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CALIFORNIA INDIANS JURISDICTIONAL ACT
MARCH 10, 1937
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
The committee met at 10: 15 a. m., Hon. Will Rogers (chairman of the committee) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order.
The meeting this morning is called early to give some Indians, who are here from California for only a few days, a chance to make their record on H. R. 5243.
This matter came up after our meeting last week, and the chairman, wanting to give consideration to people who had come a long distance to be heard, took the liberty of assuring these people that we could give them at least 30 minutes this morning on this bill, providing we called the meeting early.
The chairman wishes it understood that he is not asking for consideration of the bill, because there is no report from the Department.
The bill has been introduced by Congressman Sheppard, of California, and we hope to have further hearings on this matter later, and we did not want this morning, on account of the time it might take, to hear anyone except these people who have come from California. There are four members in this delegation.
Members of the committee, of course, can ask any questions or make any statements they want to make this morning, but if it is possible to do so we would like for the opposition or anyone else who favors the legislation to wait until we have had the report from the Department, when we can have further hearings on this bill.
Mr. SHEPPARD. Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank you for your courtesy to these people, and I wish to make this suggestion, and that is that you call on the individual in the group that you think can handle the situation to the best advantage and with the greatest rapidity in order to get the most benefit from the allotted time.
Mr. C. M. JOHNSON. I understand the chairman is handling the hearing in that manner.
The CHAIRMAN. We hope to finish this first part of the hearing on this bill by 11 o'clock this morning.
I will ask unanimous consent to insert H. R. 5243 in the record. [After a pause.] There seems to be no objection, so the bill will appear in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. The first witness to be called is Mrs. Stella Von Bulow. Will you please come forward? I will permit you to speak for 15 minutes.
STATEMENT OF MRS. STELLA VON BULOW, EDITOR, CALIFORNIA INDIAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION, INC., LOS ANGELES CALIF.
Mrs. VON BULOW. I am an Indian, an Indian from California. I belong to the California Indian Rights Association and my association sent me here to tell you my story.
In our State we have two classes of Indians. There are the reservation Indians and then there are the nonreservation Indians.
The condition of our reservation Indians is deplorable in our State. They live in makeshift houses, and some of them in one-room houses. They have no electricity, no gas, and oftentimes in many instances they have to carry water a long distance for domestic purposes.
The lands are barren. They live up in the hills and they have no way of raising vegetables of any kind, because they are without water for that purpose. They make their living by working for white people in the surrounding towns. Some of them have had P. W. A. and C. W. A. work recently but they do not have steady employment.
Speaking of the nonreservation Indians they live in cities or other small communities; they make their living as laborers and they do not get very much money for their labor. They live from hand to mouth and they do not make enough money sometimes to pay their rent. Consequently both the reservation and nonreservation Indians are in need of help of some sort. They need a start in life so that they can help themselves and become self-sustaining.
We have come a long way here to tell you the story of our people. We had lands taken away from us which were appraised at $1,000,000 in 1851 and 1852
Mr. JOHNSON (interposing). Excuse me, you meant $100,000,000? Mrs. VON BULOW. Yes: $100,000,000. The Government set aside 8,800,000 acres for us to keep forever under the 18 treaties. The Government promised us this land but it never fulfilled its promise.
In 1928 they passed the Jurisdictional Act, giving us $1.25 an acres for these lands, which is not enough. We have come here to amend that bill. We are now asking $5.70 an acre for that land.
We feel that this is an honest debt and we feel that the Government owes it to us and it should pay it to us.
We feel that this is an heirship proposition and that each and every Indian should have their share given to them individually so that they can handle it themselves and try to rehabilitate themselves.
In the Jurisdictional Act they have cut off our children but we including in our bill that our children born after 1928 shall be beneficiaries, because we feel that our children will be the coming citizens who will help to run the Government of this country. We feel that they should have better surroundings, better environments; they should be educated so that they will become economically independent, and in order to do that we must provide something for them. The only way we think we can give them a start is by Congress here seeing to it that we get our share of what we are seeking.
We have also made this bill that we have drawn so plain and so simple that each and every Indian understands what we are here for, that it is not complicated, so that they will tell them one thing and it means another.
We have eliminated attorneys in this bill because we think that our recovery of our share is so small that if we had attorneys in the case it would eat all of the award up.
We are asking for $5.70 an acre, which amounts to approximately 50 millions of dollars, or thereabouts, and we feel that there is no need for any attorneys to make an investigation, or anything of that kind.
We also insist upon the per capita payment. We insist that "no per capita payments" shall be stricken off from the Jurisdictional Act. We feel that unless the Indians get their individual share it will never amount to a settlement and the Indians will never be satisfied unless it is done that way.
We also wish to have the rolls open for those who are being missed and reenroll them and enroll our children born after May 18, 1928.
That is our program that we have before us; and we want to rehabilitate ourselves and we cannot do it if our money goes to the general fund because it will be appropriated out for the reservation Indians; but we do want that the reservation Indians will share alike with us in this heirship proposition. However, if it goes to the general fund they will benefit by it, but 15,000 nonreservation Indians will be left out.
Our opposition to the Butler bill, which was sponsored and introduced by Mr. McGroarty in the House, and is the so-called Butler bill (H. R. 1998), we are opposed to that because it has the convention clause in it. We feel that the convention clause would leave the control of our Indians in the hands of white men. We want to have some say in regard to that; when it comes to selecting attorneys we want to have it done by a group, but we think we can get along without that, the way our bill is drawn. We do not want any white people controlling our people through that convention clause. It was in effect once and they got rid of it because some crooked politicians manipulated it in such a way as to put people of their own choice there.
