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Statement of expenditures from the sum of $6,000 appropriated by the Indian
act for 1918, approved Mar. 2, 1919 (39 Stat. L., 979), for council expense, etc., of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota.
304315. 304312. 304313 304311 304314. 304310 304318. 304317 303697 304824. 304819 304820. 304821. 304822 304823. 304835. 304836 304399 304837. 305245 305292 305291 306864.
Mr. ROACH. I want to inquire if these are the same items given us by Mr. Meritt?
Mr. STEENERSON. No; he only gave those sums paid to Mr. Ballinger.
Mr. BURTNESS. Have you any idea how they happened to overlook a few dollars in each year's appropriation ?
Mr. STEENERSON. I assume there might be some few contingent expenses waiting.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Are these supposed council men getting this money?
Mr. STEENERSON. These are the men running the council, and there is the expense of the annual meeting.
Mr. Roach. I wish to ask a question on these particular figures.
Mr. STEENERSON. These figures I have read are here in detail and represent the amount paid out of these appropriations for each year to Mr. Ballinger and to Mr. Fairbanks, who is the president of the general council, and to Mr. Beaulieu, who was also acting as sort of attorney.
Now, I have extracts here from the testimony that is on file here, first on page 1645, volume 2, report of an investigation of the White Earth Band, and so on, with reference to the pages there; instead of taking these volumes over from the Library, I simply had them copied. This simply shows the position of these men who assume to be the guardians of these Indians and what their position was toward the Indians. One gentleman here the other day inquired about the lumber interests and fraud by lumber companies. Here is Mr. Beaulieu's testimony:
EXCERPTS OF TESTIMONY.
Examination of Gus Beaulieu.
Mr. GRAHAM. Have you, Mr. Beaulieu, at any time been in the employ of the Commonwealth Lumber Co.?.
Mr. BEAULIEU. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRAHAM. That company evolved or was changed into the Nichols-Chisholm Lumber Co.?
Mr. BEAULIEU. Did you ask me if I had been employed by the Commonwealth Lumber Co.?
Mr. GRAHAM. Yes.
Mr. GRAHAM. Do you draw a salary or compensation from them for any purpose ?
Mr. BEAULIEU. Well, I have been drawing a salary this year; a small salary.
Mr. GRAHAM. How far back does your employment with the Nichols-Chisholm Lumber Co., or its members-stockholders-date?
Mr. BEAULIEU. Well, I can't-
Mr. GRAHAM. Well, you were interested in obtaining contracts for them somewhat in advance of the appropriation or passage of the Clapp rider of 1906, were you not?
Mr. BEAULIEU. No, sir.
Mr. GRAHAM. You were not in their employ at the time you were in Washington in 1906 ?
Mr. BEAULIEU. In 1906 ?
Mr. BEAULIEU. Well, I had been looking after some matters for them previous to that time; that is, inherited lands.
Mr. GRAHAM. Yes, exactly; on the reservation.
Mr. BEAULIEU. Yes. (P. 669, vol. 1, report in the matter of the investigation of the White Earth Reservation in the State of Minnesota. H. Rept. No. 1336, 62d Cong., 3d sess., 1913.)
Mr. BEAULIEU. Another thing I wish to say: I understand that the NicholsChisholm Lumber Co. had organized in 1903 or 1904. A short time after it was organized I was employed. (P. 1663, id.)
Examination of Benjamine L. Fairbanks.
Mr. GRAHAM. Well, are you interested in any real estate on the reservation? Mr. FAIRBANKS. Yes, sir. Mr. GRAHAM. How much do you own? Mr. FAIRBANKS. About 20,000 acres, I guess, anyhow. Mr. GRAHAM. That was allotted land at one time? Mr. FAIRBANKS. Yes. (P. 1645, vol. 2, report in the matter of the investigation of the White Earth Reservation, in the State of Minnesota. H. Rept. No. 1336, 62d Cong., 3d sess.)
