« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
two or three days expecting to go up to the commissioner and submit our matters. The boys did not seem to know. In a few days they asked me to go to Mr. Ballinger's office. I went up there, and Mr. Ballinger had a statement already made. He said, “ Boys, after you were here yesterday got to thinking about affairs that we were talking about, and I made this statement." It was the statement that we took to the commissioner. I read it over. I thought in some respects it was not all right. All the other boys signed that statement; I did not, because a lot of things did not represent what we were after. In a few days we went up there. I could lot understand what was between them, and afterwards it developed. Mr. Ballinger had prepared a bill-I forget now the number of the bill-perhaps to introduce in Congress, covering the entire affairs of the Chippewa Indians, by which it was proposed to take all of the trust property in the hands of the Department of the Interior that we had turned over to the Government, proposed to take it out of the department, etc., with a provision for attorney fees of 10 per cent, and all that sort of stuff.
The CHAIRMAN. That 10 per cent provision was rather important?
Mr. COFFEY. Yes, sir; we believed so. If that had gone through it would have amounted to something like $1,800,000. I opposed it, because we had no authority to do that. I brought it to the attention of the trustees and several Members of Congress. It was never acted on. I then brought the matter to the attention of the general council.
Mr. JEFFERIS. After you went back home?
Mr. COFFEY. Yes, sir. Then the Indians all over Minnesota called a general council, to be held on the 25th of April, 1918, I think.
Mr. SWANK, What degree of Indian blood are you?
The CHAIRMAN. Have you not some claim or some bill you are trying to get through now to compensate you for the work you are doing down here?
Mr. COFFEY. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you not row approximately in the same position that Mr. Ballinger is in?
Mr. COFFEY. No, sir.
Mr. COFFEY. I have been authorized to come here. I am under a regular salary just the same as any one of you gentlemen receives a salary.
The CHAIRMAN. I just wanted to get that clearly before the committee.
Mr. COFFEY. I submitted the bills that Mr. Ballinger had introduced and which he was trying to get passed in order to take all the Chippewa lands away from the Indians. Then they adopted a resolution removing John Morrison, John Fairbanks, removing him from the position of committeeman and removing Henry Warren-the general council removed the whole bunch.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Did they remove you?
Mr. COFFEY. No; they did not. They then went to work and filled the offices with other men that they had made vacant. I was elected the president then. At the next annual meeting of the general council, which was to be held in Bemidji, I had, as the president of the council, gone there and engaged the city hall, where we always held the meetings of the council. I engaged it for the next meeting and had the engagement put on record.
Mr. JEFFERIS. What date?
Mr. COFFEY. I think that was the 9th day of July, 1918. When I went to open up the hall I found that we could not get in. I went to the custodian of the hall and he said that Morrison secured the key to the hall. He said, Mr. John Morrison came here two or three days ago and got the key.” Mr. JEFFERIS. That was one of the fellows who had been turned out of office?
Mr. COFFEY. Who had been removed ; yes, sir. I went to look for Morrison. I told him that I had engaged that hall and that we wanted it. They told me that Morrison said it was for the general council, and they let him have it, that they thought it was all the same thing. I went to look for Morrison, but could not find him in Bermidji. Then we telephoned up to Red Lake, where he lives, but he was not there. Here were 135 delegates waiting to get into the
hall. They waited until 10.30 in the morning. We were to open up at 9 o`clock. Somebody suggested that we get another hall, and so I went over to the Elko, saw the man, and engaged the hall. Then we all went over there. After we got organized and started in in the Elko Theater hall Morrison showed up with his little bunch and went into the hall.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Into the city hall? Mr. COFFEY. The city hall; yes, sir. The number was so depleted that they did not make even a decent showing. They sent down to our hall and asked me to go up there. Well, under the circumstances I did not think it was proper; we did not want to recognize them. They sent us word to come up there and hold a meeting with them.
Mr. Roach. Why did you not just go up; you had the biggest crowd?
