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Whereas, there is now due and owing the said attorney the sum of twenty-one thousand dollars for services rendered and moneys expended by him for the benefit of said Indians to which he is justly entitled; and
Whereas the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota believe in paying their just obligations and have the money with which to pay the same: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota in general council assembled, That it respectfully requests the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to assist in securing the payment of the sum of $21,000, out of the funds of the Chippewa Indians now standing to their credit in the Treasury of the United States, to the said Webster Ballinger; respectfully request the Congress of the United States to make said appropriation; and instruct the legislative committee of the general council to exercise its best efforts in securing said appropriation, to the end that the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota may be enabled to pay their honest obligations to their attorney, who has rendered them faithful services of great value.
REPORT NO. 5. [Referred to the Committee on Resolutions.] Mr. Rogers, from the committee on resolutions, submitted the following report: [Referred to the committee on resolutions.]
JULY 12, 1921.
Your committee on resolutions have had under consideration resolution No. 5, providing for the payment of moneys due Webster Ballinger, attorney for the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. The acts of Congress annually appropriated $10,000 from the tribal funds “to pay the expenses of the general council * * * in looking after the affairs of said tribe.” In the proper performance of its duties it became absolutely necessary to secure the Services of an attorney. The services of Mr. Webster Ballinger, an attorney at law, of Washington, D. C., were sought and Obtained. The Services he has rendered have been of incalculable benefit to the Indians. The appropriations for the general council were inadequate to meet the expenses of the councils and to compensate him for his services. The Services were regularly contracted for, and the amount agreed to pay him is inconsequential when the results attained are considered. He has faithfully, and at great personal sacrifice, performed the duties intrusted to his care and is entitled to the $21,000 now due and owing him. Your committee accordingly unanimously report the resolution back with the recommendation that it be adopted. Resolution No. 5 (pp. 24–27) was read and, upon motion by Mr. Rogers, seconded by Mr. Morrison, carried. Resolution No. 5 was duly adopted. Mr. BALLINGER. As I stated to you yesterday, gentlemen, when I first commenced in the winter of 1913–14 I merely had the authorization of the representatives of the general council who came here to Washington. That Was organized in May, 1913. From the time of its organization down to July 1 of last year the general council that employed me was recognized by the Department of the Interior and the Congress of the United States as the only legally constituted council of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. Mr. HAYDEN. If that was the case, why did not the department recognize you as the attorney for the tribe and approve your contract? Mr. BALLINGER. I am very glad you asked me that, and I want to be perfectly frank with you I did not ask the department for the approval of the employment at that time because under the practice of the department it would not approve a contract with an attorney who did not do practically as the department directed. Mr. HAYDEN. You never asked to have your contract approved? Mr. BALLINGER. I never asked to have my contract approved. Let me go one step further. In the acts of Congress making appropriation for the general council—I will read one of them to you—at first, in 1914, you appropriated only $1,500 for the council. That was gradually increased until in 1917–18 you gave them $10,000. I have the bill here for the year ending June 30, 1919. The same provision was in the 1918 bill:
“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, Minnesota, 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 the general council in looking after the affairs of said tribe. * * * * In looking after the affairs of the tribe they found it necessary to incur these expenses. They received $10,000, and out of that $10,000 all of the work that I have described, holding their councils, sending representatives here to Washington, everything pertaining to the council had to be paid. I told the representatives of the council to utilize the money for the benefit of the council and I would defer the amount that might be due me, there not being enough to pay the expenses of the council and pay me my salary. That is precisely the situation as recited in the resolution I have placed in the record. I will state exactly the amounts I received as I run along. The CHAIRMAN. After you got through with your argument I was going to attempt to get into the record exactly when you began your services and what you had received for them from time to time down to date. Mr. BALLINGER. Then I will pass that over. The