Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

this proposed legislation it places the matter before the Secretary of the Interior to be decided on an equitable basis, regardless of previous legislation regarding attorney contracts.

Mr. Roach. That is what I am trying to get at, whether you feel that way about the matter; whether that is your idea of the purpose of this bill.

Mr. MERITT. That is my interpretation of the legislation before the committee.

Mr. Johnson. In other words, it is discretionary with the Secretary of the Interior to either approve or disapprove the entire bill, or to approve any part thereof?

Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir; if this legislation passes in its present form.

Mr. Johnson. There is one question I would like to ask, Mr. Chairman, at this point of the record : Did Mr. Ballinger know of this law when he entered into this contract with the Indians ?

Mr. MERITT. Undoubtedly he knew it, because he had been practicing before the Indian Bureau for many years.

Mr. BURTNESS. That was admitted in Mr. Ballinger's testimony the other day.

Mr. MERITT. Going to another subject, Mr. Ballinger, as attorney for the Chippewa Council, endeavored to prevent the department from using the appropriations passed by Congress for administrative expenses in the Chippewa country, and this matter was fought out in the courts and was carried to the Supreme Court, and it was decided by the Supreme Court, on March 4, 1918, in the case of Morrison v. Lane (246 Supreme Court reports, p. 214) that authority was vested in the department to use the appropriation authorized by Congress in the appropriation act of that year, which was a resolution extending the appropriation act of the previous year, and for the information of the committee I will read the syllabus of that decision,

Mr. GENSMAN. How was that question raised, in the State court or in the Federal court?

Mr. MERITT. It was raised in the Federal court.
This is the syllabus of that case:

Congress, in the acts making appropriations under the general head for the current and contingent expenses of th Indian Department (or Bureau) and fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes.' having long made a practice of appropriating each year specifically for the 'civilization and selfsupport' of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota out of their trust funds under the act of January 14, 1889 (c. 24, 25 Stat., 642), held that the appropriation so expressed in the appropriation act for the fiscal year 1915 was repeated for the fiscal year 1916 by the joint resolution of March 4, 1915 (38 Stat., 1228), which, in default of a new appropriation act, declared the appropriations for the former year continued for the latter, employing only the general language of the former appropriation acts to designate the purposes, and providing against the duplication of special payments and the execution of any purpose intended by the former act to be paid for but once or confined to the former

(45 App. D. C., 79, reversed.)" Mr. MERITT. And I will also read the last paragraph of the decision of the Supreme Court. With the permission of the committee, I will put the whole decision in the record.

The CHAIRMAN. Very well.

fiscal year.

The case is stated in the opinion. Mr. Assistant Attorney General Warren for appellants. Mr. Webster Ballinger for appellee. Mr. Justice McReynolds delivered the opinion of the court. Appellee, by bill in Supreme Court, District of Columbia, sought to prevent officers of the Interior Department from disbursing during fiscal year ending June 30, 1916, $160,000 out of trust funds belonging to Chippewa Indians of Minnesota on deposit in United States Treasury.

An act making appropriations for the current and contingent expenses of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes, and for other purposes, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1915, approved August 1, 1914 (c. 222, 38 Stat., 582, 590), provided :

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following sums be, and they are hereby, appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the purpose of paying the current and contingent expenses of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various

*

Indian tribes, and in full compensation for all offices the salaries for which are provided for herein for the service of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1915, namely, “ SEC. 8. *

The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to withdraw from the Treasury of the United States, at his discretion, the sum of $205,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, of the principal sum on deposit to the credit of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota, arising under section 7 of the act of January 14, 1889, entitled 'An act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota,' and to use the same for the purpose of promoting civilization and self-support among the said Indians in manner and for purposes provided for in said act: Provided, That not more than $45,000 of this amount may be used for purchase of lands and removal of bodies of certain deceased Indians."

The annual appropriation bill for current and contingent expenses of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, etc., for fiscal year ending June 30, 1915, failed of passage, and in lieu of it Congress passed the joint resolution approved March 4, 1915 (38 Stat., 1228), which follows: JOINT RESOLUTION Making appropriations for current and contingent expenses of the