Mr. COFFEY. We are not always as sharp as we ought to be. We ought to have done that. That is how the two arose, and ever since that time the Morrison bunch has been getting together. There are three or four families up on the reservation, the Morrison, Fairbanks, and Lawrence. They have meetings at all times, but they have no vested rights in the property of the Chippewa Indians. They are, however, on the roll. They have been living on the reservation for many years. They have no other place to meet and represent no other people except those right in that 'one village of White Earth.
The CHAIRMAN. When did they take away the recognition ?
The CHAIRMAN. The new administration went into office on the 4th of March ; do you think it was after that?
Mr. COFFEY. Along about that time.
The CHAIRMAN. And since then you claim the bureau has not recognized the so-called Chippewa crowd?
Mr. COFFEY. That is what they tell me. In Bemidji last July they broke up themselves and more than 50 per cent of them left their old council.
The CHAIRMAN. How do you calculate so that you can say more than 50 per (ent?
Mr. COFFEY. I get that information by letters submitted from people up there.
The CHAIRMAN. You say 50 per cent or more. How do you come to the conclusion that it was 50 per cent or more” ?
Mr. COFFEY. From information received from up there.
The CHAIRMAN. You have no knowledge as to how many people were actually taking part in the ceremonies?
Mr. COFFEY. Only as I receive the information.
Mr. COFFEY. Those records are unreliable. I have watched that in and out. I can go through the records, because I have here a list of the delegates that have pretended to be elected. Many delegates selected by the local council do not go to the general council.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Does the Indian Bureau have any representative attend these councils?
Mr. COFFEY. Sometimes. We had one in 1919, to our sorrow.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Your contention is that Mr. Ballinger's claim should be wiped out?
Mr. COFFEY. He has no claim,; we do not owe him one penny.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Is there any bill pending here looking to authorize compensation for you?
Mr. COFFEY. Yes, sir.
Mr. COFFEY. I think $1,500 or $2,000. I have been here a year since October
Mr. MOTOYA. Do you not think it would be well, in view of this confusion, for this committee to wipe out all of these claims?
Mr. COFFEY. Wipe out everything that is not just. If you gentlemen do not think my claim is just, wipe it out; and if I am not contented with the salary
Mr. MONTOYA. You desire to start over with a clean slate?
The CHAIRMAN. We have some others to hear. If you can finish in five minutes, all right.
Mr. COFFEY. I can not do it justice in five minutes.
The CHAIRMAN. Do the best justice you can in five minutes, and we will see how you get along.
Mr. COFFEY. With reference to our contract with him, I engaged him and we made a contract with him to prosecute that one case.
Mr. JEFFERIS. That was on a percentage basis, was it?
Mr. COFFEY. He was to prosecute that case for $1,000. If he did not winI forget just exactly, but if he won he was to get a percentage.
Mr. Roach. Mr. Ballinger said he was employed under a general contract in 1913 or 1914 to check up the estate of the Chippewa Indians. Do you know anything about that?
Mr. COFFEY. I have heard of it, but it was a council of these interlopers. It was a secret council-what the Indians terned up there, in court, and under oath-they termed that a council of thieves.
Mr. Roach. I know, but in 1913, 1914, 1915 the Indian Department here at Washington was recognizing those fellows as representatives of the Chippewa Indians, were they not?
Mr. COFFEY. I do not know about that. Yes; perhaps they were, but this was a council that was not authorized. It was not under the constitution of the general council. It was a secret meeting composed of 9 or 10 of these interlopers, and there was not an Indian in the council. It was called at 11 o'clock at night-not earlier than 11—somewhere around 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, and one of them says that “when these resolutions were passed there were not more than 9 or 10 of us,” and “when it was exposed, when I laid that matter before those men, that was authorized at that secret meeting, before the general council arrived there, they were ready to throw these men out of the general council.” And what did these fellows do? They sat right down there and wrote resolutions rescinding the acts they did in this secret meeting and said that as this matter had never been presented before the general council, we therefore say it is void." This is the kind of men they represent. He did not represent the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. He never did, except in that contract and that one case, and when that case was terminated his services were terminated and he was more than well paid for it. We collected more than $400 to start him on that case, and he has pulled out with this bunch there that has attempted to be recognized by the Indian Office and milked them for $8,000 or $10,000.
