« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
majority of those who have the right to elect? Why did you not go ahead and control the machine?
Mr. McDonald. I am prepared to go into that in detail. Mr. RHODES. It looks to me as if it could have been a very easy matter at the time.
Mr. McDonald. I will ask permission of the chairman to do that right now.
The CHAIRMAN. You have the floor. Mr. RHODES. Do you have any connection with the group of Chippewas that came here about a month ago and had a hearing ?
Mr. McDONALD. I have no connection with them at all. Mr. Rhodes. Which faction did they represent, yours or the other? Mr. McDONALD. If you have reference to Mr. John Parker and Mr. Lovegans I can state who they are, and they are here now representing the opposition to this legislation and the opposition to what I will term the “Morrison Council.”
Mr. RHODES. They said at that time that they wanted to advance some preliminary propositions and that they would be prepared later to make some arguments, and we understood that this whole thing would be thrashed out at that time.
Mr. McDONALD. That is what I understood.
Mr. RHODES. Let me ask you another question that must imply some misgivings as to the weight of your argument, because you must assume that this committee is fair-minded, open-minded, and wants to do justice. Do you feel that it is the proper thing for you to refrain from putting the whole matter before us—if that is your purpose--unless you feel that anything this committee does, or any legislation that is passed, will be barred from the legal standpoint and that you want to keep yourself in a position to attack the legality of any legislation that is passed? Is that your view?
Mr. McDONALD. No.
Mr. RHODES. I do not see why you do not want to present your full case here.
Mr. McDONALD. We intend to do so. I did not want to convey in answer to the chairman's question that I did not want to go on. The chairman asked me the pointed question if I thought the matter ought to be suspended and I stated that I thought so, but we are prepared to go on, and we think we can satisfy this committee that nothing in the shape of legislation should be enacted that will not be fair to all the Indians of Minnesota.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, if you are prepared to give testimony as a witness we can now go ahead with the hearing and listen to you when the proper time comes.
Mr. Hayden. Why did you think the committee investigation ought to be suspended ?
Mr. McDonald. Well, the committee would be in much better shape after this decision is rendered in the district court. That is the only reason I know of for that. Then legislation can be shaped accordingly. There are two organizations, and in your legislation you may want to recognize that fact the same as we hope the Bureau of Indian Affairs may recognize that fact. There ought to be some bureau, or some man somewhere to whom such questions can be presented and who would decide as to whether or not the so-called
“Morrison Council” represents, all of the Indians or whether or not there are two associations, or whether or not either of them represent the Indians, or perhaps the better way would be to have somebody that could say there were two organizations representing two distinct factions. Mr. HAYDEN. Do you not think it would be a pretty good idea before you started upon this independent course to try out the regular procedure of sending your credentials to the Indian Bureau and asking for recognition. You surely are acquainted with the Indian Bureau and know what their general functions are. You assume here to be somewhat ignorant of what their duties are. Mr. McDon ALD. I would not want to put it that I am ignorant of it, but I am not fully advised of what the practice is in the Indian Bureau. The CHAIRMAN. Perhaps Mr. Meritt can give us some inside facts and I will ask him to make a brief statement. If his statement does not agree with your ideas you of course have permission to ask to be heard. Mr. MERITT. Mr. Chairman, this controversy this morning illustrates the difficulty of administering Indian affairs. There usually are two factions on every Indian reservation. The Chippewa country is no exception to that rule. These factions have complained of each other for a good many years. The Indian Bureau has had considerable trouble in getting these factions together. The two different factions here have held meetings at different places in the Chippewa country. Inasmuch as the bureau was charged with the responsibility of administering the Chippewa affairs we tried to get these two factions together in one convention, and it was agreed o: the representatives of both factions while here in Washington that on June 17, 1919, an election would be held for delegates to attend the general council to be called at Cass Lake, Minn., and that the general council should be held at Cass Lake on July 8 of last year. There was a meeting held at that place on that date. What is known as the mixed-blood faction among the Chippewas were in control of the meeting, and the full-bloods were out-voted at that meeting. Mr. HASTINGs. Was that meeting well advertised in advance? Mr. MERITT. It was well advertised. We wrote letters to the various superintendents and the Indians were advised in person, and I think it will be conceded that it was generally known in the Chippewa country that that meeting was to be held. As a result of that meeting the Indian Bureau recognized what is known as the “Morrison faction” among the Chippewas, and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs under date of August 28, 1919, wrote Mr. John G. Morrison, jr., Red Lake, Minn., this letter: “Dear Mr. Morrison: I am in receipt of a copy of the minutes of the meeting of the general council of Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, held at Cass Lake, Minn., July 8, 1919; also reports from Supt. Walter F. Dickens and Supervisor L. F. Michael who attended this council at my request. I have given this matter very careful consideration and hereby recognize your election 8,S Pool. of the council; Paul H. Beaulieu as secretary thereof, and the organization effected thereby, under the constitution and by-laws of the Chippewa Indians of Woo. I exceedingly regret however, to note from the record that the factional differences among the Chippewa Indians were not adjusted at this council and a com
promişe effected, so that this election would be an expression of the entire Chippewa Tribe. Sincerely yours, Cato Sells, Commissioner.'
