Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

furthering any legislation that would throw the full-bloods or the half-breeds of the Chippewa at the mercy of the unscrupulous, and I will not. Now, whether or not this bill will open the floodgates to fraud is something for the committee to determine. I do not know. I am not well enough posted on Indian matters to know; but I do know that the competent Indians, the Indians who are competent, should be placed on their own resources.

There is no question at all about that. I think that all will agree with me in that respect. The Indian Bureau and the members of the committee are in accord with the proposition of placing the competent Indians on their own resources; but, of course, the incompetent Indians on the Red Lake Reservation and on the other reservation, especially on the Red Lake, and those that we term “Blanket' Indians. I was told last summer that some of those were still pagan. I was told that by an Indian who was accompanying me on a trip through the Red Lake Reservation during the first part of June or July; but, of course, that would not have any bearing on their competency, because we have white pagans also who have no religious. belief. Now, I introduced this bill, Mr. Chairman, primarily for the purpose of affording the committee a framework upom which to build. That was my idea. Now, I hope that H. R. 9924 can be used as a framework. Of course, it is something for the committee to build on. I am extremely anxious for all competent Indians to be removed from all restrictions placed upon them, and put upon their own resources, but we must not lose sight of the fact that there are Indians on the Red Lake and the Leach Lake Reservations who are not competent and never can be competent, and turning them loose on their own resources would be a criminal act on the part of the Government and a gross violation of its obligations to these Indians, because they would be cheated out of everything that they have got on earth within 48 hours after they got patents to their land. The lumber companies would come in there and prey on them and other unscrupulous people would come in and prey on them; and that is one thing that we must guard against. Some of these Indians are absolutely incompetent and will be incompetent as long as they live. We must protect them against unscrupulous persons, because they would be the prey of such persons within a week after they received the patents to their lands

The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Of course, the gentleman realized that he has extended the time from 48 hours to a week

Mr. KNUTSON (continuing). But that is the one thing, Mr. Chairman, I want to impress on this committee. I am going to urge on the committee to look after the welfare of the full-bloods and halfbreeds, and I know that the committee will look after their interests. That is my first concern, because they need looking after.

The CHAIRMAN. With regard to these Indians, there is one question I would like to ask, and that is, How much territory do these incompetent Indians spread over? What I had in mind was, should these Indians be segregated in order that we might take care of and look after them as a body?

Mr. KNUTSON. That, of course, is for the committee to determine.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, what I want to find out is with regard to the competent Indians and what should be done to assist them.

Mr. KNUTSON. Well, I presume a large number of these Indians-in fact, all of them-have established their homes. They may be very modest, it is true, but nevertheless they are living on certain spots and they have chosen their work. They are living together in scattered settlements. I do not know whether they could be placed together in concentration camps or not.

The CHAIRMAN. I am just asking for information.

Mr. KNUTSON. Of course, we could do that, or I presume that could be done, if it was thought that was the right way, but would that be. the right way to do it?

The CHAIRMAN. I do not know; I want to find out from you men who know about these Indians.

Mr. KNUTSON. I have already stated that I am not very conversant with these Indian affairs in Minnesota.

Mr. ELLSWORTH. Mr. Knutson, I want to ask you whether or not your bill does not provide against the thing about which you have expressed fear about fraud being practiced upon the incompetent Indians, if your bill does not provide against that?

Mr. KNUTSON. I have read it over and it is my opinion that it does;: but as I say, I am not competent to pass upon this bill. I am not an attorney. I have never studied law and I am not competent to pass upon the legal questions involved. I am not able to pass upon the legal phases of this bill but I understand that the opponents of this bill have engaged Mr. McDonald, who is a very able attorney; in fact, he is one of the best-known attorneys in northern Minnesota.

Mr. HAYDEN. Can Mr. McDonald be brought before this committee? Mr. KNUTSON. I wired Mr. McDonald. I wired all of the

opponents of the bill after Mr. Morrison and his party came here. I wired the others at Mr. Morrison's suggestion so that they could be here.

Mr. ELLSWORTH. If this bill does not, as a matter of fact, in the opinion of the members of the committee, provide insurance against these frauds, do you want the committee to frame such a bill as will ?

Mr. KNUTSON. I am for a bill that will wind up the affairs of the Chippewa Indians so far as the competent Indians are concerned, but I think they should have this protection.

