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"Proceedings of the Conference at Chemawa, Oregon, April 8 and 9 [1934] to Discuss with the Indians the Howard-Wheeler Bill," in United States, Records of the Bureau of Indians Affairs, Box 275, RG 75, National Archives, Seattle Branch, 60, 62, 79-80 (excerpts), NADP Document D127.
[Page 60]

We are now prepared to hear from sunny California. Perhaps they have elected their spokesman.

Sacramento Delegate:

The Sacramento delegation is very small, composed of only four men. We do not represent landed Indians like the others here, so really have nothing to say, more to listen.

Mr. Woehlke:

Then suppose you listen and speak later on if you so desire. Well, we can pass on to the Siletz delegation. Have they their spokesman selected?

If so he may take the floor for five minutes.

Mr. Abe Logan: (Mr. Hoxie Simmons, interpreter):

I thank God for the opportunity to meet with you gentlemen from Washington for also the opportunity for you to see me. In the first place along early forties the white people came to my country and that is what I want to talk about to you. The white people covers the Rogue River from mouth to end and kept on until they have removed my Indians far away. In 1855 they made Treaty with the Indian, made promises to build homes for them in this Willamette Valley, right here but they put them to the bottom road to Astoria pushed them on over to the Coast range clear to the ocean and they gave them that land. They surveyed the land and gave them the boundary line on top of the coast range. While the Indians were trying to hold their reservation they did these things without the consent of the Indians, without any consideration of us. They, the government, sent three commissioners to make agreement with the Indians and the Indians wanted $2.50 per acre paid them for their land. Then the government would pay them only 80c an acre, very valuable land. What I have heard from you gentlemen seems to please me. I am going home now to my mother who is over 90 years old and the younger people and tell them all that you have said. We will let you know by letter what we want to do about this.

Mr. Woehlke:

I want to thank you. I believe I can truthfully say that all of us here are thoroughly ashamed in the manner in which the Government of the United States has treated the Indians and I also believe that all of you agree with me when I say we want to do our very best to right part of the wrongs the Indians have been suffering in the hands of the government for the past 100 years. Now I hope the Spokane delegation has its spokesman ready.

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[Page 62]

Jim Kanine: (Wade Minthorn, interpreter):

I am not going to tell a long story. I shall speak the same words I spoke last night and I feel that we understand each others' words very thoroughly. I have in my heart and remember the promises you made me last night. All of the land that I own on the Umatilla Reservation my life depends upon that ground. The living conditions under which I was raised, and I still maintain that I should live the same way. You come from Washington and we meet face to face to discuss this matter and I am very glad that I have had this opportunity to speak to you. I shall never forget your remarks and I hope you will remember mine. That is all. Thank you.

Wade Minthorn:

I suppose I can say a few words.

Mr. Woehlke:

Not in English now. The next delegation to be heard from is Southern Oregon.

Mr. Wasson:

Mr. Chairman, the Indians in Southern Oregon have lived so long without the allotment system which may have also deprived them of any tongue other than what God gave us. With the unanimous consent of the floor we will proceed for five minutes with the only language we know, that which the Great Father left us in place of what he took away.

Mr. Wasson:

Fellow tribesmen: The Public Domain Indian is not ashamed of his record, he is not afraid to stand up and look you in the face and he is not ashamed to go to Washington and look Congress and their officials in the face, therefore, I stand up before you so that you might look at me. I may not be very much to look at but that is all there is left of us. We gathered here this afternoon to have explained to us another form of legislation prepared in the Great White City. This comes to us very often, at long intervals I meant to say instead of very often, but right after each depression, we get it. At the time of the establishment of Chemawa School and the establishment of another school at Carlisle, the allotment law on the Daws Bill took effect. At that time the great White Father sent out Commissioners. The Public opinion of the world at that time was that it was the greatest act that Congress ever passed for the Indian. It was to remove them from their present environment and place them in the environment of the civilization of the world so that the children could learn the habits of the white men and learn to be self-supporting. They left us under that law. They left us under that system and you have suffered by it and now these great men come out from the Seat of the government and tell us that that is a failure. Now we must look back; consider your grand-children and great grand children. Will another commissioner come out from the seat of the government and tell them this community system is a failure?

