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men, however, were heartily in favor of the allotment plan, knowing if their lands were held in severalty each man's earnings could be used for his own advantage instead of, as heretofore, being necessarily shared with the idle, but they did not like the provision for (providing with their funds," although when it was explained to them that the country from Lake Superior and beyond the Red River at the north was by the united efforts of all the Chippewas taken by conquest from the Sioux, and that if it had not been for these united efforts they could not have taken and held the reservation, they admitted the correctness of the statement, but that some of their neighbors had received more than their due.
Now, that simply shows that they recognized their rights. All of this land between Lake Superior and the Dakotas was taken by conquest from the Sioux. The Chippewas of Mississippi, who aro the principal ones that now ask to sue, they got all of this land there, and the Red Lakers did not share in it. They sold this tract here, and they got it so that Congress in 1853 and 1854 established thé doctrine that the Chippewas, occupying here, back of the Chippewas of Mississippi, got the proceeds of that. The Chippewas of Red Lake got the Red River Valley proceeds, and the Chippewas of Superior got no part of that; so they are pursuing a consistent policy. They were induced to sign this Nelson Act by the point that they made there-right on that point of the Ninth Council--this is the council at White River. Here is a speech made by the chief of the White Rivers on this very point, about the construction you are speaking of:
An arrangement has been made with the Red Lake Indians, which includes the Pembinas, but we fear that the Pembinas do not care to go up to Red Lake, and wish to know if they will participate in the common fund and not remove to Red Lake, but remain there. They will take their lands here. If they want to participate with us, they have nothing to put in the pool. Where are the funds coming from to make their share of the pool?
That is the Pembinas. We as a tribe consolidate all our means, no matter where the Indians are located on other reservations, but the agreement with the Red Lake Indians is that no others can go there, and if they have an overplus of land, which they wish to dispose of in the future, they will have the sole benefit of the sale of those lands, which will not go into the pool.
Mr. KELLY. What is that you are reading from? Mr. STEENERSON. I am reading from the pow-wow of the council of White Earth Reservation, when they signed the Nelson Act, before the Nelson Act took effect, and it is here pointed out that under the agreement, the other Indians could not go and share that remnant of the diminished reservation with them. They did that themselves; just exactly what I thought they did.
Mr. KELLY, Let me understand. , Are you contending that the act of 1889 deliberately and specifically gave the residue of the reservation to the Red Lake Indians, or does it treat them on the basis with all other tribes, and compel the cession of their extra lands, and make it go into the Treasury for the benefit of all the Chippewas?
Mr. STEENERSOX. Did I take that position? I took the position that the residue was not ceded. That it did not need to be given to them, for it still belongs to them.
Mr. KELLY. And that the act of 1904 is carrying out the plan of 1889 ?
Mr. STEENERSON. Exactly.
Mr. KELLY. I do not believe that meaning can be placed on the act of 1889, because it specifically makes a distinction against the Red Lake Indians. It provides that their lands must be relinquished.
Mr. STEENERSON. What do you suppose Congress had in mind when they passed the act of 1904?
Mr. KELLY. That is a complete reversal, in my judgment, of the act of 1889.
Mr. STEENERSON. They say here, when the act was being considered, whether it should be accepted or not-said this agreement provides that the Red Lake Indians should have their diminished reservation to themselves; that nobody shall go there and share it. They owned it and never ceded it.
Mr. KELLY. The law does not say so, whatever they said in council.
Mr. STEENERSON. I think that what they said at the time they signed the act really is a part of the act. I do not think there is any irreconcilable conflict.
Mr. KELLY. It is a different point than any that has been given bəfore the committee yet.
Mr. STEENERSON. I certainly have no interest. If I had any interest at all, I would be on the other side, because most of these people live in my district, but still in good faith, having been up there, and as Maj. McLaughlin explained to them when he made the agreement
The CHAIRMAN. The thing bothering the minds of this committee, particularly that of the chairman, is that it seems to me that the act of 1904 is a complete reversal of the law laid down in the act of 1889. Now, that is what we want somebody to clear up. You take the position that the Red Lake agreement and the subsequent law was carrying out the law of 1889.
Mr. STEENERSON. Its status was not changed. It was subject to the possessory rights of the Red Lakers. That was not surrendered.
The law of 1889 did not dispose of the diminished reservation, but it was left so it should not be shared with the rest of them.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, just make that as clear to us as you can; how you can make one conform with the other.
Mr. KELLY. There was only enough reserved to comply with the general allotment act of 1887, in allotting these Indians on Red Lake. There was no diminished reservation provided for in the act of 1889 at all, and Maj. McLaughlin states he agreed in 1902 that it was a reversal of the act of 1889, if I understood him correctly.
