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Mr. BURTNESS. There were a lot of whites, were there not?
Mr. BURTNESS. The reason you picked out these is that these men were members of the general council ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes. My purpose was this: That their interest was not the interest of the ordinary Indian; that their interest has always been the interest of getting the property away from the real Indians, and, of course, whenever you diminish the general fund, why, every Indian loses. Now, here is a bill that asks for the appropriation of $22,000 to the general council.
Now, recently, because of the emergency, you passed a bill that I introduced, giving each Indian $100 out of the trust fund, because they were threatened with starvation, and perhaps one-half or two-thirds of these Indians are perfectly able to take care of themselves, and perhaps 3,000 or 4,000 of them are practically paupers that have been taken care of largely on the White Earth Reservation, as Mr. Meritt knows. They had a hospital there and an old peoples' home, etc., but they have not now.
So this general council came down here, and I supposed it was duly accredited and a bona fide organization representing the Indians, and I was busy on other matters, and never questioned it. They came down here and lobbied before this committee, and the first thing they did was to attack everything that had been done. They wanted the Indians released from all supervision; they wanted to wipe out the Indian reservations; the Indian Bureau should be wiped out and the general council should handle it; but • they did not want any appropriations.
Now, it is very easy to reduce appropriations, even if they come from trust funds. I think in 1915 the relief of Chippewas that was taken out of this trust fund by Congress was $205,000. After this council had been down here for several sessions it was reduced. Here are the figures :
For the fiscal year 1915 the appropriation was $205,000 ; 1916 there was only a resolution that appropriated the same amount; 1917 it was reduced to $185,000; in 1917 the appropriation for the general council was $6,000, and the appropriation for poor and sick and helpless Indians was $185,000 ; in 1918 the relief for poor and sick and helpless Indians was $185,000 and $6,000 for this general council, but they got more influence, so in 1919 they reduced the appropriation to $175,000, and their own appropriation for the services in getting this appropriation reduced was raised to $10,000. As there are only 10,000 Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, a $10,000 appropriation means $1 out of every man's, woman's, and child's pocket, and many of these Indians are on the verge of starvation. They only get about $18 annuity out of millions of dollars in the Treasury. So they took $1 apiece by reducing the appropriation for these Indians out of this fund that belonged to them all, and there being 10,000 Indians, a $10,000 appropriation just takes from these poor fellows $1 each, for doing what? Reducing the appropriation for the poor, sick, and helpless Indian.
Then, in 1920, it was reduced to $100,000, but for the services Mr. Ballinger claimed the credit for it got another appropriation of $10,000, and in 1921 they got Congress to reduce the appropriation to $60,000, and their own payment for lobbying was $10,000. Now, I presume that is the one they have not got, and that is what this bill is to pay. They were more successful at that time. They want to tax every Indian a dollar apiece for reducing this appropriation for the relief of Indians from $100,000 in the previous year to $60,000.
Now, the result of that reduction was this: The medical service of doctors and nurses was discontinued. Mr. Meritt can tell the details. And the old peoples' home was abandoned, the hospital was closed, and I think you have now before you a bill to turn the hospital over to the State of Minnesota, because the appropriation is not sufficient to pay these expenses.
Now, the health conditions—I have a communication I can submit from the board of health of the State of Minnesota
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Mr. Steenerson, permit me to ask right here just wherein this fits in this proposition we have here? What we are trying to determine is not a question between the White Earth and Red Lake Indians
Mr. STEENERSON (interposing). I am not talking about that.
The CHAIRMAN. Just a moment, if you please. What we are trying to determine is whether or not Mr. Ballinger has been properly compensated for the service he has rendered or whether he is entitled to more compensation.
Mr. STEENERSON. I thought I was talking about this. I am talking about the services the general council, which is Mr. Ballinger, has rendered. These photostatic copies show they got reductions in the appropriation for relief.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Does that come out of the tribal funds?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir. And you understand Mr. Ballinger's constituents are all able-bodied men, either merchants, farmers, or professional men, and I do not think there ha ever been an officer of that association who was not a wealthy man, so to speak, and they want to reduce the appropriations for the Indians, and they want it all to remain in the trust fund, so for each $10,000 they reduce the appropriation—that is, $1 per capita-for each of the others and it increases the trust fund that much. If it is spent on the sick and . poor for hospitals and such things, it reduces their interest in the fund.
Mr. JEFFERIS. How much is this fund, do you know?
Mr. STEENERSON. It was $6,000,000 until recently, until we appropriated $100 per capita. Probably it is $4,000,000 now, but that does not last long, and my idea is if the activities of Mr. Ballinger and this council continue they will exhaust it. They had a bill up before your committee to pay out all the money in the trust fund; they want to divide it right away. Then what becomes of the sick and poor? They have tuberculosis and trachoma and everything and are helpless. The officers of the counties are appealing to the governor, and the governor sent recently a representative from the Board of Health of Minnesota. The Becker County officers sent me a letter that it looked as though, if this money was distributed per capita, they would be left with three, four, five, or six hundred paupers to support. That is pretty hard on a small county, and the chances are the Federal Government would not help them, because 90 per cent of them are citizens of the United States. So the claim of the taxpayers of my district is that instead of this money being paid for lawyers' fees it should be kept for the poor.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Then it is your view, I take it, Mr. Steenerson, that this socalled council is more interested in getting money for services for lawyers' fees than to have it go back to the poor Indians?
