Letters, Telegrams, Petitions 111-120

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No. 111

Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs,
Washington, October 1, 1903

The Secretary of the Interior

Sir: I have the honor to submit herewith letter of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes of the 5th ultimo, acknowledging receipt of departmental letter of August 24, inclosing a letter from Mary Nairn, of Coodys Bluff, Ind. T., in which she states that she desires to know why all the registered Delaware lands were not segregated as required by the Cherokee agreement ratified August 6, 1902; that there are probably 50 Delaware whose lands are not segregated; that on the contrary half the land segregated belongs to the Cherokee, to the best of her knowledge and belief, or is only nominally held by the Delaware, who have no equitable or legal interest in it; that these Delaware whose lands have not been segregated are at a great disadvantage with other citizens because they can not file on their lands, l3ut other Cherokee citizens are at liberty to file on lands held by these Delaware, and the only redress they have is a contest.

She also states that the Commission has been asked to right the wrong, but so far it has not done so, and the Department requests a report concerning the matter complained of in this letter.

In reply the Commission states that on April 19, 1903, it made a report to the Department concerning this Delaware segregation, and also reported upon a letter, which had been received from William Nairn complaining of these same matters, in which report the Commission used the following language:

“In addition to the contention of the Delaware for the lands embraced within the limits of the town sites mentioned, and for land claimed and in the possession of other Cherokee citizens, quite a serious situation with reference to the Delaware segregation has developed in the work of allotment. Not a few Delaware citizens have presented themselves at the land office and asked to be allowed to make a final selection of lands containing their improvements and upon which they reside, claiming that no portion of the lands occupied by them is included within said Delaware segregation.

“The Commission has been informally advised of cases of numerous other Delaware citizens, whose improved lands are not included within said segregation, and the statement has been frequently made that the representatives of the Delaware Indians, or their business committee, refused to schedule for segregation the lands of any Delaware citizen who failed to pay a pro rata share of the fee which said representatives or committee demanded. The Delaware whose property rights are thus unprotected are for the most part in moderate circumstances, and the improvements on the lands occupied by them represent, in most instances, the efforts of a lifetime.

‘The extent of the condition of affairs last mentioned is indicated by the correspondence had with William Nairn, of Coodys Bluff, Ind. T., copies of which are hereto attached and marked Exhibit E.

“It is quite evident that while lands occupied by Delaware citizens have not been included in this schedule of lands made a part of the record in the suit of the Delaware, an amount of the public domain of the Cherokee Nation sufficient to bring the total segregation up to 157,600 acres has been included.

“There are also attached hereto and marked Exhibits F and G, copies of reports of the clerk in charge of the Cherokee land office at Vinita, dated February 12, 1902, showing that since the segregation of lands for Delaware by this Commission on December 17, 1902, the Department has fixed the exterior limits of the town sites of North Tulsa and Lawton, in the Cherokee Nation, which embrace, respectively, 20 and 25 acres of land theretofore included in said Delaware segregation.

“Under all circumstances the Commission believes that the lands embraced in the original schedule and in the first and second amended schedules, made a part of the record in the case of the Delaware, have not been selected with a due regard for the interests of either the Delaware citizens generally, or other citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and in so far as town sites are affected, without any intention of conforming to the laws relating to the establishment of such town sites.

“The Commission is in receipt of a communication from Mr. Adams to Hon. M. S. Quay, United States Senator from Pennsylvania, dated April 10, 1903, and referred by Senator Quay to the Commission. A copy of said letter and of Senator Quay’s indorsement thereon is hereto attached, marked ‘Exhibit H.’ In this latest letter Mr. Adams takes the position that the Commission is without jurisdiction to receive applications of Cherokee citizens for lands embraced in the Delaware segregation, notwithstanding the proviso of counsel in the stipulation hereinbefore set forth, providing for the protection of the property rights of other Cherokee citizens.

“The Commission believes that some steps should be taken to guard against the possibility of the Supreme Court rendering a judgment adopting said schedule as the definite and specific tracts of land to which the Delaware are entitled under their claim, and respectfully request that the Department may issue such instructions as it may deem proper in the premises.”

Further, the Commission says it is believed that the former report of the Commission fully covered the facts complained of in the letter of Mary Nairn, and that no addition of value can be made to such report at this time.

