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CONFORMS WITH EXISTING LAW
The bill conforms with existing laws relating to the Federal departments. The committee believes that the proposed legislation is equitable and desirable, and knows of no opposition from any source in the District.
The bill has the approval of the District Commissioners, whose report is appended hereto, as part of this report.
COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, May 24, 1930 Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER, Chairman Committee on the District of Columbia,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. Sir: The Commissioners of the District of Columbia have the honor to submit the following on House bill 9996, Seventy-first Congress, second session, entitled, “An act to amend the act entitled 'An act authorizing the Commissioners of the District of Columbia to settle claims and suits against the District of Columbia,' approved February 11, 1929," which you referred to them for report as to the merits of the bill and the propriety of its passage.
This bill proposes to amend the present act of Congress of February 11, 1929, entitled “An act authorizing the Commissioners of the District of Columbia to settle claims and suits against the District of Columbia,” so as to authorize the settlement of claims and suits to which defense of governmental function could be interposed.
The bill is in line with existing legislation relating to the departments of the Government. The Post Office, Navy, and War Departments are given appropriations with which to settle and pay claims for injuries caused in the operation of said departments, each settlement being limited however, to $500, and by the act of April 10, 1928, the Comptroller General is directed to submit to Con. gress by a special report the claims or demands against the United States filed in the General Accounting Office, which may not lawfully be adjusted by the use of an appropriation theretofore made, but which claims or demands in the judgment of the Comptroller General contain such elements of legal liability or equity as to be deserving of the consideration of Congress The commissioners recommend favorable action on the bill. Very truly yours,
L. H. REICHELDERFER, President Board of Commissioners, District of Columbia.
Mr. FRAZIER (for Mr. SCHALL), from the Committee on Indian
Affairs, submitted the following
(To accompany S. 4051)
The Committee on Indian Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 4051) authorizing the Pillager Bands of Chippewa Indians, residing in the State of Minnesota, to submit claims to the Court of Claims, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with a recommendation that the bill do pass with the following amendment:
On page 3, section 4, line 6, after the words “shall be" and before the figures "$1.25" insert the words "not to exceed”.
The United States, on August 21, 1847, made a so-called peace and friendship treaty with the Pillager Bands of Chippewa Indians of Minnesota, in which the Indians ceded to the United States more than 700,000 acres of valuable land commonly known as the Long Prairie Country. The cession was not absolute; it in effect was in trust. Article 3 of the treaty provided :
It is stipulated that the country hereby ceded shall be held by the United States as Indian land, until otherwise ordered by the President.
This peculiar provision resulted from the purpose for which the cession was made by the Indians and the actual consideration promised by the United States. The Chippewa and the Sioux in Minnesota had long been at war.
Both had suffered from the ravages of many bloody conflicts. The Long Prairie Country lay along the boundary between the two tribes, so it was proposed to establish a buffer State between them by locating the Menominee Indians of Wisconsin, friends of both the Chippewas and Sioux, on the lands ceded.
The consideration as recited in article 4 of the treaty provided for furnishing the Indians, over a period of five years, certain blankets, cloth, twine, etc., the total value of which has been estimated at approximately $15,000, or 2 cents per acre for the land Unquestionably, the inducement to the Indians was to avoid war with the
Sioux by having a friendly people interposed and living between them, but, in addition to this, the United States undoubtedly had another reason; namely, the desire to acquire the Menominee land in Wisconsin and to move its owners west of the Mississippi River. Negotiations with this end in view had been in progress with both the Menominee and Winnebagos.
In 1847 the lands in Wisconsin, with the exception of the tract owned by the Menominees, had been ceded by the various tribes to the United States, and a cession of this sole remaining tract was desirable to provide homes for the ever-increasing tide of white settlers.
The treaty was negotiated for the United States by Henry M. Rice and Isaac A. Verplank. The former was experienced, able, widely known in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and well acquainted with the Chippewa and Menominee Indians. He was a Congressman from Minnesota from 1853 to 1857, and a United States Senator from 1858 to 1863. His relations with the Pillager Bands of Chippewa were close and confidential. They treated with and trusted in him as a friend.
