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Supplemental Treaty 

     Here we leave for a time these modern Emigration Societies and their emigrants, to revert to the Supplemental Treaty for a short consideration of the laws authorizing and defining allotments. 

     All incorporated towns and town sites were reserved from allotment. In like manner were the rich coal fields and beds of asphalt excluded from division. Provisions were made for a thorough survey and an accurate location of lands containing these mineral beds, and these lands not to exceed a certain number of acres were segregated and excluded from allotment. These coal and asphalt deposits together with the lands covering them were to be sold subject to the then existing leases in accordance with the terms of this law, and the proceeds to be added to the Choctaw and Chickasaw annuity for equal per capita distribution after allotment. Like provisions were made for the sale of townsites, and for like disposition of the funds resulting from these sales. After making these reservations this act approximated the number of successful claimants, including Mississippi Choctaws, and divided the territory among them, thus defining an allotment of land. Sections eleven and twelve of this act define an allotment as follows:

11. There shall be allotted to each member of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, as soon as practicable after the approval by the Secretary of the Interior of his enrollment as herein provided, land equal in value to three hundred and twenty acres of the average allotable land of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, and to each Choctaw and Chickasaw freedman, as soon as practicable after the approval by the Secretary of the Interior of his enrollment, land equal in value to forty acres of the average allotable land of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations; to conform, as nearly as may be, to the areas and boundaries established by the Government survey, which land may be selected by each allottee so as to include his improvements. For the purpose of making allotments and designating homesteads hereunder, the forty-acre or quarter-quarter subdivisions established by the Government survey may be dealt with as if further subdivided into four equal parts in the usual manner, thus making the smallest legal subdivision ten acres, or a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of a section.

12. Each member of said tribe shall, at the time of the selection of his allotment, designate as a homestead out of said allotment land equal in value to one hundred and sixty acres of the average allotable land of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, as nearly as may be, which shall be inalienable during the lifetime of the allottee, not exceeding twenty-one years from the date of certificate of allotment, and separate certificate and patent shall issue for said homestead.

     To make one’s allotment was known in popular speech as “filing on one’s claim.” The land was graded according to its quality into about five or six classes. If a citizen took all of his land in the first or best class, he was entitled to only about one hundred acres; if he took all in the last or poorest class he got more than a thousand acres. Each citizen was free to make his selection wherever he saw fit and to take whatever class or classes of land he wanted, provided the land selected had not already been filed on, and even then he was permitted to institute a contest. 

     To accommodate the citizens in making their allotments, two land offices were established by the Commission in April, 1903, -- at Atoka in the Choctaw Nation and one at Tishomingo in the Chickasaw Nation— and all citizens were required to appear at one of these places to file on his allotment. Choctaws could allot land in the Chickasaw Nation, for the two tribes held their lands in common. But all lands in the Choctaw Nation had to be filed on at Atoka, and the lands of the Chickasaw Nation, at Tishomingo.

     The time for allotment had been looked forward to for years, and when it arrived there was a great rush for the land offices. Hotels were built and tents stretched in a vain effort to accommodate the people. The two land offices were open for the allotment of lands by those who were on the permanent rolls. 

     At the same time the Commission was busy passing on claims, placing some on the rolls and dismissing the claims of others; the Citizenship Court was busy with the court claimants, they in their turn adding to the rolls and dismissing claims. All of this was going on at the same time, to say nothing of the work of the Townsite Commissions, courts, and other bodies. So up to the last, the complications were many and the uncertainties great.

     The full-bloods, when left to themselves, never understood their position, or knew what they were doing. Even at the land office, when they were given their cards at the first window, certifying to their citizenship and their right to allotment, and passing them up to the agent making their allotment of record, they would sometimes in the rush be pushed aside and would march away to their homes their cards in their hands, fully satisfied that their allotments had been properly made. But such was not often the case. 

     The United States Government held that the relation existing between it and the Indians was the relation of guardian and ward, and sought to protect its ward. Maps, sectional plats, and official clerks were all furnished the allottees in an earnest attempt to do for the ignorant ward what he could not do for himself. These clerks did a great deal of good, but it goes without saying that they could have done much more than they did do, and that often they fell short of performing their sworn duty.