I do not agree with the Commission in its statement that the former report, from which quotation is made, fully covers the facts complained of in the letter of Mary Nairn. If the lands she occupies, she being a Cherokee citizen of Delaware blood, were not included in the lands segregated for the Delaware she is entitled to protection in her rights to as great an extent as any other citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

On October 20, 1902, in its report relative to certain requests of Walter S. Logan, attorney for the Delaware, in their suit against the Cherokee Nation, the Commission reported as follows:

“The Commission holds that it has no authority under the law to make allotments to Delaware of land not embraced in the segregation required by the agreement; that the allotments to the Cherokees should begin at the earliest possible date; that upon the application of any Delaware citizen there should be reserved from allotment until the final determination of the suit mentioned, such lands not embraced in such segregation, not exceeding an amount equal in value to 110 acres of average allotable land of the Cherokee Nation as contain permanent and valuable improvements owned by such Delaware citizen. The Commission is of the opinion that if the course outlined by it is pursued the rights of the Delaware will be fully protected.”

It appears from the complaint of Mary Nairn in this case that the Commission has not pursued the policy, which it reported in October 1902, would be its duty with reference to the Delaware lands. This, of course, was before the so called segregation of the Delaware lands, but in my judgment in no way altered the duty of the Commission. Mary Nairn, as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is entitled to have reserved to her the lands she occupies and has improved, and it should not be possible for any other citizen of the Cherokee Nation to file upon this land and compel her, in order to protect her rights, to institute contest proceedings. It is therefore my opinion that on application of Mary Nairn, or any other Delaware similarly situated, the land occupied by them should be withheld from allotment, with notation on the books of the Commission that it is so held for their protection.

Very respectfully,
W. A. JONES, Commissioner.


No. 112

Department of the Interior,
Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes,
Muscogee, Ind. T., September 5, 1903

The Secretary of the Interior.

Sir: The Commission is in receipt of departmental letter of August 24, inclosing a letter from Mary Nairn, of Coodys Bluff, Ind. T., in which she states that she desires to know why all the registered Delaware lands were not segregated as required by the Cherokee agreement, ratified August 6, 1902; that there are probably 50 Delaware whose lands are not segregated; that on the contrary, half the lands segregated belongs to the Cherokees to the best of her knowledge and belief, or is only nominally held by Delaware who have no equitable or legal interest in it; that these Delaware whose lands have not been segregated are at a great disadvantage with other citizens because they can not file on their land, and other Cherokee citizens are at liberty to file on lands held by these Delaware, and the only redress they have is a contest. She also states that the Commission has been asked to right the wrong, and so far it has not done so; and the Department requests a report concerning the matters complained of in said letter;

In reply the Department is advised that on April 19, 1903, the Commission made a report to the Department concerning this Delaware segregation, and also reported upon a letter which had been received from William Nairn complaining of these same matters, in which report the Commission used the following language:

“In addition to the contention of the Delaware for the lands embraced within the limits of the town sites mentioned, and for land claimed and in the possession of other Cherokee citizens, quite a serious situation with reference to the Delaware’ segregation has developed in the work of allotment. Not a few Delaware citizens have presented themselves at the land office and asked to be allowed to make a final selection of lands containing their improvements and upon which they reside, claiming that no portion of the lands occupied by them is included within said Delaware segregation.

“The Commission has been informally advised of cases of numerous other Delaware citizens whose improved lands are not included within said segregation, and the statement has been frequently made that the representatives of the Delaware Indians, If their business committee, refused to schedule for segregation the lands of any Delaware citizen who failed to pay a pro rata share of the fee which said representatives or committee demanded. The Delaware, whose property rights are thus unprotected, are for the most part in moderate circumstances, and the improvements on the lands occupied by them represent, in most instances, the efforts of a lifetime.

“The extent of the condition of affairs last mentioned is indicated by the correspondence had with William Nairn, of Coodys Bluff, Ind. T., copies of which are hereto attached and marked Exhibit E.

“It is quite evident that while lands occupied by Delaware citizens have not been included in the schedule of lands made a part of the record in the suit of the Delaware an amount of the public domain of the Cherokee Nation sufficient to bring the total segregation up to 157,600 acres has been included.

“There are also attached hereto and marked Exhibits F and G copies of reports of the clerk in charge of the Cherokee land office at Vinita, dated February 12, 1903, showing that since the segregation of lands for Delaware by this Commission on December 17, 1902, the Department has fixed the exterior limits of the town sites of North Tulsa and Lawton in the Cherokee Nation, which embrace respectively 20 and 25 acres of land theretofore included in said Delaware segregation.

“Under the circumstances, the Commission believes that the lauds embraced in the original schedule, and in the first and second amended schedules, made a part of the record in the case of the Delaware, have not been selected with a due regard for the interests of either the Delaware citizens generally or other citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and in so far as town sites are affected, without any intention of conforming to the laws relating to the establishment of such town sites.