Mr. STEENERSON. Exactly. Now, I appeal to you as you examine that charter to consider this, the same as you organize a mutual fire association; you get people to sign, and as you pay the expenses of everybody in the county you can perpetuate that organization as long as you please. There is no way to change these officers; they control it absolutely, although the poor Indians who are full blood and the sick Indians are protesting against any of this fund being used for these men that claim to represent them.
Now, I have cited these things to show the services of Mr. Ballinger have been hostile to the real Indians who need the care of the Government, and therefore he is not entitled to any compensation. He had no contract, and this contract under this general council—that general council was undoubtedly formed for the purpose of avoiding the statutes in regard to contracts with Indian tribes; no question about that.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Is there any authority of law to have a general council of tribal Indians when out of the reservation ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Nobody has ever raised the point, but it seems to me, as Mr. Henderson has testified, who is well versed in the Jndian lore, that a general council is called from all the tribes.
Mr. JEFFERIS. That is, among the Indians ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes. But this represents a large number of full-blood Indians.
Mr. JEFFERIS. As I understand, this council, you say, has been granted citizenship largely ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Most of them.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Is there any authority for citizens to form an Indian council after they become citizens?
Mr. STEENERSON. I do not think there is, but they contend they are Indians, because the United States has funds, and the United States is guardian of that Indian so far as that fund is concerned.
Mr. ROACH. If the council is unfaithful to the trust and hostile to the real Indian, is there not any way to depose them and get men who would be favorable?
Mr. STEENERSON. It would take a lot of money to get control, because they pay their expenses of delegates to every meeting.
Mr. Roach. How were they chosen in the first place by a majority of the tribe?
Mr. STEENERSON. By a majority of whoever attended the council.
Mr. STEENERSON. If you had good politicians and they were after the business and understood it and had money enough to travel, all that could be done, but I have watched this thing ever since I first began to study it.
Mr. Roach. Has it ever been called to the attention of the Interior Department that this council has been unfaithful?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes; and Mr. Burke has said he refuses to recognize any council, either full-blood or half-breed.
The CHAIRMAN. That is only very recently.
Mr. STEENERSON. Since Mr. Burke came in. Mr. Burke was formerly a member of this committee and familiar with Indian affairs.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Steenerson, I regret the time for our recess has gone by and it is now 12.32, and it is unanimous-consent day, and I think we will have to recess until to-morrow at 10.30.
Mr. STEENERSON. I would like to add just one word here before I forget it. There are only three Congressmen from Minnesota who represent the territory where the White Earth Indians live. Those are Mr. Larson, of Duluth; Mr. Knutson, of St. Cloud; and myself. We have considered this together a great many times.
This bill is introduced by a man who lives hundreds of miles away from any of these Indians. He can have no interest in it. My constituents are vitally interested, because we expect when this money is divided up, as proposed by the general council, that the counties will have to support them. That is the interest we have in it, and I do not know that the author of this bill has any interest whatever in it.
Mr. JOHNSON. Do the three Members of Congress who represent the section of the State where the Indians live all oppose this bill?
Mr. STEENERSON. I am so informed. I saw Mr. Knutson yesterday and he said he would come here, and Mr. Larson was with me.
The CHAIRMAN. I will say for the benefit of the members of the committee that this hearing is being held for the purpose of determining whether there is anything justifiable in this claim, and, further, to establish a policy as to whether or not the committee will hereafter listen to claims of this kind. That is why we are going into the matter so very deeply.
Mr. STEENERSON. It is very important.
The CHAIRMAN. And we will be glad to hear the two other Members of Congress from that section of the State if they desire to be heard. I have notified Mr. Knutson, but not Mr. Larson, and asked Mr. Knutson to come here. We will recess until 10.30 Wednesday morning.
(Whereupon, at 12.35 o'clock p. m., the committee recessed until Wednesday, January 18, 1922, at 10.30 o'clock a. m.)
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Wednesday, January 18, 1922. The committee this day met ,Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) president.
The CHAIRMAN. This being a recess proposition, we will proceed with the hearing and await developments.
Mr. Steenerson, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. HALVOR STEENERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.
Mr. STEENERSON. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, there was some discussion about the language of the bill before you, and I have looked it over carefully and have come to the conclusion that I can not agree with Mr. Meritt in his interpretation. The bill provides :
“ That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to pay out of the funds of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota now held in the Treasury of the United States all expenses of the general council of said tribe incurred in all litigation and proceedings instituted by direction of said general council ”. He is directed to pay them
“ for the benefit of said tribe up to and including July 1, 1921, said accounts to be first approved by the president and secretary of said general council ”.
