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United States. Office of Indian Affairs.

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1913 to June 30, 1917 online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Office of Indian AffairsReport of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1913 to June 30, 1917 → online text (page 82 of 99)
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large Indian population, has experienced an increase in the liquor
traffic among the Indians. This will entail much heavy work on
this service.

The conviction and sentence to the penitentiary of W. J. Creek-
more was a distinct victory for the liquor-suppression service in
Oklahoma. Creekmore was known as the king bootlegger and is
reputed to have made more than $1,000,000 in this traffic. He was
the head of a ring which is said to have practically controlled the
liquor business of that State. He was frequently in the clutches



22 COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.

of the law but managed to evade punishment until his recent con-
viction. Following this conviction he was fined in the amount of
$2,200 with a three years' sentence in the several cases against him.
This hard fought and splendid victory, together with that obtained
in the cases of other notorious bootleggers in Oklahoma, is a stern
warning of the campaign being waged for the protection of the
Indians against the liquor menace everywhere and has effectively
destroyed the organized illegal traffic in Oklahoma.

An interesting ruling was handed down by the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma wherein an
Osage Indian who had received a certificate of competency was held
to be still a ward of the Government and that it was a Federal offense
to furnish him with liquor, thus establishing an additional safe-
guard. ;

The distribution of large amounts of money to the Osage Indians
from time to time has heretofore brought about a condition resulting
in their being debauched and defrauded. The application, however, of
the law prohibiting the payment of moneys to Indians who are intoxi-
cated has largely diminished this evil, although it has not been com-
pletely eradicated.

The declaration by Congress that Osage County is Indian country
for the purpose of the enforcement of liquor laws has proven exceed-
ingly helpful, and during the quarterly payments our enforcement
officers have been very active.

The appropriation act for the current fiscal year authorized the
payment to the enrolled members of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and
Seminole Tribes of an amount of approximately $9,000,000. This
vast sum of money, as well as $2,000,000 to the Osages, has called for
the most strenous efforts of the officers of the liquor service to prevent
the use of liquor and the consequent debauchment of the Indians.
Our service was thoroughly mobilized and on guard, while the gov-
ernor of the State, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and other
officers were enlisted in the campaign for protection. The governor
addressed letters to county officials, and their active cooperation
solicited for the enforcement of law and order in the earnest effort
to prevent payments being made to Indians who were hpJbitual users
of intoxicants. The Indian Office liquor suppression service made a
thorough canvass of the State, as a result of which it has found neces-
sary to withhold payments in Pushmataha and Choctaw Counties
because of conditions prevailing there. In Choctaw County, the
county attorney and a prominent business man were apprehended for
introducing liquor. These men were prosecuted and convicted,
notwithstanding the great pressure brought to bear in their favor due
to their prominence in the State. These prosecutions will have a



COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 23

salutary effect and indicate a disposition to treat all men who violate
the liquor laws as equal criminals in the eye of the law.

Reports indicate that the payment was generally a marked suc-
cess; that many of the Indians deposited their shares in the bank
and checked against them for the purchase of the necessaries of life
and other beneficial purposes.

Illustrative of the activity of this thoroughgoing canvass, the fol-
lowing excerpt from a report will show certain conditions which were
remedied :

In my former report covering this situation I make mention of the fact that the dis-
trict court was in session in McCurtain County and that at the time of my leaving there
on that occasion 22 persons had been convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for
various crimes. On arriving at Idabel on this occasion I learned that the district
court had adjourned, that during its session of five weeks 34 convictions had been had
and 34 persons taken to the penitentiary and as said in my former report this seems to
be the healthiest indication I have found in McCurtain County and can only mean
that the citizenship has begun to waken up to the condition in that country and are
intending to see that the same is bettered.

Another payment has been authorized and there is every reason to
believe that the active campaign which has been made for good gov-
ernment and for the elimination of the disastrous effects of liquor on
such occasions will be as successfully carried out as previously.

Stringent and active measures are also thrown around similar pay-
ments in lesser amount elsewhere throughout the Indian country.

In view of conflicting decisions by the courts as to the meaning of
section 2140 of the Revised Statutes, which provides not only for the
seizure and forfeiture of liquor but for the boats, teams, wagons, and
sleds used in conveying same, Congress cleared up the situation by
enacting that :

Automobiles or any other vehicles or conveyances used in introducing or attempting
to introduce intoxicants into the Indian country or where the introduction is prohibited
by treaty or Federal statutes, whether used by the owner thereof or other person shall
be subject to the seizure, libel, and forfeiture provided in section 2140 of the Revised
Statutes of the United States.

The enactment of this specific legislation will be an effective bar to
the collusion of parties who would endeavor by claiming a mortgage
or other lien on the automobiles thus confiscated to defeat the pur-
poses of the Government.

