Thursday night, October 17
Progress Of The Year In Indian Affairs. Memoranda.
Finance, The appropriations for the Indian service for the current fiscal year aggregate $9,736,186.09, an increase of nearly $700,000 over last year. The increase is caused by payments for Indian land and the capitalization of annuity funds.
Education. The need of a compulsory school law applicable to Indians is reiterated. Not that force would be frequently resorted to, or that it would be harshly used, but to give a more authoritative backing to the moral suasion now used. The superintendent of Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kans., reports that 176 out of 180 agents, school superintendents, and school supervisors favor such a law. Idaho has already passed an act ” compelling the attendance of children at schools where tuition, lodging, food, and clothing are furnished at the expense of the United States or the State of Idaho.” Punishment for noncompliance is to be by fines varying from $5 to $30. This law, passed last March, has not yet been tested.
In the Government schools (25 non-reservation, 88 reservation boarding, and 138 day) 23,332 pupils have been enrolled, an increase of 1,208 over last year. In the mission schools, including Hampton (the only existing contract school), the enrollment has been 3,933. Twenty-one public schools have had 257 pupils, a very small increase over last year. Thus the whole number of Indian pupils in schools last year was 27,522, and an average attendance of over 83 per cent was secured. Not-withstanding the discontinuance of Indian school contracts, the total number of pupils cared for last year was 1,071 greater than any previous year. The school employees numbered 2,208, nearly one-third of them being Indians.
Neighborhood institutes at Reams Canyon, Ariz.; Pine Ridge, S. D., and Puyallup, Wash., and a general institute of Indian teachers at Detroit in connection with the National Education Association, and afterwards at Buffalo, have been ably conducted. They are very helpful in improving methods, getting teachers out of ruts, and developing esprit de corps. The Massachusetts Indian Association is rejoicing over the fact that the boarding school for the Walapai at Truxton Canyon has been opened. A new school at Hay ward, Wis., is almost ready; also one long promised the Southern Ute.
A new school at Riverside, Cal., is under contract. Many other schools have been enlarged, and quite a number have had extensive improvements, especially in the way of water supply, sewerage, heating, and lighting.
Marriage. Without further waiting for legislation on the subject, the Indian Office during the current year has issued instructions to agents in regard to regulating, licensing, and recording marriages among Indians. These instructions require that before marriage an Indian shall obtain a license from some source, either the Indian agent or a civil magistrate. Agents are authorized to issue marriage licenses, and they must do so without charge; and they must conform, so far as practicable, to the legal forms and requirements of the State and Territory, and thus familiarize the Indians with them. Blanks have been furnished agencies for licenses, marriage records, and certificates of marriage. Also, books have just been shipped to agencies for a permanent register of the Indians, showing family relations, so that it will be possible to trace relationship from two to four generations back. This record will be of special value for future reference in determining the heirs of deceased allottees.
Irrigation. For the current fiscal year Congress has provided $100,000 for irrigation work on Indian reservations, twice the amount appropriated last year. During the past year irrigation work has been confined mostly to Pueblo, Southern Ute, and Navaho reservations, besides the continuance of ditch construction on the Crow Reservation, which is paid for out of Crow funds. Much of the $52,000 thus expended last year has gone back to the Crow Indians in the shape of wages paid them for work on the canals.
Allotments and patents. Patents have been issued during the year to 3,265 Indians. Allotments have been made (and approved) to 8,696 Indians, mostly White Earth Chippewa, and to the Kiowa and Wichita prior to the opening of their reservation to settlement.
It has been decided that the jurisdiction of the Department over an Indian allotment does not cease until the time of trust has expired and the final patent been issued. Meantime trust patents based on erroneous allotments may be canceled.
Cessions of land. The Grande Ronde Indians in Oregon, and the Lower Brule Sioux in South Dakota, have ceded to the United States surplus lands, 26,000 and 56,000 acres at $1.10 and $1.25 per acre, respectively; the former to receive their pay in cash, the latter in stock cattle and the fencing of the reservation.
Logging on Indian reservations. The logging of dead and down timber on the White Earth and Red Lake reservations and on lands in Minnesota ceded by the Chippewa was resumed last winter, under the direction of Captain Mercer. Sixty-one million feet were cut and were sold for $364,000, netting the Indians above all expenses $127,000.
Logging on the reservations in the La Pointe Agency and Menominee Reservation has been continued satisfactorily as heretofore. Under the La Pointe plan the timber is cut under contracts made with allottees; under the Menominee plan the Indians cut the timber under supervision of the agent and it is sold on the bank by public advertisement.
Leases. Leases of both tribal and allotted lands continue to be made sometimes to the advantage and often to the disadvantage of the Indian lessor.
Railroads, telephone and telegraph lines. Applications for right of way through Indian lands for railroads and telephone and telegraph lines are numerous, especially in the Indian Territory, and particularly since the general right-of-way acts were passed in 1899 and 1901. Prior to 1899 every such right of way was acquired by special act of Congress. Now the matter is left to the Secretary of the Interior. Care is taken to have Indian tribes and Indian allottees duly compensated by the railroads for rights of way through their possessions.
Pima Indians in Maricopa County, Ariz. The attempt of white men to file on lands cultivated for twenty-seven years by two villages of Indians, numbering some 100, has been frustrated by the Land Office, but not before white trespassers had cut some of the valuable timber. The General Land Office has been directed to cancel the entries made by white men on these tracts.
Mission Indians on Warner’s Ranch. It is a matter of great regret that the long pending and twice appealed case of the occupation by some Mission Indians of the tract in California known as Warner’s Ranch or Agua Caliente has gone against the Indians in the United States Supreme Court. Thus some 200 Indians go empty handed from the lands, which their ancestors have cultivated for generations. An arrangement has been made by which they will be allowed to remain at Agua Caliente until Congress meets and can make some provision for establishing them elsewhere. As a partial, temporary expedient all vacant lands in one of the California townships have been withdrawn from entry and settlement by white people and will be devoted to the use of these Indians; most unfortunately, most of these vacant lands are worthless and the few scattered arable areas will support but few families.