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APPROPRIATION BILL FOR 1944
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS,
CLIFTON A. WOODRUM, Virginia
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
CLARENCE CANNON, Missouri, Chairman
JOHN TABER, New York
RICHARD B. WIGGLESWORTH, Massachusetts
MARCELLUS C. SHEILD, Clerk
JAMES M. FITZPATRICK, New York
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERIOR DEPARTMENT
JED JOHNSON, Oklahoma, Chairman
ALBERT E. CARTER, California
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATION BILL, 1944
HEARINGS CONDUCTED BY THE SUBCOMMITTEE: MESSRS. JED
MONDAY, MARCH 20, 1943.
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
STATEMENTS OF JOHN COLLIER, COMMISSIONER;
Mr. JOHNSON of Oklahoma. Next we will hear from the Indian Service. I see Commissioner Collier, Assistant Commissioner Zimmerman, Mr. Greenwood, and several other gentlemen from the Indian Service present. Commissioner Collier, would you care to make a brief general statement, or would you prefer to have Mr. Greenwood begin his detailed explanation of the various items, with the assistance of the several heads of activities who are present?
PREPARED STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER COLLIER
Commissioner COLLIER. If the new members of the committee had been here, I should have made a brief historical and general statement. Mr. JOHNSON of Oklahoma. It might be well for you to put a statement in the record for the edification of all of the members, including the new members, if you so desire.
Commissioner COLLIER. If I may have that permission, I will.
STATEMENT ON INDIAN SERVICE AND INDIAN APPROPRIATIONS
In making this statement for the record, I start by taking note of statements recently made on the House floor by the Hon. Karl. Mundt, of South Dakota. With much that Mr. Mundt desires to accomplish or to get done, I, as Indian Commissioner, am in accord, as I have made clear in detail to the House Indian Committee. I refer to Mr. Mundt's statements on the House floor, March 16, and in his news release, because they bear rather directly upon appropriations. If our present estimates are granted by Congress, Indian Service will cost $69 per annum per Indian in the coming fiscal year.
Mr. Mundt states that Indian Service spends $100 a year per Indian in "regulating" the Indians. Let us see.
The $69 per year per Indian (if Congress grants it) will be spent as follows:
For education in schools____
For hospital and field and home medical service...
For maintenance of roads___.
For irrigation, drainage, and water supply.
For guidance and aid (including credit) in farming and stock raising-
For meeting treaty obligations with tribes, and the payment of interest
For the administration of Indian property including forests, oil and mineral wells, mines, etc., allotted and heirship lands, etc_-_-_
$27.00 16. 00
4. 00 2.00 2.00
Of this $69 per capita, $4.58 is reimbursable to the Treasury.
This $69 per capita per annum furnishes the Indians all of those services which whites get from the State and local governments, the Federal Government, and the private charities. The per capita expenditure of State and local government (in the whole country) in 1941 was $84.84. The per capita expenditure when Federal expenditure was included totaled $182.79 in 1941. Is the $69 per capita expenditure for Indians high, or low, by comparison? And what part of the $69 is spent "regulating" the Indians?
The answer is, just two items. Sixty cents a year per capita is spent on law and order, including liquor suppression. Sixty cents and no more. Compare this with the law and order expenditure of Rhode Island exclusive of towns. Rhode Island's cost for rural law and order was $4.33 per capita per year in 1929. Compare the Indian law and order costs with Puerto Rico's of $3.29 per capita per year in the present fiscal year. Compare it with New Mexico's expenditure. New Mexico's per capita expenditure for law and order exclusive of municipal and county expenditures was $2.76 in the year 1941. Right in the heart of New Mexico are the Pueblos and the Canyoncito and Puertocito Navajos. Thorough law and order is maintained, and the cost is 70 cents a year per Indian.
The other "regulatory" item is administration of Indian property, $11 per capita per Indian. This Indian property includes 16,000,000 acres of forest land, managed on a sustained-yield basis; 30,000,000 acres of range land, managed on modern conservation principles; producing oil wells, zinc, coal, helium, and many other minerals; and tens of thousands of parcels of allotted land fractionated by inheritance into millions of tiny equities. I have told this committee in previous years that this last-mentioned item (real-estate management of dwindled heirship equities in allotted land) represents a practically dead waste of more than a million dollars a year. It is the only extravagance or waste of Indian Service and it could be stopped by legislation which the administration has sought but has failed to obtain. Without legislation it cannot be stopped.