Now I call attention to the fact that these men had been buying Indian allotments under the Clapp Act. That was an act that removed all restricions on mixed bloods, so that if a man was ever so incompetent-he might not know enough to charge more than a few dollars for 80 acres of pine land worth $13 or $15 a thousand, and they were absolutely incompetent, a great many of them, and as you perhaps all recall there was the worst scandal ever known in the history of Indian affairs, and these lumber companies employed—now, Mr. Fairbanks claimed to be a mixed blood; I suppose he had some Indian blood in him, but a good many years ago—I do not know just when-he was entirely emancipated; he had been allotted land which made him a citizen, and in fact all these Indians are citizens of the United States, but because of the property rights they have in these funds in the United States they claim to be tribal Indians, and they organized this general council of tribal Indians, whereas 90 per cent of all Indians are citizens of the United States, and it has been the aim of this Government for years to wipe out the tribal organization, but lo and behold they come here, as you will see when you examine those articles of incorporation, it is a self-perpetuated organization. A majority are wealthy; a great many of them are well-to-do people and well educated and competent to attend to any business matter, and they controlled out of 100 delegates the majority, and, as you will see by these expenses here, when they have a council they pay the expenses of those Indians from White Earth or any other reservation who come and attend out of the funds appropriated for this general council. One council meeting was held at Bemidji, whic quite a distance and the amount paid for expenses of delegates was quite large.
Mr. McCORMICK. Does this amount come out of the general tribal fund?
Mr. STEENERSON. Certainly. So we have this Mr. Morrison, who is a trader at Red Lake, but a citizen of the United States, the president of the council; Mr. Fairbanks was also an officer of the council.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fairbanks is now dead.
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes; I think he died recently. The officers have been the same, so far as I know, from the very start, and notwithstanding the fact these full bloods have been down here to Congress and appealing to the department to pay their expenses, they come down here to protest against this.
Mr. LEATHERWOOD. Mr. Steenerson, may I ask you a question, if you don't mind?
Mr. STEENERSON. Surely.
Mr. LEATHERWOOD. What is there before this committee to show the individuals you have named were trafficking in the allotted lands?
Mr. STEENERSON. This is the evidence; no question about that. The lands were bought for less than they are worth. Here is the Assistant Attorney General who looked up the records. There were eleven hundred law suits brought to recover lands that were bought for less than they should have been bought for, and Mr. Beaulieu was one of them, and Mr. Fairbanks's 20,000 acres. He paid this money to settle the suits the United States brought against him for defrauding the Indians.
Mr. BURTNESS. There were a lot of whites, were there not?
Mr. BURTNESS. The reason you picked out these is that these men were members of the general council ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes. My purpose was this: That their interest was not the interest of the ordinary Indian; that their interest has always been the interest of getting the property away from the real Indians, and, of course, whenever you diminish the general fund, why, every Indian loses. Now, here is a bill that asks for the appropriation of $22,000 to the general council.
Now, recently, because of the emergency, you passed a bill that I introduced, giving each Indian $100 out of the trust fund, because they were threatened with starvation, and perhaps one-half or two-thirds of these Indians are perfectly able to take care of themselves, and perhaps 3,000 or 4,000 of them are practically paupers that have been taken care of largely on the White Earth Reservation, as Mr. Meritt knows. They had a hospital there and an old peoples' home, etc., but they have not now.
So this general council came down here, and I supposed it was duly accredited and a bona fide organization representing the Indians, and I was busy on other matters, and never questioned it. They came down here and lobbied before this committee, and the first thing they did was to attack everything that had been done. They wanted the Indians released from all supervision; theyo wanted to wipe out the Indian reservations; the Indian Bureau should be wiped out and the general council should handle it; but they did not want any appropriations.
Now, it is very easy to reduce appropriations, even if they come from trust funds. I think in 1915 the relief of Chippewas that was taken out of this trust fund by Congress was $205,000. After this council had been down here for several sessions it was reduced. Here are the figures :
For the fiscal year 1915 the appropriation was $205,000; 1916 there was only a resolution that appropriated the same amount; 1917 it was reduced to $185,000; in 1917 the appropriation for the general council was $6,000, and the appropriation for poor and sick and helpless Indians was $185,000 ; in 1918 the relief for poor and sick and helpless Indians was $185,000 and $6,000 for this general council, but they got more influence, so in 1919 they reduced the appropriation to $175,000, and their own appropriation for the services in getting this appropriation reduced was raised to $10,000. As there are only 10,000 Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, a $10,000 appropriation means $1 out of every man's, woman's, and child's pocket, and many of these Indians are on the 'verge of starvation. They only get about $18 annuity out of millions of dollars in the Treasury. So they took $1 a piece by reducing the appropriation for these Indians out of this fund that belonged to them all, and there being 10,000 Indians, a $10,000 appropriation just takes from these poor fellows $1 each, for doing what? Reducing the appropriation for the poor, sick, and helpless Indian.
hen, in 1920, it was reduced to $100,000, but for the services Mr. Ballinger claimed the credit for it got another appropriation of $10,000, and in 1921 they . got Congress to reduce the appropriation to $60,000, and their own payment for lobbying was $10,000. Now, I presume that is the one they have not got, and that is what this bill is to pay. They were more successful at that time. They want to tax every Indian a dollar apiece for reducing this appropriation for the relief of Indians from $100,000 in the previous year to $60,000.