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[Page 79]

The Puyallups are totally landless, none of that tribe having received any allotments for the past 45 years or more. Only the older Indians of said tribe ever received any land.

The Duwamish Indians are also landless.

The Nooksacks are living on homestead land that has been logged before the Indians got on it.

The Upper Skagits are living on homestead land that is a little better than that of the Nooksacs.

The Lummi reservation is a fertile one but far too small for the people residing on it.

These Indians are as a whole, fishermen and loggers. The fishermen are continually harassed by State officials who refuse to recognize the promises made to the Indian regarding fishing by the Government in their treaties. They feel the government should attempt to reach a solution to this problem with the State officials instead of they being compelled to fight for their own rights, for the things they feel were guaranteed them by the Government.

We go home and make our reports to the various tribes on this meeting and do not intend to influence them either for or against the Bill, but with the hope that the officials will be awakened to the terrible conditions most of them live under.

Submitted by the Northwest Federation of American Indians composed of ther tribes signing the Point-Elliott Treaty.

Dr. Roe Cloud:

We will now hear from the Umatillas.

Wade Minthorne:

Mr. E.A. Towner will represent the Umatillas at this time.

Mr. Towner:

My friends, I have been delegated to speak for and in behalf of the Umatilla Indians from Pendleton. I feel like my friend Mr. Kirk when he made a statement that we are well fortified on the other side of the table. That is their privilege and they are friends and we all


[Page 80]

realize that Mr. John Collier and the present administration is trying to do something really constructive for the American Indians. We also know that for the first time in 50 years or of 70 years that we have at least friends at the Indian Bureau, if they are going to carry out the policies that Mr. Collier has for us. I thought Mr. Collier was going to carry on right when he was carrying on the work of the Indian Defense Association for the past fifteen years, and any of you people in this audience that have not had any copies of the U. S. Senate report on conditions of the North American Indian I insist that you write a letter to Senator B. K. Wheeler, Chairman of the U. S. Indian Investigation Committee at Washington, D. C. and they have published twenty-six volumes of a book that can be had for the asking.And if you read these volumes it will make you boil when you think about the affairs of the Indians for the past seventy years. Mr. Collier has fought tooth and nail against the old guard, and if I remember correctly one of our former Commissioners of Indian Affairs, Charles Burke, went so far as to call John Collier – what did he call him – anyway it is not fit to print. The Umatillas, Indians, have turned this piece of legislation down in its entirety. But I would like to make a few suggestions on my own behalf. This morning we were informed, in speaking of the jurisdiction of various courts that marriage and divorces would come under the jurisdiction of the Indian Courts and about five minutes later, the qestion that the representative from Washington answered was concerning contracts. He said, contracts, no doubt, would be handled in the State Courts but this is just a suggestion that there are many loop holes in this bill. As far as I know the Federal Courts never have had jurisdiction over divorces and marriages they have always been under the State institutions. Marriages and divorces are a civil contract and a government body that brought this into existence is the only body that can divorce that contract. Therefore. I suggest there is a discrepancy here. On one hand they inform us the Federal Courts is going to have jurisdiction over marriages and divorces. On the other hand they say contracts would be handled by State Courts. What are we going to do about it? Marriage, from my point of view, has always been under the State institutions; marriages have always been a civil contract and it will always be so. I am speaking for myself now. These various delegations may be for or against this proposed legislation. We know some tribes are not going to understead it and want to live exactly as they are doing now and have in the past, but don't forget my friends, even though various members of the various tribes are not in favor of it and that we do owe a moral obligation to those who do not own land. Even though we do turn it down, we are not going to lose anything by the passing of the Bill; we will be practically helping those that are practically destitute.