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Agricultural and grazing leases.—During the fiscal year there were filed 465 agricultural leases and 4 assignments, 82 leases being canceled by the department.
The total of 1908 agricultural leases have been filed for departmental consideration, the present status of which is as follows: Surrendered or canceled by the department after approval, 117; expired, 145; removed from departmental supervision after approval, 38; withdrawn or disapproved by the department, 261; canceled for failure to refile, 23; returned to lessee because of lack of jurisdiction, 29; pending action by the department, 221; leaving 1,074 at this time in force and effect.
The act of May 27, 1908, permits restricted Indians to lease their surplus allotments for five years and their homesteads for one year without departmental supervision. Under this act lands having agricultural or grazing value have been leased for a mere pittance and, as a direct result, thousands have been without possession of their allotments and without means to earn a livelihood. They are easily prevailed upon to continue to execute leases far in advance, thus preventing them from securing possession for indefinite periods. The indolence, poverty, and destitution existing among many restricted Indians can be traced, largely, to this agricultural and grazing lease practice. Moreover, the department is greatly handicapped in teaching the Indians industrial pursuits and to be self-supporting, because of its inability to keep them in possession of their allotments.
Tenants under these leases, as a rule, construct very poor improvements, care little for the appearance of the premises, commit waste, and have slight regard for the future fertility of the soil, their disposition being to secure from the land the greatest returns with the least possible expense and inconvenience to themselves. This system has developed an undesirable economic condition. Immediate legislation should be enacted to correct this situation. The leasing of allotments of restricted Indians for agricultural and grazing purposes should be entirely under the supervision of the department, with authority vested in a local officer to approve such leases. The nature of these transactions necessitates expedition, and it is believed that local authority to act would obviate the prevalent disinclination to procure departmental leases, which to an extent is responsible for the commercial leasing of restricted lands for inadequate considerations.
Royalties, allotted lands.—The royalty accounts under departmental supervision on June 30, 1915, numbered 9,026. There are 722,168 acres embraced in the oil, gas, agricultural, grazing, and tentative leases and it is estimated that the restricted leased area comprises one-fifth of the land in the Five Civilized Tribes.
The gross production of oil on departmental leases during the fiscal year, not including 4,149,108 barrels run to storage under departmental permits on which the royalty interest has not been paid, amounted to 27,098,994 barrels and the royalty thereon amounted to $1,537,727. The total amount collected during the year on account of royalties on all classes of leases amounted to $1,953,055.37 and of this amount $1,195,223.72 was disbursed.
Moneys derived from individual mineral resources, except such as are needed for the maintenance of the respective lessors, are placed in Government depositories on interest-bearing accounts or used in making permanent investments, improvements on allotments, purchasing modern farm implements, and employing up-to-date methods in assisting the Indians to become good farmers and citizens.
The producing oil and gas leases, in income, averaged approximately $1,258 per annum per capita, while the nonproducing class averaged approximately $50 per annum per capita.
There were marketed 14,527,673 more barrels of oil from departmental leases during the year ended June 30, 1915, than during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1914; but the royalty interest thereon was only $88,474.98 in excess of that for the previous year, due to the lower market price of crude oil.
The receipts from the sale of gas during the year aggregated $46,996.74. The receipts from coal production on allotments amounted to $13,759.46, representing 183,014.43 tons, of which 162,394.83 tons were produced in the Creek Nation.
Condensed financial statement.
Collected for Five Civilized Tribes from all sources..
$1, 854, 871. 66 Disbursed from tribal funds for all purposes, of which
$2,646,826.95 was paid to Indians on acc int of per capita and equalization payments---
2, 787, 794. 58 Tribal funds on deposit in Oklahoma banks, drawing interest---- 5, 931, 984. 82 Expenses of administration paid from congressional appropria
tions, including $275,000 paid to district schools, eastern Oklahoma.--
579, 984. 65 Received, individual Indian and miscellaneous moneys.
2, 478, 598. 87 Disbursed, individual Indian and miscellaneous moneys_
2, 394, 899. 63 Individual Indian moneys on hand : July 1, 1914.---
2, 263, 519. 58 June 30, 1915, held in the United States Treasury and in
85 national banks that pay interest at the rate of 3 to 4
3, 096, 905. 25 Special deposits on hand June 30, 1915--
603, 895. 54
During the fiscal year the grand total of $17,168,082.88 was handled through the office of the superintendent.
Oil and gas operations. There are at present in Oklahoma approximately 30,500 producing oil and gas wells, of which about 1,200 are gas wells.
The development upon producing departmental acreage as between different nations is, according to the best information obtainable, as follows:
Oil and gas operations, Five Civilized Tribes.
The constantly increasing production of the Cushing field has been the most prominent feature in the oil industry in the State of Oklahoma. At one time this district was producing approximately 300,000 barrels of crude oil daily, and at all times during the past year its production has equaled the combined production of all the districts in the State. The field, however, probably has reached its highest point of development and, in consequence, is now showing a gradual decline in daily output.
Large quantities of oil have been stored in steel tanks, owing to the inability of producers to find a ready market for the production. On June 30, 1915, there were approximately 39,000,000 barrels of Cushing crude oil held in storage, which is the largest amount of high-grade oil that has accumulated in storage in the development of any one field in the United States.