Mr. Roach. The only fee he accounts for here was in 1916. Did you pay him that?
Mr. COFFEY. In 1917 was when we paid him that $400.
The CHAIRMAN. In answer to a question of Mr. Jefferis you said there was a representative of the Indian Office there in 1919 at a conference that was called at your sorrow. What did you mean by that?
Mr. COFFEY. In 1919-our local council is held on the first Tuesday of June of each year. At those local councils delegates are elected who shall go to the general council on the 2d of July of each year. On the 2d of June of 1919 I was here with two other of the Chippewa Indians. One of them was John Kyle. He was one that belonged to the other bunch. There was a controversy there. John Kyle got here in town and got broke and he wanted the Indian Office to pay his expenses, and, as I understand, he was a common nuisance. By the way, Ballinger tried to get the Indian Office to pay his expenses. Finally the commissioner here—it occurred to him that we ought to get together and a proposition was made to request an adjournment of those meetings of the local council up there at which the delegates were elected until the 17th
of June. Well, I agreed to that and we all agreed to it—to adjourn. Well, then, it seems that the suggestion did not reach many of those local councils to act in time before they adjourned, and they had finished their regular meeting.
So on June 3 the local council met there, selected its delegates, completed its business, and adjourned, and some day or two afterwards the agent came down there and notified some of the local councils there that there was to be another council held on June 17 at Pinehurst for the purpose of selecting its delegates. The council had selected its delegates in regular order and there was no authority under the constitution to elect other delegates at some other time; and so an adjournment was taken. The whole thing was complete, but there was nothing under the constitution or elsewhere to authorize setting that election aside. So on June 17 at Pinehurst
The CHAIRMAN. Was that the one the representative of the Indian Office attended ?
Mr. COFFEY. Yes. Mr. Dickens was the Indian agent. He was a close friend of Mr. Morrison and Mr. Fairbanks. At Red Lake, Fairbanks and Morrison had a store up there, and there was a great deal of business between them and the Indians there, and the Indian agent thought that was not right. I have a statement here, and I have been told in person by the agent of the transactions between those two men on that reservation. The business had been removed to White Earth Reservation, and the local council that was held at Pinehurst was in his district. He went around and had posted notices for this mee ing to be held on the 17th day of June 1919, to elect delegates to the general council. Delegates had already been elected in the regular manner under the constitution, and a great many of the Indians did not know what this was and why it was to be that way, and there were a lot of them that attended, but these other fellows got busy, gathered up their relatives and friends and went outside the State, everywhere, because of the controversy and dispute as to their right to be on the rolls. They got very busy and thought there would be something done affecting their status there.
The CHAIRMAN. Right at that point, since there is a call of the House, I think we will recess until Friday morning at 10.30.
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
Friday, January 20, 1922. The committee this day met, Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES R. DAVIS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Davis, we will hear from you this morning as proponent of the bill. You may have such time as you desire in the matter. Give us a brief statement of why you presented the bill and what you think about it.
Mr. Davis. Mr. Chairman, ordinarily, at least that is my experience, a bill of this nature, introduced as it is by an outsider, usually says it is introduced by request. But in this instance I did not care to say that it was introduced by request for the following reasons. I know Mr. Webster Ballinger, and have known him for 15 years or more. That is part of my time in Congress. I have been here about 20 years, and occupied the same room in the House Office Building since the building was constructed. I have known of my own knowledge that he was at all times for the last five or six or seven years or more industriously working at what I considered in the interests of the Chippewa Indians, regardless of mix up as to their general councils or anything of the kind. He has conversed with me and a Congressman who had an adjoining room, and he has brought members of the tribe up to see me to influence me in behalf of the real Indians of the Chippewa Reservation.
My home is Minnesota. I knew the tribe of Chippewa Indians before he was born; I will state that. I knew the Sioux Indians, the difficulties between them, and I also know in a general way, without being able to give details, that those Indians by some one, I will not say who, have been robbed of some of their allotments and some of the money that has been in the Treasury. My vote has always been against giving them, say, $200,000 up there for overhead
charges. I understand what overhead charges mean, being connected, .as I am now, with all the departments of the Government for years on the Appropriations Committee. One of the curses at the present time is that of too much overhead charges in the various departments. I speak of that positively now, and I want that to go in the record. In my opinion the overhead charge connected with the management of the Chippewa proposition has been enormous, and for some reason it was hard to get it down. Mr. Ballinger has always been working, to my personal knowledge, to reduce it, and at the present time I think it is down to $60,000.
This bill mentions litigation. You will notice the words in here, “to defray the expenses of litigation and proceedings instituted by direction of the general council.” I believe that proceedings instituted by them may be in the form of a man trying to induce Congressmen to do the right thing. That is a proceeding. Some would call it lobbying, but I think it constitutes proceedings. Aside from that, I can not say the number, Mr. Chairman, but numerous legal proceedings have been instituted by Mr. Ballinger, both in Minnesota in regard to taxes of these lands and down here in suits in equity. Aside from all that, he has spent, to my knowledge, a great portion of his time for a great many years working along the lines that I have suggested. Therefore this measure was introduced by me, not by request, as you see, but of my previous knowledge.
I have always understood that this tribe of Indians had a general council up there and they still have. As to the method of getting it, we heard Mr. Coffey the other day. There seems to be a dispute among them, but my understanding is that the present general council has been the only council that has operated along these lines. How they obtained it-by manipulation, by political activity, this, that, or the other, which, as the chairman well knows, sometimes happens I do not know, but I introduced this bill upon the theory that the general council truly represented, at least, a large majority of the Chippewa Indians. That is why I introduced it. But I say to you gentlemen here, from my acquaintance with Mr. Ballinger, I do not believe that he for one moment will attempt to rob the Indians of any of their $6,000,000 fund which lies in the Treasury. All of his efforts have been to the contrary, and I think he has been successful in 'several suits down here in the Supreme Court of the United States, through suits of equity; I do not know where they were, I can not give you the details, but I know he was successful in Minnesota in keeping the Indians from being taxed by our State' unjustly. It was his efforts that started suits up there, sending out briefs along those lines. I can not answer questions that Mr. Coffey would like to ask me about details of this; I can not; but, Mr. Chairman, this bill is drawn with so much care to see that the Indians shall not be robbed of one dollar expended under this that is not just
“ Said accounts to be first approved by the president and secretary of said general council and certified to the Secretary of the Interior.”
It has got to go through the general council and to go to the Secretary of the Interior for approval. He can approve it or disapprove it. If he is opposed to it, he d'sapproves it. That is the safeguard thrown around it by the language I put into the bill, “and certified to the Secretary of the Interior for approval, and when approved by him to be paid; and the sum of $21,500, or so much thereof as may be necessary”—I was careful to have that in—"is hereby appropriated out of said funds for said purposes.”
The CHAIRMAN. Then you do not agree with other witnesses who maintain that Mr. Ballinger's efforts have been detrimental?
Mr. Davis. I certainly do not; and of my own personal knowledge I know they have always been just the reverse.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you know when you drew this bill that Mr. Ballinger had already been compensated nearly to the extent of $10,000 ?
Mr. DAVIS. I knew he had been compensated to a certain extent.
The CHAIRMAN. It has been developed in the testimony that during this period that he has been making efforts for the Chippewa Indians that he has received slightly over $9,000 for services and something over $800 for expenses.
Mr. DAVIS. I do not know the exact amount that he has been compensated.
The CHAIRMAN. The question has also been raised that the account having been settled by an appropriation made from year to year, that he can not come in now with a bill for services that have already been accounted for.
Mr. Davis. Mr. Chairman, that is why all these things were put in here. It has to have the approval not only of the general council but of the Secretary of the Interior, and let him decide it then and there whether he has been paid too much or too little.