Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

Mr. MERITT. No, sir; the contract would not have been approved. Mr. BURTNESS. You have no hesitancy in making that statement? Mr. MERITT. I have no hesitancy in making that statement. The CHAIRMAN. Are you willing to state the reason why it would not have been approved : Mr. BURTNEss. That is the question I was going to ask. Mr. MERITT. Because of the hostile attitude of the Chippewa Council and the hostile attitude of Mr. Ballinger, representing that council, and the fact a large percentage of the Chippewa Indians were bitterly opposed to Mr. Ballinger representing the Chippewa Indians and being paid out of their tribal funds. Mr. BURTNEss. When you state the hostile attitude of the council you mean the hostile attitude of the council toward the Indian Bureau? Mr. MERITT. Toward the Indian Hureau and toward a certain faction of the Chippewa Indians. Mr. RoACH. I have a few short questions I would like to ask. The CHAIRMAN. Ask as many as you like. Mr. RoACH. Mr. Ballinger, if I understood him correctly, states it was through the results of his efforts and work that a suit was instituted by the Government to set aside the patents to over 600,000 acres of valuable lands belonging to the Chippewa Tribe. I would like to ask whether the department admits that statement to be true or not? Mr. MERITT. We do not admit that statement to be true. Mr. RoACH. He likewise stated it was through his effort that a large number of accounts that were due the Indians were discovered and brought to the attention of the department and paid to them that otherwise would have been lost to them, except for his efforts. Does the department admit the truth of that statement? Mr. MERITT. I think Mr. Ballinger refers to the fact that there were a large number of small accounts being carried on the books of the agencies, and that he brought this matter to the attention of the department and those moneys were paid out. I want to be perfectly fair with Mr. Ballinger in all respects, and I will say that he did bring that matter to the attention of the Indian Bureau, and I gavé instructions that all those small accounts be paid, so as to eliminate this extra clerical work. Mr. LEATHERwood. Mr. Meritt, may I ask one question? You stated that the contract would not have been approved because of the hostile attitude of the council toward the Indian Bureau. Was that answer based merely upon the fact there was hostility or that the bureau takes the attitude that the claim was unfounded and unjust? Mr. MERITT. The attitude of the council for a number of years we considered unfair and detrimental to the best interests of all the Chippewa Indians, but I want to say that we tried in every way to get those factions together, and the former Commissioner of Indian Affairs had the two factions in his office and he told them that he wanted to get those factions together, and if they would hold one meeting he would recognize the faction that had the majority in that meeting, regardless of what faction was in the majority; and the commissioner acted in good faith on that promise and the factions got together, held one meeting, and at the meeting one faction walked out and what is known as the mixed-blood faction was in the majority. I want to say, for the information of the committee, that while the two factions are known as the mixed-blood faction and the full-blood faction, there are some full bloods associated with the mixed-blood faction and some mixed bloods associated with the full-blood faction, so that I do not want to create the impression that all the Indians in the mixed-blood faction are mixed-blood Indians or that all the Indians in the full-blood faction are full-blood Indians. The CHAIRMAN. Do you think, Mr. Meritt, that Mr. Ballinger has been fairly representing the sentiment of the Indians who are represented by the council that you now recognize? Mr. MERITT. I think so. I think he fairly represents the sentiment of what is known as the mixed-blood faction. The CHAIRMAN. And how large a percentage of all the Chippewa Indians would you say the mixed-blood faction represented? Mr. MERITT. Both factions claim to represent 90 per cent of these Indians. I would say that it is my best judgment that probably the mixed-blood faction represents 60 per cent of the Indians, and the full-blood faction represents 40 per cent. That is an offhand guess.

[ocr errors]