Mr. ELLSWORTH. That is what this bill provides.

Mr. Knutson. And I know the committee will give the incompetent Indians all the safeguards that are necessary to protect them against unscrupulous persons.

The CHAIRMAN. I might say that you might feel perfectly sure that the committee will not take action until it has been fully advised.

Mr. KNUTSON. I know that it will not.

Mr. KELLY. Are we to understand that you are the author of this bill and do not urge its passage?

Mr. KNUTSON. I made a statement that I introduced this bill for the primary purpose of affording the committee a framework upon which to build the bill that will meet the needs of these Indians. There is no question but what legislation is needed at this time which will give relief to all competent Indians, and which will benefit them.

Mr. CARTER. What I understand, Mr. Knutson, is that you are urging this legislation but you desire it to protect the Indians

Mr. KNUTSON (interposing). No; I am

Mr. CARTER (interposing). That you are not an expert on such and you want the chairman and the members of the Indian Affairs

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Committee, all of whom have had more or less experience, to take a hand in the framing of your bill so that it will be what you want?

Mr. KNUTSON. And draft a bill that will relieve the competent Indians and yet protect the incompetent ones.

The CHAIRMAN. I think that covers the question.

Mr. MERITT. If I might be permitted to make a preliminary statement, I think that I could save a great deal of the committee's time and a great deal of discussion. If I had made a statement at the beginning here, I think it would have saved a great deal of time.

The CHAIRMAN. I think, undoubtedly, it would and therefore we would be very glad to hear you, Mr. Meritt.

STATEMENT BY MR. EDGAR B. MERITT, ASSISTANT COMMIS

SIONER, OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF
THE INTERIOR.

[ocr errors]

Mr. MERITT. The Indian Bureau has had under consideration this subject of the Chippewa Indians. We have examined the Ellsworth bill and we have found a number of provisions in that bill which are not satisfactory, and which were objected to by a large number of the Chippewa Indians. The Knutson bill was introduced, which eliminated a number of the provisions of the Ellsworth bill. We have gone over the Knutson bill and we find a number of provisions in the Knutson bill which are not satisfactory to the Chippewa Indians. The Knutson bill to my mind-

The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Just a moment. Now, you say that it is not satisfactory to the Chippewa Indians ?

Mr. MERITT. It is not satisfactory to some of them, the Red Lake Indians, primarily, and also the full-blood Indians. The Knutson bill to my mind should be redrafted, and I have told the Chippewa Indians who are here, and Mr. Ballinger, that we would be in favor of redrafting the Knutson bill, separating the jurisdictional phases of the bill from the legislative part and getting together on the legislation that was necessary and desirable for all of the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, rather than a part of them; and in line with that policy we have submitted to the chairman of this committee under date of January 16, 1920

Mr. KNUTSON (interposing). Mr. Chairman, may I interrupt you for just a moment? If there is no objection, I would like to withdraw my bill and have the committee consider Mr. Ellsworth's bill, and he will look after it on the floor.

Mr. ELLSWORTH. If there is no objection, in the application for unanimous consent with regard to this bill that we are now considering, I would like you to regard it as being consideration of H. R. 6461 and that the substance of H. R. 9924 be considered as a substitute amendment to H. R. 6461; that is, that one be taken as a substitute for the other, as the identical bill.

The CHAIRMAN. Is there any objection to the request ? If not, it is carried.

Mr. ELLSWORTH. I will state that there is not any conflict on the part of Mr. Knutson and myself about the bills, but it is merely a matter of urging the bill on the floor of the House and for other matters.

Mr. MERITT. Mr. Chairman, we have submitted to the committee a draft of the jurisdiction bill in one separate bill, which I think is the proper thing to do. Under the Knutson bill and the other bill the jurisdictional feature is scattered throughout the bill, and we have agreed with the Indians who are now in the city and with Mr. Ballinger on a proposed jurisdictional bill. We also had an understanding that we would go over very carefully the legislative provision of the bill and we would draft a bill that we thought would meet the situation and protect the interests of all the Indians.

Now, if we may have a little time to go over this matter, I think we can submit to the committee a bill that will be satisfactory to a very large majority of the Indians. Both bills that are now before the committee are not entirely satisfactory and they are objected to by a large number of Chippewa Indians.