The question whether it is an offense to transport liquor from a
point outside to another point beyond a reservation and whether the
liquor while in transit across the reservation was subject to seizure
and destruction under section 2140, has been and is now before the
courts.

This has created an unfortunate condition and may cause consider-
able trouble to reservation officers. However the Reed amendment



24 COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.

to the post office bill will to some extent remedy it. Congress is now
being asked to close up this gap in our otherwise effective liquor laws.

Owing to the advancement to the Chippewa Indians of one-fourth
of the amount which would now be coming to the Indians under a
pro rata distribution of their permanent fund under the treaty of
February 22, 1855, a troublesome condition has been created. There
is a large element within this area which has been accustomed to
obtain liquor freely, which, coupled with the desire on the part of
others to reap large profits from the illegal introduction and sale
of liquor, has caused the liquor suppression officers a great deal of
trouble, although their work has mainly been very satisfactory.

The difficulties experienced by all who are engaged in the work of
suppressing the liquor traffic among Indians have been great and have
been carried on with many legal battles. The legality of these opera-
tions and the actions of the officers have frequently been called into
question into the courts, but in the face of all obstructive measures
substantial progress has been recorded. Instances are known where
liquors under the titles of "near beers" have been shipped into
treaty territory and a market established. Afterwards the percentage
of alcohol would be increased until in some instances real beer was
going in the place of the "near beer" and under its guise and label.
To minimize this, an order was issued prohibiting the- introduction
of malt liquor, which immediately brought the question into the
courts for restraining orders to prohibit our officers from interfering
with these shipments. It is gratifying, however, that the action
taken in the State courts was to promptly dispose of the case by
refusing to grant the restraining orders. Many prosecutions were
instituted and are now pending in the Minnesota judicial district.

An interesting case arising out of the enforcement of treaty provi-
sions is now pending before the Supreme Court of the United States
wherein the John Gund Brewing Co. seeks to compel the Great
Northern Railway Co. to accept a shipment of beer and other fer-
mented malt liquors to persons residing within the treaty territory
where purchased for and intended to be used personally and for the
private consumption of the consignees. Because of the importance
of this question in connection with this work in Minnesota the
Government has intervened and the outcome of the case is being
awaited with interest.

An important decision has been rendered by the Supreme Court
of the United States in the case of denying the authority of Federal
courts to suspend sentences, etc. This decision will prove of inesti-
mable ^value to our service. Many reports have been received from
the officers of the liquor service in which attention was invited to
cases where a minimum sentence of 60 days in jail and the payment of
a fine of $1,000 was suspended upon the payment of a fine of $25.



COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 25

This appears to have proven an incentive for the vendor immediately
to reengage in the traffic to recoup his loss. The imposition of
penitentiary sentences in a few aggravated cases in each jurisdiction
will have a great influence upon the violators of the law and show
that the Indian Office is in earnest in waging uncompromising war-
fare upon all persons who carry intoxicants of any kind to the Indians.

Position or influence should not be a factor in the enforcement
of the law against the introduction or sale of intoxicating liquors
to Indians or in Indian country. It is an axiomatic and good principle
that all men should stand equal before the law. In fact the institu-
tions of our country are .in no way better reflected than when this
idea is faithfully executed.

More than four years' experience in an effort to minimize the use of
liquor among Indians has persuaded me that they advance more
rapidly and prosper more certainly when they are sober. It has
been my observation that merchants and those who trade with
Indians have enjoyed prosperity in proportion as the liquor traffic
among them has been suppressed; that crime and disorder have
been reduced to a minimum when we have been successful in elimi-
nating the bootlegger; that health conditions have been improved,
social standards raised, and betterments generally effected not other-
wise obtainable where the sale of liquor prevails.

I sincerely believe that no appropriation of $150,000 made by
Congress will be fraught with more lasting and beneficial results.

FARMING.

FOOD CAMPAIGN. Following the practice of the present adminis-
tration, I issued on January 4, 1917, a letter to every superintendent
regarding the necessity for early and thorough preparation by all
Indians desiring to farm this year. This letter outlined the essential
steps to be taken in the selection of seeds and implements, indicated
the proper methods and funds respecting the purchase thereof, the
need for careful cleaning and testing of seed, the conditions under
which the reimbursable plan would apply, the importance of larger
gardening operations, etc.

On April 9, 1917, less than a week after the passage of the con-
gressional resolution recognizing a state of war between the United
States and Germany, I sent the following telegram to 137 Indian
Service superintendents throughout the country:

War situation makes it imperative that every tillable acre of land on Indian reserva-
tions be intensively cultivated this season to supply food demands, particularly wheat,
beans, potatoes, corn, and meat. Call farmers and leading Indians together immedi-
ately for organized, united efforts under your continuous supervision. This is the
highest importance and requires aggressive action. There must be no delay in any-
thing necessary to insure results. Wire what may be expected and report progress by
letter.



