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STATEMENT OF MR. PETER GRAVES, A RED LAKE INDIAN.
The CHAIRMAN. And you have resided up there on the Red Lake Reservation?
Mr. GRAVES. Yes, sir; I was born and raised there.
The CHAIRMAN. And are you a regularly elected delegate of the Red Lake Band ?
Mr. GRAVES. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRAVES. Yes, sir; but we had so much respect for the Indian Office is the reason that I am alone here, because Mr. Meritt has told our Indians that one would be sufficient to represent the Red Lake Indians here; but Mr. Head, here, came of his accord and arrived here a short time ago, because he thought that I should be accompanied here by some Red Lake Indian.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is a reasonable qualification as the representative, and you can go ahead with your statement.
Mr. GRAVES. Resolution No. 3 of the council proceedings of December 1, 1919, was the time I was designated to act for and in behalf of the Red Lake general council. They gave me authority to approach and consult Congressmen and the officials of the department pertaining to their matters, tribal matters. I am sorry to say that I never took advantage to go and see Congressmen as I should, to justify my duties towards the Red Lake Indians, for the reason that I am very backward about taking the time of the Congressmen. That is the only reason, and what I have to say here will be entirely strange as to what has been told them by the professional lobbyists, these white Indians of White Earth Reservation. They have become professional lobbyists, as everybody knows, among the Congressmen, and they pump the Congressmen full of their contention and misrepresenting the majority wish of these Indians in Minnesota, because those indians in Minnesota are unable to present their side to the proper parties. They are unable to be heard.
There is a matter right here-if there was a direct question put to them as to what they believe-to the contention between the Red Lake Indians as to the ownership of the Red Lake Reservation and the other Minnesota Chippewas, I believe that they would say they understood that the Red Lake Indians reserved their diminished reservation for themselves and their children, and that is just the way that the Red Lake Indians look at it to-day, because why? When the commissioners offered the act of 1889 they refused it. They told the commission that their mission was a failure. The commission wanted to succeed in their mission, of course, and we in talking around, as I have been told-although I am a signer, one of signers of that act, but I was here in Philadelphia going to school at that time. I don't know who signed it for me, but my name appears there as being present.
The CHAIRMAN. By that you mean that you did not sign it yourself?
Mr. GRAVES. I did not sign it, but somebody signed it for me. That is the idea, because I could not have signed it, because I was attending school in Philadelphia at that time.
The CHAIRMAN. How old were you at that time?
Mr. GRAVES. I was down on the census as 19 years old at that time; the church records show that I was 16 at that time.
Well, the commissioners then got around and made the Red Lake Indians believe that they could have that diminished reservation exclusive of the Chippewas of Minnesota. Having so much vast area over and above the balance of the Minnesota Chippewas, they could cede that, and what they ceded outside of this diminished reservation would go into the common fund, but that this reservation would be held as theirs exclusively. That is what the Indians were made to understand by this commission.
When Maj. McLaughlin went to negotiate a treaty with them in 1902 the Indians said that anyone that would go to Maj. McLaughlin and talk about allotments would be killed right there. That is the feeling that those Indians had against allotments. I told Maj. McLaughlin at that time what I heard in the progress of these agreements. I said to Maj. McLaughlin: “I expect some day, if I live long enough, that I will probably be an allottee, because the Government won't leave these Red Lake Indians alone until they are allotted.” I said to him: “Can't you put in this agreement here to give me 160 acres if I should live out the time, instead of getting 80
And he saw the contention of those Indians, and that is the reason in that section 4 he put that so clearly that the other Indians would not have any right in that diminished reservation. And we do claim, and I agree with the Indians--I agree with the Indians of Red Lake that they are right in their contention after ceding such a vast area to be enjoyed in common right with the Minnesota Chippewas, why should they have ceded every foot of it, they not being present at that council, but I do believe that their contention that they were made to believe that this diminished reservation was to be held in common by them.
The CHAIRMAN. Now let me ask you a question right there. You are a very intelligent Red Lake Indian. There is no question about that. Now you claim that the Red Lake Indians are entitled to all of the benefits of that diminished reservation ?