“The Commission is in receipt of a commutation from Mr. Adams to Hon. M. S. Quay, United States Senator from Pennsylvania, dated April 10, 1903, and referred by Senator Quay to the Commission. A copy of said letter and of Senator Quay’s indorsement thereon is hereto attached, marked “Exhibit H.” In this latest letter Mr. Adams takes the position that the Commission is without jurisdiction to receive applications of Cherokee citizens for lands embraced in the Delaware segregation, notwithstanding the proviso of counsel in the stipulation hereinbefore set forth providing for the protection of the property rights of other Cherokee citizens.

“The Commission believes that some steps should betaken to guard against the possibility of the Supreme Court rendering a judgment adopting said schedule as the definite and specific tracts of land to which the Delaware are entitled under their claim, and respectfully request that the Department may issue such instructions as it may deem proper in the premises.”

It is believed that the former report of the Commission fully covers the facts complained of in the letter of Mary Nairn, and that no addition of value can be made to said report at this time.

The letter of Mary Nairn is herewith returned.

Respectfully,
TAMS BIXBY, Chairman
{Through the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.)


No. 113

Department of the Interior,
Washington, October 7, 1903

Mary Nairn, Coodys Bluff, Ind. T.

Madam: In reply to your letter of August 8, 1903, to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, requesting to be informed why all of the registered Delaware lands were not segregated as required by the Cherokee agreement contained in the act of July 1, 1902 (32 Stat., 716), you are advised that on September 5, 1903, the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes reported in the matter, referring to a former report from the Commission, which it states covers the facts complained of in your letter.

Without entering into any of the statements made by the Commission in its report of September 5, 1903, or the Commissioner of Indian Affairs transmitting that report October 1, 1903, you are advised that on October 6, 1903, the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes was advised that the schedule of lands upon which it made its so called segregation of Delaware lands does not meet the requirements of the statute, in that it does not include all of the lands which have been selected and occupied by Delaware, and in that it does include lands which no Delaware has selected and occupied, but to which other Cherokee citizens have claims based upon alleged settlement and improvements thereon.

The Commission was therefore directed to proceed at once to make such examination and investigation as would enable it to determine what tracts should be added to said list and what tracts now embraced therein should be excluded, care being taken to make the list cover the full quantity of land required to be segregated, and as soon as practicable to report the result of such investigation with suitable recommendation in the matter.

It would appear that your proper course would be to consult with the Commission in regard to the segregation of any lands you may desire to have segregated. Respectfully,

THOS. RYAN, Acting Secretary


No. 114

Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs,
Washington, August 31, 1903.

The Secretary of the Interior
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith report of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes of the 11th instant, covering the work of the Commission for the month of July, 1903, which 1 recommend be approved by the Department.

In this connection permit me to state that there are the following citizenship cases now pending in this office:

Mississippi Choctaw 72
Choctaw by blood 46
Chickasaws by blood 11
Cherokees by blood 62
Cherokee freedmen 80
Creeks by blood 6
Creek freedmen 2

Very respectfully,
A. C. TONNER, Acting Commissioner


No. 115

Department of the Interior
Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes
Muscogee, Ind. T., August 11, 1903

The Secretary of the Interior

Sir: We have the honor to submit herewith the following statement of the work of the commission to the Five Civilized Tribes for the month of July1903. There is merged in this report the work accomplished by the Commission during the month of June, together with a statement showing the work of the allotment contest division during the month of May, the same having been omitted from the report for that month heretofore submitted.

Cherokee allotment Division

Approximately 1,100 tickets of admission to the Cherokee land office were issued during the month of July, 175 to full bloods. A total of 10,370 tickets have been issued to the close of the month, of which number, approximately, 4,000 have been presented at the land office.

Four hundred and fifty-nine citizenship certificates, embracing 995 applicants, and 224 reservation certificates, embracing 366 applicants, were issued during the month.

Applications for 1,850 allotments and homesteads were made during the month. Of this number, 1,266 were approved, the approval of 584 being withheld for various reasons, viz: 433 because the enrollment of the applicants had not been approved by the Secretary of the Interior; 110 because the land applied for had already been allotted; and 41 because the land applied for was embraced within the 157,600 acres of land which the Commission caused to be segregated for the Delaware Indians. The allotments made during the month include 123,098.88 acres of land, valued at 1398,642.72.

There were prepared during the month 500 allotment certificates and 500 homestead certificates for the execution of the Commission.