The chiefs with whom Mr. Rice dealt for this cession of land were ignorant, unlettered, and inexperienced. They lived in a wilderness and were engaged in the first transaction of its kind in the history of their bands. They were without knowledge of the meaning of the transaction, except as it was then explained to them by representatives of the Government; and, strange as it may seem, the condition of the cession in the written agreement was not expressed more clearly than is found in article 3; namely, that the country ceded should be held by the United States as Indian land, until otherwise ordered by the President.
The United States, on October 18, 1848, made a treaty with the Menominees, in which the latter ceded all their lands in Wisconsin in consideration for the lands acquired from the Pillagers in Minnesota for a home “to be held as Indian lands are held.” The Menominees were permitted to occupy their old homes in Wisconsin for two years and until the President should notify them that same were wanted. The United States, as an inducement to early removal, agreed to pay the expense necessary to exploring the new country by the Menominees. After investigation, and for fear of becoming embroiled in the Chippewa-Sioux war, the Menominees refused to move to Minnesota and occupy the Long Prairie Country. Consequently, the real consideration for which the Chippewas made the cession failed, and by the treaty of May 12, 1854, the Menominees receded the Long Prairie Country to the United States in exchange for a part of their old home in Wisconsin in the sum of $242,686.
After these transactions were consummated, we find the situation as follows: The United States held a part of the Menominee lands in Wisconsin and the Long Prairie Country of more than 700,000 acres for which the Pillagers had been paid the nominal consideration of $15,000, in merchandise. The United States opened the lands acquired from these Indians for settlement under the homestead law. The Menominees had a part of their old home in Wisconsin and $242,686, in cash. The Pillagers had lost a valuable tract of more than 700,000 acres, for which they had received approximately 2 cents per acre. Who was responsible for these transactions?
Ever since this country which the Pillagers were told would be occupied by the Menominees as a protection against the hostile Sioux was retained by the United States and thrown open to white settlers, the Pillagers have never ceased to complain and to seek redress, but for three-quarters of a century their petitions have been in vain. In 1855, Flat Mouth, head chief of the Pillager Bands, went to Washington in behalf of his people, but no action to adjust their claims was taken because the Government had not at that time decided to open the Long Prairie Country for settlement. Then, as Mr. Rice says, “time went on, and the matter was forgotten." He further says that the Civil War came on with its debt and vast problems incidental thereto, and for these reasons the Government did not settle the matter. At another time a change of administration was given as an excuse for failure to act. Chief Flat Mouth, on October 4, 1880, anxious that his band should have written evidence of the validity of their claim, went to St. Paul and secured from Mr. Rice a written statement of the facts involved in the matter, which in part was as follows:
In 1847 when the Pillager Indians by treaty sold to the United States the Leaf River country (Long Prairie Country) for a nominal consideration, it was understood that the country ceded had been selected for the future residence of the Menominee Indians who were friendly to the Chippewas, and the country would remain Indian territory. Not only this, but the Menominees would form a barrier between the Pillager and Sioux Indians who had for centuries been at war. The old men thought by having the region thus occupied peace would follow; hence, their consent to yield to the request of the Government. (Ex. Doc. No. 247, 51st Cong., 1st sess., p. 127.)
The failure of the Government to carry out its agreement of 1847 with the Pillagers, and thereafter to right the wrong, confronted Mr. Rice to plague him in 1889, when he again appeared before these same Indians as a commissioner of the United States to negotiate an agreement for the cession of more lands. On January 14, 1889, "An act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota” (25 Stat. 642) was approved. It provided for a commission of three members "to negotiate with all the different bands or tribes of Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota” for a cession of their lands in that State to the Government. The commission was composed of Hon. Henry M. Rice, of Minnesota, Bishop Martin Marty, of Dakota, and Mr. Joseph B. Whiting, of Wisconsin. The councils with the different bands of Pillagers lasted for nearly a month during August and September, 1889. A record of the proceedings was preserved and is contained in Executive Document No. 247, Fifty-first Congress, first session, pages 119-160, inclusive.
