Here's an amazing article from the St Paul Daily Globe newspaper, March 24, 1880, reporting about THIS OCCASION in Little Falls. In that post, I said the Mille Lacs band was destitute, but here's the real reason. Truly, it's worth the read--for a much better understanding of how condescending the white government was/is, and how conveniently blind to not recognize that our entire dealings with native people has been one huge land grab. Pine grabbing was only the latest insult.
(Quotes in BOLD are mine).
THE TROUBLE THEY MAKE FOR THE MILLE LACS INDIANS.
Persistent Efforts to Steal The Miserable Little Homestead of a Friendly Band of Indians--The Indian Appeal to Their White Neighbors to Interceed for Them--A Novel Meeting at Little Falls--The Government to be Petitioned to Deal Justly With These Indians.
A novel and somewhat interesting event occurred at Little Falls Monday--being a conference between representative citizens of Morrison county and a delegation of chiefs and braves, representing a general council of the Mille Lacs Chippewas, resident on the small reservation at the foot of Mille Lacs. The Indians numbered six, and included the principal chiefs of the band. The whites numbered about thirty, and included about all the businessmen of Little Falls, and a goodly number of other early settlers of Morrison county. The whites were called together at request of the Indians, who came from their reservation to ask intercession with the government in their behalf. The meeting was organized by the whites, on motion of Mr. Butler, by electing Mr Churchill chairman and Mr Stivers secretary. The Indians, through their spokesman, then explained their situation and grievances as follows:
At the time of the troubles (1862) the Mille Lacs, he said, were friends of the whites. They had seen that the foolish Indians who warred against the whites had been driven away, he knew not where, while the Mille Lacs remained at the place of their birth. According to their behavior at the time of the troubles they expected friendship at Little Falls, and they now came there for assistance. They had lately heard many rumors of injury intended to them, and began to believe these rumors--that certain
WHITE MEN WERE PLOTTING
to drive them from their land. They saw their agent but once a year, when he came and went in haste. They were promised by the great chief who was killed (Lincoln) that they should have their reservation as long as they behaved themselves. Four years ago all the great men at Washington talked friendly to the Mille Lacs. The St Paul man who was then in congress said they should remain as long as they wanted to on their reservation. We have always been friendly with the whites. Our young men are working with whites now, and they have been told that there is a plot to rob us--that our lands have again been entered at the land office. They had no knowledge that their lands were ceded to the government. The treaty which it is said cedes the reservation was made by chiefs and braves who are dead, but they were not authorized to cede the land. Hole-in-the-Day made the treaty. One of their chiefs was present and recieved a part of the money given to the treatymakers. That part of the money they had never used. It was buried. They knew where it was, but they kept it as they keep the land. The chief who recieved the money, before he died, told them to keep the money, and that the land was still there to keep as long as they were friends of the whites.
Such was the substance of the preliminary statement by the Indians. In a conversational discussion which followed among the whites it transpired that the uneasiness of the Indians arose from rumors concerning the following transactions. Under
A CLANDESTINE ORDER
or ruling by the late Secretary Chandler, the Mille Lacs reservation was declared to be public lands and subject to entry, in the absence of any further legislation by congress, on and after March 19th, 1879. Four years prior to this last date an attempt made to enter the lands was negotiated by Secretary Chandler, but the parties to the attempt were informed of his ruling or order, which was concealed from the public and the Indians, although a certified copy of it was early pigeon-holed at the White Earth agency office. On the 12th of March, 1879, one year ago, the land office at Taylors Falls, acting under this clandestine order, allowed Thomas H. Walker, as attorney in fact, to file about 350 soldiers' additional homestead claims on the Mille Lacs lands--taking about two-thirds of the reservation, including all of the pine lands, most of the land fit for cultivation, and the best water privileges. Although Mr Walker appeared as attorney in fact, it was only an open secret that the real parties to the transaction ar speculating capitalists (two) of St Paul and Stillwater who may or may not have Mr Walker and others for partners. While the operation would naturally alarm the Indians, who are greatly attached to the locality and who have before been not a little damaged in their property by lumbermen and pine grabbers, it is also in the line of taking advantage of the white residents of the state, who, if the lands are for sale, ought to have an equal chance of buying them. But it appears that Secretary Schurz, immediately upon the filing made by Mr Walker being brought to his knowledge, peremptorily directed that the entries be canceled and personally saw that his direction was obeyed. The St Paul and Stillwater speculators have, however, appealed to the supreme court of the United States and mean, it is thought, to hold the matter in abeyance until some one more complaisant than "the d--d Dutchman", as they term him, becomes secretary of the interior.
The Indian spokesman, following the explanation made by their white friends, continued as follows: You understand now why we have come to ask your help. All we want is out small reservation. We claim it and believe we ought to retain it. We want to make an agreement with the government for the future. It seems to us that we are tied and cannot move--perhaps because of our good behavior; for those Indians who make trouble have houses, cattle and farms, while we can get nothing from the government. I am afraid of that paper (pointing to the statement of the alleged entry of their lands)--I cannot tell what it amounts to, but it seems to me as if it were a match intended to burn up our country. You know our desires and we appeal to you to help us.
