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CLAIMS AGAINST CERTAIN CHIPPEWA BANDS.

COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

Thursday, January 12, 1922. The CHAIRMAN. The committee this day met, Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. The matter before us is H. R. 6872, a bill by Mr. Davis of Minnesota.

On this bill I have a report fr he Interior Department dated January 7, 1922. I will ask Mr. Meritt to read that and it can be put into the record later. Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. [Reading:]

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

Washington, January 9, 1922. Hon. HOMER P. SNYDER,

Chairman Committee on Indian Affairs, House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. SNYDER: I have your letter of November 17 requesting a report on H. R. 6872, a bill to defray expenses of litigation and proceedings instituted by direction of the General Council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota.

The purpose of the bill is to pay the attorney for services and expenses alleged to have been rendered at the instance of the general council of the said Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. The only attorney that has filed any claini in this department against the Chippewa Indians is Mr. Webster Ballinger, of Washington, D. C.

Mr. Ballinger has asserted that he has represented the Chippewa Indians for a number of years in matters before the department and committees of Congress and that there is a balance due him, for services and expenses, of the amount stated in the pending bill. Not having any approved contract, this account has not been paid. He has, however, during a period of years assumed to represent these Indians, and has been quite active in matters in which they are concerned with the Indian Bureau and the department.

At present there is a division in the tribe of the Chippewa Indians; they tare divided into two distinct factions. One protests and objects to any moneys

being expended on account of the other. The department refuses to recognize j any expenses incurred by either faction. Mr. Ballinger represents that the

services rendered and expenses incurred for which he is seeking payment were mostly before the present factional differences existed.

For the reasons stated, I am unable to recommend the enactment of H. R. 6872, though, if the Congress finds that the services of Mr. Ballinger have been Or legally rendered and that he has not been fully compensated and should see

fit to authorize an expenditure of the funds of the Chippewa Indians for the w purposes of paying him, I shall offer no objection thereto. Sincerely,

E. C. FINNEY, Acting Secretary. STATEMENT OF MR. WEBSTER BALLINGER, ATTORNEY, WASH

INGTON, D. C.

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The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Ballinger is here and I think we should give him a few moments, say 10 minutes, to tell us what there is on this claim, and what the claim is, and how much there is involved in the proposition. If agreeable to the committee he may proceed now.

Mr. BALLINGER. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN, It is a matter you are deeply interested in and if you have not time enough now we will give you more time later.

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Mr. BALLINGER. I am deeply interested in this matter for it represents not only the compensation that I may receive for 8 or 10 years of servce to these people, but this $21,000 represents in part money actually paid out of my pocket in defraying the expenses of the matters that I have handled for these Indians.

I want to call your attention to the fact that the bill now before you does nothing more than to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to investigate this matter and to approve an account for such an amount as he may deem proper. That is the plain effect of the bill. Now, that being the case and the committees of Congress not having time to inquire into the matter, it is necessary that the matter should be referred to some individual or tribunal that may go fully into it and do even-handed justice. That is all that I ask. I would not take from those Indians one penny that I am not honestly entitled to. Now, gentlemen of the committee, the report submitted by the department is a little ambiguous to me. It is necessary for me to state the facts so that you gentlemen may arrive at your own conclusions.

