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INDIAN TRIBES OF CALIFORNIA.
COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS,
Friday, April 28, 1922. The committee this day met, Hon. Homer P. Snyder (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The hearing this morning is with reference to H. R. 4383, a bill authorizing any tribes or bands of Indians of California to submit claims to the Court of Claims. Representative Raker is present and will make the initial statement with regard to the matter.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN E. RAKER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.
Mr. RAKER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, the matter involved is provided for in H. R. 4383, and I ask, Mr. Chairman, that the bill, together with the report of the Secretary of the Interior, be inserted at this point.
The CHAIRMAN. If there is no objection, it will be so ordered. (The bill and report referred to follow:)
[H. R. 4383, Sixty-seventh Congress, first session.] A BILL Authorizing any tribes or bands of Indians of California to submit claims to the Court of Claims.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all claims of whatsoever nature which any tribes or bands of Indians of ('alifornia may have against the United States may be submitted to the Court of Claims for determination of the amount, if any, due said tribes or bands from the United States for lands formerly occupied and claimed by them in the said State, which lands are alleged to have been taken from them without compensation; and jurisdiction is hereby conferred on the Court of Claims, with the right of either party to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, to hear and determine all legal and equitable claims, if any, of said tribes or bands against the United States and to enter judgment thereon.
SEC. 2. That if any claim or claims be submitted to said court, they shall settle the rights therein, both legal and equitable, which shall be based upon the fair value of any such lands at the time the treaties were ratified by the several tribes or bands of Indians, not to exceed $1.25 per acre, of each and all the parties thereto, notwithstanding lapse of time or statutes of limitation, and any payment which may have been made upon any claim so submitted shall not be pleaded as an estoppel, but may be pleaded as an offset in such suits or actions, and the United States shall be allowed credit for all sums heretofore paid or expended for the benefit of said tribes or any band thereof, including gratuities. The claim or claims of the said tribes or any bands thereof shall be presented jointly by petition, subject, however, to amendment, suit to be filed within two years after the passage of this act; and such action shall make the petitioner or petitioners party plaintiff or plaintiffs and the United States shall be the party defendant; and any other band or bands or tribes of California the court may deem necessary to a final determination of such suit may be joined therein as the court may order: Provided, That said court shall settle and determine the claims or rights of any such band or tribe as may be joined in said suit. Such petition, which shall be verified by the attorney or attorneys employed by the aforesaid tribes or bands of Indians of California, shall set forth all the facts on which the claims for recovery are based, and said petition shall be signed by the attorney or attorneys employed, and no other verification shall be necessary; official letters, papers, documents, and public records, or certified copies thereof, may be used in evidence, and the departments of the Government shall give access to the attorney or attorneys of said tribes or bands thereof to such treaties, papers, correspondence, or records as may be needed by the attorney or attorneys for said tribes or bands of Indians.
SEC. 3. That upon the final determination of such suit, cause, or action, the Court of ('laims shall decree such fees as it shall tind reasonable to be paid the attorney or attorneys employed therein by said tribes, subject to approval by the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and under contracts negotiated and approved as provided by existing law, and in no case shall the fees decreed by said court be more than 10 per centum of the amount of the judgment recovered by such cause, such fee to be paid from said judgment.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, June 17, 1921. Hon. HOMER P. SNYDER,
Chairman Committee on Indian Affairs, House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. SNYDER: Reference is again made to your letter of April 21, 1921, transmitting for report thereon a copy of H. R. 4383, authorizing any tribes or bands of Indians of California to submit claims to the Court of Claims.
The claim of these bands or tribes of Indians, as indicated by the bill, is for compensation from the Government for lands formerly occupied and claimed by them in California, which lands are alleged to have been taken from them without pay-. ment and disposed of as public domain.
The claim is based upon 18 treaties made with the different tribes of Indians in California in 1851. These treaties were signed on the part of the Government by the United States Indian agents, and on the part of the Indians by certain chiefs and headmen. The 18 treaties were transmitted to Washington and on May 28, 1852, were sent to the Senate by President Fillmore. The Senate unanimously voted to reject the treaties, as shown by the Executive Journal of the Senate for June 28, 1852, on page 417:
"The 18 treaties with Indian tribes in California, received on the 7th and reported without amendment the 28th of June, were severally read the second time and considered as in Committee of the Whole, and, no amendment. being made thereto, they were severally reported to the Senate. On the question being stated on each treaty, to wit, Will it consent and advise to the ratification of this treaty? it was unanimously determined in the negative" * * *
At the time the treaties were negotiated there was a very large Indian population in California, which had been variously estimated from 200,000 to 700,000. The present Indian population in California is not more than 20,000. The California Indians for a number of years have been asserting that they are entitled to compensation for the lands that were set apart for them by the 18 treaties in question, the area being about 7,500,000 acres.
A bill similar to the pending bill was introduced in the Sixty-sixth Congress and during the second session extensive hearings were had before a subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives, and a very full and complete history of the matter is incorporated in said hearings. In the hearings is a copy of a report on California nonreservation Indians made by Mr. Malcolm M. McDowell, of the board of Indian commissioners, and there is also in the Indian Bureau a report made by Dr. L. F. Michael, special supervisor, and Mr. 0. H. Lipps,
the California Indians and contain much valuable information pertaining to their claims. In recognition, probably, of the Indians' demand for compensation for the lands that they claim were theirs by reason of the alleged treaties, Congress at different times has made appropriations for their relief and support in an amount aggregating about $4,000,000.
In addition to the amount appropriated and expended for their relief, the Government has maintained a large school at Riverside, Calif., known as the Sherman Institute, where the children of California Indians are given an education free of any expense. It is fair to assume that in dealing with these Indians and making appropriations for their support and education, as stated, Congress must have recognized that there was merit in their claims, as they are mostly full citizens of the United States and wards of the State of California.
Their condition at present is in some respects deplorable, and they should probably be given more assistance than perhaps they are now receiving. From hearings in the Sixty-sixth Congress already referred to and an examination of the report of the two supervisors mentioned, it would not be difficult, if the Congress should conclude to now ratify the treaties of 1851 and pay the Indians for the lands described in said treaties and for other benefits that they would have been entitled to, to determine