« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
the White Earth Reservation to be full bloods--that is, without any pronounced discernible trace of white or other admixed blood. That litigation went on for years, and many purchasers of Indian lands from mixed-blood allottees found it cheaper in the long run to settle with the Government than to fight the cases. This entire situation was produced by the failure of the Indian Bureau and the advocates of that legislation to provide for the classification of the Indians before the law became operative. If the general council had been in existence then this law would not have been enacted in the form in which it was.
Congressman Steenerson pointed out, from the hearings before the Graham investigation committee, that B. L. Fairbanks was the owner of approximately 20,000 acres of land in Mahnomen County. That represented 250 80-acre allotments purchased by him. After searching the records, with the aid of an attorney from the Department of Justice, he found where eight suits had been brought against B. L. Fairbanks, involving the purchase of eight allotments, and that B. L. Fairbanks made settlement with the Government, paying about $9,000 or $10,000. If out of all the 250 allotments purchased by B. L. Fairbanks the Government officers could only find eight cases where it was claimed there had been an inadequacy of consideration, I submit that B. L. Fairbanks must have dealt honestly with his Indian folks. It would have been a most remarkable coincidence if in the purchase of 250 tracts of Indian land some one, either the Indian after he had received his money, or the Government employees who were hunting for cases. had not found some cases in which it was claimed there had been an inadequacy of consideration.
The name of Theo. H. Beaulieu was also mentioned by Congressman Steenerson as one of those against whom suit had been brought. He could find only one case where a suit had been brought against Theo. H. Beaulieu, There a lack of consideration was claimed and settlement was made.
Reference was made to a hearing before the Graham committee wherein it appeared that Gus H. Beaulieu and B. L. Fairbanks had at one time been in the employ of one of the lumber companies. Ben Fairbanks and Gus H. Beaulieu started out in life without a dollar. In their younger days they had to seek employment where they could find it. The lumbering interests offered employment. But neither of these men, both of whom have passed over the great divide, and who can not now defend their good names, ever had any connection, directly or indirectly, with any lumber company after the organization of the general council, and it was Ben L. Fairbanks and Gus H. Beaulieu who insisted at all times that the lumber interests should make restitution to the Indians for the timber they had improperly obtained. No man stood higher in that country than did Ben L. Fairbanks. He was the one man to whom all Indians in distress turned, and he was the one man who always afforded them aid. Ben L. Fairbanks and Gus H, Beaulieu were honorable men and did much for the Chippewas. It was Gus H. Beaulieu back in 1906 who brought to light the Mille Lac situation which resulted in the Mille Lac Indians recovering approximately $800,000 from the United States for the taking of a part of the trust estate under conditions not dissimilar to the taking of the lands placed in the forest reserves, the lands handed over to the State of Minnesota mistakenly under the swamp-land donation act. Theo. H. Beaulieu is an honorable man and is an important factor in the affairs of that section of the country. He is a member of the Republican State Central Committee, and I understand is supporting another man for the seat now occupied by Congressman Steenerson. This probably accounts for the attack made upon him by Mr. Steenerson. If Congressman Steenerson had pursued his examination of the Graham investigation further he would have found on pages 1806–7 where Halvor Steenerson sought to obtain a valuable timber allotment of the Indian land by adoption into the tribe.
I know nothing of the facts, but it would appear that the same men who made the charges against Ben L. Fairbanks and Gus H. Beaulieu, to which he referred, made like charges against him appearing in the same report from which he read.
9. Correction of statement made to committee :
When I was before the committee I was asked whether in receipting for moneys received from the general council and paid through the Indian Bureau, the receipts were “ on account,” or were “in full." When I went before the committee I did not expect to be called upon for a detailed accounting of accounts extending over seven and one-half years, the details of which were not fresh in my mind, but all of which were of record in the department. I had expected the accounting to occur when the matter reached the Secretary.
My answer to the question asked was that “the payments were on account." That statement, I find upon inquiry, was slightly inaccurate. The payments were either on account or in full for certain specified services prior to 1919, representing a part only of the services rendered. After that time they were all on account. The resolutions of the general council as well as every account paid or filed are on file in the department, and the Secretary would, of course, scrutinize these accounts in passing upon the question of final settlement. No imposition could possibly occur.