Mr. STEENERSON. That is an error. The diminished reservation is described in the agreement of cession. The title to that never was passed. The allotments referred to was to Red Lake Indians not to outsiders. I did not hear the Major's statement, but I know it was in the McLaughlin agreement, which was the foundation of the act which passed,
and that I went over this whole ground, and I thought the Nelson Act could be construed in harmony with that theory. At least, every Red Lake Indian believed that, and he insisted on his rights, and I have read now from the proceedings of the commission. I have not studied the Nelson Act with a view to
this particular question which Mr. Kelly has propounded, but it seems to me that it does not conflict—it does not exclude every other 'interpretation, and if the pow-wows and treaties were made—I will read further on the council that was held there at Red Lake.
It is now for the first time suggested that they not only contributed part, but all of their lands to the common fund. It should be borne in mind that the title to all this vast region was acquired by conquest; it was a title by possession, not a treaty or paper title. It gave the land to the occupiers, the Red Lake Indians, and no one else. None of the White Earth Indians or Chippewas of the Mississippi occupied this land when the agreement accepting the Nelson Act was made. The other Chippewas in Minnesota were then on their respective reservations; there could be no pretense of title by possession in them of any part of the Red Lake Reservation. It was conceded Indian country, the right of occupancy which was vested in the occupiers, the Red Lake Indians, and none others. When, therefore, they ceded their right and title to the 3,260,000 acres described in the cession of 1889, it did not affect the title to what was left in their possession. In 1904 their right to this part was conceded, and the Government negotiated the McLaughlin agreement and the act based thereon confirmed their exclusive right to their present diminished reservation. Congress had a right to do that and the act was valid. The other Chippewas never having occupied any of these Red Lake lands had no right in them and could not claim any. Hence when the eleven towns were ceded in 1904 the proceeds of their sale went exclusively to the Red Lake Indians. Section 1: The act of 1889 authorized the President to appoint three commissioners whose duty it was to as soon as practicable after their appointment “to negotiate with all the different bands or tribes of Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota for the complete cession and relinquishment in writing of all their title and interest in and to all the reservations of said Indians in the State of Minnesota, except the White Earth and Red Lake Reservations, and to all and so much of these two Reservations as in the judgment of said commissioners is not required to make and fill the allotments required by this and existing acts, and shall not have been reserved by the commissioners for said purposes and upon the terms hereinafter stated.” In section 3 it is provided, “That as soon as the census has been taken, and the cession and relinquishment has been obtained and approved, and ratified, as specified in section 1 of this act, all of said Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota, except those on the Red Lake Reservation, shall, under the direction of said commissioners, be removed to and take up their residence on the White Earth Reservation, and thereupon there shall, as soon as practicable, under the direction of said commissioners, be allotted lands in severalty to the Red Lake Indians on Red Lake Reservation, and to all the other of said Indians on the White Earth Reservation, in conformity with the act of February 8, 1887,” etc. The commissioners made separate agreements with each band. The first was with the Red Lake Chippewas, printed on pages 28 and 29 of the report of the commissioners. (Ex. Doc. No. 247, 51st Cong., 1st sess.) In this relinquishment the Red Lake Indians “relinquished and conveyed to the United States all our right, title, and interest in and to all and so much of said Red Lake Reservation as is not embraced in the following described boundaries, to wit.” Then follows a description of the diminished reservation which then included the present diminished reservation and also the eleven towns embraced and ceded by the act of 1904. In the letter of the Secretary of the Interior transmitting the report, it is stated: “The Red Lake Reservation, two-thirds of which at least is ceded to the United States, contains 3,200,000 acres and the number of Indians occupying the same is 1,168. The boundaries of the diminished reservation from which allotments to the Red Lake Chippewas are to be made are given in the report.” The commissioners report that this reservation is larger than will eventually be required, but as there are swamps and other untillable lands therein it can not be reduced until after resurvey and allotments shall be made. The Secretary continues: “Whether the surplus lands that may remain after allotments shall have been completed as required by the law can be disposed of without further legislation is a question which will require consideration, but such consideration is not necessaty at this time.” It should be noted that the act provides for allotments on the diminished Red Lake Reservation to Red Lake Indians only, and this is a part of the contract. To take any of these lands and allot them to Indians “not belonging to the Red Lake Reservation” is to take their lands away from them without compensation just as much as if they were taken and given to any outside citizen.
It should be borne in mind that the authority of the commissioners was limited so that they could not even negotiate for the relinquishment of the land excepted; that is to say, land which was set aside to be allotted under “this and existing acts.” Allotments under “this act” are expressly limited to Red Lake Indians on the Red Lake Reservation and the general allotment act has carefully provided for allotments to Indians belonging to each reservation. The proposition advanced in the Ellsworth bill is to bring in Indians from other reservations and allot them land on the diminished reservation after the Red Lakers have been allotted. This would be clearly taking of the property of the Red Lake Indians and giving it to some one not entitled to it without compensation.
The Indian #. of possession to the diminished reservation now in question has never been extinguished except the 11 towns embraced in the act of 1904, and it can not lawfully or equitably be taken away from the Red Lake Indians and given to other Indians or to anyone else. This was clearly in the mind of Secretary Noble when he transmitted the report of the commissioners when he said, referring to the unceded or part of the Red Lake Reservation, “whether the surplus lands that may remain after allotment shall have been completed as required by the law, and be disposed of without further legislation, is a question which will require consideration.”
AGREEMENT WITH THE RED LAKE INDIANS.
We, the undersigned, being male adult Indians over 18 years of age, of the tribes or bands of Chippewa Indians occupying and belonging to the Red Lake Reservation, in the State of Minnesota, do hereby certify and declare that we have heard read, interpreted, and thoroughly explained to our understanding, the act of Congress approved January 14, 1889, entitled (Nelson Act), which said act is embodied in the foregoing instrument, and after such explanation and understanding, have consented and agreed to said act, and have accepted and ratified the same, and do hereby accept and consent to and ratify the said act and each and all of the provisions thereof and do hereby grant, cede, relinquish, and convey to the United States all our right, title, and interest in and to all and so much of said Red Lake Reservation as is not embraced in the following-described boundaries, to wit:
Then follows a description of the diminished reservation, that was never ceded and remains the property of the occupiers who hold it in common. The error of those who contend otherwise lies in assuming that this tract was ceded under act of 1889 when it was not.
The CHAIRMAN. Another thing the chairman can not understand is, in 1902, when Mr. McLaughlin went up there to make that agreement, if that agreement was going to be of such an advantage to the Red Lakers, why was it necessary to pay a premium to get it, which they did do. They offered them, instead of 80 acres, 160, if they would enter into the agreement. Now, I think that has some bearing on the case, too. Who was it who was so anxious about making this agreement? The Red Lakers were not asking for it at the time.
Mr. STEENERSON. The other Indians got 160, under a treaty, long before the Nelson Act. The White Earth Indians had a treaty providing for 160 acres, and the bill had been introduced and passed
in the House four or five times before I got here, and finally we
passed it in the House and it went through the Senate, giving them the additional 80 acres. So that the 1904 bill, giving 160 acres, was not any more than the rest of the Indians had.
Mr. KELLY. Sure; but Mr. McLaughlin, in answering a question of mine, distinctly stated the real reason why the Red Lake Indians signed the agreement of 1902 was because they were going to get just what you contend has been the interpretation .# the act of 1889. . If that was the interpretation of the act of 1889, surely there could be no special advantage offered to them in carrying out a law which had been on the statutes, because all those years he says they were given it and knew.
Mr. STEENERSON. I have never seen any record of the McLaughlin council. Was it printed? The CHAIRMAN. Yes; Mr. Henderson has a copy of that. Mr. STEENERSON. I do not know what Mr. McLaughlin told them in order to get them to sign that agreement. The CHAIRMAN. Evidently there was something said, which the agreement and the minutes do not embody, as you have several times suggested, that we have to consider the conversation which took place as well as the written word. Mr. STEENERSON. Yes; the conversation that has been hinted at simply does not justify any conclusion that under the law and the light of the Who! proceedings that these Indians—that each tribe that occupied the land should be the ones to cede it, and they have done that from the beginning, following out the same process. That is the reason the Nelson Act provided that there should be a council with each band occupying, belonging to that particular reservation. Mr. RHODEs. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask Mr. Steenerson two or three questions. The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Mr. RHODEs. I understood that Mr. Kelly read from the act of Congress. r. STEENERSON. 1889. Mr. RHODEs. Yes. Mr. STEENERson. I suppose he did. The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Mr. RHODEs. And that you said a certain conversation took place at the time of the approval of that act, by the Indians. Mr. STEENERSON. Yes. Mr. RHODEs. Now, do I understand you to say that the conversation that took place in connection with the consideration of the Nelson Act was as much a part of the act itself as appears in the statutes? Mr. STEENERSON. Not as much, but it must be consulted in interpreting it. Mr. RHODEs. That is true; but is it not a fact that the terms of the act are clear and concise, and if they are, then are we not bound by the terms of the act entirely, and won't we be justified in considering any of this dictum, under those circumstances, and is it not a further fact that the only condition under which we would be justified in considering the dictum, as I might say, would be in case the terms of the act were so dubious and so hard to interpet that it would be necessary to look to other sources in order that light might be shed on the contention of Congress. Mr. STEENERSON. While of course it is a rule of interpretation of statutes that where a thing is absolutely plain, it don't need any interpretation; if this clause he read is so plain that it don't require interpretation, then it don't have to be interpreted, but the whole context of the subject must be taken into consideration—all of its provisions—and when you take them all into consideration, I submit that no such conclusion is justified. Mr. RHODEs. Now, do I understand that there are certain questions of law in contemplation here, as would make necessary some court decision in order to decide the question, or has any court ever passed upon the question at any time that is here involved? Does this trouble grow out of the lack of interpretation of existing law