Mr. HERNANDEZ. Are the different agencies of the tribe represrented in this council ?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. : Mr. HERNANDEZ. Representatives of each and every one of the tribes are in this council ?
Mr. MERRITT. Yes, sir; except Red Lake. Now, on June 2, 1919, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs sent a telegram to the different superintendents in the Chippewa country. This telegram reads as follows:
After conference here with representatives all factions Chippewa Indians, it has been decided to adjourn the elections of delegates of both factions, proposed to be held to-morrow, June 3, until Tuesday, June 17, 10.30 a. m. when delegates will be elected to the general council to be held at Cass Lake Tuesday, July 8, 10 a. m. Said delegates shall be elected on the basis of one delegate for each 100 Indians or fraction thereof on each reservation and ceded reservations. You will notify immediately the Indians of your reservation of this action and direct them to be governed accordingly. The adjourned place of election on the White Earth Reservation shall be held in the pavilion at Pinehurst. You are also directed to be present on the day of election and see that it is conducted fairly and honestly.
There are other telegrams of the same import. You will remember, Mr. Chairman, in my opening statement I was asked if we recognized the general council of the Chippewa Indians represented at this meeting, and I stated that we had recognized the General Chippewa Council, but we did not recognize that they were the controlling factors in administering the affairs among the Chippewa Indians,
Mr. HAYDEN. As I understand it, you have recognized one of these councils as the official head of the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota; is that true?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir.
Mr. HAYDEN. Now, how much trouble would it be for you to enter into or negotiate an agreement with this council and then submit, not the election of another council to the Chippewa Indians, but the ratification of that agreement ?
Mr. MERITT. I think that would be an unwise 'way to deal with the Chippewa situation, from my experience with Indian affairs in the Chippewa country.
Mr. HAYDEN. Why so?
Mr. MERITT. Because there is so much prejudice and factional feeling among the Chippewa Indians that a large number of the Chippewa Indians would resent the action of the Indian Bureau in negotiating an agreement with the general council of the Chippewa Indians.
Mr. ELSTON. That question of the recognition of the council by the bureau, as I understand you, has already been settled by the bureau, has it not?
Mr. MERITT. We have recognized them as the general council, but we have not gone so far as to make an agreement with them, nor would we do that under the present conditions.
The CHAIRMAN. But you have continued to do business with the other Indians up there in addition to the general council that you recognized ?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir.
Mr. Elston. If you negotiated this agreement with this council, then the question would be presented to the Chippewas, not of ratifying the council, but of the action by the council ?
Mr. MERITT. I would see no objection to this action being taken. Have the Indian Bureau and the general council of the Chippewa Indians and the other faction of the Chippewa Indians get together and endeavor to reach an agreement on legislation and come before the committee and thrash this matter out. Congress, after hearing all sides, could pass such legislation as it deemed wise to meet the conditions in the Chippewa country, and then have that legislation not become effective until approved by a majority of the adult male and female members of the Chippewa Tribe of Indians in Minnesota.
Mr. Elston. Now, the only difference between that and the proposition I have presented, as I understand it, is this, that in your negotiations as you proposed you will undertake to deal with both factions, and the proposition I made was to deal with that faction which the department has already recognized. Of course, the committee has no interest whatever in either of these factions and only wants to do that which is best for the entire tribe, as the bureau wants.