10. The Red Lake Indians are paying their attorneys from the funds belonging to all the Chippewas of Minnesota :
As the result of the work of the general council, particularly in bringing to light the Red Lake situation, the department authorized the employment of an attorney by the Red Lake Band. The salary of that attorney is being paid from funds received from the sale of property on the Red Lake Reservation, which property belongs to all the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota. The Red Lake Indians are opposed to the payment of an attorney's fee for the attorney representing the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. If the payment of the fee to their attorney was legal, it is legal to do what the bill now before the committee provides. It is not fair to allow one side to a controversy an attorney and deny the same privilege to the other side.
11. All of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota have been beneficiaries of the work done by the general council and its attorney :
All of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota would be benefited by the recovery of the swamp lands, by the abolishment of the forest reserves, and by all the work done by the general council, with one exception. The controversy between the general council and the Red Lake Band is a controversy between all the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, except the Red Lake Band on the one side and the members of that band on the other. That relates solely to the ownership of the Red Lake Reservation. As to all other matters raised by the general council the Red Lakes would be beneficiaries to the same extent per capita as all the other Chippewa Indians in Minnesota. Therefore, the work of the general council has materially benefited the Red Lake Indians.
12. Misunderstanding with Congressman Knutson :
Congressman Harold Knutson of the sixth district of Minnesota charged me, when he was before the committee, with bad faith. The specific charge was that I went to him and represented that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs was in favor of the bill and that the commissioner would be glad to go down and put it through ; that before he could call up the Commissioner of Indian Affairs I left his office, and that when he called up the commissioner the commissioner stated that he had made no such statement. The facts are as follows: I went to Congressman Knutson's office, advised him that the bill was under consideration by the committee. I gave him a copy of the bill. I stated to him the substance of the report made by the department which left the decision of the matter to Congress. I did inform him that my information was that the commissioner was in favor of allowing me just compensation for my work, and that I had been advised by Frank D. Beaulieu, a member of the legislative committee of the general council, that the commissioner would come before the committee and advocate the bill, which was true. I further advised him that such was my understanding after a personal talk with the commissioner. I asked Mr. Knutson to see the commissioner and talk with him about the matter. Mr. Knutson told me to see him, Knutson, the following Monday morning. I then left his office. What I stated to him was true. From Mr. Knutson's statement the commissioner informed him that he was against the bill. I am firmly of the opinion that there must be some mistake as the commissioner knows from the records in the department that I did an immense amount of work, and, being a fair man I still believe I correctly stated his position when I told Mr. Knutson that the commissioner was in favor of allowing me just compensation, and that he would appear before the committee if called upon and I believed support the bill.
Neither the general council nor its attorney had anything to do with the timber frauds to which he refers, as they occurred years before the general council was organized, and it was to prevent the repetition of such frauds that the general council was organized. Those frauds were the direct result of immature legislation enacted without a proper understanding of the Indian situation. The then State delegation in Congress was responsible for that legislation, which occurred before Congressman Knutson came to Congress. No frauds have been perpetrated since the general council commenced to function. The only real cause of grievance Mr. Knutson has against the general council is that the general council insists upon the property on the Red Lake Reservation being administered in conformity with the agreement of 1889. Mr. Knutson insists that all the property on that reservation shall go to the Red Lake Band, which would be a violation of the agreement. The Red Lake Band is in Mr. Knutson's district. If what he insists upon should be effectuated it would, in my judgment, lay the United States liable to the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota for property of the value of several million dollars. Even the department now admits that this claim must be referred to the courts for decision. If it had no solid foundation the department would not concede the necessity of referring the matter to the courts for decision.
Mr. MERITT. I understood you to state to the committee that H. R. 6872 left it within the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior as to the amount of money you would recover under this bill?
Mr. BALLINGER. Yes, sir.
Mr. MERITT. Being under that impression I gave the committee my views on the bill and stated that it was left largely to the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior, because of the language contained in the bill, reading as follows: " Said accounts to be first approved by the president and secretary of said General Council and certified to the Secretary of the Interior for approval, and when approved by him to be paid."
I suppose it is a fair interpretation of the bill that it would leave the dis. cretion in the Secretary of the Interior. But I would like to invite attention of the committee that that is the language contained in the item appropriating $10,000 for the Chippewa council.
Mr. BALLINGER. No.