     The Indian citizen had with him, in nearly every instance, parties more interested, more courteous and attentive than a guardian, to wit: lawyers and real estate agents. And it can never be truthfully charged that our Mississippi Choctaws suffered from neglect or lack of attention.  He had not been brought so far and at so great expense to be neglected at so important a moment. The danger with him was on the other extreme, and rather did he suffer from too much attention than from the lack of it. If the guardian was guilty of culpable negligence in any one thing it was in turning its wards completely over into the hands of exploiting land agents, who never ceased from their hors. 

     They swarmed around the land offices. There was the ranchman, who wanted to control thousands of acres of the grassy prairies; the farmer, who longed to cultivate fertile valleys; the timberman, who coveted the magnificent forests; and the miner, who saw fortunes in unsegregated coal fields. Each had his lands picked out, and was after citizens “to hold” them for him. A citizen is captured, put into a buggy, and driven for miles into an unknown country until he finally arrives at he knows not where. He is helped to the ground, told to look about him and see his new home. This is the land he has filed on as his home through the guidance of his faithful friend, the agent. The Indian knows nothing of his new home, but his friend is pleased. 

     Thus the work goes on, day after day, month after month. Today the ranchman is short of Indians.  He says to the timberman, “Loan me a dozen Indians for to-day, I will have a carload in tomorrow or next week and I will pay you back.” The loan is made; the Indian who was intended for a logger becomes a “cow-puncher,” never knowing what he was intended for or of his change of occupation. At the appointed time the ranch-man gets in his carload and a dozen Indians to go to the lumberman, or it may be, that in the meantime, the lumberman has run short and has borrowed from the farmer, and a dozen “cow-punchers” only become loggers to become farmers a minute later. Thus this infamous traffic was kept up, and human beings traded, bartered, and sold as so many goats or mules; the only difference being that mules and goats have an intrinsic value, and the Indian has none, and was valuable only because of his claim to an allotment of lands and an annuity that he carried with him by operation of law.

     Many speculators had come to consider that it was not wrong to cheat and defraud an ignorant Indian. Some probably thought that they found a justification for robbing him in the general treatment that he had received from the hands of the white man for a century or more. The fact that he was ignorant and an easy prey to the shrewd and unscrupulous white man should have made the Commission more alert to protect him and to see that equal justice was done him. But instead of manifesting this spirit of justice and protection toward the ward of the government into whose hands he was intrusted by that government, the Commission turned him over to the exploiters. 

     Nor is this all. The Commission went into the robbing business itself. It is now well known that several members of the Commission were directly interested in one or more of these combinations, which, putting it in its mildest form, were enjoying a very unsavory reputation.  President Tams Bixby of the Commission, Commissioners Breckenridge and Needles, and Indian Inspector Wright were, upon official investigation, found to be interested in corporations dealing more or less extensively in Indian lands. Whether these men are criminals or not depends upon the technicalities of the statute, yet they were putting themselves in a position to do the Indian a greater injury than could be done him by any of the greedy land agents. They held a position quasi-judicial, which gave them considerable discretion in matters coming before them for their consideration. What would be thought of a judge who buys an interest in the lawsuits of his litigants? The bare fact of the existence of this interest disqualifies him and removes him from the case; and for him to willfully inject himself into all matters that he as judge must decide should debar him from the bench, if not send him to prison. 

     All this is the more heinous on the part of the Commission in view of the questionable methods of these land corporations, which had already fallen into disrepute with the public before the connection of the officials was known to exist. How long and to what extent their connection in land speculation existed will probably never be known to the public;  neither will the cause for their unpopularity with the people probably ever be fully explained. It has been charged almost from the beginning that the decisions of the Commission in individual cases were often arbitrary to the extreme. The Commission could be pardoned for some practices that it permitted, hut the sins committed by its own members are inexcusable.

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Copyright 2001 - All Rights Reserved
Ellen Pack