That is, the payee of this appropriation ; that is the one who gets the money ; he certifies to his own accounts" and certified to the Secretary of the Interior for approval, and when approved by him to be paid; and the sum of $21,500”
I believe the comptroller would hardly be justified in holding that the Secretary of the Interior was authorized to audit these expenses. This act provides for a self-auditing procedure. The beneficiary of the appropriation is the general council, and the officers of the general council are to pass on it and have got to certify, but it does not say just what the certificate shall be, except that it shall be approved by the general council. “When approved by the Secretary ”-that would mean, to my notion, that it was in the form contemplate ! by the statute, that it is approved and certified by the general council and officers; but he would not be justified in going behind the certificate of the general council. I claim that is the proper interpretation of this act, the same as the case to which Mr. Meritt referred as an analogous subject. There is another thing that I would call to the attention of the committee and that is the language of the appropriation act for the fiscal year 1919; I think that is the next to the last year.
The CHAIRMAN. Two years—1920 and 1921.
Mr. STEENERSON. These are fiscal years. It should be borne in mind that a fiscal year commences six months before the calendar year begins and it ends on the 1st of July. This is for the fiscal year 1919, June 30, 1919. That is the title of the act. That would go back to July 1, 1918, and would include the 1st of July, 1919. That is, the fiscal year takes its name from the year in which the fiscal year ends. The clause making the appropriation for the general council reads:
“ That the sum of $10,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary, of the tribal funds of the Chippewa Indians of the State of Minnesota, is hereby appropriated to pay the expenses of the general council of said tribe to be held at Bemidji, Minn., beginning July 9, 1918, pursuant to the constitution of the general council of said Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, organized in May, 1913, and to pay the expenses of said general council in looking after the affairs of said tribe, including the actual and necessary expenses of its legislative committee in visiting Washington during the second sesson of the Sixty-fifth Congress, said sum to be immediately available, and said actual and necessary expenses to be approved by the president and secretary of the general council and certified to the Secretary of the Interior and as so approved and certified to be paid.”
That is substantially the same language as in all of the appropriation acts. There is one peculiar thing about it. Here is this statement of the payments pursuant to different appropriation acts. Now, you will observe that the act appropriates money and says that it is for the general council expenses and the itemized bill, about half of it, relates to the expenses of delegates to Bemidji, Minn. There are the hotel bills of all the members and then I find this item, “ Webster Ballinger, legal services, $2,830.33.” I want to point out that it seems to me that an appropriation for the expenses of the general council does not include the attorney fees. They could not certainly spend that much money going up there.
Mr. Roach. What is the date of the last item, $2,830.33?
Mr. STEENERSON. That item is headed “ Statement of expenditures from the sum of $10,000 appropriated from the Chippewa tribal funds by the Indian act approved June 30, 1919 (Public No. 3, p. 13), for 1920 on account of councils, delegations, etc., to December 15, 1919."
That is the statement in the account that they sent to their own council and to the Secretary of the Interior. The following is a detailed statement of the particular items of $2,830.33 :
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS,
Washington, January 23, 1922. Hon. H. STEENERSON,
House of Representatives, Washington. MY DEAR MR. STEENERSON : In response to your letter of January 18, 1922, I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of statements submitted to this
office by Mr. Webster Ballinger, covering professional services and other expenses aggregating $2,830.23, paid from the tribal funds of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, under claim No. 320719. Sincerely, yours,
CHARLES H. BURKE, Commissioner.
The Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, to Webster Ballinger, debtor
(to be paid out of the $10,000 item contained in the act approved
the Chippewa General Council during the third session of the
Expenses of trip to attend meeting of the general council held at
Cass Lake, Minn., commencing July 8, 1919, and inspecting
Transportation from Washington, D. C., to Bemidji, Minn.--
15. 94 4. 86 2. 16 45. 94 2. 16 2. 16 4. 86 14.50 9. 95 8. 00 20.00
JULY 5, 1919. The Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, to Webster Ballinger, debtor (to
be paid out of the $10,000 item contained in the act approved June 30,
3. 50 Feb. 21, 1919, Kent & Pilson, stenographic and typewriting 11. 50 Mar. 15, 1919, A. McCoy Hanson, stenographic and typewriting- 150.00 Dec. 17 (2) and Dec. 20, 1918, telegrams..
2.95 May 11, 1918, telegram.-
170. 60 If you examine closely the appropriation you will find that the expenditure was never authorized, because it is not within the description of the items which they claim, and I think the same thing may be said as to all of these items for these years from 1916 to 1920, those five years—if you examine the appropriation acts.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Was all of the $10,000 used in 1919?
Mr. STEENERSON. In the fiscal year. Some of it, of course, would begin in 1918.
Mr. JEFFERIS. I understand.
The CHAIRMAN. What you are attempting to show is that the language in the appropriation act did not permit the payment to the council; is that the point?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir. It does authorize payment for legal services. When the general council certified it to the Secretary of the Interior or the