MINUTES GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING ON WILD RICE 1922 December, 22
Minutes of a General Council of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Chippewa
Indians held at Reserve, Wisconsin, December 22, 1922
(WILD RICE ON THE FLOWAGE ISSUE)
Council called to session at 2 o’clock pm.
Present: Superintendent Craige, Herbert Simonson, Stenographer and thirty-eight (38) members of the Band.
Superintendent Craige: This council has been called at the request
of some of the leading members of the Band to give you the opportunity
to take some action, if you so desire, in connection with the rice fields
on tribal land which are being lost to you by reason of the construction
of the reservoir of the Wisconsin-Minnesota Light and Power Company. At
the hearing held in May 1921, conducted by Major Marks of the United States
Engineers, it was determined that the tribal land to be flooded yielded
annually an average of about 1,000 pounds of wild rice. When the Federal
Power Commission granted the company license to construct a dam on the
Chippewa River and flood a part of the tribal land on the reservation,
it required, among other things, that the company seed to wild rice and
area equal in extent to the present rice bearing fields on tribal land.
This does not mean, as I understand it, that the company will be required
to replace, or try to replace, all the rice that will be flooded by the
reservoir. The license makes no reference whatever to rice fields on individual
allotments, or on the rice fields outside the reservation, which you have
been using for many years. The license refers only to rice fields on tribal
land, which are the two located in the Chippewa River at ‘The Post’ and
at the mouth of the Chief River. As I stated before, the evidence given
by the Indians themselves at the hearing held by Major Marks shows that
these tribal lands yield about 1,000 pounds a year. One section of the
company’s license requires it to seed an area equal in extent to that now
growing wild rice. The rice is to be seeded at no expense to the tribe
or to the United States and at a place selected by me. There is one thing
in connection to that section of the license to which I desire, particularly,
to call your attention. That is this: the company is not required to establish
a rice bed as large as the one you are losing. I have made a number of
inquiries and, judging from the best information that I am able to get
it is very difficult, if not impossible, to establish a rice bed. The company,
will of course, comply with this section of the license and seed the rice,
but there is no assurance that it will grow, and whether it grows or not,
the company has, by seeding the rice, fulfilled the requirement of the
license. It has been suggested by some members of the Band, and it has
been discussed by them to some extent, that it would be to the advantage
of the Band to have the company, with the consent of the Federal Power
Commission, to furnish the band a campsite on an established rice bed,
instead of requiring the company to seed the rice as the license now provides.
I called this meeting to give the tribe the opportunity to discuss and decide this question for themselves, and at this time, I shall give anyone, who desires to say anything, the chance to talk on this question. The question is now open for general discussion.
Peter Wolf (William Wolf acting as interpreter): The first time this question came to discussion was at Round Lake, when first mentioned. We were invited over there. At that time, when we talked it over, I spoke to Mr. Frank Thayer about the question, and he was one of the people that spoke to the people who were present at that time about the question. It was discussed at the time, among several members, they wanted 40 acres as a campsite, and we were speaking of two rice fields that were to have 20 acres. That is, 40 acres, divided for two rice fields, making 20 acres each. But some objected to that, so they decided there they would ask for 40 acres for each rice field. This committee that was appointed had picked out the campsites, at those rice fields. That is all I will say on the questions. Mr. Thayer will have something to say.
Frank Thayer: Now, when I talked the proposition over about the rice beds, they appeared to think the understanding we had last summer at Round Lake that Mr. Wolf speaks about. He had me speak to them in regards to this question. They seemed satisfied and seemed to like it rather than taking a chance of having the company sow the rice. There was a committee of four appointed at this time, and they were to go and see about the campsites on two different rice beds. That was the instructions we got from the Band at that time. I was one of the committee and George James, Peter Ennequet and George Heenan. He was put on as one from the Post and George James was put on because he owns a car so we could go with a rig. So we were ordered to go right away and see what we could find. We made the trip the next day. Peter Ennequet and Heenan knew several rice beds so we had no trouble finding them. There are good rice beds at several places and at Totagatic Lake, but I had quite a time to find the location. We had some trouble in finding the lake. We found the piece by a map we got at the Courthouse. I did not have the time to go ahead and run out the lines and find the location. There is an old place there, which has been cleared for some time now, but there is nothing there now. After acquiring around, I found the place. The land is owned by a Roadmaster for the Omaha. Next we came back to the Namekagon and looked over that rice bed there, but it doesn’t compare to with the one on the lake.
Superintendent Craige: Can you give a description of the 40 acres?
Frank Thayer: The place is known as the ‘Old Nathan Place’. As near as I can get at it, from the location across the point, judging that would be the line, it would be the SW ¼ NE ¼ of Section 32, T43N, R8W. As for the description I would not guarantee it is correct, but the place is known as the ‘Old Nathan Place’. The Band is asking for 40 acres of that, or whatever fraction may be fronting the lake. The map I had did not show the lots, referring to that it is the ‘Nathan Place’. The other is on the Namekagon River, Lot 1, Section 3, T42N, R8W, and is land that is owned by the American Immigration Company. That piece is vacant yet. It is 80 acres and lies beside the road and goes to the river.
Superintendent Craige: What road, the main road?
Frank Thayer: Yes the main road running between Hayward and Cable.
Superintendent Craige: Is it below Phipps?
Frank Thayer: No, it is above Phipps.
Superintendent Craige: It seems to me the important thing just now is not a definite location of the campsite or campsites, but a decision of the Band as to whether or not you want a campsite, rather than requiring the company to seed the wild rice at some place selected by me.
Frank Thayer: At Round Lake, they spoke of 40 acres, but after seeing the land, it would be hardly enough land on the two places, so they thought the would ask for 40 acres on each rice bed.
Peter Ennequet: They discussed the question and came to a point where the company would be seeding the rice for nothing as it would not be of any benefit to the Band, and they seemed to come to the conclusion that they would ask for a campsite at two rice fields – one at Totogatic Lake and the other one at the Namekagon River, and that if the Federal Power Commission would amend the section of the license and have it restricted the same as on reservation, so that no settlers would bother them as they were getting rice, and if I think there was, everyone on the Reservation would be willing to do as I say – to look at it as I do. I think that some of the other members here will have something to say on that question.
John Quarderer: He is asking the members present if they want the amendment
made and to have the campsites purchased by the company, instead of where
the rice fields already are. (A chorus of ‘ayes’) Why you want this is
because you are afraid and know that the rice the company will sow will
not grow. You want to ask if this amendment be made so that the company
will purchase 40 acres at one campsite on the rice fields on the Totogatic,
40 acres there, and you want 40 acres on the Namekagon. Is this what you
want to ask? (A chorus of ‘ayes’)
I move that it is the desire of this Band that the flowage company be not required to seed wild rice as required by Section 18 of the license, and that the Federal Power Commission be requested, through the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to require the company to purchase, for the Band, two 40 acre campsites, located at the Totogatic Lake and at the Namekagon River, at such place as will be convenient to the rice beds already in existence at those places.
John King: I second the motion.
Question put and carried unanimously.
Herbert Simonson (signed)