Bureau of Indian Affairs, for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes, and for other purposes, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1916.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all appropriations for the current and contingent expenses of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes, which shall remain unprovided for on June 30, 1915, are continued and made available for and during the fiscal year 1916 to the same extent in detail and under the same conditions, restrictions, and limitations for the fiscal year 1916 as the same were provided for on account of the fiscal year 1915 in the Indian appropriation act for that fiscal year. For all of such purposes a sufficient sum is appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, or out of funds to the credit of Indians as the same were respectively provided in the Indian appropriation act for the fiscal year 1915: Provided, That the appropriations from the Treasury of the United States or from Indian funds shall not exceed in the aggregate the amounts of such appropriations for the fiscal year 1915: Provided further, That this joint resolution shall not be construed as providing for or authorizing the duplication of any special payment or for the execution of any purpose provided for in said appropriation act that was intended to be paid only once or done solely on account of the fiscal year 1915 The original

bill alleged that no part of the $205,000 appropriated by act of August 1, 1914, was for expenses of the Bureau of Indian Affairs or for fulfilling treaty stipulations with Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, but all (except the $40,000 item not here involved) was for special payments and limited to fiscal year ending June 30, 1915; that it was not intended as a regular annual appropriation, and the joint resolution of 1915 in express language excluded such items in act of 1914 from being reexpended during 1916; that notwithstanding this the Comptroller of the Treasury had ruled the joint resolution did reappropriate $160,000, and the Secretary of the Interior and Commissioner of Indian Affairs were preparing to expend such sum out of Indians' trust funds; and that unless enjoined they would draw warrants therefor upon the Treasury, which would be honored.

Upon motion, the trial court dismissed the bill for want of equity. The court of appeals reversed the decree, holding the joint resolution did not reappropri. ate $160,000 and the relief prayed should have been granted. Treating this as final and conclusive of issues involved the cause was brought here by appeal.

The only point presented for decision is whether by the language used Congress has sufficiently indicated an intent to appropriate the money in question. The bill does not challenge its power.

Under an act approved January 14, 1889 (25 Stat., 642), lands in Minnesota occupied by Chippewa Indians were disposed of and proceeds deposited to their credit in the United States Treasury, it being agreed that the fund should bear 5 per cent interest to be paid directly to the Indians or used for their schools, and further “ that Congress may, in its discretion, from time to time, during the said period of 50 years, appropriate, for the purpose of promoting civilization and self-support among the said Indians a portion of said principal sum. not exceeding 5 per cent thereof." For many years subsequent to 1889 under the general head of “ Current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department

and fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes

[ocr errors]

appropriations were made for general benefits of Chippewas “to be reimbursed to the United States out of the proceeds of sales of their lands.” In 1911 their funds derived from land sales had become very large; and beginning then and continuing down to 1914 the annual Indian appropriations bill contained an item essentially similar (except as to amounts) both in words and position to the one in section 8, act of 1914, quoted above.

It seems clear that “civilization and self-support” among the Indians can not be promoted effectively by disconnected efforts, but must be accomplished, if at all, by definite, permanent plans operating through many years. And in view of the long-continued practice of Congress to provide funds for such continuous efforts by annual appropriations, the circumstances under which the joint resolution became law, and the studied incorporation therein of the language of former appropriation acts, we think the purpose was to authorize expenditure of $160,000 during 1916, as had been done for 1915. A different construction might have occasioned disruption of well-ordered arrangements for advancing the Nation's wards, to the great detriment of all concerned; and to such unfortunate consequences experienced legislators probably were not oblivious.

By construing the resolution too narrowly the court below reached an erroneous conclusion. Its decree is therefore reversed; and the decree of the Supreme Court, District of Columbia, is affirmed.

Mr. MERITT. The action of the council in attempting to prevent the department from using appropriations for administrative expenses in the Chippewa country is a fair illustration of some of the acts of this council, and when they thought they had certain authority given them by Congress, as contained in the Indian appropriation act, the conditions got so bad that it was almost intolerable in the Chippewa country as a result of this authority granted to this Indian council. It caused disruption and the bitterest feeling among the Chippewa Indians. There are now two factions in the Chippewa country, and it is largely the result of the antagonism raised by the mixed-blood Indians there.

I want to call the attention of the committee to the fact that one faction in the Chippewa country is bitterly opposed to any of their funds being used to pay for the attorney for the other faction, and if any of these Chippewa funds are used for that purpose the Congress will be called upon to pay for the expenses of the other faction out of the Chippewa funds. I think it only fair to bring this matter to the attention of Congress. With that statement we rest on the report that we have submitted to the committee for its decision as to the policy in regard to this matter and as to what course should be taken.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, I want to ask you one question, and one only, and this is for your opinion only, and you do not have to give it if you do not want to: Do you think that during the period which you have mentioned in the statement you have put in with reference to Mr. Ballinger's services from 1917 down to December, 1920, covering an amount of approximately $10,000, that he has been reasonably compensated for the benefits that he has brought to the council which he has been serving ?