Mr. GENSMAN. That is those in the factions? Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir; and I am speaking of all the Indians in the Chippewa Country. Mr. RoACH. Both factions are working more or less at cross-purposes with the department? - Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. I might say in this connection that Mr. Coffey is here in Washington at this time. He claims to represent the other faction, and I have incurred his enmity because I would not recommend the payment of his expenses out of Chippewa funds, and also because of my position on this enrollment matter, where I held that those Indians should not be taken Off the rolls. We are between the devil and the deep blue sea in this Chippewa matter, and get it from both sides, because we are not able to please either side. We try to reach a conclusion that will administer those affairs without injustice to either faction. To paraphrase Shakespeare, we say, “a plague on both factions” Mr. Joh Nson. Do you not suppose Mr. Coffey realizes the fact that Congress is getting awfully tired of seeing these gentlemen coming down, joy riding around Washington, at the National Hotel, and elsewhere, and that if you recommend the payment of those expenses it would probably be bitterly fought on the floor of Congress, and that he would have no chance of its getting through 2 Mr. MERITT. That is true, Mr. Johnson. Mr. McCoRMICK. In your attitude toward attorneys representing tribes of Indians, Mr. Meritt—that is, the attitude of the bureau—do you take the attitude that there are no things to be remedied by attorneys representing the Indians, or that there are matters which should be brought to your attention and which, possibly, you do not approve in their then state? In other words, there might arise a situation wherein the tribal council might properly disagree with the department and might authorize its attorney to appear for it, and still you would be impelled to decide the question of policy merely on the approval of a contract with an attorney. Now, there are a number of situations that have arisen in the past and that are arising now, wherein the Indians disagree with the department, and you do not take the attitude, do you, that the Indians should coincide with the department in order to have a contract approved with their attorneys? Mr. MERITT. Not at all. We are glad to have the views of the Indians on all administrative matters. We get those views through Our superintendents. We call on them for recommendations. And frequently we are in correspondence with Indians. In recent years Indians have become educated at our Indian schoools, and they have become efficient and prolific letter writers. We receive information direct from all classes of Indians, and we are glad to have those letters and that information. Mr. BURTNESS. Then, Mr. Meritt, along the same line as Mr. McCormick's question, you stated that Mr. Ballinger's contract could not have been approved and would not have been approved because of the hostility of Ballinger and the council to the bureau? Mr. MERITT. And to the other faction of Indians. Mr. BURTNESS. Yes; and to the other faction of Indians. Now, it is true that it is impossible to get the approval of any contract that is made by the general council where the attitude of the council is hostile to the work that has bee done by the bureau? > Mr. MERITT. No, sir. Mr. BURTNESS. Can you give us any instances of contracts that have been approved where the council has taken a hostile attitude toward the bureau, or have they been uniformly disapproved by the department? Mr. MERITT. No, sir; we have had contracts in the past with attorneys who have not always agreed with the Indian Bureau in the interpretation of laws or in administrative policy. For a great many years Mr. Hastings, formerly a member of this committee, was attorney for the Cherokee Indians. He at all times expressed his own view in regard to the law and in regard to administrative policies, and yet he remained the Cherokee tribal attorney for a great many years. Mr. BURTNESS. When his contract was approved, for instance, was there then an understanding that he was taking up a proposition for the tribe that he represented those in hostility to the position that had been taken by the Indian Bureau upon that question theretofore?