In 1889 the United States entered into an agreement with the Chippewa Indians by which Indian allotments were to be made to all of the members of the tribe, and the residue of the property was conveyed to the United States in trust and that trust was an expressed trust. It provided that the land should be classified into pine lands and into agricultural lands. No other classification was authorized. The pine lands were to be appraised and the timber and the lands sold at not less than the appraised value, but at public auction for as much as they would bring. The agricultural land was to be disposed of under the homestead law of the United States at $1.25 per acre. In the administration of that estate the Indians found that they were receiving but little. The property was being disposed of, but the Indians were receiving but little. In 1913—that was 24 years after the agreement of 1889—the Indians, for their own protection, got together and organized a volunteer association known as the General Council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, adopted a constitution and by-laws. When their representatives first came to Washington they got no information, even with the aid of the Representatives from that State. Congressman C. B. Miller, who passed away the other day, and who was one of the dearest and most devoted friends of these Indians, made repeated attempts to obtain information with reference to the condition of their affairs from the department, but without success, and the hearings before this committee in past years will show his repeated and his constant demands upon the department made before the committee for information. The Indians found themselves helpless without the aid and assistance of some man who could go into the entire matter and get at the facts. They came to me in the winter of 1913–14. At that time a proceeding had been instituted at the instance of a man by the name of Burch, a Government employee, who had gone out there, the logical result of which would have been a dismemberment of the tribal rolls. It was an attack upon 89 members of the tribe and that was to be followed by other lists embracing a thousand or two thousand additional names. That proceeding had been running for a number of years. Large volumes of testimony were taken in it and these Indians came to me and asked my advice. I told them I did not care to handle the matter, that I had had some experience in Indian matters and I had been unable to obtain my compensation except after years of effort. I knew some of the men personally and they were among the respectable men of the State of Minnesota ; some of them stood as high in their localities as any man within the State of Minnesota. They appealed to me and assured me that if I would assist them that they would in turn ultimately secure my compensation from trust funds. They asked me to fix a price and I told them that I would not do it, that when the work was done and the value of the services was known then we could agree upon it.

The CHAIRMAN. Will you state right there who those men were who came to you and asked you to do this?

Mr. BALLINGER. One of them was Gus. H. Beaulieu, a representative of the general council, and another was B. L. Fairbanks, a representative of the general council, and other representatives who were here.

The CHAIRMAN. Were they regularly elected members of the council?

Mr. BALLINGER. They were; and not only that, but regularly recognized as delegates by the department and committees of Congress,

The CHAIRMAN. They were delegated at that time to come to see you with regard to that matter?

Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. Upon their authorization I went into that case. The department had had it for a number of years, had taken a large volume of

testimony, and then referred it to the Court of Claims for hearing and decision. I looked into the matter and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, on the ground that neither the department nor the court had jurisdiction of the subject matter nor power to do the things they were attempting to do. Lined up on the opposite side when that case came to hearing was quite an array of governmental and other attorneys. After hearing on the jurisdictional question the court sustained my motion and dismissed their bill.

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Was that upon the distribution of this land?

Mr. BALLINGER. That was with reference to the rights of 89 enrolled Indians. They had already received their allotments. They had been in possession of their property for twenty and odd years, and this was an attempt to strike them froin the rolls under some pretext that their ancestors away back under the treaty of 1854 had received half-blood scrip. A rereference was made by the department of the matter to the Court of Claims, and I renewed my motion to that reference and the court again sustained it. The matter was again taken back to the department, where I again renewed my motion and the department sustained it. I want to say, in common fairness to the Indian Bureau, that I do not think the Indian Bureau ever had any sympathy with that movement. The effect of it would have been, if that complaint had been sustained, to have probably gone back and struck from the rolls the names of several thousand Indians who had been recognized as members of the tribe since their birth, who had been born into the tribe as members, and who had received their allotments and been in possession of their allotinents for twenty and odd years.

These gentlemen came to me after that and said, “Now, will you not go into our affairs, give us a statement of the condition of our estate? I told them that that involved an immense amount of work, and they appealed to me on the ground that they were helpless. “Our property is going; we can do nothing," they informed me. “ We have got to have your assistance, and we assure you that we will obtain for you compensation."

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Who made that representation?
Mr. BALLINGER. The representatives of the general council, and it is set out.
Mr. LEATHERWOOD. The same individuals as heretofore?

Mr. BALLINGER. The same individuals as heretofore and some additional who took the places of those previously here, and all duly accredited representatives of the Chippewa Tribe recognized by the department and the committees of Congress as such. Now, gentlemen, I then started in to make an examination. It is one of the biggest things that I have ever done in my life. When I had finished with that investigation I reported the results to them and the reports with their complaints were filed with the department, the first document being here (exhibiting document to committee] together with the answers of the department. Here is what I found and it is impossible to go into detail, but I will only touch a few of the high spots. I found that over 600,000 acres, much of it containing valuable stands of timber, as fine stands as could be found within the State of Minnesota, had been patented to the State of Minnesota supposedly or mistakedly under the general swamp-land donation act.

