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Protections in the Supplemental Treaty of 1902

     Mention has already been made herein of the Supplemental Treaty with the Choctaws and Chickasaws. This treaty was an act passed by Congress, approved July 1, 1902 and ratified by the Choctaws and Chickasaws in September following by a popular vote.  In this act the rights of Mississippi Choctaws are better defined, and the rulings of the Commission find expression herein as law. As the fullest and latest expression of the rights of Mississippi Choctaws is found in sections forty-one to forty-four of this act these sections are given in full. They are as follows:

41. All persons duly identified by the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes under the provisions of section 21 of the Act of congress approved June 28, 1898 (30 Stats., 495), as Mississippi Choctaws entitled to benefits under article fourteen of the treaty between the United States and the Choctaw Nation concluded September 27, 1830, may, at any time within six months after the date of their identification as Mississippi Choctaws by the said commission, make bona fide settlement within the Choctaw - Chickasaw country, and upon proof of such settlement to such Commission within one year after the date of their said identification as Mississippi Choctaws shall be enrolled by such Commission as Mississippi Choctaws entitled to allotment as herein provided for citizens of the tribes, subject to the said special provisions herein provided as to Mississippi Choctaws, and said enrollment shall be final when approved by the Secretary of the Interior. The application of no person for identification as a Mississippi Choctaw shall be received by said Commission after six months subsequent to the date of the final ratification of this agreement and in the disposition of such applications all fullblood Mississippi Choctaw Indians and the descendants of any Mississippi Choctaw Indians whether of full or mixed blood who received a patent to land under the said 14th article of the said treaty of eighteen hundred and thirty who had not moved to and made bona fide settlement in the Choctaw-Chickasaw country prior to June twenty-eight, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, shall be deemed to be Mississippi Choctaws, entitled to benefits under article fourteen of the said treaty of September twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and thirty, and to identification as such by said Commission, but this direction or provision shall be deemed to be only a rule of evidence and shall not be invoked by or operate to the advantage of any applicant who is not a Mississippi Choctaw of the full blood, or who is not the descendant of a Mississippi Choctaw who received a patent to land under said treaty, or who is otherwise barred from the right of citizenship in the Choctaw Nation, all of said Mississippi Choctaws so enrolled by said Commission shall be upon a separate roll.

42. When any such Mississippi Choctaw shall have in good faith continuously resided upon the lands of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations for a period of three years, including his residence thereon before and after such enrollment, he shall, upon due proof of such continuous, bona fide residence, made in such manner and before such officer as may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior, receive a patent for his allotment, as provided in the Atoka agreement, and he shall hold the lands allotted to him as provided in this agreement for citizens of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations.

43. Applications for enrollment as Mississippi Choctaws, and applications to have land set apart for them as such, must be made personally before the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. Fathers may apply for their minor children; and if the father be dead, the mother may apply; husbands may apply for wives. Applications for orphans, insane persons, and persons of unsound mind may be made by duly appointed guardian or curator, and for the aged and infirm persons and prisoners by agents duly authorized thereunto by power of attorney, in the discretion of said Commission.

44. If within four years after such enrollment any such Mississippi Choctaw, or his heirs or representatives if he be dead, fails to make proof of such continuous bona fide residence for the period so prescribed, or up to the time of the death of such Mississippi Choctaw, in case of his death after enrollment, he, and his heirs and representatives if he be dead, shall be deemed to have acquired no interest in the lands set apart to him, and the same shall be sold at public auction for cash, under rules and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior, and the proceeds paid into the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, and distributed per capita with other funds of the tribes. Such lands shall not be sold for less than their appraised value. Upon payment of the full purchase price patent shall issue to the purchaser.

Lawyers and Real Estate Agents

     Such in brief is a summary of the law, and some of the legal fights that the Court Claimants were making in order to establish their claims to Indian citizenship. But while the lawyer was busy in the forum, the real estate agent was busy in the field.  Both lawyer and real estate agent seem to have thought that they could bestow a greater benefit on all concerned by dealing with the Mississippi Choctaw located in Mississippi, and directed their labors accordingly. 

     For a time the lawyer worked by himself, and by means of letter writing kept as many as a half dozen or more of these claims on his books. These few claims in connection with his other practice was about all that he could well attend to. But business grew, and competition sharpened. The work was not being done, fast enough; dreams of great fortunes spurred the lawyer to the field. The Choctaw was too far away in his home in Mississippi, some one needs be on the ground, since a face-to-face and heart-to-heart campaign would bring greater results. 

     Meantime the real estate agent on his own initiative, had gone into the field. The agent soon found that he must have a lawyer, and the lawyer was soon convinced that he must have an agent. Seeking each other they came together; partnerships were formed, and united they went forth to enrich the Mississippi Choctaw, and incidentally (?) to exploit him out of his fortune.

      For a time this practice was regarded by lawyers as legitimate and professional. This opinion was held during the years 1899 and the two years following, when only descendants were interested in the securing of their allotments, and before the interest of the full-blood, had been enlisted. These descendants were frequently white men of means, and were able to pay a cash fee. In these instances the lawyer charged a reasonable fee, and pursued the even tenor of his way as in his other business. But the security of the claims appeared to claimants as more and more uncertain, and they soon preferred to spend no further money on uncertainties. Besides, the claims of clients with ability to pay had soon all been filed, and only contingent fees could be had. 

     These fees were contingent, of course, on the final success of the claim, and as the contingency was great the fee was likewise heavy. A certain part of the allotment was to be given as a fee, and a contract to that effect was entered into. For a time even yet only a small part of an allotment was attempted to be contracted away in this manner, but the fee was in a much greater proportion than the work to be done. If at any time anyone in the work felt scrupulous because of extortion, he probably justified himself with the thought that he needed a premium to compensate himself for the hazard he was running of not getting anything, and eased his conscience by recalling the fact that others were doing the same thing.

     It required but a short time for the advocate and the agent to make a fortune. The agent made a trip to Mississippi and rode about the country, writing contracts with the Choctaws. When he had written a hundred or more, he was probably satisfied, and returned home, his fortune made. He was the owner on his part by virtue of his contracts of a few thousand acres of land to be selected by himself from the fertile prairies and valleys of the Indian Territory. 

     But dozens of other real-estate agents were dreaming the same dreams; and probably in less than a month’s time one of them entering the same indian village, took up the old contracts and wrote new ones, thus sweeping away all the realities of the great fortune of the first dreamer, only in his turn probably to have his own claims to wealth obliterated in like manner by the next agent, a few days later. 

     When it was known that the contracts had been taken up by others, there was confusion in the partnership. The lawyer blamed the agent for leaving his work only half done, and the agent blamed the lawyer for not furnishing him a contract that would hold the Choctaw. 

     In fact neither could blame the other. The agent had done his best to convince the Choctaw, and the lawyer had furnished an ironclad contract. But how could the ignorant Choctaw be convinced when he did not understand, and of what benefit is an ironclad contract when it cannot bind one of the parties to it? All that was left to these firms of the fortunes, so recently amassed, was a bit of experience, bought perhaps at the expense of a few thousand dollars, to say nothing of the time and labor thrown away. Sometimes a second effort was made, probably with better success; the more cautious, however, felt contented with their first experience.

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Copyright 2001 - All Rights Reserved
Ellen Pack