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The CHAIRMAN. That is exactly what I see in this investigation up to the present moment. All these extraneous things that they are bringing in here do not seem to count for much with me. It is simply a question of whether Mr. Ballinger has been compensated sufficiently for the work that he has done. If he has not, then he ought to be compensated. It was proved here by the assistant commissioner that he did not think that Mr. Ballinger had gotten all that he was entitled to.
Mr. Davis. Let the Secretary of the Interior decide that when that is presented to him, and if we trust our Secretary of the Interior we can refer it to him, and then if with all the facts before him he turns it down, all right.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Davis, as a legislator here for many years you realize that nothing like this has been done before.
Mr. Davis. I do not know, of my own personal knowledge, that it has been done before.
The CHAIRMAN. If we legislate on a matter of this sort, unless we have absolute grounds for it, it is going to open up the gates.
Mr. Davis. I appreciate that.
The CHAIRMAN. You also realize that if we do pass it, it has got to go down to the Committee on Appropriations?
Mr. DAVIS. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. It has to pass over a series of hurdles before he finally gets the money.
Mr. DAVIS. Exactly. I do not think anything this committee does will have any effect of robbing anybody of a single dollar, because of the aftermath that has to follow it. An investigation has to follow. This simply authorizes the Secretary of the Interior if he deems proper to make a recommendation.
The CHAIRMAN. Practically the same as any other claim bill.
Mr. DAVIS. Exactly. I know Mr. Ballinger has instituted proceedings and tried to get a lot of these claims of the Indians referred to the Court of Claims. He has spent a large amount of time on these things. That is proper, Mr. Chairman. It is egal and it should be done. I think that it is universally a proper thing. I know that he has devoted months and years of his time along these lines and in every instance where he has taken these things before the courts the result has been to save the Chippewa Indians from being robbed out of their annuities, etc. I know I have heard from other Members of Congress, from Mr. Ellsworth and others, that he has devoted much time to that work. They speak that way of Mr. Ballinger. I can not tell you the details. But the Secretary of the Interior after this bill has been passed can thoroughly investigate.
The CHAIRMAN. There is one thing that has seemed unusual to me while these hearings have been going on. There are two or three Congressmen representing these districts, and so far only one of them has appeared here, Mr. Steenerson, in opposition to the bill. It would seem that the other two men should come here and give us their advice and counsel with regard to the matter.
Mr. Davis. Mr. Chairman, I do not care to go into that phase of it. I am very well acquainted with Mr. Steenerson and I do not care to discuss it. I have my private ideas and reasons for this, being one of the oldest residents in Minnesota. I do not care to go into that at all.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Steenerson seems to base his argument wholly upon the ground that whatever Ballinger has attempted to do for the so-called council, it has been contrary to the wishes and interests of the Red Lakes.
Mr. Davis. The Red Lake Reservation is in his district, is it not?
The CHAIRMAN. It would seem that his argument against Ballinger receiving further compensation was based upon that fact more than any other.
Mr. Davis. I do not care to discuss Mr. Steenerson. I have an impression in my mind that amounts to a conviction, but I do not care to say anything more about that phase.
Mr. SEARS. Following our usual custom, not indicating what our final report will be, it strikes me in reading this bill that we do not get anywhere. I think we have had this bill up ever since I have been on the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. No.
The CHAIRMAN. The question of Ballinger's fee does not come up every time there is an appropriation to be made.
Mr. SEARS. My point is that whatever the committee's report might be, this authorization is that “ the sum of $21,500, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated out of said funds for said purpose.” Mr. Davis has said that he does not know how much Mr. Ballinger claims.
The CHAIRMAN. Ballinger claims the $21,500.
Mr. SEARS. Suppose he claims $50,000 afterwards, and that he has overlooked some of the committees he has been before in some of the years. We have not settled anything. Would it not be well: to put an amendment to this bill that whatever amount the Secretary agrees upon shall be in final and full settlement of any claims Mr. Ballinger may have? Then we are though with it.
