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general council of said Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, organized in May, 1913. and to pay the expenses of said general council in looking after the affairs of said tribe, including the actual and necessary expenses of its legislative committee in visiting Washington during the second session of the Sixty-fifth Congress; said sum to be immediately available and said actual and necessary expenses to be approved by the president and secretary of the general council and certified to the Secretary of the Interior and as so approved and certified to be paid.”
I think I am repeating, but you will excuse me.
The items of expenditure that they are authorized to pay does not include legal expenses, lawyer fees, because they have enumerated all the items they appropr'ated for, but left out employment of legal counsel, either for the tribe or the alleged general council. (See appropriation act for fiscal year 1917 and subsequent appropriation acts.). Even if by reason of general language legal services may be included, they must be for the time covered by the fiscal year for which the appropriation is made.
Mr. Roach. Do you make the same contention as to each one of the various appropriations made in the past?
Mr. STEENERSON. Unless legal expenses are enumerated.
Mr. Roach. I mean in these appropriations made in a general way, do the Chippewas pay any legal expenses not particularly authorized in those appropriations?
Mr. STEENERSON. Most of them have been in the annual appropriation bills; they are not specified.
Mr. Roach. I was rather impressed with the point you made that Mr. Ballinger would be bound by the council and if he presented an account here for general allowance, and secured that general allowance, that any of their subagents, such as Mr. Ballinger, would later on be precluded from asking any additional amount. If you are correct in that conclusion now, that no‘ attorney fees were contemplated or authorized, would not that destroy the suggestion which you have just made?
Mr. STEENERSON. Charge it against the acts. In some acts they do specify attorney fees and in some they do not, and where it is omitted I contend thai they can not bring in anything except what is specified.
Where a statute enumerates the persons or things to be affected by its provisions, there is an implied exclusion of others; there is then a natural inference that its application is not intended to be general. (Sutherland, on Statutory Construction, p. 413.)
Mr. JEFFERIS. This language you have just read says to pay the expenses of the general council in looking after the affairs of said tribe. That is general language. Then it says, “ Including the actual and necessary expenses of its legislative committee in visiting Washington during the second session of the Sixty-fifth Congress.”
The CHAIRMAN. You mean the employment of counsel ?
Mr. STEENERSON. But you will find that this photostatic copy includes items that were earned or alleged to be earned after the fiscal year.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose the attorney in this case bad neglected to send in his bill previous to a certain date and the appropriation had been made, would they have a right to take from that fund under that language and pay a bill which had been created six months or a year before?
Mr. STEENERSON. If it presented a clear case of loss of memory or something of that kind the draftsman of the present bill evidently admits that former appropriation bills did not include legal services, for now this bill says, “ for all expenses of the general, council of said tribe incurred in all litigation and proceedings instituted by direction of said general council."
The CHAIRMAN. Permit me to ask you a few questions.
The CHAIRMAN. You are deeply interested in this matter because the Indians whom you represent are involved in the money and you are desirous of saving the tribe as much money as you possibly can. In all of your arguments here I have not seen, perhaps I have not listened—I have not seen anywhere where you pointed out anything that would show that Mr. Ballinger 'had not represented the council and had not given them good service and had not earned the money that he claims. I want you to point that out.
Mr. STEENERSON. I will come to that immediately. In this Mr. Ballinger does not represent the Indians, as I contend. He represents this organization, a paper organization, which one band controls, a few of them have had control for the last 10 or 12 years.
There are many bands, as shown by a paper prepared by Nr. Henderson, as follows:
Reasons why the so-called “ 'general council of the Minnesota Chippewas does not properly represent the Chippewas of the State in their tribal matters are as follows:
On January 14, 1889, at the time the Nelson Act went into effect, there were four distinct classes of Chippewa Indians residing within the State of Minnesota, namely, the Mississippi Bands, the Pillager Bands, the Red Lake and Pembina Bands, and the Lake Superior Bands.
Of the Mississippi Bands there were six, namely, Gull Lake, Mille Lac, Sandy Lake, Rabbit Lake, Pokagomin Lake, and Rice Lake. Of the six, four resided for the most part on the White Earth Keservation, one at Mille Lac Lake, and one on the White Oak Point Reservation.
