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1242. Conference report on Post-Office Department appropriation bill, 1913.
CERTAIN CHANGES IN HOMESTEAD ALLOTMENTS: OF CHOCTAW AND CHICKASAW INDIANS IN OKLAHOMA,
JULY 1, 1912.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the
Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. CARTER, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, submitted the
[To accompany H. R. 25507.]
The Committee on Indian Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 25507) to authorize certain changes in homestead allotments of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians in Oklahoma, having had the same under consideration, reports the bill without amendment and recommends that it do pass.
This bill is similar to Senate bill No. 7073, introduced by Senator Gore, with the exception of section 2, which has been favorably recommended by the Secretary of the Interior, as is evidenced by the following letter of the Secretary:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, June 10, 1912. Hon. ROBERT J. GAMBLE,
Chairman Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate. SIR: By reference of June 8, 1912, I am in receipt of an advance copy of a bill proposed to be introduced by Senator Gore, S. 7073, entitled "A bill authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to sell certain Indian allotments, and for other purposes.".
I am of opinion that this measure, as to its principal features, should receive the favorable consideration of your committee. It will undoubtedly prove to advantage of allottees in many instances to have their homesteads reduced to a smaller acreage, and the proceeds arising from sales of lands not needed for homesteads used for the improvement of the land retained by the Indians. It will also be of benefit to allottees in some cases to have the homestead privileges and requirements shifted from lands now held as homesteads to other lands originally allotted to them as surplus.
The proposed measure was the subject of conference with Senator Gore last week. At that time I was of opinion that the bill as a whole should be enacted into law. Upon further consideration, however, it occurs to me that the measure in its present form will require the department to sell certain lands now held by half-blood Indians which are entirely free of restrictions and to dispose of the proceeds. Such an outcome of the proposed legislation was not, of course, contemplated. To meet this difficulty, I suggest that the following proviso be added to the hill:
“Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to authorize the sale of the surplus allotment, either before or after designation of homestead as herein
authorized, of any allottee of half Indian blood or less, otherwise than as permitted by the act of May twenty-seventh, nineteen, hundred and eight (Thirty-fifth Statutes at Large, page three hundred and twelve)."
I desire to suggest that the administration of the act will be greatly facilitated if the word "directed” be omitted;. inasmuch as cases now unforeseen are certain to arise which will call for the exercise of discretion upon the part of the Secretary:
If the bill be enacted, the amount of work devolving upon the department will be greatly increased. 200 this account I desire to urge the necessity of provision being made for an adequate working force, which should not be less than that recommended in other communications by the department. The district agency force has proven very satisfactory, and will be more urgently needed if this law be enacted. Respectfully,
First Assistant Secretary. The urgent necessity for immediate action on this measure is occasioned by reason of the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Choate v. Trapp, which has rendered all lands in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation nontaxable while the title remains in the original allottee. The further fact might be cited that the Choctaws and Chickasaws, owning as they do 320 acres of land per capita (man, woman, and child), are land poor, and the incompetent members, at least, should have their holdings reduced to an acreage which they can successfully manage and earn a living from.