Mr. GRAVES. Yes, sir; exactly.
The CHAIRMAN. And that you are also entitled to participate in the general funds of the Chippewas from all other sources ?
Mr. GRAVES. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRAVES. We do not begrudge what we have ceded in common; we do not begrudge that. We have no claims on that, but we do claim what the commission made the Indians believe. We were members of this general council two years ago and we wanted the general council to assume the same attitude that the real Indians assumed at that time toward the Red Lake Indians pertaining to their diminished reservation, but the boss Indian politicians, Ben Fairbanks and John G. Morrison, refused to entertain any proposition from the Red Lake Indians. Se we voted from that council and we don't .do business through that council and we don't want to do
business through that council. What we want is what belongs to the Red Lake Indians as they understood in the negotiations of the commission that they had the authority to negotiate with the Red Lake Indians as it pertains to the act of 1889. The Red Lake Indians are scared to death and in terror to-day on account of this general council of the Minnesota Chippewas, because it is being controlled by white Indians, merchants, and lawyers. Who is able among the Red Lake Indians to start up against these men? No
Mr. KELLY. Let me ask you right there, you referred to the act of 1889.
Mr. GRAVES. Yes, sir.
Mr. KELLY. And as I read that act of 1889 it clearly says that this. commission shall have power to reserve in the Red Lake Reservation sufficient lands to provide allotments for the Red Lake Indians under the general allotment act of 1887. Now, suppose that commission had reserved only 300,000 acres instead of 700,000; then would you have a claim for more than 300,000, or would you have admitted that they had a right to make it 300,000?
Mr. GRAVES. The real Indians understood the commission to say that the next generation might want to take allotments, but in 50 years from now those that would be living at that time should be willing to take allotments, if we had so much in the diminished reservation. The White Earth allotment rolls were open for about 10 years, you see, and if we ever want to take allotments on the diminished reservation, which generation might want to, then we would use that for our allotments.
Mr. KELLY. The point I was trying to make was this, that the commissioners simply selected 700,000 acres, so that every Red Lake Indian would get his due allotment, and then the rest of it would be disposed of.
Mr. GRAVES. The commissioners had to give the Red Lake Indians the boundaries that they had marked out on the paper as what they wanted to reserve. It was not up to the commission; the law gave them that, but the Red Lake Indians didn't want allotments; they wanted to reserve the reservation that they are to hold in common, and they defined the lands themselves.
Mr. KELLY. Well, the law gave no such authority.
Mr. KELLY. The act of 1889 clearly says that the Red Lake Indians shall be allotted the same as other Indians and not on a two-thirds agreement of the Red Lakes, but on a two-thirds agreement of all the Chippewas. So the law don't give that authority.
Mr. GRAVES. Yes, but you want to understand that the Red Lake Indians when the act was read to them they told the commission, “Your mission is a failure;" but the commission didn't want to be treated that way. The commission, you must understand, were very able men.
One of them was a bishop, and I guess the other one was a doctor, and Mr. Rice was a governor at one time of Minnesota.
Mr. KELLY. Do you claim that the Red Lakes never accepted the act of 1889 ?
Mr. GRAVES. They accepted the act of 1889 as it was made as it was told, as far as their diminished reservation was concerned.
The CHAIRMAN. He maintains they understood that they were to have and to hold forever for themselves this diminished reservation, even under the act of 1889. Mr. KELLY. The commissioners gave that explanation when they
there? Mr. GRAVES. The commissioners made the Red Lake Indians believe that that diminished reservation was theirs exclusively.
Mr. KELLY. That is a clear statement.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, unless you have something further of a particular nature which you desire to say, it seems to me you have made all the statement that is necessary. I can't understand what further you would have.