When the commission opened negotiations, the chiefs at the outset presented their long-standing claims and insisted that before taking up the business which the commission had in hand, assurances should be given them that their Long Prairie claim would have attention. was their position that a new agreement should not be made until the old was faithfully executed. Mr. Rice promised them, to use his own language:
In regard to the land that you loaned your Great Father 42 years ago, all that vou have said is true. It was understood between Flat Mouth and myself that that land was not to be used by the whites, but that it was for the use of the Menomonees. In 1855, when Flat Mouth went to Washington and made the last treaty, the question had not been decided, that the Great Father would sell the
It land to the whites, consequently, nothing to prevent it was done. Time passed on and the matter seemed forgotten. As I was the only one living who knew anything about it, and for fear I might be taken away, that paper which has just been handed to me was given to Flat Mouth. And I believe I am the only white man living whose hand touched the pen to the paper authorizing the cession. The commissioner who was with me died long ago and I do not know that there is a witness connected with that paper who is now living. So I am left alone to receive all the blame that attaches to it, but I know that I am in the hands of my friends.
Mr. Rice kept his promise to report the grievances of the Chippewas to the Government, and the commission in its report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, states:
These Indians, even the most bitterly opposed, said that had we come empowered to adjust unsettled matters, they would not have made any objections to the propositions, nor would they have detained us long. Enough, however, gave their consent as required in writing. Others said that they would assent when they saw a disposition on the part of the Government to right the wrongs they had suffered. We were kept there until August 22. We had to give a solemn promise with raised hands that we would to our utmost ability urge the immediate settlement of unadjusted claims.
On the 21st of August, 1847, the Chippewa Indians, Leech Lake, Minn., ceded to the United States a tract of land bounded as follows: (Description of Long Prairie Country).
This tract contains nearly 700,000 acres and was sold to the Government for about $15,000. The Pillagers parted with it, believing, as they were told, that it was for the occupancy of the Menominee Indians, a tribe at peace with them as well as with the Sioux. For generations a fierce war had raged between these two last-named tribes. The Pillagers believed that if the friendly Menominees were between the belligerents peace might follow. By the treaty of October 18, 1848, the United States ceded to the Menominees the above described tract in exchange for all their lands in the State of Wisconsin.
The Menominees, manifesting a great unwillingness to remove west of the Mississippi by treaty dated May 12, 1884, receded to the United States the foregoing tract in exchange for a part of their old home in Wisconsin and the sum of $242,686, for which the Pillagers received less than $15,000. According to Indian reasoning, the consideration stipulated was never paid; that is, the occupancy of said tract by the Menominees, thus protecting them from the incursions of Sioux war parties.
The Pillagers at the time of the cession were told by the commissioners that the said tract would be held as lands are usually held and that their friends, the Menominees, would occupy them. The commissioners were Isaac A. Verplank and Henry M. Rice. The Pillagers from the time that they heard that the tract was not to be occupied by the Menominees as stipulated, have to this day considered that they have been injuriously overreached. They have never ceased to complain of this and never will until reparation shall be made. We can not too strongly urge that the Government cause this matter to be carefully investigated and in some way allow the Pillagers what may be found to be in equity due them. Indians are not unreasonable when they are fairly dealt with, and, as they are about starting out as citizens under this act, aid will be of greater benefit now than heretofore and is more needful now than it can be at any future time. (Ex. Doc. 247, 51st Cong., 1st sess., pp. 18, 19.)
The Secretary of the Interior, in reporting this matter to the President, said:
The alleged claim of the Pillagers for further compensation for land ceded under the treaty of 1847 is a matter for consideration by Congress, and I would recommend that it be brought to the attention of that body. The statement upon which this claim is based by the Indians is set forth in the report of the commission.
President Harrison in his report to the Senate and House of Representatives, dated March 4, 1890, in connection with this matter said:
The commissioners did not escape the embarrassment which unfortunately too often attends our negotiations with the Indians, viz, an indisposition to treat with the Government for further cessions while its obligations incurred