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Need for a New Treaty 

     In view of these facts many regarded their Indian contracts as burdens rather than valuable property. Others in these extremes were more tenacious than ever. They were in for all these Contracts were worth, and felt that they were fighting in self defense for an existence. There had been considerable talk of a new supplemental treaty. The Curtis Bill, passed by Congress in 1898 had been intended to be complete and final, but the Supplemental Treaty of 1902 was found necessary. 

     Many thought that a new treaty would be needed to supplement the Supplemental Treaty of 1902. Agents of Indian land corporations soon became earnest advocates of this new treaty, believing that some law could be passed to protect their interests. It had been charged that the Act of 1902 was passed for the benefit of the coal barons and other moneyed interests. Now, these would-be landed interests would in like manner attempt to lobby through Congress another treaty, the complexion of which they hoped to make more in accord with their interests than the present law as they found it. So far they have not succeeded, no new act having been passed [by 1904].

     On the whole, all private enterprises engaged in the business of assisting Mississippi Choctaws in the allotment of lands have come out losers. They have spent a good deal of money in this business, and have received almost nothing in return. It is very doubtful whether they will ever get back the money actually expended; yet some express hopes of handsome incomes. The question is un-litigated, and will probably add a prolific line of business to the already lucrative practice of the Indian Territory lawyers.

     Not all who were engaged in the removal of the Mississippi Choctaws to their western homes were guilty of the evil practices herein set forth, but on the other hand some honorable and upright gentlemen found employment in this business. This better class usually worked for a salary and tried to pursue a prudent and business like course. To most of these, however, the employment proved unpleasant and unprofitable, and they soon gave it up.
The Mississippi lawyer did not find the prosecution of Indian claims a profitable business. While he had an advantage in living near the Mississippi Choctaw, he was unfamiliar with the law and procedure governing in the matter of these claims, and did not think that the practice would justify him in familiarizing himself with it. He lacked the enthusiasm of the lawyer of the West. When a client approached him with an Indian claim, he usually referred the claim to some lawyer in the Indian Territory. Neither were Mississippians popular as Indian land agents. They lacked the energy, enthusiasm, and experience of the western “rounder.” Some found employment in keeping in line a few Indians with whom they were personally acquainted. The questionable methods pursued by the infamous Arnold and a few others of his kind soon convinced our people that it was a disagreeable business.

     Whatever fault may be found with the treatment received by the Indians at the hands of the United States Government, it will probably be generally admitted that the Mississippi Choctaws have no cause for censure. On the whole they have been treated not only fairly and justly by the government but have been cared for and helped almost as objects of charity. True, they lost their homes in Mississippi provided for them in the treaty of 1830, but this loss was certainly not in accord with the real intention of the government, but it was the fault of one of its agents. Yet the government magnanimously assumed responsibility for the misconduct of this drunken and corrupt agent, and but for the interference of greedy speculators would have made good the claims of the Mississippi Choctaws at an earlier date. But subjects of far greater moment, the slavery question, secession, civil war, reconstruction, etc., pushed the Indian question into the background for a long time. Yet in 1898, when a measure was before Congress providing for the winding up of tribal affairs in the Indian Territory and the turning over of his property to the Indian ward, Congress remembered these old claims of the Mississippi Choctaws, and provided for their settlement. This settlement as has been seen was made not by carrying out the exact agreement and giving the Mississippi Choctaw his promised home in Mississippi, a thing impossible, but by giving him in the Indian Territory an equal right with the Indians already living there. It is highly commendable in Congress that it did not repudiate or rather overlook or forget these old claims, but sought to fulfill them as equitably as it was possible to do. But a home in the Indian Territory was worth but little to the poverty stricken Choctaw in Mississippi; the government recognized this fact and made provision for his removal at the expense of the United States Government. The Dawes Commission came from the Indian Territory to Mississippi and remained for months in session at great expense that the Mississippi Choctaws might file their claims and make their proof of citizenship. Again a few years later the Citizenship Court came from South McAlester, Indian Territory, to Jackson, Miss., to afford the rejected Mississippi Choctaws another opportunity for proving their claims. That they should have fallen prey sometimes to unscrupulous speculators probably could not be helped, and at best this exploitation was the fault of a few officials and not the intention or purpose of the law. 

     When we remember that the Mississippi Choctaws were ignorant of their rights and utterly powerless to enforce them, we are forcibly struck with the magnanimous and Christian spirit that prompted the course pursued by the United States Government in this matter.

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Copyright 2001 - All Rights Reserved
Ellen Pack