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The CHAIRMAN. Right at this point the committee will recess until 10.30 o'clock to-morrow morning. It is now 12 o'clock.
(Thereupon, at 12 o'clock noon, the committee recessed until 10.30 o'clock a. m. Friday, January 13, 1922.)
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
Friday, January 13, 1922. The committee this day met, Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) presiding.
STATEMENT OF MR. WEBSTER BALLINGER, ATTORNEY, WASH
INGTON, D. C.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. I said to Mr. Ballinger last night that this matter has been before this committee so long that it is time for a decision, and we want to hear his side of the case.
Mr. SWANK. What claim is that?
The CHAIRMAN. It is a claim of his own against the Chippewa Indians, and we had the opening hearing on it yesterday. He has gotten along some distance in his remarks, and I am anxious to find out, as I presume other members of the committee are, just what he has in the way of a claim. He has done a lot of work. I wish to find out how much he has had for it. We will find out those things as we go along.
Mr. BALLINGER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I desire to refer to just a few additional things that I found during my investigation relating to conditions among the Chippewas of Minnesota. I found that under the agreement of 1889 the Indians of the Red Lake Reservation were to have been immediately allotted—that is, as soon as the surveys were completed and the residue of the lands was to have passed, under the terms of the trust, to the United States and by it disposed of according to the terms of the trust and the net proceeds placed in the Treasury of the United States to the credit of all the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota. The provision of law with reference to that is found in section 1 and section 7 of the act of January 14, 1889, 25 Stat., page 642.
I found that under laws enacted by Congress upon the recommendation of the department attempts have been made to confer the exclusive ownership of all of the lands within the Red Lake Reservation after the allotments have been made upon about 1,200 members of the Red Lake Band, to the exclusion of all the other Chippewas of Minnesota. There are about 12,000 members of the Chippewa Tribe. I found that not an allotment had been made, and the reservation was being held and conducted as it was in 1889. Some 33 years have now passed and not an allotment has been made on that reservation.
The CHAIRMAN. There has not been an allotment made up to this time?
Mr. BALLINGER. Not an allotment. Those Indians still remain there in their former condition.
The CHAIRMAN. Just what has your effort accomplished in bringing about the allotment of this property?
Mr. BALLINGER. It has not accomplished anything up to the present time toward allotments, although the department is now working on a scheme-a bill that will be submitted to Congress, that will provide, as I understand, for immediate allotments to those Indians.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not wish to break into your argument, but you recall that about a year ago we then had an intensive investigation and made a real effort to straighten that matter out?
Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think that the efforts we made at that time are going to assist in bringing about an understanding in the matter now?
Mr. BALLINGER. There is no question about that.
Mr. BALLINGER. And further than that, it is now conceded by all parties, the Red Lake Indians, the department, and the other Indians, that the question
of the ownership of the reservation must be referred to the court and decided by the court as to whether or not the Red Lakes are the exclusive owners or whether or not it belongs to all the Chippewas of Minnesota.
You will appreciate the importance of that, gentlemen, when I say that if the property had passed under the laws enacted by Congress since 1889 the Chippewas of Minnesota, the tribe, would have had a claim against the United States for their value.
The CHAIRMAN. Permit me to break in again? · Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. There is a printed hearing that covers all that portion of the argument you are about to make. Will you refer to that hearing so that the members of the committee can get further information with regard .to this matter from it, and then we will not have to print it over again?
Mr. BALLINGER. Here it is, entitled, “ The Chippewas of Minnesota, Hearings before Committee on Indian Affairs, House of Representatives, Sixty-sixth Congress, Second Session, from January 21 to March 22, 1920." That will be a sufficient designation?
The OHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. BALLINGER. Gentlemen, I want to refer to these hearings for greater particularity and for probably a more accurate statement than I am making at the present time.
The CHAIRMAN. What we want you to do here, Mr. Ballinger, is, as concisely and as quickly as you can, tell us the things you did that warrant you in making this claim.
