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Washington, D.C.

The committee met, pursuant to call, at 2 p.m., in room 424, Senate Office Building, Senator Burton K. Wheeler presiding. Present: Senators Wheeler (chairman), Thomas of Oklahoma, Bulow, Thompson, Hatch, Frazier, Steiwer, and Norbeck.

The CHAIRMAN. The meeting will please come to order. We have called this meeting for the purpose of hearing the Commissioner and anyone else who wants to be heard with reference to S. 2755, a bill which I introduced at the request of the Department, and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs is here and I will ask that he go ahead with an explanation of the bill, and if any member wants to ask questions at any time he may do so.


Commissioner COLLIER. Mr. Chairman, would it be permissible to supply the committee members with the amended bill, the committee print of the House bill, which contains various amendments?

The CHAIRMAN. All right. That will appear with the Senate bill in the record.

(S. 2755 is printed in full in volume 1 of these hearings and the Senate committee print is set forth on p. 231, followed by a copy of the bill (act) as it finally passed, and the committee print of the House bill is printed in full in the House hearings.)

Commissioner COLLIER. I shall ask later to be allowed to put into the record certain documents which contain a good deal of the evidence, compilations of statistics, and so on, but if I may at the beginning I would like to make clear the nature of the problem that the bill tries to solve, rather than discuss the innumerable details in the bill.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, I think that we are all familiar with the general problems, and I think, Mr. Commissioner, what the committee would prefer is to have a general discussion of the details of

the bill.

Commissioner COLLIER. Yes.


The CHAIRMAN. And the workings of the various provisions of the bill. At least, that is what I want to have before these hearings are closed.

Commissioner COLLIER. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. A detailed statement with reference to each of these provisions of the bill and how it would work in the opinion of the Department.

Commissioner COLLIER. May I make the statement in a logical sequence rather than following the pages of the bill?

The CHAIRMAN. Certainly; make it in your own way.

Commissioner COLLIER. Starting with title 3, which deals with Indian lands; and I think that if I describe the condition of the Indian lands it will make evident why much of this title 3 has beer. written.

Ever since the allotment law was passed in 1887 the Indians' allotted lands have been shrinking steadily, and, in fact, at an accelerating rate. A total of about 91,000,000 acres of land has been lost to the Indians since 1887 through the direct or indirect working of allotment, and the first purpose of this bill is to check that wastage of land.

Allotment has not only resulted in the land being lost, passing from Indian ownership to white ownership. That is indeed not the most serious effect. It has resulted in the grazing areas in leaving the Indian land checkerboarded along with white-owned land. Sometimes the majority of the squares on the checkerboard will be Indian owned; sometimes the majority will be white owned. Sometimes more than 90 percent of the area will be white owned, creating a situation that defeats efficient administration of the grazing lands, makes it impossible to either rent them or use them economically.

But even that does not complete the picture. Upon the death of the allottee his heirs are determined. It becomes the duty of the Secretary of the Interior either to partition the land, to break the allotment up into physical subdivisions among the heirs, or to dispose of it, to sell it.

The Department has been reluctant to sell the land and has held onto it. We have now more than 7,000,000 acres of this allotted heirship land, farm land, and grazing land, which has been held year after year, and frequently that land belongs to not only scores but actually hundreds of heirs; there are hundreds of separate equities in a given parcel. An individual heir will have an equitable interest in 10, 20, or 30 parcels. With every other parcel checkerboarded, this complication of ownership of the heirship lands increases, and, of course, the proportion of the land that is heirship land increases.

The situation has crept up on the Department, and I think it is true to say that only this year have we come to appreciate what it means administratively and from the point of view of wastage of expenditure. The Department holds that land as trustee and is the real-estate agent, leasing it, selling it when it is sold, and distributing the proceeds among these heirs, who become almost innumerable when you remember that one person is an heir to many parcels. We have actually to arrive at the determination of how much rent to pay an Indian by dividing some sort of a figure of 5,200 into a figure of 114,000,000, and we pay out amounts as low as 1 cent a month.

The situation grows worse every year. The lands diminish. Their rental diminishes. The possibility of using them for grazing under Indian management gets more and more remote, and the administrative costs increase.

I am dwelling on this because it alone would make of this title something of an emergency measure.

We do not know how much money the Indian Office is wasting on this real-estate administration, and we do not know because, as I say, the thing has crept up on us, and we not only are utilizing our employed forces who are designated to handle allotments and individual moneys, but we are utilizing much of the rest of our personnel, though it is employed for something else.

We estimate that fully 50 percent of the agency expenditure to the allotted areas, if you exclude schools, goes to this real-estate work and this handling of these infinitesimal individual estates.

At the Anadarko Agency the estimate worked out by the agency for us is this: That they spend $80,000 a year and $65,000 of that goes into these real-estate operations, although only a minority of the tribe have any land at all or any equity in any land. The effect is to force the available moneys over into these services out of health, out of agricultural extension, and even out of distress relief.

It is a squirrel-cage situation that by some hook or crook the Indian Service must get out of and get the Indians out of.

We also know this, that through the workings of the allotment system a very great number of Indians have been rendered entirely landless. Our estimates a few months ago were a hundred thousand. They have increased. The figure of 150,000 would be nearer to the total of Indians who are entirely landless. It is a condition that holds good throughout the allotted area. There are no exceptions, the extent to which they have been rendered landless depending a good deal on how long ago they were allotted.

In the Oklahoma area, for example, we find among the Kiowas nearly half of them have still got some land. Among the Five Civilized Tribes 72,000 are now without any land, according to the results of the recent survey. We pass on to other groups, like the Winnebagos of Wisconsin, who may be said to be 100 percent landless as a result of allotment, and the Oneidas.

The CHAIRMAN. How do you propose to get land?

Commissioner COLLIER. That is the second feature. But I want to make clear that before we can hope to start in on any large scheme of acquiring new land we have got to get a system of holding the land that is different from this system. It is useless to buy land and put it across into that old allotment scheme, only to see it lost again and to have the administrative costs go on multiplying. If we can see some sensible way of handling the allotted lands, then the thing to do is to proceed and buy land conservatively for the landless Indians who want to live on the land. The bill authorizes an expenditure of 2 million a year on the purchases of land. That is not the only string we would have to our bow, but it is the most important string.

Now, it is our idea that the land bought with this appropriation, if made, would first of all be land within the checkerboard area; that we aim to consolidate the Indian holdings so there will be

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