Chippewa Flowage Lake Association

History Documentation:

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ON LCO STATUS - July 14, 1929

Complete Senatorial Record Of the July 11 1929 Hayward Testimony Before US Senators (From Wisconsin Historical Society's Turning Points)

Indian Hearing Marked by Humor and Tragedy
U.S. Senators Told of Flooding of Tribesmen’s Burial Ground and Health Needs
By Staff Correspondent of the Journal
From The Milwaukee Journal – July 14, 1929

  Hayward, Wisconsin – Passing in solemn parade before the United States Senate subcommittee on Indian Affairs to plead the case of their people, the Chippewas of Wisconsin made a drama for the statesmen with every witness a character in himself.
  Some were comedians to the point of buffoonery, self-conscious in the presence of the great white fathers. Others spoke stark tragedy. There were venerable one, honored chiefs on their tribes, feeble with the years upon them. There were enterprising young fellows, university educated, business-like, and a little cocky.
Testifies in Whisper
  Tragedy fairly shrieked in the silence of the courtroom here Thursday as William Wolf dragged his sick body to the witness chair to whisper to the senators the bitter story of the white man sneaking upon his government allotted territory and cutting it clear of its valuable timber without his knowledge.
  Wolf is in an advanced stage of tuberculosis. His voice is gone. He is able to whisper only a few words at a time and those spoken in the good English that marks the Indian who has gone high in the white man’s schools.
  Every eye was fixed upon his emaciated figure and his blanched face with its staring eyes. When it was evident that Wolf could go on no longer, Walter J. Staats, newspaper editor of Downers Grove, Illinois, and a north woods vacationer in his campers’ leggings and boots, rose from his place in the courtroom and strode to the witness’ aid.
$18,000 in Timber Taken
  Wolf had been his guide for six summers, Staats said.
  “He was a strapping fellow, able to ford a river with a canoe and a pack on his back easily; three years ago T.B. hit him, “He will never be cured now.”
  More than $18,000 in timber was cut from Indian lands upon the reservation without the owner’s knowledge, Wolf told the Senators. He doesn’t know who got the timber.
  A comedy touch was provided by Thomas Bracklin, who claims to be the only living family member of the family of the Chippewa Chief Na Na On Gabe, one of he signers of the government treaty with the Indians in 1854.
  Bracklin, amazingly agile despite his advancing years, proudly dangled before the eyes of the Senators a large silver medal on a black silk ribbon.  The medal bears the date 1789 and the signature of George Washington. It professes “friendship and kindness” for the Indians.
Gathering Around the Medal
  “My family is more than 150 years old; my great-grandfather, my grandfather and my grandmother all had these medals for bravery.” Bracklin said excitedly. “Does that make any difference in what I am going to say to you Senators?”
  The Senators checked Bracklin as he rattled on and advised him to file his statement with the committee with the clerk of record.
  The Indian gathered up his medal and his sheaf of papers and turned to the spectators in the courtroom. “See that medal,” he said in an excited voice, “Nobody else here has a medal like that.”
  Spectators, both brown and white flocked about Bracklin. Such a hub-bub of motion and chatter set up that Senator La Follette was obliged to rap for order and Bracklin left the room in surprise and offended dignity as the hearing proceeded.
  Thomas Leo St. Germaine of the Lac du Flambeau Chippewas is a lawyer, a university graduate and has been a football player of national repute. Tall and young, with a legal knowledge obtained at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Iowa and Yale University, where he starred on the football team. St. Germaine acted as spokesman and interpreter for many of his tribesmen.
Not Chippewa: Ojibway
  When George Amose, 85-year-old chief of the Flambeau Chippewa was called to the stand at the opening session he motioned for an interpreter.
  “Can you speak Chippewa?” Senator Burton K. Wheeler asked St. Germaine.
  “Chippewa!” the big athlete snorted. “There is no such thing as Chippewa. There is an Ojibway tongue, but no Chippewa. Most of you are too lazy or ignorant to say Ojibway. So you make it just Chippewa.”
  The ancient father of his tribe began his plaint in a quavering voice and the jumble of brief monosyllabic words that is St. Germaine’s Ojibway.
  “The white man should change the way marriages are done.” Amose said as interpreted.
  “Indian has no liking for marriage that way. My children wish marriage after their old customs.”
  The “old tribal custom” appears to the modern mind as just free love. A brave sees a squaw that he wants and he takes her. When he is tired of her, he takes another. The benefit of the clergy is no benefit to them.
Moving Time Has Come
  With the coming summer has also come moving day at the Flambeau reservation. Authorities see in the advent of the warm season a ray of hope for checking at least temporarily the ravages of tuberculosis and other diseases.
  The clapboarded houses at the reservation are being deserted for the wigwam, the summer home of the Chippewas. Built of cedar bark and tied together with wire and fiber thongs, a wigwam is to be seen in almost every yard of the Indian village. Some are as round as an Eskimo’s igloo. Still others are constructed upon the rectangles of the white man’s barn. The wind can whistle in the cracks.
  “This summer moving is all a part of the Indians urge to move; he hates to stay in one place.” Dr. Lynnwood Keene, reservation physician told the visiting Senators.
  “It is a tribal instinct, inherited from the primitive days when Indians lived in a tent and move to a new tent as soon as one had been used the proper length of time. It is just as much a health measure as it is a nomadic urge.
  “Stabilizing the Indian and domesticating him to a one home man may be held responsible in some measure to the ravages of disease among the race. He has never learned to live in one place. His nature demands that he move at regular intervals.”

Complete Senatorial Record Of the July 11 1929 Hayward Testimony Before US Senators (From Wisconsin Historical Society's Turning Points)


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