Mr. McCORMICK. How many acres ?

Mr. BALLINGER. Over 600,000 acres. I found that the State had applications pending for approximately some three or four hundred thousand additional acres, roughly speaking. I went into that matter exhaustively and I might say that as a result of the repeated efforts, at least, the result in. part of repeated efforts that I have made as their representative since then, the present Indian Commissioner has recommended the instiution of a suit against the State of Minnesota for the recovery of so much of that land as has not been disposed of, for the recovery of the proceeds received from the lands that have been sold, and for the cancellation of all existing applications: Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Why lin

that which has not be disposed of? Mr. BALLINGER. Because, Congressmen, some of that land has been sold by the State to private individuals. It has passed down through a chain of title and it would unsettle conditions frightfully if an attempt was made to recover back the particular land,

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. But they do seek the recovery of the proceeds of it?

Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. The proceeds. That suit when instituted can not only be maintained but it will recover back for these Indians somewhere from $6,000,000 to $12,000,000, and at the same time cut off a claim for a like amount against the United States. In that alone I feel that I have performed not only a valuable service to the Indians but a patriotic duty to my Government.

Mr. MERITT. You will be fair enough to state that the Indian Bureau for the last 15 years has been contending for that for the Indians and has been fighting for that and are still fighting for it.

Mr. BALLINGER. I want to be eminently fair to the Indian Bureau. My information is that the Indian Bureau took the same position that I had arrived at, but Mr. Commissioner, while that has been going on I failed to find a single protest from the Indian Bureau upstairs against the consummation of the transaction. I did not find it.

Mr. MERITT. That is the position of the Indian Bureau for the last 15 years.

Mr. BALLINGER. If that is the position they went on issuing patents while that was the position of the Indian Bureau just the same, as I found no protest against their issuance nor did I find anything of record with reference to the position of the Indian Bureau.

The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask you a question or two?
Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. On account of all this work you have done, what have you actually turned in to the Indians as the result of that service? I am not speaking now of what you contemplate turning in, but what has been turned in of value to them for your services up to the present time?

Mr. BALLINGER. Mr. Chairman-
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). You understand my question ?

Mr. BALLINGER. Yes; I understand the question. May I go a step further before answering it?

The CHAIRMAN. Answer it whenever you please. I want that question answered and then I will ask another one.

Mr. BALLINGER. I found also, gentlemen, a large area of their land had been included in forest reserves; one forest reserve created contained approximately 500,000 acres of land. I found that compensation had been rendered for 90 per cent of the timber cut and no compensation had been rendered for 10 per cent of the timber that was left standing. I found that the Indians were entitled under the agreement to the market value of that land, not less than the appraised value, but that it was to be taken by the Government at $1.25 per acre, which was only a fractional part of what that land was actually worth. I found other reservations in operation in that country—I mean Indian reservations—that had been abolished by law in 1889, because in 1889 all reservations among the Chippewas except the White Earth and Red Lake Reservations were abolished, and I found on these reservations, being maintained without authority of law, agencies with all expenses of administration paid out of the Indian funds.

I am not going into detail any more than is necessary with reference to what I found. For instance, I found thousands of accounts of moneys that under the law the department was directed to pay directly to the Indians which had been withheld and those thousands of accounts in those various agencies necessitated the employment of a large number of bookkeepers and accountants. I have here I happened to find in my office as I came out—a check for 3 cents drawn in favor of one Indian in settlement of his account, and there were many accounts of that kind for a few cents. I found that although that money was being improperly withheld and the Indians entitled to it under the law, that when the Indians wanted $10, $15, or $25 they had to make application and the officers then investigated the necessity of the Indian applying, and that the investigation in many instances cost more than the amount the Indian got. I took that matter up, brought the matter to the attention of the department, and with the assistance of Mr. Meritt he issued an order directing the disbursement of those funds. That order put into the hands of the Indians the moneys they were lawfully entitled to and cut off a heavy expense.