Allotment Contest Division

The progress of the work in the allotment contest division, during the months of May, June, and July, and the condition of contested allotment cases at the close of each month, as indicated by the records of that division, are shown by the following detailed statement:

Cherokee Nation

Contests instituted prior to May 1, 1903 115
Complaints filed during May 131
Complaints returned for correction 26
Contests instituted during May 105
Total number of contests instituted up to and including May 31, 1903 220
Contests disposed of prior to May 1 2
Contests disposed of during May 1
Contests pending before the Commission May 31 216
Contests pending before the Department May 31 1
Total 220

 

The condition of the 216 Cherokee contest cases pending before the Commission on May 31 was as follows: 216
Referred to Department for action on complaint and now awaiting further action of parties 1
Cherokee Nation, total 227
The condition of the 222 Cherokee contest cases pending before the Commission on June 30, 1903, was as follows: 222
Referred to Department for action on complaint and now awaiting further action of parties 1
Cherokee Nation, total 29l
The condition of the 286 Cherokee contest cases, all of which were pending before the Commission on July 31, was as follows: 286

Respectfully submitted.
TAMS BIXBY, Chairman
T. H. NEEDLES, Commissioner
W. E. STANLEY,
(Through the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.)


No. 116

Department of the Interior,
Washington, September 4, 1903

The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes

Gentlemen: The Department is in receipt of your report covering the work of the Commission for the month of July 1903. There is enclosed a copy of report of the Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs transmitting your said report. Respectfully,

THOS. RYAN, Acting Secretary


No. 117

Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs,
Washington, September 17, 1903

The Secretary of the Interior

Sir: I have the honor to submit for your consideration letter of Richard C. Adams, representing the Delaware Indians, of the 14th instant, inviting attention to what he denominates the very great wrongs that are being perpetrated upon the Delaware Indians now residing in the Indian Territory, and the great injustice they are suffering by reason of the failure of the United States to protect them in their rights as promised and guaranteed in the treaty of 1866, under which they consented to give up their homes in Kansas and to settle in the Cherokee Nation.

Mr. Adams refers to the delays that have been incident to the location of the Delaware in the Cherokee Nation, the failure to have their lands, which they purchased, defined, and quotes from the treaty of 1866 as follows:

“The United States guarantees to the said Delaware peaceable possession of their new homes, protection from hostile Indians and internal strife and civil war,” etc.

Mr. Adams says further that notwithstanding all this, when the Dawes Commission began negotiations with the Cherokee for the allotment of their lands in severalty, the Cherokee at once set up a claim that the Delaware had no title to the 157,600 acres they had so purchased and paid for.

In the meantime Congress had passed the Curtis Act, and a little later what was known as the “Cherokee allotment act,” by the former of which it was provided that the Delaware Indians might institute a suit in the Court of Claims to determine the nature and extent of their title to the 157,600 acres so purchased by them, and in both of said acts it was provided that should the Dawes Commission proceed to allot any lands in the Cherokee Nation, the 157,600 acres selected and claimed by the Delaware should be segregated and set aside and so remain until the final determination of said suit, and thereafter the Commission should proceed to allot the remaining lands in the Cherokee Nation.

Having been authorized and directed by the Delaware in council assembled, Mr. Adams says he appealed to the Commission to have the lands selected and occupied by the Delaware segregated in accordance with the acts referred to, and supplied the Commission with schedules and maps thereof, which had been prepared with great labor and expense, copies of which were at the same time filed with the Department of the Interior.

Notwithstanding the rights acquired by the Delaware by the various proceedings in this matter, and for reasons, which Mr. Adams says he is unable to suggest, the Commission in January last began accepting applications for allotments by Cherokee of lands so selected and segregated for the Delaware. As the representative of the latter of these people he protested, and alleges that during the months of March and April filings by Cherokee upon lands segregated for the Delaware became more and more numerous, and by May more than 200 of such filings had been made on the land so segregated. He also states that during all this time the Delaware who lived upon these lands and owned the improvements and had been in occupancy for many years, were denied the right to file; that protests against this outrage made orally and by letters and telegrams to the Commission and the Secretary and the Department were utterly disregarded, until finally, on June 2 last, all other means of self-protection having been tried and found of no avail, suit was brought by injunction on behalf of the Delaware in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia against the Commission and the Secretary of the Interior, and a restraining order granted requiring the defendants to desist from allowing any filings to be made upon lands so segregated, or from doing or performing any act or thing in connection therewith; but that notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding the fact that the chairman of the Commission was duly served with the restraining order, the Commission continued to receive selections and applications for allotments upon the segregated lands from persons other than Delaware, who have not now and never did have any interest in or claim thereto or to any part thereof more than 27 such selections having been made since the service of the restraining order upon the chairman of the Commission and in open violation and defiance thereof.