Mr. HAYDEN. Why is it necessary, Mr. Meritt, to make two bills out of this proposition? There is a question, of course, when they set up claims before the Court of Claims for adoption that will be under your jurisdiction and the other question does not require any court action. Why could we not combine the two propositions in one measure, the first part being the jurisdictional part of the bill and the second part the division of the property, so that it all can be done at one time? I do not quite see the necessity of considering two bills, having one to come at one time and another to come up at another time on separate days at separate times when there is a material advantage in taking up the whole subject at one time.

Mr. MERITT. Because there would be no objection from any quarter on the jurisdictional phase of the bill. I think that it can be so worded that it will satisfy all interested parties, but there will be more or less objection to any legislation that may be introduced in regard to the division of the property of the Chippewa Indians.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Meritt, you understand this bill, sent up to me under date of January 16, is a combination of the Knutson and the Ellsworth bills with such other modifications as have been agreed upon between you and the Indians present and those who are not present ?

Mr. MERITT. So far as it relates to the jurisdictional features. We have not yet had sufficient time to pass upon the legislative features, and we have an understanding with Mr. Ballinger and the Chippewa Indians that are here that we are to go over the legislative features and see if we can not get ready to submit a bill that is satisfactory to all the Chippewa Indians.

The CHAIRMAN. That seems to be the ordinary way to proceed in this proposition. It is a very big question.

Mr. MERITT. It is, indeed.

The CHAIRMAN. Undoubtedly the committee desires by all means to have presented to it a bill which has been agreed upon by at least all of the parties; that is, as far as it is possible to consolidate it into legal limits; and it seems to me that if you can agree upon that within a reasonable period, we can then proceed to consider a consolidated measure of that kind, and it seems to me we ought to suspend the hearings until that presentation is ready:

Mr. MERITT. It is my judgment that this jurisdictional bill should be separated from the legislative bill and that we have agreed on

173731-20

-2

that. This jurisdictional bill is acceptable to the department and it is acceptable to the Indians who are here. It has been gone over very carefully with Mr. Ballinger, and I think that I can say to this committee that this jurisdictional bill that has been submitted is entirely satisfactory.

Now, if we are given a little time we can go on with the legislative matters and boil them down and agree, if we can, on such legislation as may

be necessary. The CHAIRMAN. How long a time do you contemplate—how long a time do you think that you would need ?

Mr. MERITT. I would say that could be done within 15 days; that we could get together within that time.

The CHAIRMAN. Then, I would like to ask Mr. Ballinger to qualify, whether or not he is the legal representative of the Indians present, who are the legally elected representatives of the Chippewa Indians.

Mr. BALLINGER. Now, Mr. Chairman, if you will permit me

The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Now, Mr. Ballinger, I do not care to go into the matter any further except to determine whether you are the legal representative, and whether or not the Chippewa Indians you claim to represent will be bound by what you say, and whether or not you agree to what Mr. Meritt has just stated.

Mr. BALLINGER. That I am the duly authorized representative of the general council, there can be question. The president of the general council, Mr. Morrison, is here, and he can give you the resolutions that were adopted by the general council empowering me with that authority and whatever I say before the committee will be binding on the general council, and the general council represents the duly accredited representatives of the tribe.

The CHAIRMAN. And I want to ask you one further question with regard to this arrangement, and that is whether or not you, as a representative of the tribe, since you have been declared the duly authorized representative of the Chippewa Indians, whether you have been recognized as such by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Mr. BALLINGER. That is correct. As to a part of this bill, I want to call your attention to the fact that the Indian Bureau has suggested a division of this bill so as to place in one bill the jurisdictional matters; that is, matters to be referred to the courts, and to place in a separate distinct bill the administrative matters.

Now, the general council suggests that that would be imminently unfair to the United States to do that. Why? Because under the administrative features of this bill, if the committee thinks that proper, claims' aggregating between $5,000,000 and $12,000,000 on the part of the tribe will be waived against the United States. Now, if the administrative features of the bill are retained with the jurisdictional end, it will reduce the claims against the United States between $5,000,000 and $12,000,000, that will arise, and I suggest that that is a matter that the committee ought to take into careful consideration.

What the general council is now insisting upon, and have for three years insisted upon, Mr. Chairman, is to reach the property of the tribe before it gets from under the control and legislation of the United States. This property is held in trust by the United States,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »