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Report of W. C. Pollock of January 15, 1912, Concerning the Enrollment of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, with Related Papers.
Department Of The Interior,
February 19, 1912
Hon. Robert J. Gamble,
Chairman Committee on Indian Affairs, United State Senate.
Sir: Because of persistent statements that many persons entitled to enrollment as members of one or another of the Five Civilized Tribes had been omitted from the final rolls, W. C. Pollock, an assistant attorney in the office of the Assistant Attorney General for this department, was. in connection with a visit to Oklahoma to observe conditions and work of the department in regard to Indian matters there, instructed:
You will give special attention to the matter of adding mimes to the rolls of citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes, making such investigation and taking such testimony as you and the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes, with whom you will cooperate in this matter, may determine to be necessary. The cases to be thus investigated are those of minor orphan children, incompetents. and Indians in incarceration whose claims were not presented in due time for adjudication and such other cases as have unusual merits.
He submitted a report under date of January 15, 1912. a copy of which, with the exhibits mentioned therein, is enclosed herewith for the information of your committee.
Samuel Adams, Acting Secretary
Department Of The Interior,
Office Of The Assistant Attorney General,
January 15, 1912.
The Secretary Of The Interior.
September 12, 1910, I was directed to go to Muskogee and other points in Oklahoma to observe conditions of the work of the department in connection with Indian matters, and further-
You will give special attention to the matter of adding names, to the rolls of citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes, making such investigation and taking such testimony as yon and the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes, with whom you will cooperate in this matter, may determine to be necessary. The cases to be thus investigated are those of minor orphan children, incompetents. and Indians in incarceration whose claims were not presented in due time for adjudication, and such other cases as have unusual merits.
Mr. George Reed, of the Indian Office, was directed by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at about the same time to go to Oklahoma to represent that office in the investigation.
A list was made of persons whose claims to citizenship in any of the Five Civilized Tribes had been brought to the notice of the department or the Indian Office, but because not presented within the time prescribed by law or for some other reason, not considered and adjudicated. This list was submitted to the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes for examination in connection with the records of his office, for the notation of any further information disclosed thereby, and for the addition of other names in like situation, if any such were found.
The district agents were requested to report the claims of persons known to them who seemed to fall within the classes to be investigated. Similar requests were made, both by letter and orally, of members of the several tribes who were believed to be in a position to furnish such information. Many letters were written to persons whose names had thus been ascertained, or to their parents, guardians, or attorneys. One immediate result was a considerable volume of correspondence by which some of the names were eliminated from further examination and other names were added to the list to be inquired into. The more definite information thus obtained indicated the neighborhoods where the claimants were to be found and gave a basis for determining a plan for making investigations in the several nations. It was conclusively shown that but little could be accomplished at the office in Muskogee.
In the Seminole Nation but few cases were developed, and these were investigated by Assistant District Agent Crain, an intermarried member of the nation and personally acquainted with substantially every other member. The act of April 26, 1906 (34 Stat,, 137), authorizing the enrollment of children living March 4, 1906, did not apply to the Seminoles. This fact and the comparatively small membership of the nation-only about 3,100 in all-are sufficient to explain the small number of omissions there.
In the Creek Nation the cases which seemed to have merit were mainly those of minor children, orphans, or children whose parents were full-blood Indians still opposed to the whole scheme of allotting their lands. It was found necessary to make an active search for witnesses to establish the facts in such cases. Supervising District Agent Bliss, accompanied by Mr. M. L. Mott, attorney tor the Creek Notion, and Jesse McDermott, official interpreter and well acquainted with this class of Creek Indians, visited various points in the nation and secured testimony touching such cases.
Like work was done in the Cherokee Nation by Mr. Reed and District Agent S. A. Mills, accompanied by an interpreter well acquainted with the country and the full-blood Cherokees. After Mr. Reed’s return to Washington the work was continued by Mr. Mills.