STATE SENATOR SIMMONS
thought that a committee should be appointed to draw up and circulate a petition asking that these Indians be given a hearing. The old chief's remark as the the treatment accorded them was worthy of more than passing consideration. Those who behave well were too often neglected and ill treated, while those who deserved least favors were housed and fed and made rich in cattle and lands. He could of personal knowledge confirm the statement that these Indians were friends of the whites in 1862. They did indeed render a great service to the settlers, at the time of danger. They had always been peaceable neighbors and he hoped proper consideration would be had of their present grievances. He thought they ought to be helped, and he, for one, would help them.
on moving the appointment of a committee to draft and forward the proposed petition, said that although he was one of their people, he was as much afraid of the Indians in 1862 as were the whites, and he was glad to have these Mille Lacs come in in a body, as they did, and say, "Come with us to the fort that we may show our hands to the military, and then help you, even to fight against our own people." Now they ask a little thing--that you shall request that they have a hearing. I think it is right you should help them retain their homes.
said it was no more than right that the people of Morrison county should do what they could for the Indians. He had dealt with them and found them honest. When we needed them they came with a flag of peace and hands extended. Those who are trying to take their lands are speculators. The order by Secretary Chandler, under which it is attempted to take the lands, was a fraud. Our government is pledged to these Indians that they may stay where they are during good behavior, They have behaved well. No one in Morrison county can complain of their conduct.
said: It is as they have stated. Likely, had it not been for our Mille Lacs friends, Hole-in-the-Day would have gone on with his war preparations. We were delivered from massacre by the strong stand of the Mille Lacs band in favor of the whites. Their warriors, about 100 in number, came over to Little Falls and from here went to Fort Ripley and saw Indian Commissioner Dole, who was highly pleased with their conduct, and officially reported that they were entitled to great credit. If it were not that there is pine on their lands they would never be troubled. The land is not valuable for farming, but the situation is almost perfect for the Indians. They have abundant stores of fish in the lakes and fine fields of wild rice, so that they can live comfortably, and all that they do raise from the soil or gather from the forests serves to add luxuries to their comfort. But the pine makes them trouble. It does seem as if the pine land grabbers will never be content so long as there is a pine tree in the state which they do not own. The only complaint ever made about this people have come from those interested in pine cutting. On this side of the lake where there are no lumbering interests they are uniformly considered good neighbors. And when proof was asked as to complaints alleged by the pine grabbers, not an affidavit could be produced or any trustworthy evidence whatever. I see no reason why we should not intercede for these Indians and ask that justice be done for them. And while I would help them for other reasons than fear of them, I nevertheless consider that we ought not to be subjected to the chances of an outbreak for benefit of the pine land grabber. If they, the pine grabbers, were to be the ones to loose their scalps he might be willing to let them go with their game.
At the conclusion of Mr Richardson's remarks, the meeting voted that Leon Houde, Jonathan Simmons and R. M. Richardson be the committee to draft, circulate and forward the proposed petition , with a statement of the condition and grievences of the Indians, to be prepared, at their request, by Mr Richardson, and the meeting, in which all present seemed to have felt a deep interest, was then adjourned.
The Mille Lacs reservation, consisting of four fractional townships on the southern shore of the lake; embracing 61,014 acres, was set apart for the Mille Lacs and Snake River bands of Chippewas under a general treaty with the Chippewas, which is dated February 22, 1855. By a treaty proclaimed March 19, 1863, in making which the Mille Lacs band was represented by Sho-bosh-kong, Manourin-e-ke-shan, Pe-pudanz, Te-daw-kaw-mo-say, Mozo-man-nay, Way-sa-wa-gwa-naib, and Meno-ge-shig, the title to this reservation was ceded to the government with the proviso "that owing to the heretofore good conduct of the Mille Lacs Indians, they shall not be compelled to remove as long as they shall not in any way interfere with ot in any manner molest the persons or property of the whites." This treaty gave way to one proclaimed March 20, 1865 which was made on the part of all the Indians by only Hole-in-the-Day and Turtle. The provisions of the treaty of 1863 were retained as to the cession of reservations, including a clause that none of the bands should be compelled to remove until the government had fulfilled certain stipulations (which it has not yet entirely fulfilled), and also the special proviso for the Mille Lacs above quoted. There is not an article of this treaty which the government or its agents have not violated, while the Indians have strictly and in good faith done all that they promised.
The pine land grabbers have, from the first, annoyed and injured these Mille Lacs people. Twenty-five years ago they destroyed their best rice fields, entailing a loss of several thousand bushels of rice annually, for several years, by entering upon the Indian lands without permission and building a dam across the outlet of the lake, which overflowed the rice lakes and killed the rice. Of late years, however, the lumbermen who control the matter, have been careful, in their saving water for driving, not to injure the rice fields, and the supply of rice is now larger than ever.
Numerous attempts have been made to steal the pine on this little reservation. Bogus half-breed scrip has been filed on it, under which filing some of the timber was cut and carried off, for which the Indians have not been paid. Pre-emption and homestead claims have been filed against it and the land department was at one time assured that several hundred white families had gone on and made valuable farming improvements, which singularly enough were on pine lands instead of farm lands. In one way and another all these frauds and grab games have been defeated; but the present one is more formidable. It is part of a scheme to establish claims to all the pines on the Indian reservation which, though worthless for the present, may serve to preclude competition when at last the pines come into market. Congressional legislation ought to be had for protection of the white people of the state against the timber monopolists; and in this case of the Mille Lacs Congress should allow them to have lands and rice ponds and fishing privileges, inalienable for a long term of years, and then sell the timber to the public, for cash, for the benefit of the Indians. All that it would bring, at a fair competitive sale, would not recompense them for what has been withheld from them.
The St Paul Daily Globe
March 24, 1880