Mr. GRAVES. I haven't got started yet. If you want to cut me off
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). No, I don't want to shut you off; I think you have made a splendid exhibition here, and you have given us a lot of information. You have made, to the chairman's idea, the potent statement of this whole proposition, so far as the Red Lake Indians are concerned, and I don't see how you can make the situation any clearer than you have by an extended statement-by any further extensive remarks. You can go
You can go ahead if you desire. Mr. KELLY. In this report of the commissioners that went out under the act of 1889, as submitted by the Congress at that time, the statement is clearly made that in this diminished reservation of 700,000 acres they took more than would be needed by the Red Lake Indians for this reason—this is their statement: “This larger than they will eventually require, but as there are swamps and other untillable lands therein it can not be reduced until after survey and allotments shall be made.”
Now, that clearly was the idea of the commission, that they would reserve enough, including swamps as untillable lands, to make allotments, and then they would dispose of the rest of it.
Mr. GRAVES. Well, they were very smart men, as I say. That can run for two or three hundred years if you want it. He told the Indians in 50 years he expected that they would be in a condition advanced enough in the white man's civilization for them to be allotted. To-day they say they are not far enough advanced to be allotted. They have seen what is going on in Minnesota. They have seen these land frauds. They are experienced. They hear, and when an Indian hears anything he takes it to be a fact, whether it is true or not. But I think the land frauds at. White Earth can be proven that they are correct.
Mr. HERNANDEZ. So then the Red Lake Indians contend that they should not be allotted yet?
Mr. GRAVES. Until they say that they want to take their allotments.
Mr. HERNANDEZ. Well, couldn't they be allotted, whether they are competent or not? They don't have to dispose of their lands because they are allotted. They can be held in trust by the Department of the Interior through the Indian Office indefinitely if they want to. We can provide for that. They ought to be allotted, in my opinion, and this matter cleared up. That has been the trouble, that they have been legislating too much on this matter.
Mr. GRAVES. Well, the only legislation we have since the act of 1889 was the agreement made by Maj. McLaughlin with those Indians there. That is the only legislation. Of course the Government had to get part of that reservation for forest reserve by that rider in the appropriation bill in 1916.
Mr. HERNANDEZ. The forest reserve is all right, I suppose, but I hold that outside of the forest reserve there is enough land there right now to allot everyone of the Red Lakers. Is that so?
Mr. GRAVES. Well, when the Indians want to take allotments I expect they will want the forest reserve, if they haven't enough other lands. That is the Red Lake Indian forest there.
Mr. HERNANDEZ. Well, that is all right if it is there. That is for Congress to decide.
Mr. GRAVES. Of course it is Congress, but the Red Lake Indiáns have the right by occupancy. But I am not a lawyer but I want to explain a few things here.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to ask you a question here. There have been several reasons given by other witnesses as to why the Red Lake Indians have not been allotted. Now for 31 years the bureau has had the right under the law of 1889 to allot that Red Lake territory.
Mr. KELLY. Not only the right, Mr, Chairman, but the duty.
The CHAIRMAN. But the duty. What reason do you give as to why there have been no allotments made up there?
Mr. GRAVES. The commission that negotiated the act in 1889 made those Indians believe they didn't have to make allotments until they wanted to. Now that is the whole substance as they understood it. Now it is up to those Indians, you see, and the department knows that the Red Lake Indians don't want to take allotments at this time, up to this time.
The CHAIRMAN. Then you think the department has been guided wholly by the wish of the Red Lake Indians ?
Mr. GRAVES. Certainly. They ought to be advised on that.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, there have been other reasons given for the lack of having made allotments up there.
Mr. GRAVES. You can give all kinds of reasons, but that is the true reason, that the Red Lake Indians don't want to take allotments, and the allotments are not to be enforced on them without their consent. They have there in their council proceedings that whenever one wants to allot those Indians, they must consult them first.
The CHAIRMAN. But there is nothing in the law which makes any such provision as that.
Mr. GRAVES. No, it is not in the law but the Red Lake Indians believe they have something to say about it.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the committee is to understand you to say that up to this time the Red Lake Indians have not desired allotments?
Mr. GRAVES. No, they haven't desired allotments.
Mr. RHODES. And you think the department has done right in not making allotments ?
Mr. GRAVES. Well, according to the wish of the Indians, of course, they did right.