The force of gaugers working under the direction of the department has supervised the running of oil from restricted leases to storage during the past year to the extent of about 14,000,000 barrels. Practically all oil run to storage from departmental leases has been disposed of and the royalty interest paid.
Conservation of both oil and gas has received considerable attention during the past year. There has been a marked improvement in the attitude of the operators more fully to prevent the enormous waste of these natural resources. The State has passed a very commendable law providing for the conservation of oil and gas, and placed its enforcement in the hands of the State corporation commission. The department and the State are working in close harmony to reduce this waste, particularly with reference to natural gas, and much good will undoubtedly result from the present plan of operation.
An incomplete tabulation shows that approximately 1,985,000 barrels of crude oil have been destroyed by fire in the State within the past 12 months.
The independent refining business has been very prosperous. A number of new plants have been put into operation during 1914 and 1915. The total daily estimate refining capacity of these plants is approximately 75,000 barrels of crude oil.
The manufacturing of gasoline from casing-head gas has also continued to expand. The total capacity of all plants now operating in the State is about 54,900 gallons of the raw product.
Pipe lines. During the fiscal year 34 new pipe-line applications were filed and of this number 26 have been approved and 2 have been dismissed for want of jurisdiction. Three of the approved lines were from the Cushing field to the State line on the south and east. The interstate pipe lines have all made noticeable improvements in their systems, thereby increasing their facilities 24,000 barrels daily.
Probate matters. It is estimated that there are between 50,000 and 60,000 living minor members of the Five Civilized Tribes who have received allotments of land. Owing to the oil development in Oklahoma, the present values of these allotments range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000,000 each. No other State has been confronted with such an enormous volume of probate matters. The county courts, with few exceptions, have exhausted every effort to safeguard the interests of these minors. Nevertheless hundreds of these estates have been plundered by unscrupulous guardians. Originally the only assistance renderd the probate courts by the department was through the field clerks, but other duties incident to their work prevented them from giving probate matters sufficient attention. Realizing this condition, the appropriation act of June 30, 1913, provided for the employment of such attorneys as the Secretary of the Interior believed necessary in connection with probate matters affecting individual allottees of the Five Civilized Tribes.
The State authorities have shown a disposition to cooperate in every way possible with the department, and the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma has provided uniform rules of procedure in probate matters, at the suggestion of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, after his conference with county judges, county attorneys, and tribal attorneys in January, 1914. Many entire estates and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been saved to these minors through the efforts of the probate attorneys during the fiscal year.
Health.—Health conditions among the restricted Indians in the Five Civilized Tribes demand serious consideration. Many are afflicted with tuberculosis and trachoma, in addition to other contagious and infectious diseases. There are practically no facilities for their treatment. However, there is in course of construction at
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Talihina a sanitarium for Choctaws and Chickasaws. Unless the health of the individual is conserved, small permanent value can result from the efforts of the department to supervise the Indians' property. Diseases are spreading with alarming rapidity, due to the fact that many full-blood Indians do not believe in contagion and infection and take no precautionary measures when a member of the family is afflicted. Many applications for aid are received from Indians suffering with insidious and loathsome diseases, who have no money to obtain medical treatment, on the supposition that the Government has provision for their relief. Provision for sanatoria, treating stations, and physicians, conveniently located, should be made without delay.
Education.—The act of Congress approved August 1, 1914 (38 Stat., 597), provided $275,000 to be expended, in the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior, in the aid of common schools in the Osage Nation, the Quapaw Agency, and the Five Civilized Tribes. The necessity for this appropriation is apparent in view of the extensive acreage of allotted land which is not subject to taxation, as it assists in the maintenance of public schools in districts where, owing to the restricted Indian population, sufficient revenue can not be provided otherwise. Of this appropriation, not including administrative expense, $262,473.19 was paid to 2,219 school districts, at which 13,745 Indian children and 2,127 freedman children were enrolled. This fund was expended as nearly as possible in the various districts in proportion to the number of Indian children enrolled and the percentage of nontaxable land in the district. By this assistance it was possible to extend the school term to eight months in the majority of districts, and the apportionment was made in harmony and with the cooperation of the county and State officials.
Four tribal boarding schools were maintained in the Choctaw Nation, one in the Chickasaw, three in the Creek, and one in the Seminole, from tribal funds, and the Cherokee Orphan Training School, near Tahlequah, purchased by the United States as authorized by the Indian appropriation act of June 30, 1913, and conducted for the benefit of orphan children of the Five Civilized Tribes, the total enrollment in said schools being 1,204. In the eight contract schools in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations there were 358 Choctaws enrolled and 206 Chickasaws, making a total enrolment of 564. The number of Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes enrolled at Carlisle Indian School was 52; Chilocco Indian School, 249; Haskell Institute, 215; and Seneca Indian School, 46; or a total of 562 children in these schools. There were 5,790 Indian children in schools in incorporated towns and 13,745 in schools in the rural districts, making a total of 19,535 Indian children in the public schools. The total enrollment in the tribal boarding schools, the contract schools,