Educating Indians in good schools, curing them in good hospitals, furnishing them agricultural credit, helping them save their timberlands from being gutted by fire and their range and farm lands from being gutted by erosion-these activities, I suggest, are not "regulating the Indian." Cutting the Indian death rate
from 27 per 1,000 per year 16 years ago to 13 per 1,000 per year at present, is not "regulating" the Indians.
What is it that the $69 per year of Government money does for the Indian? It provides him with all those services-schooling and adult education, public health and hospital and domiciliary medical care, social welfare, relief of the infirm and old and orphaned, public works, and law-enforcement service, which the Federal, State, municipal and county governments plus the private charities supply to white people. It is not much, but little, this $69. It is far too little, for the reason that I shall now explain.
In 1928 the Institute for Government Research published its monumental report the Problem of Indian Administration. Its opening sentence read: "An overwhelming majority of the Indians are poor, even extremely poor, and they are not adjusted to the economic and social system of the dominant white civilization." Why had this profound poverty descended as a suffocating weight on the Indians? The deliberate and long-continuing actions of our Government had created the poverty and had largely created the "economic and social maladjustment" too. The "century of dishonor" toward Indians had run, and it had plunged all but a few of the tribes into "the poor, even the extremely poor," the submarginal population zone of our country.
I give you just two examples of how our Government compelled the Indians into poverty.
Forced land allotment, and the fee patenting of allotments and the sale to whites of heirship lands, became general policy after the year 1888. Between 1888 and 1933 the Indians lost 90,000,000 acres of land to whites. It was their best land. They were allowed to keep 50,000,000 acres. Half of it was desert or semidesert, land, and much of the good land still left them was checkerboarded with whiteowned land and fractionated into inoperably minute heirship equities.
And through those same years, the land which still the Indians were allowed to keep became gutted by erosion to the total of many million acres. Half, and sometimes two-thirds, of the agricultural soil was washed and blown away. Government action broke to the plow Indian lands in the Dust Bowl which always should have remained grassland; Government action permitted white operators to wreck Indian lands through overloading the livestock load; Government indifference allowed the cumulative process of erosion on Indian lands to go ahead. Indians, as official policy declared, were being "liquidated," and their landed estate was being "liquidated.'
In many other ways, by many other procedures, the Government plunged the Indians into their "extreme poverty," and its actions ran their death rate upward until 16 years ago it exceeded the birth rate and the Indians were a dying race. Down through the final years of this process of "liquidating" the Indians and their property, I as a private citizen, addressing Congress and the public, used language dark but not as dark as the facts. I used dark language as Commissioner before the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934. Robert Gessner in his book Massacre used dark language. Now, into the Congressional Record goes this language, these severe judgments, as relevant to the present day. We were speaking of a bad day that is now gone, not of the present day.
Now what, during all those losing, ruining years, was the relation of the Government to the Indian tribes? It was a relation sealed by the pledges of hundreds of treaties, and enunciated with a sad solemnity by the Supreme Court down the decades from John Marshall's time. The Government was guardian over the Indians, trustee over their property, and their copartner under treaty in many mutual commitments and undertakings.
Two obvious propositions I now make.
First, that to overcome generations of misrule of cumulative demoralization and impoverishment-years of time and of the wise, productive use of appropriated funds have been and still are necessary.
And second, that the Government's moral obligation to give the Indians, so late, their chance under the sun, was and still is a profound obligation.
Both of these propositions only state what the American people and Congress have recognized and have acted upon. Through the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, through the Indian Civilian Conservation Corps, through public works and Soil Erosion Service and rehabilitation, the Government since 1933 has labored with generosity and, I believe, with wisdom and effectiveness, to restore some of that which it had taken away: some of the land, some of the liberty, some of the pride, some of the life of the Indians. And surely the Indians have responded worthily. No group of our people in this Second World War is doing better