Mr. MERITT. That is exactly our position.
Mr. ELSTON. But from statements made before the committee it appears to me that there is not much possibility of getting these two factions together in the writing of an agreement, but if you could negotiate an agreement with one faction or the other, whichever you recognize, having in view all the time that you had votes to ratify the agreement, I take it that the bureau would look after the interests of those who were not represented, not the council, and that being the case, would try to negotiate an agreement which would be acceptable to all factions.
Mr. MERITT. I think it would be very unwise for the Indian Bureau to attempt at this time to negotiate an agreement with the general council of the Chippewa Indians.
Mr. ELSTON. As I understand you, you think that no agreement ahould be undertaken unless it is undertaken with all factions ?
Mr. MERITT. I would not even attempt to negotiate with all factions under present conditions. I would attempt to work out with all factions the necessary legislation and permit all factions to be heard, and then, it if is the wish of Congress, to have a majority of the male and female members of the Chippewa tribe approve that legislation before becoming effective. Mr. Elston. That is what I understand your position to be.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is the only thing that can be done. As chairman I will say that I am disappointed, because I expected that this legislation proposed here would be based upon a consolidation of the views of all of the parties, and that was my understanding when you left here six weeks ago, that at the hearing called on the 8th of March, after hearing all the parties, after hearing all the interests, you would get together and come here with an agreement. Apparently negotiations have been carried on only with the recognized council and the bureau.
Mr. MÉRITT. Not at all, Mr. Chairman. We have carried on negotiations with all of the factions here in Washington.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you dealt with anybody who claimed to represent the people that the gentleman whom we have been hearing his morning claims to represent?
Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir, we have had a conference with them. The CHAIRMAN. Did you find them to be in the same frame of mind with regard to an agreement that the gentleman conveyed to us this morning? Mr. MERITT. Unfortunately a number of those Indians were not in a position to state what they wanted. They did not know exactly what they wanted. Now, the principal objection that has been pointed out this morning to this § is found in section 3, where the general council attempted to get legislation so that they would have authority to convey certain land. If you will note the draft that we submitted, we struck out that provision and placed the authority in the Secretary of the Interior, so we have corrected in this bill the chief objection raised by the attorney, Mr. McDonald. The CHAIRMAN. Well, now, with that explanation, and one other, so far as the chairman is concerned, we can go ahead with the hearing. I want you to explain what effect this suit that has been started, in case it should be decided in favor of the plaintiffs, would have upon any legislation that we may have iod in the meantime. o I think the litigation would not have any effect upon the legislation, and the legislation you propose would also not have any effect on who should at any future time control the general council. That is in the hands of the Chippewa Indians, and if one faction wins this year it would not prevent another faction winning next year. This legislation would not have any bearing upon that uestion. Q. The CHAIRMAN. From your knowledge of the action that has been started, is there anything in it that would vitiate any action now taken by the present councilo Would it have the effect of defeating . action that we took here now with the council as a legal entity to-day? Mr. MERITT. I think not. Mr. HERNANDEz. It seems to me like the disputed point in this controversy between the regular council as it was elected and this insurgent council is that they are afraid if this legislation is enacted this council that is now recognized by the bureau will have the selection of one of these commissioners. - Mr. McDonald. The matter of that election that Mr. Meritt refers to is set up in this complaint, and we answer these allegations relating to that particular election; and our allegations in the original answer, which P. here, and these allegations, stand admitted so far as the pleadings are concerned. That whole subject is involved in this action. The CHAIRMAN. Well, now, with Mr. Meritt's brief statement that the court action would have no effect upon any action we take here, we will, with that understanding, proceed with the hearing if it is agreeable to the other members of the committee. Mr. CARTER. I think we might continue, Mr. Chairman. I have not heard enough of the hearing. Mr. ELSTON. I think we might continue, Mr. Chairman. Mr. RHODEs. I recall that you said, Mr. Meritt, that there was some merit in the contention of these insurgent Indians as against the regulars. I understood this morning that you recognized the regular council. Now, just how far in the management of the affairs of the tribe have you recognized this regular council'