Conditions in the Chickasaw Nation and also in the Choctaw Nation were different. The data gathered indicated that there were few cases, which had not been previously presented and considered, and that such cases could be better looked after by visits to the towns or cities of McAlester. Ardmore, Durant, Hugo, and Idabel. A few of the cases, not convenient to any of these points, were referred to the proper district agent for investigation. Appointments were made for the towns mentioned and notice thereof given to all known claimants, to attorneys interested, and to the public generally through the district agent. A large majority of the cases brought forward in these nations were those which theretofore had been presented, considered, and decided by some duly constituted tribunal. The records had been made up, and there was no occasion for a further investigation in the field. They were not of the classes contemplated by the instructions under which the investigation was being made. Testimony was heard in a few of these cases upon the urgent insistence of the parties, with the distinct understanding in each instance that the case was not then under consideration and that the additional testimony would simply be filed with the record already made up. The attorneys for the nations objected to the examination of any witnesses in such cases, claiming with force that those cases had been finally adjudicated and that there remained no jurisdiction to reopen or take any action in connection therewith.
It is also noted that in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations attorneys, while in the other nations presented a large majority of the cases but few of the individuals were represented by attorneys.
The claimants for recognition as Choctaw freedmen constitute a separate class. The act of April 26, 1906 (34 Stat., 137), provides in part:
That after ninety days after approval hereof applications shall be received for enrollment of children who were minors living March fourth, nineteen hundred and six, whose parents have been enrolled as members of the Choctaw, Chickasaw. Cherokee, or Creek Tribes, or have applications for enrollment pending at the approval hereof, and for the purpose of enrollment under this section illegitimate children shall take the status of the mother and allotments shall be made to children so enrolled.
The Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes held that Choctaw freedmen were not entitled to the benefits of this provision and refused to accept, applications for them. The department disagreed with him on this proposition, and on July 17, 1906, directed him by telegram and also by letter to receive and pass upon applications of this character. This, however, left less than 10 days of the 90-day period provided in the act for giving notice of the changed ruling and permitting applications to be presented. Manifestly, it was impossible for these people to submit applications within this limited period. The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations still earnestly insist that the law of 1906 did not authorize the enrollment of Choctaw freedmen, that the 473 names added to the roll of freedmen under that law was wrongfully there, and that the injustice thus done the nations should not be augmented by adding yet other names of this class.
The results of the investigation, so far as it disclosed individuals apparently possessing qualifications entitling them to be placed on the final rolls, but who were overlooked and omitted from those rolls because their claims were not presented at nil. or at least not within the time prescribed by law are shown in the lists submitted herewith marked “Exhibits 1 to 6.” inclusive.
List 1. Seminoles shows the names of 8 persons, all children, living March 4. 1005, the date fixed by the act approved March 3, 1905 (33 Stat. 1048, 1071), authorizing the enrollment of Seminole children.
List 2, Creeks, shows the names of 62 persons of Creek blood and of 2 Creek freedmen all of whom except 10 are minors. Since the approved rolls of Creek citizens by blood contain 11,967 names, and the rolls of Creek freedmen contain 6,837 names, it is seen that the percentage of omissions is remarkably small.
List 3, Cherokees, shows the names of 125 Cherokees by blood and 2 Cherokee freedmen all except 5 being minors, and most of them less than 4 years of age March 4, 1906. When the roll was made in 1909 under direction of the Court of Claims for distribution of the Eastern Cherokee fund, the names of a considerable number of children appeared thereon who had not been placed on the final rolls of the Cherokee Nation, but whose parents were enrolled there. Upon examination, it was found that many of these people were, in fact, on the final roll, but under different names; that others had died prior to March 4, 1906; that others were not born until after that date; and that some were on the Eastern Cherokee roll at two and occasionally three different names. It is quite certain that the list now submitted does not include the names of all omitted Cherokee children. Several full-blood Cherokee settlements have not as yet been thoroughly canvassed. If any provision be made for adding names of minors to the Cherokee rolls, it should provide for a further field examination. It seemed of doubtful propriety, after the general conditions had been developed, to continue the investigation, which might, because of litigation, be entirely futile. The case of Levi B. Gritts et al. v. The United States is now pending in the Supreme Court. The purpose of that litigation is to secure a ruling that minor children placed upon the Cherokee roll under the supposed authority of the act of April 26, 1906 (34 Stat., 137), were improperly enrolled and shall not be recognized to share in the distribution of the tribal property. If the contention be sustained, no names of the class involved there should be added to the Cherokee rolls. In fact, the ruling may be held by analogy to prevent the addition of similar classes to the rolls of the other nations.
List 4, Chickasaws, shows the names of 8 persons of Chickasaw blood and 1 freedman, all except 1 being minors. The rolls of the Chickasaws by blood contain 5,908 names, and the roll of Chickasaw freedmen contains 4,853 names. The percentage of omissions is exceedingly small, and in fact negligible.
List 5, Choctaws, shows the names of 22 Choctaws by blood, of 5 Mississippi Choctaws and 1 intermarried Choctaw. The approved rolls contain the names of 18,766 persons enrolled as citizens by blood. 1,643 persons enrolled as Mississippi Choctaws, and 1,672 enrolled as citizens by intermarriage. The percentage of omissions in each of these classes is very small, and in fact negligible.
List 6, Choctaw freedmen, shows the names of 281 persons, all minors except 4. The approved roll of minor Choctaw freedmen contains 473 names. The large percentage of omissions in this class is explained elsewhere. It is quite probable that there are others of this class whose claims have not yet been presented or disclosed.
September 11, 1907, the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes was directed to prepare a list giving the names of persons whom his records showed were legally entitled to enrollment and were omitted through oversight on the part of the Government. Under date of November 15, 1907, in pursuance of these instructions, he submitted a list containing the names of 52 persons. A copy of this report and the list therewith was transmitted to the chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate with the Secretary’s letter of February 12, 1910, and is printed in the report of hearings before the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives. Sixty-first Congress, second session, on H. R. 19279, H. R. 19552, and H. R. 22830. No attempt was made in the recent investigation to take up and examine each of these cases, but testimony was presented in some of them, and that fact is noted in each case in the lists herewith submitted.
Testimony was taken in the field in behalf of Jennie Cloud, whose name is the first in said list of 52, and from the facts thus developed it seems clearly established that Jennie is on the approved Cherokee roll opposite No. 20799 as Jennie Crittenden, 32 years old, female, full blood.
Testimony was also presented in behalf of Maggie Beamer, which indicates strongly that this child is already enrolled as a Cherokee citizen by blood at No. 18248 under the name of Maggie Hair, 7 year old, female, full blood.
It would seem, therefore, that any provision for adding any names on the list of 52, or any names on the lists submitted herewith, to the final rolls, should contain a condition that the Secretary of the Interior may refuse to enroll any of such persons whom he may determine not entitled to enrollment, either because of being already upon the final rolls, or not possessed of the necessary qualifications for enrollment.
Copies of the testimony taken in the course of this investigation were furnished to the principal chief of the Seminole Nation and the attorneys for the other nations, respectively, that they might be advised in the premises.
It had been rumored that many persons in prisons and in insane asylums, and children in orphan asylums or institutions, had been omitted from the final rolls because no applications had been presented in their behalf. After a preliminary examination had been made Mr. Dixon H. Bynum, chief clerk in the office of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes, was requested to make a full investigation. His conclusion, as set out in a report of January 27, 1911, copy herewith, is that no person confined in a penal institution at a time which would have prevented him from making application in his own behalf has been overlooked, and that minors and incompetents in eleemosynary institutions have been taken care of, with few exceptions. The names of the two boys stated to be in the Cherokee Orphan Home at Pryor are to be found at Nos. 7 and 8 of list 3 herewith. The name of Mattie Byrd, a Creek, in the Creek Orphan Home at Okmulgee, is to be found at No. 13 of list 2. The four Archibald children in the Murrow Indian Orphans Home are found at Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, of list 2.
W. C. Pollock, Assistant Attorney.