These matters were again brought by Mr. Adams, so he reports, to the attention of the Department, and he was informed that orders were delivered by the Department to the Dawes Commission forbidding them to continue to receive “such applications, but still no attention was paid to the instructions, and the Commission has since continued to deal with such applications, to notify Delaware to appear and contest them within nine months, or be forever barred from claiming any interest in such land all of which he declares to he in direct violation and defiance of the restraining order, unjust and unfair to the Delaware, and in violation of the plain mandatory provision of section 23 of the Cherokee allotment act, which has been referred to.

Mr. Adams says correspondence in his office shows that Delaware of the highest standing who have lived upon their present home some of them for more than a score of years have made lasting and valuable improvements there, have had their lots filed upon by strangers who have not now and never have had a claim of any nature or kind to any part of the lands or to any of the improvements; and these people have set up claims and made leases, which leases have been assigned for the purpose of getting them into the hands of alleged innocent persons, mere speculators and the Delaware are thus sent upon a pilgrimage of litigation with all its attendant uncertainties, delays, expenses, and vexations.

Mr. Adams says he has himself received a letter signed by Tams Bixby, commissioner in charge of the Cherokee land office and the individual upon whom the restraining order of the supreme court of the District of Columbia was served, the letter bearing date of August 31 last, stating that one James S. Fuller, of Fort Gibson, has appeared before the Cherokee land office and claimed a part of the land on which he (Adams) owns all the improvements and for which he paid Fuller in full satisfaction in cash, which land is included in the Delaware segregation.

Mr. Adams requests that the Indian agent he instructed to remove from the segregated land all persons objectionable to the Delaware, and likewise that the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes be instructed to notify all parties who have made selections on the segregated lands that such selections have been canceled and that no contests will be heard, and no filings made until after the Supreme Court of the United States shall have determined the rights of the Delaware Indians thereto.

The 157,600 acres of lands claimed by the Delaware are claimed by the Com-mission to have been segregated by it December 17, 1902, in accordance with the provision of law to which Mr. Adams refers. This land having been segregated was not subject to be filed upon by Cherokee or even Delaware who are citizens of the Cherokee Nation. A question having been raised as to the right of the Delaware to this land would in no wise justify the Commission in presuming that the claims of the Delaware would in the end be defeated, and the land subject to allotments as other Cherokee lands; but even if this were the case, the lands so segregated are in a very great measure occupied by Delaware Indians who have for years so occupied these lands, and they have a prior right to file, and a filing made by any other Cherokee upon the lands so occupied by them, even though no segregation had been made, would not vest in them any rights whatever unless they had received per-mission from the Delaware occupant to so file.

So that in any event, these lands are not subject and have not been subject, since the so-called segregation by the Commission on December 17, 1902, to allotment to any citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and the Commission should not have accepted filings upon them even though no injunction proceeding had ever been brought. There is, therefore, no reason why a letter should have been addressed by the Commission to Mr. Adams notifying him of the fact that James S. Fuller had claimed a part of the land which had already been segregated for the Delaware. Even though he might claim that he had not transferred the right of occupancy to Mr. Adams, and had not received any compensation therefor, if any injustice was done him it was done by the Commission in having, without investigating his rights, attempted at least to segregate this land for the Delaware, and it is now too late to attempt to adjudicate his rights until a decision has been returned on the suits pending involving the rights of the Delaware to the lands they claim.

Having made what they believed to be a valid segregation of these lands, it was the duty of the Commission to maintain the status of these lands as existing on the date which they claim as the date of the segregation. To now accept filings upon these lands from any citizens of the Cherokee Nation is, in fact, repudiation by the Commission of the validity of its own act.

It is not necessary in this letter to discuss the question of the adequacy or validity of the segregation made by the Commission, but certainly anything that has been done by the Commission in the way of accepting filings upon this land should be canceled, annulled, and held to have in nowise vested any right of occupancy in the person who may have filed upon the lands pending the decision as to the rights of the Delaware therein.

I therefore recommend that this letter be referred to the Commission, with instructions that any filings they have accepted on lands set aside by the Commission as within the 157,600 acres of Delaware lands shall be canceled, and any acts done by the Commission to in anywise change the status of these lands from what they were at the time of the so called segregation be declared null and void, and of no effect, and without authority of law, and inconsistent with the duty of the Commission and its duties in connection with these lands. Very respectfully,

W. A. JONES, Commissioner


No. 118

Washington, D. C, September 14, 1903.

