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Mr. MERITT. My statement in regard to this matter can be confirmed by reports that have been submitted to Congress; also by Mr. Steenerson, who represents that district in Congress.
Mr. CARTER. By whom were the reports submitted ?
Mr. MERITT. By the Secretary of War; and for the information of the committee I will include reference to the documents in my statement.
The CHAIRMAN. That will be very desirable.
Mr. MERITT. See House Document No. 61, Sixty-sixth Congress, first session.
Mr. CARTER. Were they made by engineers, the estimates ?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. Mr. Ballinger made the statement that the Indian Bureau procured the act of Congress of 1916 relating to the Red Lake Forest Reserve.
Mr. BALLINGER. 1916. Mr. MERITT. Mr. Ballinger is absolutely mistaken in that statement The statement was made that we procured that legislation in order to perpetuate the Indian Bureau.
The CHAIRMAN. He qualified that statement afterward by stating that it was procured in order to perpetuate it with regard to its activities in Minnesota.
Mr. MERITT. That statement is absolutely incorrect, gentlemen of the committee. The Indian Bureau did not initiate that legislation. That legislation was initiated by Members of Congress from the State of Minnesota. and my statement can be confirmed by calling up ex-Senator Clapp, who was formerly chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs in the Senate. Senator Clapp himself presented that legislation to the Senate committee and got the legislation incorporated in the Indian bill.
Mr. CARTER. Was it submitted to the department for recommendation and report?
Mr. MERITT. I think it was submitted to the department for recommendation and report, and we suggested certain modifications inasmuch as they were going to include the legislation in the bill.
Mr. CARTER. Were they put in the bill ?
Mr. MERITT. I do not recall the details of it, but I know that the Indian Office had nothing to do with the initiating of that legislation, but it was included in the Indian bill at the suggestion of Senator Clapp. So much for that statement that we procured that legislation in order to perpetuate the Indian Bureau on the Red Lake Reservation. Now, the statement that Mr. Ballinger made that the Red Lakes are compelled to live on the reservation in order to protect their property holdings is very misleading. We do not require the Red Lake Indians to live on the reservation and they will not lose their property rights if they go off the reservation and get employment outside the reservation.
The CHAIRMAN. Have they lost their property rights by going away at any time?
Mr. MERITT. No, sir; they have not.
Mr. CARTER. Suppose one should leave and take his family with him and absent himself from the reservation for say three or four years, would that have any effect on it?
Mr. MERITT. If he is a member of the Red Lake Reservation and is on the rolls of the Red Lake Reservation it would not deprive him of any of his property rights on the reservation. We have Indians on the rolls now and these Indians will share in the property. The CHAIRMAN. How long has that roll been completed? Mr. MERITT. We have had that roll for a number of years. Mr. HASTINGs. It is not a final roll! Mr. MERITT. It will not be a final roll until this act is passed. This act will require the making of a final roll, but we will use this roll in making up the final roll. Mr. HASTINGs. It would not be a final roll anyway, under the existing law. Mr. MERITT. Not under the existing law. Mr. HASTINGs. Suppose this legislation is not passed, have you now a final roll of this band of Indians? Mr. MERITT. We have not a final roll, because children born are added to the roll. . The CHAIRMAN. Is it pretty nearly up to date? Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. Mr. HASTINGs. Now, has the department the authority to take off the roll the name of anyone that is on it now? Mr. MERITT. If they are on there by fraud we have the authority to take their names off the roll. The CHAIRMAN: Who determines the question of authority? Mr. MERITT. The Secretary of the Interior. So much for that misleading statement regarding the Red Lake Indians leaving the reservation. Now, as to the title of the Red Lake Indians to the Red Lake Reservation. You will note that Mr. Ballinger in his statement was careful not to refer to the act of 1904 until I handed the members of the committee the law on yesterday and invited their attention to a certain article in that act. That agreement with the Red Lake Indians was made by Maj. McLaughlin, United States ;”. a gentleman who has been in the Indian Service almost half a century, and he has made more treaties and agreements with the Indians than any other living man, or any other man in the history of the United States. We have with us this morning Maj. McLaughlin, and I want him to be given an opportunity to make a statement to the committee in regard to this agreement. The CHAIRMAN. Would you like to have him make the statement now, Mr. Meritt? Mr. MERITT. No, sir; not just at this time. Mr. CARTER. What is the contention ? Mr. MERITT. The contention is that the Red Lake Indians do not own the Red Lake Reservation; that the Chippewa Indians generally, after the Red Lake Indians have received allotments, will share in the surplus property of the Red Lake Indians. Mr. CARTER. You contend that that is not true? Mr. MERITT. We contend that Congress is on record as recognizing the rights of the Red Lake Indians to the Red Lake Reservation. Mr. CARTER. And recognizing them alone? Mr. MERITT. Recognizing them only. Mr. HASTINGs. Through this act of 1904? Mr. MERITT. Through the act of 1904, and also in the act of 1916— two acts of Congress.