26 COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.

Similar telegrams were sent to the supervisors, inspectors, super-
intendents of irrigation, and others, urging organization and coopera-
tion. The purpose of this telegram was amplified in a letter to all
superintendents dated April 12, 1917, incorporating the President's
appeal to the farmers of the country, in which I said in part:

I am much gratified at the prompt and enthusiastic responses to my telegram of
April 9, urging increased production of foodstuffs by the Indians.

With the entry of the United States into the world war the importance of an in-
creased food supply can not be overestimated. We must sacrifice every nonessential
along other lines for this supreme object. The service farmers should get into the
field early and stay late, encouraging and assisting the Indians in every way possible.
Enlist the cooperation of the lessees of Indian land and of the white farmers in the
vicinity. This appeal is based on both economic and patriotic grounds. See that
it is brought home to every employee and Indian on the reservation, through the
farmers and other industrial employees. Publish it in the school and agency papers
and circulate it by every other means which may occur to you. Appeal to the pa-
triotism of the Indians. Show them how they can serve their country effectively in
the present emergency by exerting themselves to the uttermost in the production of
foodstuffs. While my telegram mentioned foodstuffs, "particularly wheat, beans,
potatoes, corn, and meat," there should be no diminution in the production of forage
for your own use.

On April 21, 1917, the following telegram was sent to the superin-
tendents:

What are you doing and what can be done in raising corn, milo, sorghum, potatoes,
and other suitable crops in your jurisdiction? It is highly important that everything
possible be done in this connection immediately. Wire program showing estimated
acreage various crops and total increased acreage over last year.

And on May 12, 1917, the following letter was mailed:

Telegraphic and letter responses to my follow-up telegram of April 21 indicate most
commendable and gratifying activities on practically every reservation, as well as at
the schools, in the prosecution of our campaign for increased production of foodstuffs.
It is now apparent that the acreage of Indian land cultivated or to be cultivated this
season will be from 25 to 50 per cent greater than last year, and on some of the reserva-
tions 100 per cent greater. I now wish to emphasize certain features of the campaign
for your careful attention.

In the enthusiasm for an increased acreage do not overlook the necessity of proper
and intensive methods to obtain the maximum yield from each cultivated acre. This
will require very aggressive and systematic follow-up work and continuous supervision
by the service farmers, that there may be no let-up when the "first big drive " is over.

Increased production is only one feature of the campaign, conservation being the
other. The Indian women and girls should play an important part in this phase of
the campaign by the production of vegetables and fruits to be eaten fresh, or canned
for winter use, and by more careful and economical methods in preparation and dis-
position of foodstuffs for the table. The field matrons should be very helpful in these
respects.

My attention has been called to the value of dried corn as an article of food. The
corn ears, either sweet corn or field corn, are pulled when in the roasting-ear stage,
scalded slightly, and the grains cut from the cob and dried in the sun. A circular will
be issued later giving the best methods of drying and caring for corn. I call it to your
attention now so that you may have your farmers and field matrons take up the sub-



COMMISSIONER OF IXDIAX AFFAIRS. 27

ject with the Indians and urge them to increase planting to meet the demand along
this line. It is probable that corn can be successfully grown for this purpose in a
climate where it will not mature for the ordinary uses. Push this suggestion.

The figures given in the telegraphic replies to my message of April 21 were no doubt
largely estimates, but you should now be in position to report with reasonable accuracy
the acreage of the different crops planted or to be planted this year. In this connection
there is attached a blank form on which to show the acreage devoted to the different
crops on the agency and school farms, by the Indians, by lessees, and the increased
acreage over last year. Each column should be carefully filled in with as accurate
information as it is possible to obtain.

The showing thus far made by the Indians must be still further augmented. On
many of the reservations large numbers of Indians will not bring under cultivation
nearly all the available land on their own allotments, and by that I mean their home
allotments, lands which ought not to be leased but which the Indian could cultivate
if he had the will to work and the means to provide himself with the necessary equip-
ment. Here is where your most urgent task lies, and where the most lasting results
may be obtained. Thinking men believe the results of the present and projected
agricultural activities should be far-reaching; that they will extend beyond the
present emergency, and especially is this true in the Indian Service. The immediate
aim is of supreme importance but the ultimate result may be and should be very
effective in solving the Indian problem of self-support. Spare no effort to get the
Indians fully aroused to the great need for continued and increased activity as a
patriotic duty. The present campaign has been wonderfully well launched, but with
the experience gained much greater things may be reasonably expected for the next
year or crop season.

