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FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES IN OKLAHOMA
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
The subcommittee this day met, Hon. W. H. Sproul presiding. There was also present Hon. F. W. Dallinger and Hon. Zebulon Weaver.
Mr. SPROUL. The subcommittee will come to order. The subcommittee, consisting of myself as chairman, Mr. Dallinger, and Mr. Weaver, is called to consider H. R. 6900, which reads as follows:
[H. R. 6900, Sixty-eighth Congress, first session]
A BILL For the protection of the restricted lands and funds of Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Interior shall have the exclusive jurisdiction and control of the restricted lands, funds, and other property of any and all of the restricted Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, and of the distribution or disbursement and general administration thereof under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe.
SEC. 2. The conveyances purporting to transfer the title or any interest in restricted land inherited by any full-blood Indian of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, or acquired by such Indian by will or devise, shall not be valid unless approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
SEC. 3. That no will of a full-blood Indian of the Five Civilized Tribes devising restricted lands, funds, or other property shall be valid if such last will and testament disinherits the parent, wife, husband, or children of such full-blood Indian, unless approved by the Secretary of the Interior under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe.
SEC. 4. That from and after sixty days from the approval of this act leases of restricted lands of allottees of the Five Civilized Tribes, or their heirs, for agricultural, grazing, or hay-cutting purposes, regardless of the term of such lease, shall be made only under and in accordance with such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior, and shall be subject to the approval of the superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes, or such other official as the Secretary of the Interior may designate, and any such lease, contract, or agreement covering such restricted lands executed or made from and after sixty days from the approval of this act, shall not be valid unless so approved: Provided, however, That the Secretary of the Interior may in any case remove the restrictions against leasing for said purposes and permit the owners in such case to lease the land without supervision or approval.
Mr. DALLINGER. In line 23, page 2, of the bill there is a misprint. The third word from the end of the line should be "owners." Mr. SPROUL. That will be corrected. The report from the department is as follows:
Hon. H. P. SNYDER,
MY DEAR MR. SNYDER: Reference is made herein to H. R. 6900, entitled "A bill for the protection of the restricted lands and funds of Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes, and for other purposes."
To the members of the Five Civilized Tribes there have been allotted, in the aggregate, 15,794,218 acres. Under acts of Congress restrictions on 12,439,553 acres were removed by operation of law, and on 1,302,853 acres restrictions were removed under authority granted the department. The act of May 27, 1908 (35 Stat. L. 312), provided that the probate courts of Oklahoma should have jurisdiction over the persons and property of minor allottees, except as otherwise specifically provided, and that full-blood Indian heirs might alienate their inherited Indian lands with the approval of the county courts. Because the department has been deprived of jurisdiction in the matter and the Indians themselves have been inexperienced or incompetent, by far the greater proportion of the unrestricted property of the Five Civilized Tribes has been alienated.
The deplorable condition relating to probate matters in the Oklahoma courts was brought to the attention of Congress from time to time, notably in 1912, 1914, and 1916. Recent investigations by the department in guardianship matters affecting the Five Civilized Tribes, indicate extravagance and unwarranted allowances for maintenance and personal expense of wards, guardian and attorney's fees, and cost of administration.
In six counties in Oklahoma it was found that in 2,821 Indian cases the receipts aggregated $14,750,043.94, and the cost of administration, including fees, amounted to $2,002,385.37, or 13.57 per cent of the receipts. In contrast to this, attention is called to the fact that, under the act of June 25, 1910 (36 Stat. L. 855), the department, in its exercise of exclusive jurisdiction in other Indian cases administered upon 40,000 estates, at an average cost of $26 each.
It is believed that the interests of the minors, incompetents, and other restricted Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes could be best protected and conserved by closer supervision on the part of the Federal Government and, in view of the recent investigation conducted by this department, I believe that H. R. 6900, if enacted, will tend to prevent indefensible practices and excessive expense in the administering of the estates of the Five Civilized Tribes, and recommend the enactment of the said bill.
Very truly yours,
STATEMENT OF MR. S. E. WALLEN, SUPERINTENDENT FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES OF OKLAHOMA, MUSKOGEE, OKLA.
Mr. WALLEN. I took this position as Superintendent of the Five Civilized Tribes June 25, 1923. Immediately after going into this work at Muskogee, the Indians begin to visit me in great numbers, especially from the Creek and Choctaw Tribes and other tribes. In discussing the problems which confronted them, especially among the Creek Indians, who cover a great part of the wealth of the Indian tribes, they discussed this matter with me concerning supervision of their estates, and were hopeful to have the department or Congress give it further consideration. I informed the representatives of the Creek Indians that any matter they desired to lay before my department would be given every consideration. Following that, in their annual meeting, the Baptist Association, composed of fullblood Creek Indians, representing the greatest part of the Creek Indian Tribe, passed the following resolution which I will read for the record, as follows:
The following resolution, introduced by Reb. P. R. Ewing, during the annual meeting of the Muskogee or Creek Indian Baptists' Association, held at Montezuma Baptist Church on August 18, 1923, was unanimously adopted:
Whereas by act of Congress the legislative bodies of the Muskogee or Creek Nation have been abolished and its powers supplanted by the State of Oklahoma and the United States of America; and
Whereas since the coming under the jurisdiction of said State, the citizens of the Muskogee or Creek Nation have been humiliated and treated unmercifully