Now, the result of that reduction was this: The medical service of doctors and nurses was discontinued. Mr. Meritt can tell the details. And the old peoples' home was abandoned, the hospital was closed, and I think you have now before you a bill to turn the hospital over to the State of Minnesota, because the appropriation is not sufficient to pay these expenses.
Now, the health conditions—I have a communication I can submit from the board of health of the State of Minnesota
The CHAIRMAN (interposing), Mr. Steenerson, permit me to ask right here just wherein this fits in this proposition we have here? What we are trying to determine is not a question between the White Earth and Red Lake Indians
Mr. STEENERSON (interposing). I am not talking about that.
The CHAIRMAN. Just a moment, if you please. What we are trying to determine is whether or not Mr. Ballinger has been properly compensated for the service he has rendered or whether he is entitled to more compensation,
Mr. STEENERSON. I thought I was talking about this. I am talking about the services the general council, which is Mr. Ballinger, has rendered. These photostatic copies show they got reductions in the appropriation for relief.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Does that come out of the tribal funds?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir. And you understand Mr. Ballinger's constituents are all able-bodied men, either merchants, farmers, or professional men, and I do not think there has ever been an officer of that association who was not a wealthy man, so to speak, and they want to reduce the appropriations for the Indians, and they want it all to remain in the trust fund, so for each $10,000 they reduce the appropriation—that is, $1 per capita-for each of the others and it increases the trust fund that much. If it is spent on the sick and poor for hospitals and such things, it reduces their interest in the fund.
Mr. JEFFERIS. How much is this fund, do you know?
Mr. STEENERSON. It was $6,000,000 until recently, until we appropriated $100 per capita. Probably it is $4,000,000 now, but that does not last long, and my idea is if the activities of Mr. Ballinger and this council continue they will exhaust it. They had a bill up before your committee to pay out all the money in the trust fund; they want to divide it right away. Then what becomes of the sick and poor? They have tuberculosis and trachoma and everything and are helpless. The officers of the counties are appealing to the governor, and the governor sent recently a representative from the Board of Health of Minnesota. The Becker County officers sent me a letter that it looked as though, if this money was distributed per capita, they would be left with three, four, five, or six hundred paupers to support. That is pretty hard on a small county, and the chances are the Federal Government would not help them, because 90 per cent of them are citizens of the United States. So the claim of the taxpayers of my district is that instead of this money being paid for lawyers' fees it should be kept for the poor.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Then it is your view, I take it, Mr. Steenerson, that this socalled council is more interested in getting money for services for lawyers' fees than to have it go back to the poor Indians?
Mr. STEENERSON. Exactly. Now, I appeal to you as you examine that charter to consider this, the same as you organize a mutual fire association; you get people to sign, and as you pay the expenses of everybody in the county you can perpetuate that organization as long as you please. There is no way to change these officers; they control it absolutely, although the poor Indians who are full blood and the sick Indians are protesting against any of this fund being used for these men that claim to represent them.
Now, I have cited these things to show the services of Mr. Ballinger have been hostile to the real Indians who need the care of the Government, and therefore he is not entitled to any compensation. He had no contract, and this contract under this general council—that general council was undoubtedly formed for the purpose of avoiding the statutes in regard to contracts with Indian tribes; no question about that.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Is there any authority of law to have a general council of tribal Indians when out of the reservation ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Nobody has ever raised the point, but it seems to me, as Mr. Henderson has testified, who is well versed in the Judian lore, that a general council is called from all the tribes.
Mr. JEFFERIS. That is, among the Indians ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes. But this represents a large number of full-blood Indians,
Mr. JEFFERIS. As I understand, this council, you say, has been granted citizenship largely ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Most of them.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Is there any authority for citizens to form an Indian council after they become citizens?
Mr. STEENERSON. I do not think there is, but they contend they are Indians, because the United States has funds, and the United States is guardian of that Indian so far as that fund is concerned.
Mr. Roach. If the council is unfaithful to the trust and hostile to the real Indian, is there not any way to depose them and get men who would be favorable?
Mr. STEENERSON. It would take a lot of money to get control, because they pay their expenses of delegates to every meeting.
Mr. Roach. How were they chosen in the first place—by a majority of the tribe?