Hon. W. A. Jones,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir: I desire to call your attention to the very great wrongs that are being perpetrated upon the Delaware Indians now residing in the Indian Territory, and the great injustice they are suffering by reason of the failure of the United States to protect them in their rights, as promised and guaranteed in the treaty of 1866, under which they consented to give up their homes in Kansas and to settle in the Cherokee Nation.

From the day of their removal to the present hour they have hardly known a moment’s peace. They were moved from one locality to another, their crops and improvements abandoned and lost because the promised surveys were not made, they were denied participation in the distribution of tribal income and funds, their appeals to Congress and the departments for protection were unheeded, and for years they were compelled to beg for the right to a hearing in the courts which were freely open to the offscourings of every country on earth and denied only to people who had recently owned and possessed all the fair land, and from whom it had been taken with or without their consent and with or without compensation, as suited the purpose or caprice of the paternal Government. Here for the first and last time the Delaware Indians were accorded their rights, as provided and guaranteed by treaty, but only to the extent of the questions involved in the suit then brought, while as to all other matters their condition was no better than it had been before.

By the terms of the treaty of 1866 it was provided that the lands purchased from the “Cherokee and paid for in cash by the Delaware, at a very high price, should be immediately surveyed and “set-off with clearly and permanently marked boundaries by the United States,” etc. This the Government never did, though often requested to do so. Said treaty also contained the following:

“The United States guarantee to the said Delaware peaceable possession of their new homes and protection from hostile Indians and internal strife and civil war,” etc.

But notwithstanding all this, when the Dawes Commission began negotiations with the Cherokee for the allotment of their lands in severalty, the Cherokee at once set up a claim that the Delaware had no title to the 157,600 acres of land they had so purchased and paid for. Again the Delaware appealed to the Government, and particularly to the Interior Department, for protection, but, as always before, without avail.

In the meantime Congress had passed what was known as the Curtis act, and a little later what was known as the Cherokee allotment act, by the former of which it was provided that the Delaware Indians might institute a suit in the Court of Claims, to determine the nature and extent of their title to the 157,600 acres so purchased by them, and in both of said acts it was provided that before the Dawes Commission should proceed to allot any lands in the Cherokee Nation, the 157,600 acres selected and claimed by the Delaware should be segregated and set aside, and so remain until the final determination of such suit, and thereafter said Commission should proceed to allot the remaining lands in said nation.

And now comes the crowning outrage upon the Delaware people, after all they have been compelled to suffer and endure in the past, notwithstanding their patriotism and loyalty to the United States.

Having been authorized and directed by the Delaware in council assembled to do so, I applied to the Dawes Commission to have the lands so selected and occupied by the Delaware segregated in accordance with said acts, and supplied said Commission with schedules and maps thereof, which had been prepared with great labor and expense, copies of which were at the same time filed with the Department of the Interior. In reply the said Commission expressed the opinion that no segregation was necessary other than the marking of the lands set out in said schedules, as reserved, and the withholding of the same from general allotment. The Department concurred in this opinion and so advised me in April 1901. On Decemver 17, 1902, the Commission, by a resolution regularly adopted, declared the lands so described in said schedules to be segregated and that the same should be withheld from allotment.

Notwithstanding these facts, and for reasons which I am unable to suggest, the said Commission, in January last, began accepting applications for allotments by Cherokee of lands so selected and segregated for the Delaware. As the representative of the latter, I immediately protested; but during the months of March and April the filings became more and more numerous, and by May more than 200 of such filings had been made on the lands so segregated. During all this time the Delaware, who lived upon these lands and owned the improvements and had been in occupancy for many years, were denied the right to file any protests against this outrage, made orally and by letters and telegrams to the Dawes Commission and the Secretary of the Interior, were utterly disregarded, until finally, on June 2 last, all other means of self-protection having been tried and found of no avail, suit was brought by injunction, on behalf of the said Delaware, in the supreme court of the District of Columbia against the said Commission and the Secretary of the Interior, and a restraining order granted requiring the defendants to desist from allowing any filings to be made upon the land so segregated or from doing or performing any act or thing in connection therewith.

But notwithstanding the premises, and notwithstanding the fact that the chairman of the Dawes Commission was duly served with the restraining order at the time said suit was brought, said Commission continued to receive selections and applications for allotments upon said segregated lands by persons other than Delaware, and who have not now and never did have any interest therein or claim thereto or to any part thereof, more than 27 such selections having been made since the service of said restraining order upon the chairman of said Commission and in open violation and defiance thereof.