Mr. MERITT. No, sir; that was not the understanding. My statement with regard to the hostility of Mr. Ballinger and the council was to advise the committee that they had reached a state of mind where they were not true repreSentatives of the Chippewa Indians, and for that reason we should not pay out Chippewa funds to an attorney who was not representing the Chippewa Indians. Mr. HURTN Ess. Well, the hostility of Mr. Ballinger, who simply represented the council, or the hostility of the council, was not to a majority of the members of the tribe but in regard to the way the Indian Bureau had been handling the affairs of the tribe, was it not? Mr. MERITT. No, sir; they were not only hostile to the bureau, but hostile to other tribes of Chippewa Indians. For example, this faction of Chippewa Indians took the position that the Indians outside of the Red Lake Reservation were entitled to share in the surplus property of the Red Lake Indians. notwithstanding two laws of Congress in direct opposition to that contention. Mr. RoACH. That condition has only prevailed since 1916, where there was any hostility on the part of factions of Indians. In other words, the factional difficulties have come up since 1916. Mr. MERITT. And Mr. Ballinger has been representing the counc'l since 1918. But there has been a faction among the Chippewa Indians for years. The CHAIRMAN. 'Way back of that. There has always been, since I have known anything about it, and all the records show there has been more or less of a war on between the Red Lakers and the White Earth Indians for years. Mr. JEFFERIs. Was there any legal question involved that has any merit? Mr. MERITT. There are several in connection with the Indian matters. Mr. JEFFERIs. I mean in this question. Was there any issue that was a legal, a justifiable matter of controversy % Mr. MERITT. The attorney for the council asserted a legal claim against the Red Lake Indians, but the attorney for the Red Lake Indians stoutly asserted there was no such claim. It is a matter that will eventually be settled by the COurts. Mr. JEFFERIs. Has it been determined yet? Mr. MERITT. It has not been determined as yet. The CHAIRMAN. I will say for the benefit of Mr. Jefferis that we have had a full and careful hearing, covering that particular question, running for several days here, which is a matter of record, and it seems there is a big legal question to be settled sometime with regard to the final disposition of the funds of that tribe. As I say, we have had so many hearings on this Chippewa matter that practically everything everyone is saying here now has been said before. Mr. Steenerson is about to make a statement here, most of which is undoubtedly in the record in several places, and then he wishes to call on Mr. Henderson to restate what he has probably stated on several occasions, and I think it would be a good plan to get to that and get it into the record, so those who have come On the committee recently will get it in a new form. Mr. STEENERson. I think you are anticipating, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Swan K. On this question of hostility toward the bureau, Mr. Meritt, is it not a fact that the tribal attorneys for the Five Civilized Tribes, and some of the probate attorneys in many instances, have not always agreed with the policy Of the bureau? Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. Mr. Swan K. And they did not lose their jobs on that account, did they? Mr. MERITT. No, sir; no tribal attorney need fear to assert his views on any legal proposition. What we do object to is for a man to take an unfair position on matters and attempt to cripple administrative action of the bureau which is required by Congress for the benefit of all the Indians. Mr. Swan K. But your bureau would not refuse to approve a contract just beCause the attorney did not agree with your policy, would it? Mr. MERITT. No, sir. - Mr. RoACH. I hate to ask so many questions, but I would like to go back to the inception of that contract. You heard Mr. Ballinger's statement that the authorized representatives of the council came to Washington and employed him to officially represent the tribe. That council at that time was being recognized by your department, and I want to know if, in your opinion, the conditions of the tribe before your department at that time were such as justified them in employing outside counsel, though the department could not approve of the Contract. In other words, could the council have obtained an accounting of

their estate and the condition of their estate and the many matters that Mr. Ballinged undoubtedly did call to their attention without the employment of counsel?

Mr. MERITT. I think so.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Steenerson, I am sorry if I have anticipated what you have to say, and I hope I have not.

Mr. STEENERSON. I would like to ask Mr. Henderson a formal question.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Henderson is counsel for the Red Lake Band of Indians.

STATEMENT OF MR. D. B. HENDERSON.

Mr. STEENERSON. Your name is D. B. Henderson?
Mr. HENDERSON. Daniel B. Henderson; yes, sir.
Mr. STEENERSON. And you are an attorney ?
Mr. HENDERSON. Yes, sir.

Mr. STEENERSON. And have been concerned in your practice with Indian matters?

Mr. HENDERSON. For 20 years or more; yes, sir.

Mr. STEENERSON. Now, as such have you become familiar with the customs and laws of the Indians in their tribal life?

Mr. HENDERSON. I think thoroughly so, Mr. Steenerson.

Mr. STEENERSON. Now what is understood among Indians by the term “general council ” of a tribe of Indians? How are they convened and when do they expire, etc.?

Mr. HENDERSON. A general council of the ordinary tribe of Indians, such as the Chippewa-different component parts of the Chippewa tribe, or the Chippewas of Minnesota-is a gathering or convention called according to tribal custom; that is, with a notice given according to the tribal custom, which may vary with the different bands in the same tribe. It is usually a convention that holds for a day or two days.

Mr. STEENERSON. And is it called for a specific purpose ?
Mr. H DERSON. It is usually called for a specific purpose.

Mr. STEENERSON. How would it be where there are several bands under one general council?

Mr. HENDERSON. If the several bands had business that was common to all the bands, they would have a general council of those bands, but the proceedings of that council would not extend to any matter that was separate and distinct and in which all of the bands were not intereste:). In other words, take it in the Chippewa country, the Chippewas of Minnesota have business that is common to all the bands in the State by virtue of the act of January 14, 1889, but those component bands have each its own separate business, which is not a suitable subject for deliberation by a general council called of the Minnesota Chippewas, in my opinion.

Mr. STEENERSON. These general councils, under the traditions and practice and lore of the Indians, are called as the occasion requires—they are not a permanent body that continues to exist from year to year or from month to month, are they?

Mr. HENDERSON. No, sir; they are not.

Mr. STEENERSON. Whenever a question arises in which they are interested as a band, the council of the band is called and when it is a general question the general council is called, and then dispersed?

