LETTER ON STATUS OF FLOWAGE RIGHTS 1920 December, 4
Hayward Indian School
December 4, 1920
TO: Commissioner of Indian Affairs
There is enclosed herewith for the consideration
of the Office and such action as it may care to take, the minutes of a
General Council of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Chippewa Indians held
at Reserve on September 30, 1920, and also the minutes of a Council held
at the same place on October 16, 1920, the latter being a continuation
of the former, which was adjourned because of a small audience. Attached
to the minutes is a Notice calling the Council, which is dated September
19, 1920, and which was posted in several conspicuous places on the reservation,
for 10 days before the Council.
At the time of the first meeting of the Council, a great many Indians were absent from the reservation at work, which undoubtedly accounts for the rather small audience, there being only 50 persons present, a number entirely too small, for any binding action to have been taken on the proposition of Wisconsin-Minnesota Light & Power Company to obtain flowage rights under the Act of May 18, 1916 (39 Stat. L., 123-157). There were 252 Indians present for the second meeting on October 16, 1920, an excellent representation of the people of the reservation.
The stampede against the flowage project, was in my opinion, a mistake on the part of the Indians, but it was a very clever political move on the part of a few leaders who are far from representing the progressive element of the reservation. I was informed by many of the Indians after the Council had adjourned that they had been carried away by the stampede and had voted against their better judgment, but it was then too late. Every possible effort was made by me to get the Indians to understand that the Water Power Commission had the authority under the Act of June 10, 1920 (Public 280) to grant a long term lease for reservoir purposes on tribal land within the Indian reservations, without the consent of the Indians, but they appeared to prefer to accept the construction placed upon the Act by Mr. John Goslin who contended that Indian land was excluded.
This is the last effort of Mr. Charles McPherson, attorney for the Flowage Company to obtain flowage privileges under the Act of May 18, 1916 and he so informed the Indians. This is the second Council I have held with the Indians on this matter, but their attitude appears to have remained unchanged during the past 18 months, and I am satisfied that the Indians and the Company can never agree on the consideration. In fact I believe, after the Council on May 6, 1919, which was reported to the Office in my letter of May 16, 1919, (see Office letter of June 4, 1919 ôLand Contracts 91273-18, 43124-19, CHI), that no agreement could ever be reached and called the Council of September 30, 1920, only because the representatives of the Company said that they had a proposition to offer, that they though the Indians would accept, and it being formally called by me would make it regular in case definite action to accept the proposition was taken. It is my belief that further Councils with the Lac Courte Oreilles Indians on the flowage would be useless and a waste of time.
It appears to be the belief of practically all the Indians that they must have considerable money due them from some source for payment of that was cut out and removed from the reservation some forty or fifty years ago, by logging companies and the resolution was adopted to employee Mr. Dennison Wheelock to investigate the matter and endeavor to recover this money is the method the Indians are using to start action on such a claim. A great deal of valuable timber was removed from the reservation years ago, and there is no doubt about that and there is nothing of record in this office that I have been able to find to show that payment was ever made for it, and if it was, to whom, and it seems to me that the Indians should be permitted to investigate any claims that they believe they have as they desire.
Since the Mother and Brother of Mary Amanda Zirk are enrolled with the Lac Courte Oreilles Indians, there would seem to be no question as to her rights for enrollment with the Band. It is also stated that the son Irvin Robert Zirk was born in Philips, Wisconsin on December 1, 1898, and since he was born off reservation in a white community there may be some technical objections to his rights. There appears to be no question as to the blood rights of both, and if there is no technical reason, why it could not be done, I recommend the action of the Council in enrolling both be approved and the necessary authority therefore be granted.