The CHAIRMAN. An expense to whom?

Mr. BALLINGER. To the Indians. I found also a very unsatisfactory condition in their schools.

Mr. Roach. Was it through your efforts that this order was made for the payment of these accounts ?

Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. Mr. Meritt is here. I am the only man, with the members of the council who were present here, that brought those accounts to his attention, and you will also find their protests in the hearings before the committees.

Mr. Roach. Just one further question to keep this clear in my mind as you go along. Do you contend that it was the results of your efforts and investigation that this suit was filed to recover the title of this land in Minnesota ?

Mr. BALLINGER. No suit has yet been filed, but one has been recommended to be brought. I do not think that there would ever have been anything done. I do not believe the matter would have ever come to suit if it had not been for my efforts and the efforts of this general council. Their representatives have been here year after year in the wintertime and that is one of the things they have been insistent upon year after year, and the present commissioner, who came in under this administration, is the first man who has actively gone behind it that I know of. Mr. Meritt has always sympathized with that and approved it, but Mr. Meritt has not at all times been the head of that office.

I found that large areas of their lands had been taken under the drainage laws of the State of Minnesota under a law passed by Congress. The Indians received only incidental benefits, the drainage districts of Minnesota being the primary beneficiaries. I found that very large quantities of their pine lands that had been cut over instead of being sold at the market price as their agreement provided for had been disposed of at $1.25 per acre under the homestead laws, resulting in heavy losses.

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Was there any evidence that that went to the lumber interests?

Mr. BALLINGER. Congressman, that is one of the troubles that the Chippewa Indians are having and have had for years. The lumber interests do not want any inquiry into past conditions.

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Did that crop out?

Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. I found also, but that was known before, because it was shown by the reports of the committees of Congress and also by the reports of the special agents of the department—I have one of them here that in the appraisal of that timber

The CHAIRMAN. Put that in here-the number of it.
Mr. BALLINGER. Senate Document No. 85, Fifty-fifth Congress, first session.

That report shows that the timber estimators underestimated the timber. Until 1902 the Indians received practically nothing from their timber, which resulted almost in war in that country. There was an insurrection. The result was that investigations were made by Congress and by the department, and the law was changed with reference to the appraisal. Two of the timber inspectors or estimators up in that country committed suicide to avoid impending exposure and prosecution. The Indians lost, conservatively, several millions of dollars by that undervaluation, of which the timber companies were the sole beneficiaries except what the appraisers got out of it.

Mr. MERITT. Did you state the date of that report? Mr. BALLINGER. I just gave the number, Senate Document 85, by J. George Wright,

Mr. MERITT. The report is dated March 3, 1897.

Mr. BALLINGER. Yes; I said that I found these reports. I found where the property was disposed of in other and various ways to the loss and injury of the Indians. I found acts of Congress which are clearly in violation of the agreement, the terms and the conditions under which the Indians had passed this property to the United States, disposing of the property in other and different ways to their loss and injury. That is all set out in reports that I made. I have here a copy of The Tomahawk, an Indian paper, which contains one of the petitions filed with the Secretary of the Interior.

Mr. LEATHERWOOD. What is the date?

Mr. BALLINGER. April 24, 1919. As I progressed with the work, which is shown by the files of the department, each separate subject covered in the omnibus complaints previously filed was supplemented by separate briefs elaborating upon each one of the particular matters so as to bring each matter more fully to the attention of the department.

The CHAIRMAN. What would be the expense of publishing that petition on such a scale as you have shown us in the paper before you and who paid for it?

Mr. BALLINGER. The general council-that is, the individual members of the general council, in order that their people might know exactly what they were doing, paid for the printing of it. I did not. But I want to tell you, gentlemen, that the preparation of that document cost me, not including my own time, probably $1,500.

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