Mr. CARTER. Is the act of 1904 an agreement or— The CHAIRMAN. An agreement. * s - - Mr. MERITT. An agreement which was subsequently enacted by Congress. Mr. HASTINGs. As all agreements are. The CHAIRMAN. Well, now, is that right—“as all agreements are”? Mr. MERITT. No, sir; all agreements are not enacted by Congress. This agreement was modified by Congress before being finally enacted. Mr. CARTER. Let me ask you a question. Is it not necessary for an agreement to be ratified by Congress before it becomes a binding agreement—an agreement with the tribe, I mean? Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. Mr. CARTER. Is it or is it not the practice of Congress to modify those agreements when they come before Congress? Mr. MERITT. Congress has refused to approve some agreements and some treaties, and Congress has modified some agreements and treaties. Now, in this agreement with the Red Lake Indians we find article 4, which reads as follows: It is further agreed that the said Indians belonging on said Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota shall possess their diminished reservation independent of all other bands of the Chippewa Tribe of Indians and shall be entitled to allotments therein
of 160 acres each of either agricultural or pine land, the different quarters of land to be apportioned as equitably as possible among the allottees.
That part of the agreement is carried in the act of Congress, and Congress in the act of February 20, 1904, has recognized and enacted this provision of the agreement, and I think it is in the exact
lo e it. &ren. Was that in the original agreement? Mr. MERITT. That was in the original agreement. Mr. CARTER. Before it was modified ? Mr. MERITT. It was in the act of Congress which passed. Mr. CARTER. How was this agreement ratified—I mean not by Congress, but by the Indians? § MERITT. I will ask Maj. McLaughlin to give you the details of that. Mr. HASTINGs. Is that an agreement with all the bands of the Chippewas 7 Mr. MERITT. This is an agreement with the Red Lakes alone. The CHAIRMAN. An agreement with the Red Lakes alone. Mr. HASTINGs. You say that it is your recollection that this section was not changed? Mr. MERITT. It is my recollection that it was not changed by Congress. Mr. HASTINGs. There was some changes, however, made in the agreement by Congress. Mr. MERITT. There were some slight changes made in the agreement by Congress. Mr. DALLINGER. Was this agreement assented to by all the Chippewa Indians? Mr. MERITT. No, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Meritt can not state whether this agreement was ratified by the Indians after it passed Congress or not. Mr. HASTINGs. Did they not reject it?
Mr. BALLINGER. Mr. Meritt, as a matter of fact, after Congress modified this agreement and included it in the act of 1903, the Indian appropriation bill, it was submitted to the Indians and was rejected by the Indians, and then it came back here and was included in the act of 1904, the act of Congress, and was never resubmitted to them.
Mr. MERITT. Mr. Chairman, this provision that I am going to quote is on the statute books of the United States and has been passed by Congress, and I think it is exactly in the language of the agreement of the Chippewa Indians. We do not want to overlook that fact that the agreement with the Red Lake Indians was to the effect that the Red Lake Reservation should belong to the Red Lake Indians. There is no dispute as to that point.
Mr. CARTER. But, as I understand that, the other bands of the Chippewas were not consulted about that?
Mr. MERITT. The other bands of Chippewas were not consulted about the Red Lake agreement.
Mr. CARTER. But the same lands were included in the agreement of 1889, were they not?
Mr. MERITT. The agreement of 1889 covered all of the Chippewa lands.
The CHAIRMAN. Including the Red Lakes?