Mr. MERITT. And we interpreted that language to mean that we had a discretion in passing on these accounts, but when the accounts went to the Treasury Department, notwithstanding our disapproval of the accounts of Mr. Webster Ballinger, the Treasury Department paid those accounts. I think that inasmuch as Mr. Steenerson took a different view of the interpretation of this bill from the way we interpret it that we ought to get that matter cleared up before the committee so that there can be no misunderstanding.
Mr. BURTNESS. That can be very easily done, and if we decide to report it out I shall move an amendment to add the words, “In the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior."
STATEMENT OF HON. HAROLD KNUTSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.
Mr. KNUTSON. I would like to make a brief statement. In the first place, this bill is introduced by Mr. Davis of Minnesota, who lives 300 miles from the Indian country. There are other Members of Congress who have Chippewa Indians in their districts—Steenerson, Larson, and myself. I have always made it a practice since coming to Congress to allow every Member to look after his own district. I think it is a good practice. It has been in vogue since the establishment of the Republic. I think it is a bad precedent for outsiders to introduce bills on a subject of which they know little or nothing. The preceding speaker made some very disparaging remarks about Mr. Coffey. Mr. Coffey has been coming to my office for five years. He has never yet deceived me, and I can not say as much for Mr. Ballinger. I do not think that people who live in glass houses should throw stones. Why, the other day Mr. Ballinger came to me and assured me that this bill had the approval of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and that he had stated to him that he would be glad to go down and put it through. So I instructed my secretary to call Mr. Burke, and while he was calling Mr. Burke on the phone Mr. Ballinger had left. Mr. Burke said he had made no such statement.
I am not prepared to go into the merits of this measure, but I believe in taking it up for consideration that the veracity of the claimant should be taken into consideration. If the committee finds that Mr. Ballinger is entitled to certain compensation for services rendered—I do not know just what the serv. ices consist of-then it is all right. But I do not think that the Red Lake Indians, whose land he is trying to steal away from them, should be compelled to pay a part of this attorney's fee, and I am going to protest against assessing
people against whom he seeks to litigate. I reserve the right to fight any such provision on the floor of the House. I wish that this committee, in considering this matter, would consider the Red Lake Indians as distinct and out of this transaction, because they are not a part of it, in my opinion.
The CHAIRMAN. How can the committee do that when all through this period the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been recognizing the integral right of all of these Indians?
Mr. KNUTSON. I am frank to admit, or I will say this: That I think the Indian Bureau made a mistake in recognizing the general council, because a majority of them are as white as I am.
Mr. JEFFERIS. You think this is a socialistic move for somebody to get somebody else's property?
Mr. KNUTSON. I do not think so; I know it. I do not think this committee should have such concern about white Indians, many of whom are college graduates. I am more interested in the blanket Indians, the full blood, who is never heard down here, and there are very few that appear in his behalf. It is not necessary for me to go into the details of the White Earth scandal and the way the Indians were looted up there of everything they had—valuable pine claims that were worth $20,000 to $25,000 being sold for two or three thousand dollars, because they have got a few white Indians that they have given fancy prices to have act as decoys for the others. It is a matter of record, and I want to say, Mr. Chairman, that I hope that this committee will not report out anything that will bring a scandal into the sixth district of Minnesota. We have had enough scandals in connection with Indian affairs in our State. I know the plight of those Indians up there, and I am more concerned with seeing that they get something to eat and something to wear than that some lawyer here in Washington should get a fee that there is doubt that he has earned. There is want and suffering up there right now. Private charity is helping out and has been all winter, and for my part I am more anxious to see their suffering relieved than anything else. I want to thank the committee for having taken such favorable action on the bill to pay them $100 allotment.
I want to say in conclusion that I do not think Mr. Coffey is as black as he has been painted, by any means. I have never caught him in any deception, and he has had all kinds of opportunities to deceive me. The only time I ever made a misstatement on the floor of the House I made it on Mr. Ballinger's representation, and the chairman knows about it. I was new and I took his word for it, and I have often regretted having done so. That is all I have to say.
The CHAIRMAN. That finishes your remarks?
The CHAIRMAN. You were not here this morning when Mr. Davis appeared and gave his reasons for presenting the bill. Perhaps you would have said all that you have said if you had heard his statement. But he takes an absolutely reverse view of the situation from you, and claims to know the facts up there.
Mr. KNUTSON. When did he learn them?
The CHAIRMAN. That, of course, I do not know. He said he has lived there all his life.
Mr. KNUTSON. When was he up there? That would be interesting to know.