Mr. Davis. I certainly would not object.
Mr. SEARS. I do not mean by that that I would report for or against the bill, but it does seem to me that should be put in there.
Mr. DAVIS. I approve of that very heartily.
Mr. SEARS. Mr. Davis suggested that what the Secretary of the Interior decided would be binding.
The CHAIRMAN. This hearing is for the purpose of determining whether we will consider the bill. I thank you for the suggestion just the same.
Mr. SEARS. You might overlook it when the bill comes up.
Mr. Davis. I do not know the details. Mr. Ballinger has never told me what the claim is out of this sum. The amount was suggested, I understand you are going to leave it to somebody to investigate, leave the amount of the claim to the Secretary of the Interior. If you will put a limitation on it that it shall he in full settlement it will please me very much.
The CHAIRMAN. We will see that something of that sort is put on before the bill gets out of the committee.
Mr. Davis. Gentlemen, I can not go into the details of this matter, because I am not familiar with all of them. The idea I had was to leave it to somebody to investigate and find out before paying him one dollar more than he is entitled to.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Davis.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anybody here that desires to be heard further on this matter before Mr. Ballinger has a short period to rebut such testimony as has been put in. You did not finish, Mr. Coffey?
STATEMENT OF MR. JAMES I, COFFEY,
Mr. COFFEY. I had not finished.
The CHAIRMAN. How much time will you want? We must close this hearing this morning.
Mr. COFFEY. I will make it as short as possible.
The CHAIRMAN. You may have 15 minutes. If you have a brief that you wish to place before the committee, it may be put in.
Mr. COFFEY. For the information that the chairman requested Wednesday as to the time that the Indian Office decided not to recognize the general council, that was done on May 12.
The CHAIRMAN. Of the past year?
MAY 12, 1921. Mr. P. R. WADSWORTH,
Supervisor in Charge, White Earth Agency. MY DEAR MR. WADSWORTH: Referring to your letter of March 17, with reference to the method of selecting delegates from the various bands and districts of the White Earth Reservation to attend the general council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, you are advised that in view of the fact that the Chippewa Indians are divided as to the so-called general council and as Congress eliminated the appropriation for expenses, etc., of the general council from the Indian appropriation act for the next fiscal year, it is believed best that no recognition should be accorded either faction as a general council, and that any of the Indians may be heard, either singly or in groups, without recognition as having the right to speak for the tribe as officers of a general council.
In view thereof you are instructed to take no action in the matter of holding local councils or the election of delegates to local councils or a general council. There is no objection to your being present and taking notes and making such reports thereof to this office as you deem proper, simply as a record of a meeting of the Indians. Sincerely, yours,
CHAS. H. BURKE, Commissioner.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS,
Washington, May 13, 1921. Mr. JAMES I. COFFEY,
Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. COFFEY : Referring to your communication of March 1, 1921, and to your personal visit yesterday relative to the matter of representation of Indians in the local council or councils of the White Earth Reservation, Minn., there is inclosed herewith a copy of a letter dated May 12, 1921, addressed to Mr. P. R. Wadsworth, supervisor in charge of the White Earth Agency, relative to this matter. Sincerely, yours,
CHAS. H. BURKE, Commissioner. Mr. COFFEY. I have here a photostatic copy of a contract that we entered into with Mr. Ballinger in 1917 to prosecute a case that I spoke of Wednesday to restrain the Indian Office from expending the fund appropriated by Congress in a joint resolution.
The CHAIRMAN, You may put the contract in, but you do not want to put all these other papers in.
Mr. COFFEY. The contract provides that in case he does not win the case he was to get $1,000, and in case that he lost it he was to get a percentage of the amount of $180,000 that was appropriated.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean the reverse of that. You mean to state that if he lost the case he was to get $1,000, and if he won it 10 per cent of what he recovered.
