Page images
PDF
EPUB

2d. To stimulate the thoughtful and right-minded citizens of the country to take immediate steps toward the solution of the problem.

It was felt by all those who took part in the work of the Conference that a calm, definite, and earnest appeal made to the conscience and intelligence of the country in behalf of a poor and helpless people, and for the righting of a national wrong, would not be uttered in vain.

The deliberations of the Conference began upon the morning of Tuesday, September 23d, and concluded Friday evening, September 26th.

As will be seen by reference to the list of those present, the attendance was much larger than at the first Conference held at Lake Mohonk last year.

The Conference chose as its chairman General Clinton B. Fisk, and as secretary, Herbert Welsh. The Chair then appointed the following gentlemen as a business committee to prepare a programme of topics to be discussed by the Conference: Dr. James E. Rhoads, General S. C. Armstrong, Professor C. C. Painter, General E. Whittlesey, Rev. Addison P. Foster, Henry S. Pancoast, Esq., and Herbert Welsh.

After due consideration, the Committee presented to the Conference the following programme, which was unanimously adopted :

PROGRAMME.

First Topic.

INDIAN CITIZENSHIP THE SOLUTION OF THE INDIAN

PROBLEM.

I. Proofs of Indian capacity for citizenship.
II. What is necessary to secure Indian citizenship.

1st. Lands in severalty.

a. Title. (Inalienable for twenty-five years-individual and protected title.)

b. The ballot.

c. Disposition of reservation lands not allotted in sey-
eralty.
2d. Education.

a. Industrial.
b. Intellectual.

c. Moral and religious. III. How to secure these things.

1st. Public opinion.
20. Legislation.

Second Topic.

CRITICISM OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM.

I. Treaties.
II. Reservations.
III, Government aid.
IV. Agencies.
V. Law for Indians.

1.-PROOFS OF INDIAN CAPACITY FOR CITIZENSHIP,

Under this topic an interesting and valuable address was delivered by Miss Alice C. Fletcher, of the Peabody Museum of Archæology and Ethnology, Cambridge, Mass., regarding social conditions among the Omahas, and describing the process by which they had gained possession of their land in severalty. Miss Fletcher's long residence among the Omahas, as a student of their customs, enabled her to present to the minds of her hearers a vivid picture of the structure of Indian society and the process of Indian thought. The facts which Miss Fletcher stated regarding Indian capacity for citizenship were of a most convincing nature. A single brief illustration may be given. Since the Omahas have (largely as the result of Miss Fletcher's efforts in their behalf) received from the Government individual titles to their land, allotments have been made to fifty-nine heads

of families, seven hundred acres of land have been broken by the plow, and many houses have been erected by the Indians.

General R. H. Milroy, United States Indian Agent at Yakima Agency, Washington Territory, made an address upon the same subject. Under the topic, “Law for Indians," which was discussed later in the proceedings of the Conference, he gave an interesting account of a novel and successful experiment that he had made in the establishment of courts of law among the Indians of his reservation.

II. WHAT IS NECESSARY TO SECURE INDIAN CITI

ZENSHIP.

Ist. Resolved, That the organization of the Indians in tribes is, and has been, one of the most serious hindrances to the advancement of the Indian toward civilization, and that every effort should be made to secure the disintegration of all tribal organizations; that to accomplish this result the Government should, except where it is clearly necessary either for the fulfillment of treaty stipulations or for some other binding reason, cease to recognize the Indians as political bodies or organized tribes.

2d. Resolved, That to all Indians who desire to hold their land in severalty allotments should be made without delay; and that to all other Indians like allotments should be made so soon as practicable.

3d. Resolved, That lands allotted and granted in severalty to Indians should be made inalienable for a period of not less than ten or more than twenty-five years.

4th. Resolved, That all adult male Indians should be admitted to the full privileges of citizenship by a process analogous to naturalization, upon evidence presented before the proper court of record of adequate intellectual and moral qualifications.

One of the subjects of greatest moment considered by the Conference was Senate Bill No. 48, known as the Coke Bill. To this the following resolution pertains. It is deemed advisable for the information of the public to present an abstract of the bill in this report, originally prepared for the Indian Rights Association in Philadelphia, in order that its provisions may be clearly understood by those who may be unable to give it more detailed examination.

5th. Resolved, That we earnestly and heartily approve of the Senate Bill No. 48, generally known as the Coke Bill, as the best practicable measure yet brought before Congress for the preservation of the Indian from aggression, for the disintegration of the tribal organizations, and for the ultimate breaking up of the reservation system; that we tender our hearty thanks and the thanks of the constituency which we represent to those members of the Senate who have framed this bill and secured its passage. We respectfully urge upon the House of Representatives the early adoption of this bill, that its beneficent provisions for rendering the Indian self-supporting and his land productive may be carried out with the least possible delay.

Abstract of the Coke Bill.

LAND IN SEVERALTY FOR INDIANS, AS PROVIDED

FOR BY THE COKE BILL.

}

FORTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.

S. 48. An “ Act to provide for the allotment of lands in severalty to

Indians on the various reservations, and to extend the protection of the laws of the States and Territories over the Indians, and for other purposes."

For many years past those who have given earnest thought to the best method of placing the Indian on a right footing

among us, and patient effort to accomplish this result, have united in the belief that the allotment of land to individual Indians by a secure title would prove one of the most powerful agencies in the advancement of the race.

It has been often pointed out that we have by our policy taken from the Indian the ordinary and essential stimulus to labor. While under our system of pauperizing Indians by the issuing of rations we deprive them of the ordinary necessity for self-support, by our refusal to protect them in the possession of their land and by our incessant removals we take away the common motives for cultivating it. The great mass of men work from the imperative necessity for self-support, and from the knowledge that the law will protect them in the possession of their rightful earnings. We have so alienated the Indian from all natural and general conditions, we have placed him in such an artificial and unjust position, that he has neither the necessity for self-support nor any proper protection in the result of his labor. It is a matter of surprise to all who fairly consider all the elements in the case, not that the result is no better, but that it is not far worse.

To give the Indian, then, a secure title to land, so that he may have the assurance of reaping what he has sown, is the plainest justice and good policy.

The thought and labor of those who have long worked for this end has taken shape in a most carefully and skillfully prepared bill for the allotment to Indians in severalty of land on the reservations. This bill is the outcome of long and intimate experience in the condition of the various Indian tribes, the result of a rare combination of practical knowledge and legal training. Its passage will greatly affect for the better the lives of nearly three hundred thousand human beings, besides the incalculable and yet wider influence in the life of a race and in the settlement of a question of national importance. The bill passed the Senate at the last session of the present Congress, and only its passage by the House of Representatives this coming winter is required to make it a law.

« PreviousContinue »