Of the Pillager Bands, three, namely, the Leech Lake, Case Lake, and Lake Winnibigoshish, resided on three separate reservations adjoining one another known as the Leech Lake, Case Lake, and Lake Winnibigoshish Reservations; the fourth, namely, the Otter Tail Band, residing on a distinct portion of the White Earth Reservation.
The Red Lake Band resided on their own reservation at Red Lake, and with them some of the Pembina Band, the other Pembinas having removed to a tract of land embracing a separate township within the limits of the White Earth Reservation.
The Lake Superior Bands, namely, the Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, and the Bois Forte Bands, resided each on separate reservations known, respectively, as the Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, and Bois Forte Reservations.
The effect of the Nelson Act was not to throw into hotchpot all the property rights and interests of all the bands of Chippewa Indians above namred, but only such portions of the property belonging to each as was ceded to the United States for sale and disposition under the express terms of the act.
This left the Minnesota Chippewas as a body the owners of a prospective communal fund in which all the members of the bands were to participate according to the terms of the act. It did not disturb in any wise the other property interests, rights, or claims of the respective tribe which were not expressly ceded under the terms of the act.
Certain property rights and interests claimed by one or more of the respective bands are wholly separate and distinct from the property owned or claimed by other Minnesota Chippewa Bands.
Sonre of the property rights, interests, and claims of one or more of the bands are the subject of antagonistic claims by other bands.
Among the bands interested alike in the proceeds arising from the administration of the trust created by the act of January 14, 1889, some are opposed to being represented before the Department of the Interior and the Congress of the United States by the so-called “ general council ” of the Minnesota Chippewas.
Among the Minnesota Chippewas, irrespective of the organization according to bands, there are different classes of members having opposite interests in respect to the manner in which the trust funds should be administered and disposed of. Accordingly the class or classes which are not in control of the management of the so-called general council are opposed to having their interests represented by that organization and should not be compelled to do so.
They have conflicting interests. The legislation which Mr. Ballinger has advocated before this committee is hostile to the Red Lakers. It would be ruinous to them. Why should they pay out of their share of the trust funds for hostile services? The White Earth Bands have 6,500 population out of a total of 10,000. They elect 65 delegates out of a total of 100. The Red Lake Band was given only 15 and the other band 20. Why, there would be a saturnalia of fraud if these timberlands on Red Lake and other lands were thrown open to the highest bidder at auction. That is the substance of the bill that he advocates, and to divide the proceeds among the Indians.
Mr. SANDERS. You spoke of his having done something for the Indians?
Mr. STEEN ERSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. STEENERSON. He has sought to give the Indians control of their own money.
The CHAIRMAN. Permit me to state that the assistant commissioner has put into evidence the statement that the council represents 60 per cent of the Indians involved in this matter, so there would be more than a few.
Mr. STEENERSON. Sixty per cent of the Indians belong to White Earth, and of these the council represents a majority. It is a majority of a majority-not a majority of all the Indians. Those on other reservations and, if you add the minority on the White Earth-25 per cent—you have 65 per cent actually opposed to this council. There have been conflicts with the full bloods for a long t'me, and these men who control this council have always, as the full bloods claim, feathered their own nests at the expense of the others. People up there are well aware of this controversy.
Mr. Roacụ. Your contention is that 1 per cent controls 60 per cent?
Mr. STEENERSON. There are 100 votes in the general council. The White Earth Indians control 65 votes. If you control a majority, the same as you do in a caucus of the House, you have the council. if you call a council somewhere, as they did at Bemidji, a long distance away. Statements I introduced showed that they paid thousands of dollars for traveling expenses for those Indians. These full bloods have not any expense money and they can not travel; it is utterly impossible.
I never interfered with any of Mr. Ballinger's bills until I saw that his scheme was to release the Indians entirely from all Government supervision. In fact, one bill, if I recall aright, was to give the general council jurisdiction to supercede the Indian Office, and that they wanted to sell and dispose of all the lands and timberlands that were on any of these reservations and divide the proceeds per capita. We would have thousands of helpless Indians, some of whom would go to the Government and say, “We are the wards of the Government,” a great many in my district. The others who are United States citizens would be thrown on the State and county authorities.