The bill, we objected to, because it was vague and indefinite, and specifies that we shall determine as near as may be lands, acreage, and boundaries, and it also says that we shall get paid for title by occupation, and we have looked in the court decisions, and we find that such a clause as that does not have weight. We found some such language was used in the Supreme Court ruling against the Indians and is also in this bill, that there shall be no part of said judgment paid out to Indians in per capita to said Indians, and we object to that.
It also says in there that every Indian shall get $1.25 an acre for all the lands that they occupy, and then down below it says "Provided, however", and it goes on to say that it limits the award of the nontreaty Indians to a proportion of what the treaty Indians get and the treaty Indians in the Jurisdictional Act will get $11,000,000 and the nontreaty Indians will get just a fraction
Mr. JOHNSON (interposing). Do you mean the nontreaty Indians will get $11,000,000?
Mrs. VON BULOW. I mean the treaty Indians. Pardon me, I am so excited. The nontreaty Indians would just get a fraction or a portion of that amount, and I know that the Indians in Californiawe have come here to tell you what they want-that they would
never if they understood how that bill was drawn, that they would never support it. Any Indian in his right mind would never stand behind that bill.
What the Indians of California, regardless of what organization they belong to, want: They do want a per-capita payment and they want the money given to them so that they can handle it themselves.
While $50,000,000 sounds like a whole lot, when it is divided it will approximate $1,500 to each Indian. We feel that is little enough. They could get by on that, but anything less than that I do not think it would do the Indians any good, and I do not think you should give to them any amount less than that, because it really would not put the Indians on their feet.
What we Indians want is this: We want to be just like you people. We have the same desires in our hearts to educate our children and to get along, and to get rid of our inferiority complex which seems to be one of the greatest handicaps, and we want all the Congressmen here to consider this for us. We want this to be settled. There is always so much racketeering in California at the expense of the Indians and it will continue. Many of the poor Indians have put out more money for this one particular case than they will even get back at $1,500; many of them will not get what they have put out in trying to prosecute this case under the belief that someone is getting something when in reality they are just interested in getting something for attorneys and keeping it in litigation for years.
The jurisdictional act has been in litigation for 8 years, and there has never been anything definite done, and we have found out that if the case came to trial today or tomorrow, that the Government set-offs are more than our recovery, and we have put out money to prosecute this and have got nothing out of it. Therefore we are trying to amend the bill so that we might be able to recover a substantial amount for our people. That is all. Are there any questions? Mr. SHEPPARD. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Sheppard.
Mr. SHEPPARD. Mrs. Von Bulow, how many of the different tribes does your organization represent?
Mrs. VON BULOW. We have every tribe in our organization. I cannot say off hand just how many we have in our organization, but we have been up and down the State and we have talked to all the Indians, and we find that there are those that have not become members of our organization but hundreds of them have signed an agreement adopting this plan.
Mr. SHEPPARD. In other words, have you authority which you could produce here for the benefit and the information of the committee, of those who gave you the authority to represent all the Indians in the State of California?
Mr. VON BULOW. Yes, sir.
Mr. SHEPPARD. At this time I would like to have your authorization filed for ready reference, so that we can know who are speaking, the condition of the authority, and what specific organizations they represent.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the instrument mentioned and submitted by Mrs. Von Bulow will be filed with the committee and become a part of the record of this hearing at this point.
(The authorization above referred to is as follows:)
CALIFORNIA INDIAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION, INC.,
INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE,
CALIFORNIA INDIAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION, INC. By THOMAS LARGO,
Washington, D. C.
This is to advise you that Thomas Largo and Stella Von Bulow have been elected as official delegates of the California Indian Rights Association, Inc., to propose legislation in behalf of the California Indians to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States, and to represent them in their behalf in all committee meetings concerning matters affecting California Indians.
Keeper of records.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other questions?
Mr. CRAWFORD. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Crawford.
Mr. CRAWFORD. Mrs. Von Bulow, I desire to ask you a few questions in the matter of the fair price of this land, and that is in regard to another matter that has bearing on this question.
We have up for consideration legislation which has to do with providing funds that may be used to buy millions of homes for white people. It is to rehabilitate them and to reestablish them along the lines that you speak of here with reference to your own people.
Now, we whites, if I may express it that way, have found that circumstances are such that the white people cannot handle their affairs. At the same time you are asking for this $1,500 per capita to be handed over to the respective individuals of your people.
Mrs. VON BULOW. Yes.
Mr. CRAWFORD. Do you feel that we should give you that money in that manner in view of the experience that we are now having with our own white people throughout the country in an effort to provide homes for them? Do you feel that it is safe to do so?
Mrs. VON BULOW. Yes, sir; I think it is safe to do so, particularly in California, because the Indians out there, they have never had any tribal funds or anything of the sort, and they have been knocked from pillar to post, and I think they know the value of money, and besides, we have made provision for any Indian that we find has wasted his money, we would take care of the money of that Indian and keep it in trust for him, and perhaps give him small amounts from time to time so that it would not be wasted. I know we would be quick to take this method. I know a young lady with two children who wants to send the children to school and she cannot, and we would be glad to handle this money.
Mr. CRAWFORD. Why would you not be willing to go along on a basis where this money would be handled as a trust fund and homes provided out of the $1,500 per-capita payments without any risk from their wasting it, so that homes could be thus provided and you would be sure that your people would have it thereafter. Why wouldn't you be willing to go along on a proposition like that? That is what we will have to do with probably 3, 4, or 5 million families in this country-all whites.
Mrs. VON BULOW. We feel that much of that could be done, but we feel there are other Indians who are intelligent enough to handle it,