These facts were again by me brought to the attention of the Department, and I am informed that orders were telegraphed by the Secretary of the Interior to the Dawes Commission forbidding them to continue to receive such applications, but still no attention was paid to such instructions, and said Commission has since continued to deal with such applications, to notify Delaware to appear and contest such applications within nine months, or be forever barred from claiming any interest in such land, all of which is in direct violation and defiance of said restraining order, unjust and unfair to said Delaware, and in violation of the plain mandatory provision of section 23 of the Cherokee allotment act referred to.

It might be claimed that the ultimate rights of the Delaware could not be jeopardized by this action, inasmuch as if it should finally be determined that such applications were improperly received they would have to be cancelled of record, and indeed this is the excuse offered by the Commission for its determination and persistence in receiving such applications and continuing to act thereon; but this is only a specious and makeshift excuse, for the reason, which is well known to the members of the Dawes Commission, that as soon as an application has been accepted the holder immediately asserts his right of possession, in some cases bringing an injunction suit to prevent the Delaware from exercising any rights about or upon the premises, many of such suits being now pending. In other cases they immediately enter into lease contracts with parties on the ground for the purpose, or the agents of companies organized for the purpose of operating in such leases, receiving therefor a small bonus and an agreement for a royalty in case said leases shall be finally sustained, and thus the fraudulent applicant obtains a small advancement with the possibility of future profits, a speculator obtains the opportunity of making a light for something which if gained will be of great value, and if not, will represent but a comparatively small loss, and between the two the Delaware is wrongfully and outrageously forced into litigation against rich and powerful opponents, which may last an indefinite time, and in which he may be compelled, through want of means and other discouragements, to abandon his birthright to a pack of irresponsible adventurers and sharks, who are in the country to feed and grow fat out of operations upon those who through ignorance or want of means may be unable to protect or defend themselves.

The limits of this letter will not permit of my taking up individual cases. Suffice it to say that the correspondence in my office will show that Delaware of the highest standing, who have lived upon their present homes, some of them for more than a score of years, have made lasting and valuable improvements there, and where their children have been born and have grown to manhood and womanhood, had their lands filed upon by strangers who have never lived within miles, and who have not now, and never have had, a claim of any nature or kind to any part of the lands or to any of the improvements, and these rascals have set up claims and made leases, which leases have been assigned for the purpose of getting them into the hands of alleged innocent persons, who are mere speculators, and these Delaware are thus sent innocent and unoffending upon a pilgrimage of litigation whose end no man can foresee, with all its attendant uncertainties, delays, expenses, and vexations, and he must stand by helpless and, with hands tied, denied the right to file upon his own home, and it pounced upon by strangers, with only the right reserved to him to litigate.

These outrages need only to be mentioned that their enormity may be understood by one as familiar as yourself with the condition surrounding these people. I am myself in receipt of a letter signed by Tams Bixby, Commissioner in charge of the Cherokee land office, and the very individual upon whom the restraining order of the supreme court of the District was served, bearing date of August 31 last, stating that one James S. Fuller, of Fort Gibson, has appeared before the Cherokee land office and claimed a part of the land on which I myself own all the improvements and for which I paid him in full satisfaction in cash, and which is included in the Delaware segregation. This is only one of a great number of such notices being received daily by Delaware.

I desire to appeal to you, knowing as I do your familiarity with the questions involved, your knowledge of the truth and justice of the position of my people, as I have stated it, and knowing, as all people know who have had occasion to deal with your office, your great and sincere desire to see justice done to the Indians. If there is anything within your power that can be done for the relief of my people against this outrage, I ask that you may do it as quickly as may be consistent with the duties of your office.

I respectfully request that the Indian agent be instructed to remove from the segregated land all persons objectionable to the Delaware, and likewise that the Dawes Commission be instructed to notify all parties who have made selections on the segregated lands that said selections have been canceled and that no contests will be heard and no filings made until after the Supreme Court of the United States shall have determined the rights of the Delaware Indians thereto.

Very respectfully,

RICHARD C. ADAMS, Representing Delaware Indians


No. 119

Department of the Interior,
Washington, September 28, 1903.

The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes.

Gentlemen: The Department is in receipt of a report from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated September 17, 1903, transmitting a letter from Mr. Richard C. Adams, representing the Delaware Indians, calling attention to what he declares to be a very great wrong perpetrated upon the Delaware Indians now residing in the Indian Territory, by your Commission, in accepting applications for allotments of Cherokee of lands claimed to have been selected and segregated for the Delaware Indians, and requesting that the “Indian agent be instructed to remove from the segregated land all persons objectionable to the Delaware, and likewise that the Dawes Commission be instructed to notify all parties who have made selections on the segregated lands that said selections have been cancelled and that no contests will be heard and no filings made until after the Supreme Court of the United States shall have determined the rights of the Delaware Indians thereto.”