Mr. SANDERS. The bill you have just referred to, when was it introduced in Congress?
Mr. STEENERSON. The bill that Mr. Ballinger had introduced ?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; but the one that we had the large hearings on and on which we worked for a month. Mr. Ballinger was not the only man, by any means, who thought it should be done.
Mr. STEENERSON. The question was asked whether or not Mr. Ballinger had done anything against the interests of these Indians.
The CHAIRMAN. No; that was not the question. I asked you to point out whether or not Mr. Ballinger had earned more than he had received, or whether he was entitled to compensation.
Mr. STEENERSON. That depends on whether he services have been in good faith in behalf of the Indians, or whether they have been in behalf of the able men who are American citizens. The proposition of all of these bills, I recall, has been to emancipate the Indians and their property from the control of the Government. I think that would be disastrous. I see my people are interested, because it would turn them over to the State and county authorities as paupers.
That has been the claim of this general council for years, that the way to benefit the Indians was to turn them loose and let them rely on themselves. That is all right for a young man, but take an old man or an old woman, suffering from trachoma, nearly blind, or tuberculosis--you can ask Mr. Collins, who is here from the Department of Justice and was up there recently, and he will tell you that nearly 50 per cent of the Indians, especially the full bloods, are suffering now, and that the State authorities are trying to do what they can for them. That result has followed from the activities of these gentlemen who want to have them released. The first bill that released the lands of the allottees was known as the Clapp Act.
The CHAIRMAN. In order to bring the matter somewhere near a conclusion, it is your judgment, as I understand from your argument, that you are opposed to this bill?
Mr. STEENERSON. Entirely.
The CHAIRMAN. And are opposed to Mr. Ballinger receiving any compensation in addition to what he has received ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Unless he goes through the regular proceeding that Mr. Henderson did, and is employed under the general statutes and his contract approved.
The CHAIRMAN. I just want to bring it to a conclusion.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to ask a question while it is in my mind. It is my understanding you said that Mr. Ballinger had done the Indians he had been working for more harm than good?
Mr. STEENERSON. I believe so.
Mr. STEENERSON. The value of his services depends on whether he served the interests he represented or whether he served people who did not need any help. If he worked in the interest of the White Earth faction, it was in hostility to the Chippewas as a whole.
In regard to his efforts as to the Red Lake Reservation, he claimed that 85,000 Indians were interested in us against 1,500 Red Lakes. The Red Lakers had over 3,000,000 acres of land when the made the treaty of 1889 and the other Indians, combined, only had about 500,000; they gave into the common pool for enlargement six or eight times as much.
Mr. JEFFERIS. The Red Lakers?
Mr. STEENERSON. The Red Lakers, when they made the treaty. The act assigned commissioners to negotiate for the relinquishment of the land of these different bands. They did relinquish all except what they did not describe, about six or seven hundred thousand acres in the center, that had been described by metes and bounds, but all of this actually ceded, described in this document that I have here—beginning at a certain point and going in such and such a direction, nothing except what they did cede--the balance is not described. The contention out there from time immemorial has been that this large reservation included four or five million acres. My own town of Crookston, in the Red River Valley, was included in the original Red Lake Reservation. The reservation extended clear to Devils Lake, in North Dakota. The United States acquired title from the Red Lake, and nobody has ever questioned it until Mr. Ballinger brought forth his new theory. The act said that the commission shall negotiate with the different bands and tribes of Indians in Minnesota. They acquired a cession of all the reservations except the Red Lake and White Earth and so much of that reservation as is not needed for allotment. They reserved seven or eight hundred thousand acres out of three or four million.
Mr. JEFFERIS. That is, on the Red Lake?
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir. This commission was a quasi judicial body created by the act, and they decided that the balance that they did not describe was not needed. They made a report to President Harrison, and Mr. Harrison transmitted it to Congress, and in this report the commissioners said that it may be contended that this diminished reservation is more than the Red Lakers need, but it should be borne in mind that it is a worthless instrument, and therefore it will eventually be only for the Red Lakers. They never signed an instrument to convey that land. That land was a part of the original reservation, and by means of occupancy from time immemorial it belongs to the occupants and they can not be deprived of their title, under the Supreme Court decision, without compensation.
The CHAIRMAN. As soon as we can, Mr. Steenerson, we ought to conclude these hearings.
Mr. STEENERSON. I have represented these Indians in Congress for nearly 20 years, and I never knew of this controversy until the Chippewa General Council brought it up-a stale claim that nobody ever heard of. They have owned these 2,500,000 acres, using probably 25,000,000 feet of pine that were sold years ago. They got their share of the 2,500,000 acres. That was put into a common fund. That is where they got the $6,000,000 in the Treasury. In 1902 the Government sent an agent, Maj. McLaughlin, to negotiate with the Red Lakers, and not anybody else, for the 265,000 acres on the west border
of the Chippewa Reservation which had never been conveyed to the Government. They signed an agreement whereby that land was ceded
Mr. JEFFERIS (interposing). Two hundred and sixty-five thousand acres.
Mr. STEENERSON. Yes, sir; there was about $1,000,000 in the agreement. When they came to pass the act the Appropriations Committee would not report it without an amendment that it should be sold at the highest market price, subject to the homestead law, and it was sold for upward of $4 an acre. They have no complaint and they have been satisfied ever since.
Mr. JEFFERIS. That leaves for the Red Lakers land that has not been ceded to what extent?
Mr. STEENERSON. That leaves them about half a million acres, but largely swamp, and we have lately created a drainage district and spent perhaps $3 an acre to make it suitable. They could not farm it without that improvement. Mr. Ballinger set up a claim that they did not own this land ; that is, it belongs to the United States; it has never been reliquished by the United States.
Mr. JEFFERIS. He set up the claim that the Chippewas owned it?
Mr. STEENERSON. One of the bills provided that if he was successful he was to have 10 per cent, making two or three hundred thousand dollars. It is not a very abstruse question, what the law meant.
When the act of 1902 was passed, in view of the contract with Mr. McLaughlin, the United States signed a contract as a consideration of ceding the 265.000 acres the Chippewa Indians shall hereafter own the remainder of the reservation free and clear and separate and apart from all other Indians. That is conclusive; no court would reverse it. Subsequently Senator Nelson endeavored to create a forest reserve of the Red Lake Reservation so as not to have these beautiful groves cut up and sold, but to preserve them for the use of the Indians. Senator Nelson was very anxious about it, and it was considered at great length before the committee. Congress passed it. In that act Congress again repeated the statement that the Red Lake Reservation should belong to the Red Lake Indians, separate and apart from all other Indians. The reason for that is that they had already given several times more to the common fund than the others. Some came from beyond Lake Superior originally and some from small lakes. They had all their allotments. These men who have conveyed their reservations go the money and then they shared in the receipts millions of dollars which originally belonged to the Red Lakers.
The contention of Mr. Ballinger is that there is more land in the diminished reservation than is required for allotment, and one of the bills, provides for homesteading on these timber lands. Some are probably worth $15,000 and any man lucky enough to draw that allotment would have an allotment to make him independently rich. The department, as I understand, has authority to allot these lands, but they have refused because of the inequitable result that would follow. Also, that these lands are unfit for agriculture until you get them drained. That has been one of the works that I have labored in for several years. They have just started to drain these lands because it involves assessment against the white man's land as well as against the Indian's land.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you going to conclude now?
The CHAIRMAN. That is right; we wanted to hear you. We have asked you some very pertinent questions.
Mr. STEENERSON. Nearly all of the Indians that are affected by the activities of the general council are in my district and they have taken a hostile attitude toward my position here for years. The Indians on the Red Lake Reservation in my district number, perhaps, 10 to 12 per cent of the 1,400, whereas the balance of them live in Mr. Knutson's district. Some people might say that I was influenced by political reasons, but if that were so I would take the other side. The inevitable result of the policy advocated by Mr. Ballinger would be to ruin their forest reserve and ruin their future. The Chippewas are forest Indians. They must preserve their necessary timber areas to prosper.
Mr. JEFFERIS. Are the Red Lake Indians now living in this diminished reservation citizens?