CHAIRMAN. And whether or not those were included in the amounts you now desire to secure through this legislation. Mr. BALLINGER. As recited in this resolution, in 1919 the general council went into the question of compensation to me exhaustively. Their committee right there in the presence of the council went into it exhaustively and I asked that they then allow me $2,500 out of their appropriation, and that they ask Congress to appropriate $12,500 more as compensation to me in full up to that date. That included services and expenses. Many of the representatives of the council though that it was inadequate. I thought it was inadequate, but I wanted the amount to be so low that no human being having a knowledge of the facts could truthfully say that it was excessive. The council adopted a resolution authorizing the payment to me of $2,500 and directed its legislative committee to obtain an appropriation of $12,500 out of their tribal funds. At the same time the question came up of my compensation for the succeeding year. They wanted to fix it then. I suggested to them that they authorize my employment and authorize the executive committee composed of competent business men, at the end of the year and after the services were known, to then fix the compensation. They did it and at the end of the year they fixed the compensation at $6,000 per annum as recited in the resolution, and that was done each year continuously thereafter. Mr. RoACH. Was this $2,500 referred to allowed and paid to you? Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. Mr. RoACH. As I understood you in your opening statement yesterday, when the representatives of the general council first came to see you with regard to employing you to look after their estates, generally the matter of compensation came up and you informed them you would not state any particular amount of compensation until the services were rendered so that their value might be determined then. Mr. BALLINGER. Yes. Mr. RoACH. Now, when you were paid this $2,500, was there any understanding between you and the council that that was to be in settlement of your services rendered up to that date? Mr. BALLINGER. N.O. Mr. RoAcH. What was said in that respect in view of what had been said when you were first employed that no amount was agreed upon for your Services? Mr. BALLINGER. When I first took the matter up I did not expect it to run on for a long period of years, and after it had run on to 1917 it was getting on to four and five years of services and I insisted upon some definite statement of the account. They then had available out of their appropriation for the general council and support $2,500, and they paid me that on account and then adopted a resolution. Mr. Roach. That is what I was trying to get at—if the payment Was on a Ccount and was so understood. Mr. BALLINGER. Only a payment on account and the resolution adopted on July 8, 1919, resolution No. 5 of the general council, was as follows: “Be it resolved by the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota in general, Council assembled, that the legislative committee of the general council be, and it is hereby, instructed to secure an appropriation of $12,500 out of the trust fund of the Chippewa Indians to defray the expenses of litigation proceedings instituted by direction of the general council prior to July 1, 1919, and to settle in full all such accounts contracted prior thereto.” Mr. RoACH. That would settle in full for your services? Mr. BALLINGER. Yes; if I received the $12,500 it would settle in full my services down to July 1, 1919. Mr. LEATHERwood. The $6,000 allowance was not retroactive? Mr. BALLINGER. No. The CHAIRMAN. Have you not about concluded your remarks on that question ? Mr. BALLINGER. Except, now, Congressman, I want to answer the question that you propounded to me yesterday as to what the result of my services has been up to the present time. That is, what it has actually resulted in up to this time. The CHAIRMAN. I think that is important in the testimony. Mr. BALLINGER. Roughly stated, the appropriations from the trust funds of the tribe have been reduced $100,000 per annum. That will be shown by the appropriation bills. Approximately $75,000 in the conversion of Liberty bonds into cash—do you want me to make an explanation of that? The CHAIRMAN. Yes; tell us what you did with it. Mr. BALLINGER. Shortly after the inception of the war the department took the individual funds standing to the credit of the individual Indians in excess of $50 and invested them in Government bonds. After I obtained the order that I referred to yesterday directing the payment of these individual moneys to the Indians, which order directed the payment of all accounts of $50 or less to the individual Indians irrespective of whether they were competent or incompetent, the payment of all funds standing to the credit of competent Indians, and the payment to legal guardians regularly appointed of all funds standing to the credit of incompetent Indians, the department handed over to the Indians registered Liberty bonds representing practically all of the funds. Children under 21 years of age could not convert these registered bonds into coupon bonds which could be sold. Legal guardians had