Mr. MERITT. Including the Red Lakes, but the Red Lake Indians, it should be remembered, had a distinct understanding with the commissioners in 1889, prior to the passage of the Nelson Act, that the Red Lake Reservation was to belong exclusively to the Red Lake Indians.
Mr. CARTER. Was that in the agreement of 1889 ?
Mr. MÉRITT. That was not in the agreement of 1889, but that was the understanding with the Red Lake Indians.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any record of that understanding?
Mr. MERITT. I will have to look up the records in order to determine that.
The CHAIRMAN. If you should find anything of that sort, you have permission to put it into the record at this point.
Mr. MERITT. In order that it may appear in the record, I want to read what was enacted by Congress on this provision relating to title to the Red Lake Indians. It is found on page 48 of the act, 33 Statutes at Large, in the act of February 20, 1904, and I think it is in exactly the language of the agreement with the Red Lake Indians:
ARTICLE 4. It is further agreed that the said Indians belonging on the said Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota shall possess their diminished reservation independent of all other bands of the Chippewa Tribe of Indians, and shall be entitled to allotments therein of 160 acres each of either agricultural or pine land, the different quarters of land to be apportioned as equitably as possible among the allottees.
You will see, gentlemen, that Congress is on record as recognizing that the lands within the Red Lake Reservation belong to the Red Lake Indians.
The Indian Bureau is an administrative branch of this Government, and it is our duty to follow the legislation enacted by Congress. In performing that duty we have recognized the fact that the Red Lake Reservation belongs to the Red Lake Indians. Now, Congress has also recognized the right of the Red Lake Indians in the Indian ap
propriation act of May 18, 1916, wherein it created the Red Lake Indian Forest Reserve, and authorized the distribution and sale of certain of that timber, the funds to go to the Red Lake Indians.
Mr. Hastings. After this act of 1904 was passed recognizing the right of the Red Lake Indians, how soon was there any protest in behalf of the other bands they recognized ?
Mr. MERITT. We have not had any protests, except very recently, and I think it has been brought about somewhat because of the fact that the White Earth Indians had gone through with their property. They have been given their allotments. They have disposed of them under the amendment that I have pointed out, and as a result to-day
cent of the White Earth adult mixed-blood Indians are without their lands, and having gone through with their allotments they now want to take part of the lands belonging to the Red Lake Indians. At least, that is what the Red Lake Indians claim.
Mr. CARTER. Under that act, Mr. Meritt, how was the degree of blood determined—that is, what procedure was necessary to distinguish the mixed blood from the full blood ?
Mr. MERITT. That unfortunate legislation was so worded that it did not provide that the department should make a roll of the White Earth Indians separating the mixed bloods from the full bloods. It was passed, as I stated, without our solicitation and resulted in great confusion and loss to the White Earth Indians; and we have attempted to straighten this matter out, not only through our department but through the Department of Justice. We have prepared a roll of the mixed-blood Indians and a roll of the full-blood Indians on the White Earth Reservation.
Mr. CARTER. Well, you have not answered the question. The inquiry that I made, Mr. Meritt was, How was the degree of blood determined in the absence of a roll?
Mr. MERITT. It was determined by data in the office of the department here in Washington, and also in the office of the superintendent at the White Earth® Reservation, and upon testimony of various people.
Mr. CARTER. What tribunal determined it?
Mr. MERITT. Congress in the Indian Appropriation act of a few years ago directed that there should be a commission appointed to straighten out this complication.
Mr. CARTER. But originally what tribunal determined the degree of blood ?
Mr. MERITT. The Secretary of the Interior was the final authority. Mr. CARTER. I thought the courts determined it.
Mr. MERITT. It was complicated somewhat and a great many of them had to go into court, where they were alleged to be mixed bloods; the department did not have any jurisdiction over it.
Mr. CARTER. Suppose a man claiming to be a mixed blood desired to sell his land. What procedure was necessary for that fellow to sell his land?
The CHAIRMAN. You are referring to the White Earths ?
Mr. MERITT. If he was an adult mixed blood there was no procedure necessary for him to sell the land beyond simply executing a deed to the land.
Mr. CARTER. Well, then, when was his degree of blood determined ? That is the point I am trying to get at.