Mr. BALLINGER. Thank you. Gentlemen, I made an investigation of.the school situation. I found a very unsatisfactory condition existing. I found normal Indian children who had been in Government boarding schools for as long as 8 and even 10 years who were still in the second and third grades, due to the conditions there. I found a worse condition than that. I do not care to go into detail at this time.
The CHAIRMAN. You can give us an outline of We want the facts.
Mr. LEATHERWOOD. What is the condition that kept them in those particular grades so long?
Mr. BALLINGER. The condition was this, that under the practice in the schools the children received instructions during the morning hours for an hour or two. The rest of the time was spent in playing. The teachers were there, and all of the necessary employees, but the children were not in class nor in study during the afternoon. I also found that there was no effort being made to put the children into the public schools.
The progressive element among the Chippewas, the members of the general conucil, from whom I derive my authority to act, are progressive Indians. They are progressive people. They are not, in fact, Indians in its ordinary acceptation. Many of them are of a high order of intelligence. One man who recently died was worth several hundred thousand dollars, and I do not suppose that any man in the State of Minnesota stood higher than B. L. Fairbanks. He was the Santa Claus of the Chippewa people.
The CHAIRMAN. He is dead?
Mr. BALLINGER. He died last summer. It was one of the greatest losses they ever sustaine:l. He fed more hungry Indians and clothed more Indians that needed clothes than any man who ever lived in that country. Those men had advocated and through me further advocated the extension of the public schools to the Indians. It was costing the tribe approximately $200 to $300 per annum per child in the Government boarding schools and they were not receiving proper educational facilities. Those men wanted the extension of the public school system of the State to the Indians so that every Indian residing within a public school district could go to the public schools. What would be the result? That is, what would be the effect of that? When they went to the public schools there was comparatively no expense to the tribe. In the Government boarding schools it was costing them from $200 to $300 per annum per child. The result of my work, gentlemen, and when I say my work, I mean my work in conjunction with the general council, with the officers of the general council, has resulted in the abolishment of some; I think, three of the Government boarding schools. There are three only left in that country and until I took up this work for the general council there had never been one abolished. There had been always an extension of the boarding schools in that country. At White Earth, where they had a Government boarding school with a capacity of as high as approximately 200 children, the
Indians took that over thembselves and the Indians constituted the greater number of people in that county took it over, and established a public school, and the children now have the best elucational facilities they have ever known in that country. I want to say in that connection, because the matter may come up in connection with the appropriation bills, and I am vitally interested in this matter here because those people have gotten pretty close to me during the course of my work. They have, for instance, a mission school at White Earth. That mission school is a splendid educational institution ; I make no complaint in the world against it, but it is filled up largely with the children of the better class and children who have public school facilities at their homes. The tuition of those children and the expenses are being paid for out of tribaļ funds.
Miss ROBERTSON. May I ask what denomination ?
Mr. BALLINGER. It is of the Catholic denomination and I want to say, Miss Robertson, that most of the members of the general council are members of the Catholic Church, but they insisted that every child that is in that mission school that has public school facilities at his home ought to be in the public schools and that those children who are without public school facilities at their homes ought to have access to that institution if it is to be paid for and supported out of the tribal funds. I think that is a fair proposition, and when those matters come up in the form of appropriations, I would be glad to have the committee look into them.
Mr. BURTNESS. You just mentioned the White Earth. I would like to know at what other places besides the White Earth are there many of these Chippewa Indians in Minnesota ?
Mr. BALLINGER. They are scattered over a large area in the northwest part of Minnesota.
Mr. BURTNESS. White Earth is the center?
Mr. BALLINGER. White Earth is the large reservation. Upon the White Earth Reservation were allotted something like 7,000 Indians.