The CHAIRMAN. He made the statement that he knew about the Indian country there before Mr. Ballinger was born.
I think in closing the hearing on this matter that, perhaps, Mr. Meritt has something to say to us. It was the intention of the chairman to handle the matter in this way by an agreement with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, that after we had all of the testimony in here and had it typed, that he would come here and make a statement with regard to the matter. So just before we have the hearing ready to print and all the briefs have been filed, we will submit it to the commissioner and have him come here and make a final statement to close it up. If that is agreeable to the committee, we will have Mr. Meritt make a short statement this morning, and that will close the hearing for the present until the commissioner comes here to make a final statement.
Mr. COFFEY. I would like to answer
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). You had your day in court. This question of crimination and recrimination between two men who stand before the committee in practically the same light has gone far enough. Mr. COFFEY. His statement was not true.
The CHAIRMAN. There has been enough of that. You agree that each is not telling the truth, and we know that to start with.
Mr. MERITT. I concur in the statement of Mr. Knutson that we have had enough scandal in Indian affairs in the Chippewa country. The scandal resulting on the White Earth Reservation was brought about by reason of the act of Congress in an innocent looking amendment placed on the Indian bill in 1906 and further modified in the Indian bill of 1907. As a result of that innocent looking legislation 90 per cent of the adult Indians on the White Earth Reservation had their restrictions removed and we were powerless in the Indian Bureau to protect those Indians.
Mr. DALLINGER. Do you think it was done for a purpose, a selfish purpose?
Mr. MERITT. I think that Congress was imposed upon. Certain timber interests of the Chippewa country brought about this legislation so that they could get hold of these valuable timber allotments and pay a very inadequate price. The records show that that was done.
As to the bill now before the committee, I wish to invite the attention of the committee to the fact that if this legislation is passed it recognizes the principle that an attorney can go ahead and do work for an Indian tribe contrary to the provisions of existing law found in sections 2103, 2104, 2105, and 2106 of the Revised Statutes and later assert a claim against either the tribe or the Government. I do not believe that that is a sound policy for Congress to establish. Congress in the last Indian bill refused to make an appropriation for the General Council of the Chippewa Indians. That resulted in the Indian Bureau refusing to recognize either faction in the Chippewa country, and now that Congress has established that policy of refusing to make appropriations for either faction, we do not believe that Congress should recognize further a general council in this legislation that is now before the committee.
I believe that it is a wise policy for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Congress to refuse absolutely to recognize either faction or to give either faction any power by legislative enactment, and if you will leave this Chippewa matter to the committees of Congress and to the Indian Bureau, I think in a few years we will be able to work out the Chippewa situation to the satisfaction largely of both factions, but if we recognize either faction by legislative enactment, the feeling is so bitter between those factions that it will result in disorganization, discrimination, and injustice to these Indians.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, there is nothing but disorganization up there now. It could not be much worse than it is.
Mr. MERITT. The disorganization will not last very long if the Indian Bureau and Congress will refuse to recognize either faction and if we will refuse to pay the expenses of these so-called representatives to come down here to represent the factions. Personally, I believe that the sooner Congress refuses to open up this Chippewa matter, the sooner we will be able to handle the Chippewa Indian situation to the satisfaction of the Indians and of Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, Mr. Meritt, you realize how difficult it is for this committee and particularly its chairman, who is being importuned almost daily to hear bands of Indians from various sections of the country, to say to them after they have come long distances, “We will not hear you.” I don't think we can do it.
Mr. MERITT. I sympathize with your position.
The CHAIRMAN. I sympathize with them and want to hear what they have to say. We must consider the matters between them and determine whether legislation with reference to one or the other of these bands would be in their favor or to their detriment. I do not think that Congress can afford to say that the bureau shall determine that matter definitely and then refuse to recognize anybody. I think that some one has got to conclude somewhere who is to be recognized, because you have to do business with them; but whether or not it is the policy to say we will not deal with anyone except the indi. vidual Indian, I doubt if that is good policy. It may be. I would want to think it over before I agreed to it.
Mr. MERITT. Knowing the Chippewa situation somewhat intimately, I believe that Commissioner Burke is pursuing the right policy in refusing to recognize either faction and dealing with the Chippewa Indians as a whole through the superintendents of the various reservations.
The CHAIRMAN. I have no doubt that he is doing the right thing. I have the utmost confidence in his ability--at least, in his endeavor to do the fair