There is attached hereto a form upon which to show the land which will remain
uncultivated this year. You should supplement the statistical table with a written
report, taking up the figures, item by item, and carefully analyzing them, showing
th? character of the land; to what crops it is adapted; whether tribal or allotted;
whether irrigation is necessary, and if so whether the land is now under ditch with
water available; if irrigation is necessary and the land is not now under ditch, the
feasibility, cost, and time required to provide irrigation facilities; whether the agricul-
tural land lies in one large body, if tribal, or in different tracts (show the acreage of
each); whether tractors can be used to advantage, and if so whether it would be
practicable to develop the land on a large scale by leasing.

In short, I want such a description of the land still unused as will enable me to
make definite answer to inquiries from individuals, corporations, or governmental
sources, as to the location and possibilities of land suitable for their various purposes.
Of course, in all the statistics and information herein requested I realize that no
actual measurements can be taken ; that the ability of the superintendent to estimate
accurately the acreage and soil possibilities will determine the real value of this
report; and for these reasons I ask that you give sufficient time and attention to the
subject to insure that the report will represent your very best judgment. However,
to be of most value, the information should be in my hands not later than June 15.
When completed both reports should be returned to me with the other information
requested above.

It will be seen that a tremendous amount of work was involved
along two distinct but related lines; (1) Awakening employees and
Indians to a full realization of the emergency with the consequent
determination to do their part to meet it, and (2) providing the
physical equipment, seed, etc., necessary to handle the largely in-
creased cultivated acreage to follow. The first was accomplished



28 COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.

in part by means of the telegrams and letters mentioned above,
through the visits of supervisory officials especially detailed for this
work, and the meetings of employees and Indians called pursuant to
my instructions, at which the greatest enthusiasm was shown, and
the second by the immediate emergency purchase of thousands of
dollars' worth of additional implements, seeds, etc., beyond estimates
previously made to meet the normal demands of the service. As one
example typical of many other reservations, the superintendent at
Shoshone had estimated for 15,000 pounds of seed wheat but actually
issued to Indians 69,000 pounds, all of which was produced on the
school farm.

As a further step in this direction, I detailed several of the most
experienced field men to visit a number of the reservations where
the need seemed most urgent, to assist in the organization and
prosecution of the campaign.

The response was gratifying on the part of both Indians and em-
ployees indicating a patriotic realization of the situation and a
determination to do everything possible to contribute to the success
of the campaign.

Detailed figures received from most of the reservations and schools
indicate that the acreage of Indian land cultivated this season is
from 25 to 50 per cent greater than ever before, and on some of the
reservations 100 per cent greater, showing that the Indian will be a
substantial factor in increasing the country's food supply during the
present emergency. However, as intimated in my letter of May 12,
1917, the opportunity is at hand in this situation for a great and
permanent impetus to Indian progress, which will set the race ahead
many years along industrial lines, if the high standard of activity
and accomplishment established this year is maintained. This will
materially hasten the final solution of the Indian problem, in keeping
with the new declaration of policy in Indian affairs, for the obvious
reason that the Indians gradually achieve self-support and become
independent by means of their increased industrial activity and the
better business judgment employed in handling and disposing of
their surplus products.

Reports thus far received show that the Indians on 73 reserva-
tions are cultivating this season 472,156 acres of land, as compared
with 358,796 acres last year, which represents an increase of 113,360
acres or 31.6 per cent. Practically every reservation showed an
increase, the highest being 100 per cent.

This result shows hitherto untapped supplies of energy and capa-
city, indicative of the possibilities of the race and its partial readi-
ness, at least for the responsibilities of modern civilization. These
need only to be fully developed by the gradual processes of educa-
tion and industrial activity, to accomplish the final solution of the



COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 29

Indian problem. We may now say with certainty, as demonstrated
in this campaign, that the Indian is an asset and not a liability.

An incident worthy of mention happened at Lower Brule during
the year. An Indian, after starting his crop, was taken ill and had
to go to the hospital, when seven of his neighbors voluntarily gathered
at his place and put in five acres of oats, besides breaking ten acres
of new land, on which they planted corn, entirely without sugges-
tion from the superintendent or anyone else. This is a spirit of
initiative and community responsibility, which is an indication of
Indian competency to shoulder the duties of citizenship and stand
on their own feet as independent members of society.

Evidence of substantial progress was found on the recently estab-
lished Papago Reservation in Arizona, where an inspector found
comfortable homes at remote Papago villages, with adobe walls,
glass windows, chimneys, shingle roofs, and floors, about which he
states in part as follows:

So far as my information goes, this advance in home building among the Papagoa
does not proceed from any definite tangible plan of concerted action emanating from
the employees, but is rather the mere material expression of the spirit of progress
dominating this tribe of Indians, which spirit among them is doubtless greatly stimu-
lated by the good work of practical education that has been done by superintendent
and subordinate employees. "

LEASING. Realizing that with our utmost efforts it is beyond the
physical capacity of the Indians to bring under cultivation all the



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