Mr. HENDERSON. That has been my experience.
Mr. STEENERSON. You are attorney for the Red Lake Indians?
Mr. HENDERSON. The Red Lake Band.

Mr. STEENERSON. And they are part of the Chippewas of Minnesota, are they?

Mr. HENDERSON. They are part of the Chippewas of Minnesota ; yes sir. Mr. STEENERSON. How many of them are there?

Mr. HENDERSON. Something like 1,400 or 1,500; I have forgotten the exact number. I can tell you exactly, if you desire it.

Mr. STEENERSON. That is near enough. Did they at one time join this organization here referred to as the “ general council ”?

Mr. HENDERSON. I believe that the first meeting or two did have representatives from the Red Lake Band. I was not at that time employed in that branch

their work and was not concerned with it. Mr. STEENERSON. How about late years?

Mr. HENDERSON. Of late years, they did not.
Mr. STEENERSON. Did they withdraw?

Mr. HENDERSON. They formally withdrew from the general council. Let me say, Mr. Steenerson, that my information is there have been, I should say, selfappointed delegates who have appeared at the general council, and I think perhaps the records of the general council would show a state of facts different from my statement in regard to the matter, but I have made careful inrestigation and it would show there were no authorized delegates.

Mr. STEENERSON. How are you employed as attorney for this tribe?

Mr. HENDERSON. I am employed under a regular contract made with the authorities of the tribe and submitted to and approved by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and the Secretary of the Interior.

Mr. STEENERSON. Are the matters of which you have charge in that tribe in harmony with or in disagreement with the interests of the other members of the Chippewa Nation ?

Mr. HENDERSON. They are distinctly opposed to the claims of the general council.

Mr. JEFFERIS. That is, the Red Lakes?
Mr. HENDERSON. The Red Lakes.
Mr. STEENERSON. And it involves large timber tracts and agricultural lands?
Mr. HENDERSON. It does; yes, sir.

Mr. STEENERSON. It also involves a fund in the Treasury of some considerable amount, does it not?

Mr. HENDERSON. Several millions of dollars, I should say, Mr. Steenerson.

Mr. STEENERSON. And if the contention of the general council representing all the Chippewas should be successful the Red Lakers would lose?

Mr. HENDERSON. Very heavily.
Mr. STEENERSON. Several -millions of dollars?
Mr. HENDERSON. Yes, sir.

Mr. STEENERSON. And this work of Mr. Ballinger has been, at least in part, hostile to the interests of the Red Lake Indians ?

Mr. HENDERSON. I would so understand it; yes, sir. I consider it to be hostile to their interests.

Mr. STEENERSON. Well, the bill introduced on behalf of the general council seeks to appropriate these lands for the benefit of all the Indians ?

Mr. HENDERSON. Yes; and I think the hearings before this committee will show that is true.

The CHAIRMAN. There can be no question about that.

Mr. STEENERSON. I think that is all I want to ask Mr. Henderson, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. BURTNESS. Just one more question, unless you will tell us, Mr. Steenerson : Has this council officers that serve from year to year?

Mr. STEENERSON. Mr. Meritt knows about that. You have copies of the articles of association of the general council in your office, have you not?

Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir.

Mr. STEENERSON. Do you remember how many signatures there were to the original articles of incorporation ?

Mr. MERITT. I do not think there was any incorporation of the mixed-blood faction, but there was an incorporation of the full-blood faction.

Mr. STEENERSON. Was it not put in evidence when you had the hearing a year or two ago?

Mr. MERITT. That was the incorporation of the full-blood faction.
Mr. STEENERSON. You have a copy of it in your office, have you not?
Mr. MERITT. I think not.

Mr. STEENERSON. My recollection is there were only 15 or 20 that signed that, but can you furnish this committee with a copy of the articles of incorporation ?

Mr. MERITT. A copy of the articles of incorporation of the full-blood council is not on file in the Indian Office, and, so far as I recall, it has not been printed in any hearing.

Mr. JEFFERIS. I want to ask a question: In other words, the so-called “General Council ” of the Chippewas and the so-called employment of Mr. Ballinger, is seeking to obtain funds that the Red Lakes claim belong to them exclusively, and properties which the Red Lakes claim to belong to them exclusively?

Mr. HENDERSON. Funds and properties; yes, sir.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Do the Red Lakes hold that property by treaty?

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »