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THIRTIETH ANNUAL REPORT
BOARD OF INDIAN COMMISSIONERS
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE,
THIRTIETH ANNUAL REPORT
BOARD OF INDIAN COMMISSIONERS.
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 10, 1899. SIR: We have the honor to submit the Thirtieth Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners.
No change in the membership of the board bas occurred during the last year, and no serious trouble among the Indians has been reported except the conflict with the Pillager band of Chippewas on Bear Island in Leech Lake, Minnesota—a conflict which resulted in the death of Maj. M. C. Wilkinson and six soldiers. The number of Indians slain is not known. The death of Major Wilkinson is deeply deplored. He was a gallant officer, having served in the civil war, in the Nez Perce campaign with General Howard, and in the recent Spanish war.
He had been a lifelong friend of the Indians, and when detailed for the Indian school service organized the Forest Grove Industrial School, removed since to Chemawa, Oreg. He had almost reached the age for retirement, and was hoping to engage again in benevolent work for Indians.
The causes of the sudden and deplorable Chippewa outbreak are found in a long series of abuses and frauds in the management, or mismanagement, of their timber lands, and in harsh, if not unjust, treatment in connection with prosecutions for whisky sales to Indians.
The beginning of the trouble relating to lands and timber dates back to the act of Congress approved January 14, 1889, entitled “An act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota.” The purpose and intent of the act appears to be just and fair, but in its execution it has proved to be not an act for the relief, but for impoverishing and robbing the Indians.
We are aware that the Secretary of the Interior is doing all in his power to correct the abuses long in vogue, and he affirms that “no complaints have been made of the undervaluation of timber by the present corps of examiners." Still, we greatly fear that interested parties will combine to thwart the good intentions and efforts of the Department under the existing law.
In our judgment, that act should be at once repealed, or at least so amended as to put a stop to the current method of appraising and selling the pine lands of the Indians, which has hitherto been characterized by scandalous unfairness and waste of the Indians' moneys. A much better system was inaugurated by Lieutenant Mercer and continued by his successor, Captain Scott, of the La Pointe Agency, Wis., by which the Indians receive a fair price for their timber, earn good wages in the lumber camps and in the mills, and, what is more important, are learning daily lessons in practical industry and civilized home life. We see no reason why the same common sense system can not be put in practice in Minnesota.