to be appointed, and the cost of appointing a legal guardian was from $15 to $25. Many of the competent Indians did not know how to convert the bonds into coupon bonds. When the conversion occurred the coupon bonds were sold at from 80 to 90 cents on the dollar, the prevailing price in Minnesota. I took the matter up with Mr. Meritt, and after much work we succeeded in working out a plan whereby a part of the bonds were cashed Out of a fund, and a part of them were redeemed at their face value by their purchase with other Indian funds. So that there were substantially very little loss to the Indians. I observe that the officers of the general council in a report submitted to the general council under date of July 8, 1919, estimate that this resulted in a saving to the Indians of approximately $125,000. I have placed the savings at $75,000. The CHAIRMAN. You were the instigator of that proposition? Mr. BALLINGER. It never would have been heard of if it had not been for me, and I worked hard on it. It took me several months to work it out. The Indians had large amounts which it is impossible to estimate in taxes previously imposed upon their allotments by the State authorities. Let me make that plain. • The CHAIRMAN. Is there an allegation as to that? Mr. BALLINGER. Yes. When patents in fee were issued, or the restriction upon the right of Sale and alienation was removed and the Indian became invested with the fee simple title the State instantly put that land on the tax list and assessed it. There were large amounts of assessments against the allotments of the Indians, particularly on the White Earth Reservation. The matter came to my attention by complaint from the Indians and I investigated them and I found their complaints were correct. One of the conditions attached to the allotments to the Indians was that their allotted lands were exempt from taxation for a period of 25 years. This exemption was a property right as had been previously decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in Choat v. Trap, 224 United States, 665, and other cases coming from Oklahoma that involved that identical proposition. Mr. Swan K. Where you say you recovered these erroneous taxes was that for individual Indians?
Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. Mr. SWANK. To be paid for out of the general fund of the tribe? Mr. BALLINGER. It was work authorized by the general council. The general Council took the position that its attorney should look after the affairs of any of the Indians, members of the tribe, so long as there was no controversy between Indians, but if it was a controversy between Indians I had nothing whatever to do with it. If it was a controversy between Indians and whites or with the Government then I had to look after it. I did not personally go out there and file those suits, but I advised those Indians to go in and see certain attorneys, among others Frank D. Beaulieu, a member of the tribe. I then prepared a general brief on the subject and sent it to him and Frank Beaulieu brought the first injunction suit against the State which resulted in enjoining the State from collection of any of the taxes that had been imposed on the Indian lands, and after several of those suits were brought, although the department had failed to do it in the first instance, the department got behind the work and served notice upon the State authorities out there, that unless the taxes imposed on the Indian allotments were canceled upon the records, they would bring an action against the State and the result was that the assessments on all Indian allotments were canceled. I have saved to the individual members of the tribe large amounts, which it is impossible for me to state in not several, but hundreds of cases, that have come to me, involving probate and other matters. For instance, there was a great controversy as to the jurisdiction of the State courts and the department, particularly on the White Earth Reservation, where 7,000 allotments were made over probate jurisdiction. I prepared individual briefs in those cases, which, I might say, were followed by the courts, that enabled them to clean up those probate cases and that probate work has progressed since tsen satisfactorily. I induced the department to do what it ought to have done without request, namely, to decline jurisdiction in every case in which the fee simple title had passed to the Indian. Prior to that time they were assmuming jurisdiction. I did not think they had any, and after looking into the matter, they concluded the same as I did, and an order went forth dismissing all those cases here before the department and remanding them back to the State courts, where they were promptly or expeditiously disposed of. I save approximately $2,000,000 at a conservative estimate to the new-born children, and that does not take into account the shares of children born in the future, to be received. Mr. SWANK. You referred to that before. Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir; but I am giving you a little recapitulation now. I think my work in connection with the school service was of immeasurable benefit to the tribe. Gentlemen, that comprises the work that has been completed. All the rest of the work that I have done is now under consideration by the department to be worked out by it. But I have for the first time in the entire history of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota laid before them, before a department of the Government, and the Congress of the United States, the exact situation up in that country. I want to say that since that was done there has not been any more legislation enacted by Congress that infringed upon the rights of the Indians under the trust, under which this property was taken over by the United States. The CHAIRMAN. It seems to me you have given us a careful and full explanation of your services. About when did you first take up the work of the council. Just answer the question as near as you can 2 Mr. BALLINGER. In the winter of 1913–14. The CHAIRMAN. And during all that time, down to the present moment, you have been in the employ of that council'? Mr. BALLINGER. I have. The CHAIRMAN. During that period state, if you can, about the dates you have received any compensation for that service and the amounts. Mr. BALLINGER. Mr. Chairman, I am going to state if off hand and ask permission, if I am in error to correct it from the record? The CHAIRMAN. All right. Mr. BALLINGER. In 1917 I received $400. In 1918 I received $1,500. In 1919 I received $3,500, in 1920 I received $3,500. The Government records show that in addition to the above amounts warrants were drawn in my name during the years 1918, 1919, and 1920 for expenses aggregating $1,251.43. These were
expenses contracted by the Legislative Committee, paid by me, receipts taken, and Warrants drawn in my name in repayment. The CHAIRMAN. That is all money you have received through the council 2 Mr. BALLINGER. That is all the money I have received. The CHAIRMAN. What moneys, if any, have you received from any individual Indians for looking after their interests through that same period; I mean the Same tribe of Indians. Mr. BALLINGER. Mr. Chairman, when I first commenced in 1913–14 in connection with a case in the Court of Claims I received $25 from an individual to assist in defraying the expenses of printing a brief. That was only a fractional part of the cost in the case. The CHAIRMAN. Is that all the money that you have received? Mr. BALLINGER. Later on in 1914 I filed a case in the District Court here that went to the Supreme Court of the United States that I conducted throughout and at the inception of that litigation they collected out there about $150 by individual subscription to assist in defraying the expenses, and that was only a fractional part of the cost of that proceeding. Now, in addition to that, in these new born cases one man sent me $25 to assist in defraying the expenses of briefing the case of his children. Other than that I have never received a dollar from any Indian in that country. The CHAIRMAN. In addition to the amount you feel you should have for your services, what has been the expense of your office and have you had any compensation for that? Mr. BALLINGER. None whatever. The CHAIRMAN. That is. you say none whatever. You have not received any ? Mr. BALLINGER. I have not received any. The CHAIRMAN. State about what the expense of your office has been in addition to value of your own services. Mr. BALLINGER. The expense of my office would average from $250 to $300 per month. The CHAIRMAN. That has been wholly contracted in your efforts with regard to this Chippewa matter? Mr. BALLINGER. Well, I could not say. The CHAIRMAN. What we are trying to get at is what expenses you have been put to in handling the Chippewa matter? Mr. BALLINGER. I would say that my expenses during six months of the year for Chippewa matters alone would amount to from $250 to $300 per month, and that time was the busiest time in my office. The CHAIRMAN. Then you might say that per annum, since 1913, the expenses of your office which could be reasonably charged to the Chippewa Indians, would be $1,800. Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. You are asking in this bill here for $21,000. Mr. BALLINGER. Yes. The CHAIRMAN. Is that plus or in addition to what moneys you had, or is it to cover such moneys as you had, and such as you expect to get? Mr. BALLINGER. That is in addition to what I have received, which aggregates about $9,000, and is in full for all services and expenses of every kind or description down to July 1, 1921. The CHAIRMAN. Right at this point in the hearings, will you file a statement covering what you have just stated, in detail, showing the expenses and the amounts received and what you expect to receive by adding this $21,000 to it, and state what part of it will be for expenses and what part will be for Services. Mr. BALLINGER. The amount that I have received from the Indians up to the present time would not cover the stenographic work that I have had done in connection with their work. The CHAIRMAN. I expect you to show in this statement of figures that you are presenting here exactly the situation as it stands to-day. Mr. BALLINGER. Yes. (The following statement, prepared by the Indian Bureau, shows the separate payments, and aggregate thereof, made to me out of the appropriations for the general council during the entire period of my employment, COvering seven and one-half years :)