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Representatives is as good a place as any I know of to demonstrate it and give to these boys, their fathers and mothers, some possible chance of building up an independent citizenship.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, the gentleman knows that during the last session a bill became a law giving all these soldiers who went to war the right to become citizens.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Yes; and it is very commendable. But for the future I suggest we give them the property that belongs to them.
The CHAIRMAN. Does not that follow?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I think it does; but we had to come to Congress to get it.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to say here for the record, and also for those present, that a couple of representative Indians have called on me and stated they had no knowledge of the fact that any such law existed, and were quite surprised to find out that there was such a law; and I would like just for a moment to ask Mr. Meritt if there is anything done by the bureau to notify these Indians they were eligible under that bill ?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. We wrote a letter to each superintendent in charge of the reservations and schools in regard to the legislation passed by Congress and directed them to make it known to the Indians.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. In closing I wish to say that I think we have a very representative gathering here of Chippewas, their counsel, and Indian committee, and I think it really omens a favorable beginning of the winding up of not only the Chippewa Indian affairs, but all Indian affairs in general everywhere in the United States where it can be done without detriment to the incompetent Indian. I think it is to the interest of the Members of the House who belong to the committee to see to it that efforts are commenced to wind up the affairs of the Indian and put him on his own responsibility and make him an American citizen. I believe it was a mistake of the past in prolonging the control; it is a mistake anywhere, and that is not a criticism of individuals at all. It is a fact that individuals come to believe that the work is of itself of primary importance and the thing which it proposes to accomplish of secondary importance and lost sight of
Mr. CARTER. Did you say that the act you referred to was that of January 14, 1889?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Yes, sir.
Mr. CARTER. I notice that there is a provision for the adoption of certain provisions of the act by two-thirds of the tribe, in the first paragraph of the act; was that done?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Yes, sir; by all.
Mr. CARTER. I notice in section 7 you have a provision of what should be done with these finds for 50 years after the date of the passing of the act, which was an agreement; are you familiar with that?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Yes; I am familiar with that. I want to call your attention to the fact that section 10 of the Knutson bill provides that sections 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of this act shall be binding upon the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota when accepted by their General
Council, and without such action said sections shall not be operative. But regardless of that I would answer that question this way: If by violating one-tenth as many agreements you wind up the affairs and give to the Indians the best that we can ascertain that they are entitled to what belongs to them, if by one-tenth of the violations of the treaty we can do that, and can wind it up, I should be willing as far as I am concerned, to violate it where there is no damage and no injury.
The CHAIRMAN. You think that the revocation of the treaty now would be a violation instead of a modification?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I would say that it would be a boon to 11,000 or 12,000 persons who belong to the Chippewa Tribe, and it would be a godsend. I do not know what you would call it legally. It might be a modification. I should say though that we ought not to stop at a proposition of legal technicality in this connection, if by doing this we can wind up these affairs and get rid of this expense of administering their affairs.
Mr. HAYDEN. In other words, you assert that the same authority that made the treaty can modify it?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Yes, sir; it is answered by that.
Mr. HAYDEN. If two-thirds of the Chippewa Indians now living wish to alter or amend the treaty, it seems to me that they have the same rights as two-thirds of the Indians had in 1889, at the time the original treaty was made.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. In other words, if you and I make an agreement, we can mutually modify it?
Mr. CARTER. Yes, the tribe may modify the agreement also, provided two-thirds of their people agree to it.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I say I am not urging that, as it is simply a legal technicality.