Mr. MERITT. Mr. Ballinger has devoted a great deal of time and a great deal of hard work to this Chippewa matter. I think his work has been largely misdirected. I think he has caused a great deal of unnecessary work in the Indian Bureau. He has cost the Government a great deal of money in all this antagonistic work of the Chippewa council. If his work had been directed in proper channels, I would say he had not received adequate compensation for the work he had done in connection with this Chippewa matter, but at the same time I must keep in mind the fact that he has done this work under a contract in direct violation of a law of Congress, and he did not have his contract approved in accordance with the terms of that law.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, that has not quite answered the question. Just read the question again. (The question was thereupon read by the reporter, as follows:)

Do you think that during the period which you have mentioned in the statement you have put in with reference to Mr. Ballinger's services from 1917 down to December, 1920, covering an amount of approximately $10,000, that he has been reasonably compensated for the benefits that he has brought to the council which he has been serving?"

Mr. MERITT. To supplement my statement, I would say that $10,000 would hardly be full compensation for the work that he has done for the Chippewa council, but whether or not this compensation should be paid out of the Chippewa funds, when he represented only a faction of the Chippewa Indians, is a serious question in my mind.

The CHAIRMAN. That is a reasonable answer to the question.
Mr. MERITT. And a matter of policy for Congress to determine.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, gentlemen, as you all know, our colleague, Mr. Steenerson, here, is a very busy man, and he has been up here on several occasions and desires to be heard. I think it would be fair to let him proceed now, if he desires to.

Mr. STEENERSON. Mr. Chairman, I desire to ask some questions of this gentleman and some others.

The CHAIRMAN. I think you ought to make your statement first and ask your questions afterwards.

Mr. STEENERSON. There are some points that have not been given, so far as I know.

Mr. JEFFERIS. I would like to ask a question.

The CHAIRMAN. It is open to the committee to ask as many questions as they like, and I was desirous of letting Mr. Steenerson get through and get away as early as possible, but if you desire to ask some questions we will be glad to have them now.

Mr. JEFFERIS. Mr. Meritt, you mentioned that this work was performed in direct violation of the law and the rules and regulations in that Mr. Ballinger had not entered into a contract with these Indians in the manner provided by law ?

Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir.

Mr. JEFFERIS. Well, is it customary for attorneys to proceed in violation of law and then recover payment therefor from the funds or from the General Treasury? Did anything like that ever occur?

Mr. MERITT. It is not customary.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Has it ever occurred in the past that you recollect?
Mr. MERITT. I do not recall of it occurring. I do not recall a similar case.

Mr. JEFFERIS. And, as I understand it, a part of this Chippewa tribe really employed Mr. Ballinger and the other part of the tribe did not want his services?

Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir,

The CHAIRMAN. And will you permit me to suggest right at that point that we can not overlook the fact that those men whom Mr. Ballinger did serve were the regularly elected council of the Chippewa Indians. Notwithstanding the fact that one element withdrew, the council that was selected by that gathering has been recognized ever since as the legal entity of that tribe by the bureau.

Mr. JEFFERIS. One other question, Mr. Meritt: Assuming now that the council was properly elected and was the real representative of the tribe, that council in and of itself, unless it had the approval of the department, could not enter into a contract with anyone for services, could it?

Mr. MERITT. Not for attorney's services for the benefit of the tribe.
Mr. JEFFERIS. That is a matter of law ?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir.

Mr. GENSMAN. Was this contract submitted to the department for its approval prior to the rendition of the services?

Mr: MERITT. No, sir.

Mr. GENSMAN. The department knew nothing of the contract until after the services had been begun?

The CHAIRMAN. I think I can clear that up. Mr. Ballinger never presented a contract to the bureau covering this service until the change in administration in the past year.

Mr. GENSMAN. I take it, then, that officially the bureau knew nothing of the contract; is that right?

Mr. MERITT. We knew that this council had employed Mr. Ballinger, and it was our understanding that they were paying for Mr. Ballinger's services out of this $10,000 appropriation, and we were not in a position to prevent that payment being made in view of the language of the law that I have quoted. Mr. Ballinger never submitted a regular attorney contract under sections 2103, 2104, 2105, and 2106 of the Revised Statutes until recently. Just recently a contract was submitted by Mr. Ballinger to the department and it was disapproved.

Mr. BURTNESS. Mr. Meritt, just one question there: In the event he had submitted this contract there would have been no chance of the contract being approved, I take it?

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 Bureau 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 gave 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.

88684—22—4

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »