Department Of The Interior,
Washington, July 17,1912
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Hon. John H. Stephens, Chairman Committee of Indian Affairs,
House of Representatives.
Sir: By your reference I am in receipt of a copy of H. R. 22334, entitled “A bill providing for the final disposition of the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes, and for other purposes,” with request for report thereon.
Sections 1 and 2 of the bill relate to the subject of enrollment of certain classes of persons whose names were omitted from the rolls approved by the Secretary of the Interior on or before March 4, 1907. The first of these classes embraces the so called list of 52, which was a list prepared in the office of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes and transmitted to the department by letter of November 15, 1907, copy of which was forwarded to the committees of Congress by Secretary Ballinger February 12, 1910.
The second of these classes includes the so-called Pollock list, which was transmitted to your committee with my letter of February 19, 1912, wherein I advised you that the persons included in said list apparently have qualifications which entitle them to enrollment in one or another of the Five Civilized Tribes, but whose names do not appear upon the final rolls.
Both of these lists are made up of the names of persons who have a strong claim of right to enrollment. In this connection, permit me to refer to my report of April 22, 1912, relating to the general subject of enrollment in the Five Civilized Tribes. Therein I referred to five classes of persons and reported specifically as to each class. Classes I and II referred to in said report include, together with other names, the two classes mentioned above, for the adjudication of whose rights provision is made in said bill.
The third class mentioned in the bill includes “all persons whose enrollment on the final approved rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes was directed by the Secretary of the Interior within six months prior to March 4, 1907, but whose names do not appear on said final approved rolls, but who had no hearing or opportunity to be heard to show that said final order or decision in their favor should not be ignored or annulled.” It is presumed that the class last referred to was intended to include those persons who claim that injustice was done them during the last few weeks preceding the close of the enrollment work by reason of the hurry incident to that period and the application to their cases of certain opinions rendered by the Attorney General.
I am advised, however, that the bill as drafted might not include more than one family, or at most two or three families, who claim to have lost their rights for the reasons stated.
In this connection I desire to refer you further to my said report of April 22, 1912. Class IV, mentioned on page 6 of that report, deals at length with this class of persons. In the pages that follow I explained the origin of the so-called u jurisdictional cases,” and showed that there were about 131 cases of that class decided within the period from February 9 to March 4, 1907. These cases, together with others where the basis of complaint was mainly the hurry and confusion incident to that period, included approximately 1,724.
Reference is made in the latter part of section 1 of the bill to Mississippi Choctaw Indians, but I am advised that the measure as drafted would probably not include any such Indians, or at most only a limited number of them. The difficulty in their cases was not that decisions had been rendered in their favor by the department and afterwards rescinded without notice, but that after having been decided by the Secretary to be entitled to identification as Mississippi Choctaws, they were not afforded the usual length of time for removal to the Choctaw-Chickasaw country. This class of persons is also dealt with in my said report of April 22, 1912, as “Class III.” The discussion concerning them begins at page 5 of said report. The class there referred to included approximately 10 families who were actually found to be entitled to identification as Mississippi Choctaws. That report did not deal at length with the subject of the claims of Mississippi Choctaws, but in a subsequent report dated July 2, 1912, relating to FI. R. 19213, the history of the Mississippi Choctaw claims was fully stated and the most meritorious classes pointed out.
Having set forth my views at length and given all the information available in said reports of April 22 and July 2, I deem it unnecessary to enter into an extended examination or discussion of the enrollment question in this report.
With respect to section 3 of the bill, which deals with the sale of the remaining unallotted lands of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. I am of opinion that these provisions, although meriting careful consideration, are not absolutely necessary, inasmuch as the subject is covered by existing law, in accordance with which the work of disposing of those lands is rapidly progressing.
Section 4 of the bill provides that the Secretary of the Interior, under rules and regulations to be prescribed by him, is authorized to make a per capita distribution once each fiscal year among the legally enrolled members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribes of Indians, freedmen excepted, of any funds belonging to said tribes held in trust by the United States Government or any department or bureau thereof, including such funds as may hereafter be credited to said tribes. The department favors this provision, deeming authority of this kind not only for the benefit of the Indians personally, but also essential as a means of settling the tribal estates. Respectfully,
Samuel Adams, First Assistant Secretary.
Approved, July 18, 1912.
Walter L. Fisher,
Department Of The Interior.
Washington, July IS, 1912.
My Dear Sir: I am transmitting herewith, with my approval, a report on H. H. 22334, entitled “A bill providing for the final disposition of the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes, and for other purposes,” signed by First Assistant Secretary Adams. This report was prepared and signed by Mr. Adams because of the fact that the matter had been originally taken up with him by you at the informal request of yourself and other members of the Committee on Indian Affairs, expressed at a personal conference at the department. In compliance with this request Mr. Adams prepared and transmitted to you the extended letter of April 22, 1912, and the subsequent letter of July 2, 1912, to which reference is made in the accompanying report.
Yours, very truly,
Walter L. Fisher, Secretary.
Hon. John H. Stephens,
Chairman Committee on Indian Affairs,
House of Representatives