, 157. 75 48, 705. 70 61, 525. 57 25, 385. 34 90, 614, 09 88, 045. 85 53, 527. 89 39, 452. 45 4, 862. 61
6, 739.08 401, 040. 79 12, 955. 94
695.00 33, 772. 25 34, 329. 27
5, 381.00 127, 763. 44 15, 459. 20 17, 046.07
1,511, 469. 27
7, 777, 771. 61
Interest on Chippewa in Minnesota fund, act Jan. 14, 1889 (25
nesota fund from Sept. 30, 1896, to June 30, 1921. Amount expended
4, 797, 130. 51 4, 530, 718. 56
Analysis of expenditures :
Educational purposes, act Jan. 14, 1889.
929, 109.57 2, 632, 241.16
Analysis of expenditures—Continued.
Amount reimbursed to the United States on account of ex
penditures from appropriations under "Advance interest
$969, 367. 83
4, 530, 718. 56
Balance in Treasury July 1, 1921_
264, 007. 98
266, 411. 95 Mr. BALLINGER. It is a matter of legal right to be determined by a court, is it not?
Mr. MERITT. We are willing that that matter should be determined by the court.
Mr. BALLINGER. It is conceded by the Red Lakes and the department that such a question has been raised that it is now necessary to send it to the courts?
Mr. MERITT. I think was unfortunate that the question was raised.
(Thereupon the committee adjourned to meet again at the call of the chairman.)
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Thursday, February 2, 1922. The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, we will come to order. We are resuming again, under recess, the hearings. We have met this morning for further discussion and investigation of the so-called Ballinger case, dealing with H. R. 6872, and we, have, as I hope, the last witness in the case, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs appearing before us this morning to secure the final view of the department on matters of this kind and, in particular, his viewpoint of the measure that we are discussing, and I will ask the commissioner to look at a letter dated December 16, which I have before me, which, perhaps, he has a copy of. You have seen that letter before and are fully familiar with it?
STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES H. BURKE, COMMISSIONER OF
INDIAN AFFAIRS. Mr. BURKE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. This is the report of the Assistant Secretary of the Interior on this matter, and I will read the last paragraph of it so as to familiarize any member of the committee with it who has not heard about it. He says:
There is a division in the tribe and two distinct factions, one dominated by the mixed-blood element, the other by the full-blood Indians. Both claim to represent the majority of the tribe. Both have an organization in a so-called general council, and each has an alleged representative claiming to be duly authorized to represent their respective council, and one protests against tribal funds being expended on the part of the other. The department has taken the position of not recognizing either faction as being duly authorized to represent the tribe and has therefore not approved the payment of expenses said to have been incurred for attorneys' fees or representatives, pending a determination of who, if anyone, is entitled to legally represent the Chippewa Indians. Until this section has been determined I am unable to approve the enactment of H. R. 6872, believing that the committee and Congress will be able to determine first, whether the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota shall be permitted to employ a general attorney, and if so, whether it shall be an attorney for the whole tribe or attorneys representing different factions of the tribe, and how the attorneys to be employed are to be selected.”
Now, my thought is that since the commissioner undoubtedly had to do with dictating this letter, we ask him to state in his own way how he came to this . vidual or a band ?