Gentlemen, the school situation has been immeasurably improved. The children have been to a very considerable extent gotten out of the Government boarding schools and the mission schools and are being placed in the public schools, and the general council has been working with the State authorities for the extension of the public-school system of the State. I want to advert here to a matter, because I have been trying to get an amendment to the Indian appropriation bill, and I hope that may be secured, that you gentlemen, when the bill comes up, may take it up and consider it. Last year the Indian appropriation bill contained an item of $20,000 for the establishment, construction, and maintenance of additional public-school facilities contiguous to the Indian children. At that time I insisted that the amendment should be put on so that they would be operated under the public-school system of the State. At that time I insisted that the amendment should go on, providing for the conveyance of sufficient land to the State upon which to construct the schools. The department thought that was unnecessary and that portion of it was eliminated. This year, when that came up—the appropriation being immediately available—and when we came to utilize that appropriation we found not a dollar of it could be expended for the purpose for which it was appropriated, because there was no authority of law by which the Secretary of the Interior could pass title to the land upon which the schoolhouse was to be built, and the State would not take it without that. I have been trying to get an amendment to the Indian appropriation bill this time that will give the Secretary of the Interior that authority. What would have been the effect of it?
The CHAIRMAN. You know you can not get that from the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. BALLINGER. I hope that some way can be provided.
The CHAIRMAN. That authority would have to come from this committee; not from the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. BALLINGER. What would have been the effect of that little amendment? With $20,000 there could have been at least three or four schoolhouses constructed in that country. Those three or four schoolhouses could have taken care of 150 children that are now in the Government boarding schools and the mission schools at a cost in the mission schools of $115 per annum, and in the Government boarding schools of $250 per child per annum.
The CHAIRMAN. Just what did you have to do with bringing that legislation into existence and getting that appropriation ?
Mr. BALLINGER. I drafted the amendment and followed it up.
Mr. BALLINGER. I did draw it so as to provide for the conveyance of the land, but the department struck that out and stated they had authority under existing law to do it.
The CHAIRMAN. How did they come to find out afterwards that they did not have authority ?
Mr. BALLINGER. After the law was on the statute book and we called upon them to commence the construction of the buildings, they looked into it further and then concluded they did not have the authority. I never thought they had authority.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you doing anything now to get that matter straightened out?
Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. I have submitted the matters to the department. The department has agreed to recommend a provision when the appropriation bill gets over to the Senate that will cure that defect.
The CHAIRMAN. You had better advise the department that they should get that legislation approved here if they expect it to get through.
Mr. BALLINGER. Mr. Chairman, there are so many things needed in connection with the Chippewa matters it is a pity that the department can not submit some general bill that will include all of this and let you take it up in an intelligent and systematic way and dispose of it.
The CHAIRMAN. We can take up everything in this committee except appropriations, and we can authorize those.
Mr. BALLINGER. I found hospital conditions bad, and this is another matter upon which they need further legislation. I found three hospitals in that country. One at Fond du Lac, one at White Earth, and one at Red Lake. Those were constructed out of Indian moneys in 1912, 1913, and 1914, expressly for the purpose of treating tuberculosis and trachoma cases. I found that in the administration of those hospitals not a trachoma nor a tubercular case was admitted to the hospital. These classes of cases received treatment at the dispensaries. A recent survey of the health conditions among the Indians in Minnesota has shown that as high as 17 per cent of the Indians and also about a similar per cent of the white people in the various localities there are afflicted with tuberculosis or trachoma diseases. The general council, and myself have been in communication with the public health authorities of the State of Minnesota. A representative, came down here to inquire into the matter and see what arrangements could be made. It is necessary that those hospitals be turned over to the State, because it is a State matter and the State works in conjunction with the Public Healh Service of the United States in the treatment of tubercular diseases. Now, last year we got a provision in the Indian appropriation bill authorizing them to turn over the hospitals that were not necessary in connection with the Indian Ser ce to the te authorities, but again there was no provision for land. I insisted at that time that it should go in, but the department said that it was unnecessary, so that the hospitals can not be turned over to the State for operation. The State will not take them without title to the land.
Gentlemen, that is a situation that calls for prompt action somewhere. The State authorities are ready to act. The State authorities are ready to do everything they can, and in the treatment of these diseases there seems to be the necessity for authority to be lodged somewhere where both the whites and the Indians can be treated, because it will not do to treat Indians alone and leave the whites there to further spread these diseases.