Mr. CARTER. First and last, a great many of these Chippewas appeared before the committee -
Mr. ELLSWORTH (interposing). Also those in which the allotments were given
Mr. CARTER (interposing). I have seen very few who came before this committee who did not seem perfectly competent. It may be that they only select the competent ones to come before the committee, but many of those who have appeared before the committee certainly have been entitled to settlement and to be relieved of the supervision of the Government. We should do that, and I want to help do it; but we should do it in some such manner, if it can be done, as to prevent any claims coming back upon the Federal Government of those who may not yet have been born.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I am sure that there is absolutely no objection to incorporating in this bill by way of an amendment any kind of a provision that will accomplish that thing, so far as it can physically be done.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it physically possible to-day to provide the same machinery for modifying this section referred to now in operation as it was when it was put into effect?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. There is this, Mr. Chairman: It is not physically possible for us to make any provision against strangers who never had a drop of Indian blood in their veins, who might drift in and say, “I was a member," and commence suit against the Government, and it will never be possible
Mr. CARTER. That is not material. If they are not Indians they are not entitled to enrollment, and they are denied enrollment.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. That ought to be defined in the law.
Mr. CARTER. But we agreed here in the act of 1889 that we would settle this thing as of a certain date 50 years after January 14, 1889. Now, whenever you divide those funds other than in the way in which you have agreed, the Indian tribe will have a claim, a moral claim, and probably an equitable claim, those who are born hereafter, to a division in those funds.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Those born hereafter will have a right to be put on the rolls. This commission will put them on the rolls and they will be included under its provision.
Mr. CARTER. How long is it until the expiration of this time?
The CHAIRMAN. There are 31 years which have elapsed. It will be in 1939.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Now you are talking about those who are born hereafter.
Mr. CARTER. Born during this 50-year period.
Let me ask you this question, Mr. Ellsworth: What are you going to do about those who are living now and die before that time; are you going to have some kind of an agreement or modification with reference to them?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. This bill, I think, will certainly protect them and we ought to provide legislation to protect them.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think we ought to go too far in looking after the unborn ?
Mr. CARTER. I think that it is necessary to look after that question. It is very necessary to do that, because we have seen similar cases result in claims against the Government.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I would make this apply.
Mr. SINCLAIR. Are not the conditions, Mr. Carter, surrounding this case just the same as they are in a will case! Suppose that you have a trust created for those, could that not be done in that way?
Mr. CARTER. It could be done for those born up to that time. The CHAIRMAN. It is a very simple matter to readjust this thing. We can provide to take care of just such cases as that which might possibly come up.
Mr. ËLLSWORTH. I do not think that there would be any objection or any difficulty on the part of those who would afterwards come into being; I do not know as to that.
Mr. Hastings. I am not a member of the subcommittee
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Mr. Hastings, you were invited to be present and to take part in the proceedings and we are glad to have
Mr. Hastings. If you will just let me say a word—in my judgment this whole thing is under the control of the United States and of Congress. This act of 1889, or this agreement, is only an act of Congress. It has no greater effect. If Congress thinks it necessary now or at any time subsequent and wants to change the method of settlement as well as other affairs of the Chippewa Indians, it will have that legal right. It may not have a moral right to do it. If they think it is of benefit to the Chippewa Indians, they can change the method as long as they do not take anything away from them, and divide the proceeds among those Indians. It is the province of the
political department of the Government to take care of the members of these several tribes. Now, that has been settled in a number of decisions, that this comes within the jurisdiction of the political department of the Government and we can change the method of settlement as often as we want to. That has been decided in the case of Lone Wolf, found in 187 United States, and in that of the newborn Cherokee Indian baby case, where Congress changed the method of settlement with the members of the tribe. In my judgment those cases and numerous others settled the right and power of Congress to change the method of making the settlement so long as nothing is taken away from the Indians, and we may make any method of settlement that Congress might think equitable, fair, and just.
The CHAIRMAN. You have stated my understanding of the case absolutely, much better than I could.
Mr. HASTINGS. I am sure that Mr. Meritt will agree with me that the decisions are all to that effect.
Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, there is not a particle of dispute about that. The decisions in the Lone Wolf, the Cherokee Baby, and other cases cited by Mr. Hastings are as familiar to many of us as thë alphabet. The power of Congress to do this is undisputed. This contention might not be strictly a legal contention, but my suggestion is that these fellows are going to come back. They will come back, after you and I have passed away, perhaps, and say that the matter was not properly settled. They will want the matter sent to the Court of Claims on this proposition, and they may get equity proceedings some way or other and in that way establish a claim against the Government.