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs recommends that said letter be referred to your Commission, ‘with instructions that any filings they have accepted on lands set aside by the Commission as within the 157,600 acres of Delaware lands shall be cancelled; and any acts done by the Commission to in anywise change the status of these lands from what they were at the time of the so-called segregation be declared null and void and of no effect, and without authority of law, and inconsistent with the duty of the Commission and its duties in connection with these lands.”

Before taking any action in the premises the Department desires a report from your Commission relative to the charges made by Mr. Adams concerning the acceptance of applications by your Commission, after the receipt of notice of the order of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia in the case of George Bullette et al. v. E. A. Hitchcock et al. (Equity, No. 23991).

A copy of the Commissioner’s report is enclosed herewith, and you are requested to return the letter of Mr. Adams with your said report.

In connection with the statements made in this letter, you are referred to departmental letter of September 19, 1903. Respectfully,

THOS. RYAN, Acting Secretary


No. 120

Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs,
Washington, October 16, 1903.

The Secretary of the Interior

Sir: Referring to Department letter of September 28, 1903, directing the Commission to make report relative to the charges made by R. C. Adams concerning the acceptance of applications by the Commission after the receipt of notice of the order of the supreme court of the District of Columbia in the case of George Bullette et al. v. E. A. Hitchcock et al., I have the honor to enclose herewith a report from the Commission, dated October 7, 1903. Pages 1 to 3 of said report are virtually a reiteration of the Commission’s report of October 2, 1903, which was transmitted with Office letter of October 10, and as the report is made in duplicate, it is not believed by the Office that it is necessary to restate the part referred to.

The Commission, however, enclosed a copy of the agreement entered into on August 28, 1901, between George Smith, of the Cherokee Nation, and Richard C. Adams, of Washington, and John Bullette, of Claremore, Ind. T. By this agreement George Smith purports to lease for himself, and as guardian of William B., Mark F., Ida Ethel, and Thomas Smith, his minor children, to Adams and Bullette certain lands described by the lease. The Commission also enclosed a list of persons who have executed to Adams and Bullette instruments similar to the one made in their favor by George Smith. The Commission says:

“These enclosures will tend to enlighten the Department upon the good faith of Mr. Adams in his dealings with Delaware lands, and also the object which he has in making charges against the action of the Commission relating to the Delaware segregation.”

And that it is not deemed advisable to further comment upon the charges made by Mr. Adams in his letter of September 14, 1903, other than to say that there is no truth in his statement wherein he says:

“I am informed that orders were telegraphed by the Secretary of the Interior to the Commission forbidding them to continue to receive such applications, but still no attention was paid to such instructions, and said Commission has since continued to deal with such applications, to notify Delaware to appear and to contest such applications within nine months or be forever barred from claiming any interests in such lands.”

The Commission’s report of October 2 showed that it made an error in sending to Mr. Adams a certain statement which had not been properly checked, and inasmuch as the Commission has been fully instructed concerning this segregation, and in view of its report of October 2, the Office does not consider that the subject admits of further discussion at this time. The Commission was instructed by the Department pertaining to the matter October 6, 1903. However, with reference to the form of lease agreement transmitted by the Commission and the list of names, the attention of the Department is invited to letter of September 17, 1903, disapproving certain leases from divers Delaware Indians, as lessors, to Richard C. Adams and John Bullette, as lessees, for the purpose of mining coal, petroleum, etc., on lands described by such leases in the Cherokee Nation. There was also transmitted a list which shows the names of the lessors.

One of the leases so disapproved has been compared with the form of lease transmitted by the Commission and has been found identical therewith. The names of the lessors, as shown by said disapproved lease, have been checked with the list furnished by the Commission, and all of the names of said purported lessors appear upon this list except that of George Smith.

The Department stated in its said letter of September 17 that the disapproved leases were received with Adams’s letter of February 20, 1903. It would seem therefore that the Department was long since advised of Mr. Adams’s actions in this particular.

Very respectfully,
W. A. JONES, Commissioner

 



MLA Source Citation:

Allotment of Lands to Delaware Indians, 58th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate, No.104, 1904 AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 28 November 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/letters-telegrams-petitions-111-120.htm - Last updated on Oct 7th, 2012


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