Mr. COFFEY. That is what I intended to say. (The contract referred to is as follows:)
CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT.
This agreement made in triplicate at the village of Bemidji, State of Minnesota, witnesseth:
1. That the parties in interest are the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, party of the first part, and Webster Ballinger, attorney at law, residing at the City of Washington, District of Columbia, party of the second part.
2. The authority under which this contract is entered into, its scope, and the reasons for exercising the same will appear from a certain resolution adopted by the executive committee of the General Council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, an authenticated copy of which is hereto attached and made a part of this contract.
3. That the general, special, and particular purposes for which this contract is entered into are fully set out in said resolution of the executive committee of the General Council of the Chippewa Indians which is hereto attached and made a part of this contract.
4. The party of the second part agrees to faithfully and diligently prosecute said case to a final determination to the best of his ability.
5. In consideration for the services heretofore and hereafter to be rendered in said case commenced in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia and entitled “ John G. Morrison, jr., for and on behalf of himself and all other members of the Chippewa Tribe of Indians in Minnesota similarly situated, plaintiffs, v. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, Cato Sells, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and John Burke, Treasurer of the United States, defendants. Equity No. 33761," and in securing the payment of the decree when finally entered in said case by the party of the second part, the party of the first part agrees to pay the party of the second part out of the funds recovered a sum of money equal to the interest on said principal sum of $160,000 since the same was withdrawn from the trust funds of the Chippewas on the books of the Treasury of the United States and until the same is reimbursed to the Chippewas by the United States; and in the event said suit should be adversely decided to the Chippewas then and in that event the said Webster Ballinger shall receive out of the trust funds of the Chippewas on deposit in the Treasury of the United States the sum of $1,000 for moneys expended by him in defraying the expenses of said litigation.
6. This contract shall continue in full force for a period of five years from and after the date of its being signed by the parties hereto.
7. In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our hands and affixed our seals this 21st day of November, A. D. 1917. [SEAL.]
THE CHIPPEWAS OF MINNESOTA,
By JOHN G. MORRISON, Jr.,
Party of the first part. [SEAL.]
Party of the second part.
I, J. E. Harris, judge of the probate court within and for Beltrami County. Minn., do hereby certify that John G. Morrison, jr., for and on behalf of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, executed in my presence the foregoing contract; that the interested parties thereto, as stated to me by John G. Morrison, jr., are the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota and Webster Ballinger, and that the authority for making the contract and the execution of the same by John G. Morrison, jr., as representative of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota is the resolution of the executive committee of the General Council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, an authenticated copy of which is hereto attached and is made a part of the contract.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature as judge of said probate court and caused the seal of said court to be hereto attached this 21st day of November, A. I). 1917.
J. E. HARRIS,
Judge. I, Wendell Phillips Stafford, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, do hereby certify that Webster Ballinger, a member of the bar of the District of Columbia, executed in my presence the foregoing contract; that the interested parties thereto, as stated to me by Webster Ballinger are the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota and Webster Ballinger, and that the authority for making the contract and the execution thereof is the resolution of the executive committee of the General Council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, an authenticated copy of which is hereto attached and is made a part of this contract.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature as associate justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia and caused the seal of said court to be hereto affixed, this 13th day of December, A. D. 1917.
WENDELL PHILLIPS STAFFORD, Associate Justice, Supreme Court, District of Columbia.
Mr. JEFFERIS. What is the date of that contract?
Mr. COFFEY. A specific job; yes. That is the only case. We have paid him. It is shown that he received under that act of March 21, 1917, the sum of $400.
Mr. BALLINGER. That is all in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Outside of the contract I think those figures are in the record.