Mr. BURTNESS. How many of these hospitals, if any, are within the limits of the reservation proper ?
Mr. BALLINGER. There is, in fact, only one reservation remaining in Minnesota ; that is the Red Lake. The White Earth Reservation has been practically all allotted and is an open reservation to-day.
I found a large army of useless employees. It requires some time to set out in detail all of the things I found, but it required several years of hard work, as hard work as I ever did in my life, and as conscientious work as I ever did.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't you think you have covered, in the way of argument, about all that is necessary, or is there any particular point to which you want to call the committee's attention ?
Mr, BALLINGER. I want to call your attention to a fact.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like you to come down now to the specific items and make them just as concise as you can.
Mr. BALLINGER. I shall endeavor to do that. Complaints were made of the conditions existing in that country to the Indian Bureau, and an investigation was made by two special agents upon complaints specifically filed by the general council. I drew these complaints and they were signed by the Indians. An investigation was made, but the general council was denied the right to appear by its attorney and prove its charges.
Mr. ROACH. Does the general complaint, which you say you drew, specifically cover in a general way the matters you have been relating to this committee in relation to lands, timber, schools, hospitals, etc.?
Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir; that culminated in a report submitted in 1918 or 1919, in which there was a recommendation of dismissals or transfers of about 75 employees, and the correction of various conditions, such as new superintendents, new doctors in charge of the hospitals, new nurses; for transfer or dismissal of various employees.
The CHAIRMAN. We had a very intensive hearing on that at that time and it was a close proposition whether or not what those people recommended ought to be done, and it was finally decided to let the matter ride as it was.
Mr. BALLINGER. I am going to just advert to one other matter that I did that I am quite proud of. In 1917 or 1918 there came to my attention that the Indian Bureau was denying to the Indian children born off of their allotments, or outside of the limits of the reservations, any share in the tribal funds; that is, for instance, if two Indians living at White Earth moved to St. Paul and there had children, their children born in St. Paul were denied any right to participate in the distribution of tribal funds. I concluded that that was in utter disregard of the terms of the trust providing for the distribution of the funds. I found that a large number of these children had been denied either when their applications were submitted, or where their applications had previously been allowed, an order had gone forth to strike their names from the rolls. I filed petitions in a number of those cases, reopened them and finally agreed with the department that we would take one test case. That was finally submitted to the solicitor for the department. It was carefully briefed, carefully argued, and submitted, with the result that the solicitor sustained the contention of the general council. I have in my hand a copy of the Tomahawk, under date of April 24, 1919, containing the decision in full, and headed, “ General Council wins in the new-born children case.”
That affected the rights of not less than 1,000 children then in being and the children thereafter born outside of the Indian country. The rights of those children are variously estimated at from $2,000 to $4,000 per child. That was a recovery for those children of from $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 worth of property. I want to say that if I had done nothing else in all my work than to handle that one case, I earned the fee that I am asking several times over, because many of those people applied to me and wanted me to take up their cases individually and offered me 25 per cent of the amount they would receive. I told them that as a tribal attorney I could not accept individual employment and I would bring the matter to the attention of the general council and ask instructions. The general council instructed me as attorney for the tribe to represent those people, and I did. There was recently authorized a per capita payment of $100. These children will receive $100,000 out of that payment.
Mr. HAYDEN. The money they receive is merely taken from one group of Indians and given to another.
Mr. BALLINGER. That is true absolutely, and yet, if it had not been for my services, one group would have been denied entirely and the other would have been the sole beneficiaries, contrary to law.
I am going to pass over further discussion of the consideration of the work done. I want to come now to the question of the validity of the authorization given me to represent these people. I have before me a certified copy of the record and proceedings of the general council held in July of this last year, and I have a resolution, resolution No. 5, that was introduced, considered, and unanimously adopted. I am going to ask that this resolution and the report of the committee of the council be included in the record. I will just state the substance of it.
The CHAIRMAN. How voluminous is it?