The CHAIRMAN. I will say this in reply to the gentleman, that if they do not get along any faster than they have been getting along during the last five or six years the Government will not be out å
Mr. CARTER. It is just as well for us to do this thing right as it is to leave a liability on the part of the Government for claims, and there is no reason in the world why the department should not be intrusted to treat with the commissioners duly elected to do that, and they could come back here within a year—12 months—with an agreement for a settlement. That is my suggestion.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I shouldn't care to make any statement as to that being satisfactory until I had consulted with the general council of the tribe. I can see a great deal of force to the suggestion of Mr. Carter, of course, from a moral standpoint, but I can also see that the amount of fraud that might grow out of that sort of a thing might be far greater than the amount of injustice that might be done.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that anybody who knows about the proposition could easily see that the whole thing could quickly be defeated if it is going to be taken back and would require a two-thirds vote of the people to pass upon it. Any party not wishing it to pass could easily get one-third votes, or enough votes against it to defeat it.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. They would be voting entirely under a misapprehension of the facts.
Mr. CARTER. Are we to understand that there are any Chippewa Indians who do not want this settlement ?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Yes; I should say that there are some who do not want anything. There are some who are opposed to any kind of
winding up of the affairs of the tribe.
The CHAIRMAN. I think we want to go just as far as we can with reference to winding up the affairs of the Chippewas, and I am willing, so far as one member of the committee is concerned, to take a chance on one or two little things that might come up in the future if we can do a tremendous amount of good and take care of those who are now living. Have you anything further to say, Mr. Ellsworth?
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I haven't anything further to say, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Knutson, the author of the bill, is present, and in view of the fact that it is his bill that is being given consideration, I think we would be very glad to hear from him. I would say to the gentleman that the reason he was not first heard on the bill was because he was not here when we started the hearings and the discussion of the bill this morning.
Mr. Knutson. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. The reason I was not here when the hearings were started this morning was that I had a committee meeting which I had to attend, together with Mr. Hayden.
I just want to make a few statements of facts. Mr. Ellsworth introduced his bill in June. Later on Mr. Rogers came to Washington, and he, in company with Mr. Ballinger, came to my office one day and stated that the Indian Bureau was opposed to certain provisions of the Ellsworth bill and asked me if I would introduce a bill meeting the objections of the Indian Bureau, and I told them I would, and on October 14, last, I introduced H. R. 9924, a bill to aid in the winding up of the affairs of the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. It is practically like the Ellsworth bill
, with the exception of the few changes which I was told would meet the objections of the Indian Bureau.
The CHAIRMAN. Can you point out to us, Mr. Knutson, what those objections are with regard to the original proposition?
Mr. KNUTSON. I might say, Mr. Chairman, that I am not versed in these Indian affairs at all. I introduced this bill, and after I introduced it I happened to be down at the Indian Bureau
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). I will say that what I have in mind is that I would like to know how the Chippewa Indians feel toward this proposition. They first wanted one thing and then afterwards wanted something else.
Mr. KNUTSON. I am going to confess, Mr. Chairman, from the outset, that I know very little about the Chippewa matters in Minnesota. I am willing to follow the members on the committee to a large extent, because there are members on this committee who have made a life-long study of Indian matters and in whose judgments I have great confidence.
Now, there are two bands in the sixth district. Of course, they are the ones in which I am primarily concerned. They are the Red Lake Indians and the Leach Lake Indians.
After I had introduced this bill I received a number of protests from Red Lake and also from Leach Lake and even some few from Cass Lake. I wrote to those who had written opposing this bill to the effect that the bill was introduced at the request of Mr. E. L. Rogers, of Walker.' The gist of every letter that I received was that this bill would—that they had been advised by their attorney that this bill would open up the floodgates to fraud. So, I wrote these people that I had no intention and that I would not lend myself to