Mr. COFFEY. Since then we have not employed him. The Chippewa Indians of Minnesota have not employed him nor has he rendered any service for them. He has rendered service for people that have no interest in the trust funds of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, who, however, are on the roll and were put on the rolls through imposition of the Indian Office. Under the treaty of 1867 we ceded the Government 3,000,000 acres of land. It was provided by the council that they were to be taken off the rolls, but the Indian Office never took any action on that. The Indians have contended for the last 60 or 70 years that they have no interest in the tribal property of the Chippewa Indians. They subscribed to the cession in 1889, but they had nothing to cede. What did they cede? What property did they have in Minnesota that they could cede? They are from Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada. They have nothing in Minnesota
that they could cede, but they were there for the simple reason that the Indian Office had them on our rolls. They went through the farce of making an investigation at one time and had a hearing in 1914. That was decided adversely to the Indians' contention on technical grounds, not because of justice and equity. The Indians do not accept that settlement until they get a just settlement on grounds of equity and what is right. I say they do not represent the Chippewa Indians at all, because I will tell you that certainly is not the general council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. They really had that, but that does not make it so. They represent those fellows, those interlopers, about 1,100 or 1,200 of them in number and their council consisted of those people, but the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota had nothing to do with that council. They had a council of their own; 10,000 or 11,000 of them. Those fellows are only 1,000 or 1,100. They are trying to come down here and make you believe and to make the officials of the Indian Office believe, that they are representatives of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, but they are not. This man was up there in 1919 and witnessed a performance up their, which, if he was right, he would never have stood for it, if he was a representative of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. Those fellows were up there and Dickens pulled off fraud and undertook to override the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota.
The CHAIRMAN. Whom do you mean by those fellows?
Mr. COFFEY. Yes; Dickens was connected with the bureau. They had the sanction of the bureau. The point at issue was this: That the local council at White Earth—there are four local councils there-elected delegates. Every one of them was to elect delegates according to their population, and they did. It was agreed he was to go and undertake a survey of that work there on the White Earth and have them adjourn to June 17, and he was going to act in that controversy and try to settle it there. But, before it came to that, all these councils had been held and concluded their business, that phase of it, and the Indian agent went to work and called another council. There is no provision in our constitution that would authorize any such thing as that. Our constitution provides to conduct those meetings in an orderly way. So they went to work and held a special meeting; that is what he calls it himself in his report. He does not call it a constitutional meeting by any means. It is a special meeting. He went to work and had a new chairman and a new organization altogether elected there, and they went ahead and overrode all the delegates that were elected under these constitutional local councils.
The Indians did not attend the special meeting, because they knew they had business on June 3, at the regular time, and they all believed it was another fraud being perpetrated by those mixed bloods that pretend to represent the general council and pretend to control it, and so it was; so it turned out to be. They were friends of this man, Dickens, who was agent at Red Lake, and these people had stores up at Red Lake and had been dealing with the Indians' money. I have letters in my possession, stating that there was fraud between Dickens and those merchants up there. For years they had been getting the Indians' complaints and they laughed at the absurdity of the Indians going to one of those stores to purchase goods, to find there awaiting him a check in his name against his account in the bank that he had never called for and didn't know how it came there, and which was presented to him to sign. Such things were pulled off up there by Dickens on the Red Lake Reservation. That is a matter of common knowledge and complaint. It is all over in Minnesota that way among the Indians. Dickens was removed from the White Earth Agency, but there is where he pulled this stuff off. Ben Fairbanks was interested in it at White Earth, where the agency is, and they were closely associated. It is plainly to be seen why this stuff was pulled off by Dickens, contrary to all law and order and the constitution. He held a meeting at Cass Lake and he took the chair there. It was my duty to take the chair, as I was president, but it was agreed with the commissioner that Dickens should hold a meeting in order to bring those parties together, and then proceed along the lines of the constitution and by-laws. There were two contending factions: Those that were orderly and regularly constituted by the local councils were there, and also the bunch that was irregularly elected or selected as general council.
The constitution provides that the committee on credentials shall seat the delegates. But this fellow Dickens said “No; I have got the chair here. What I say will go. If anybody don't like it they can go out doors; there is the door.”