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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1903, Part II
([1903])

Report of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes,   pp. 1-190 ff. PDF (101.5 MB)


Page 5

ANNUAL REPORT 
OF THE 
COMMISSION TO THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES. 
GENERAL VIEW      OF COMMISSION'S WORK. 
The Commission is near the end of its labors, and it seems appropriate, 
without anticipating the details of this report, to give at the beginning
a general view of the nature and extent of the work committed to our 
charge, outline what has been done, and indicate what remains to be 
done. 
paThe work has consisted of two parts; and, broadly speaking, each 
part has consumed half of the time of the Commission's existence. 
The problem to be dealt with in this Territory developed upon 
Congress slowly. For the first five years-namely, from 1893, the 
year the Commission was created, until1898, when the Curtis Act was 
passed-this body was clothed with only negotiating power, except a 
limited function under the act'of June 10,1896, relating to determination
of citizenship rights. 
The object of Congress from the beginning has been the dissolution 
of the tribal governments, the extinguishment of the communal or 
tribal title to the land, the vesting of possession and title in severalty
among the citizens of ethe tribes, and the assimilation of the peoples 
and institutions of this Territory to our prevailing American standard. 
it was evident at the end of the first five years that the accomplish- 
ment of the foregoing object by negotiation alone was practically im- 
possible. The Indians (so called, for most of them by a century and 
a quarter of intermarriage have far more Saxon than Indian blood) 
would never surrender by consent what they did not want to give up 
at all. The Commission, as then constituted, was able to bring to the 
discussion neither inducements nor force. Some of the tribal mem- 
bers held passionately to their institutions from custom and patriotism,
and others held with equal tenacity because of the advantages and 
privileges they enjoyed. It was almost worth a man's life at that time 
to advocate a change. 
Under these conditions Congress was in 1898 fairly confronted with 
the alternative of either abandoning its policy and abolishing the Com- 
mission, or else of converting the Commission from merely a nego- 
tiating body into also an executive'and semijudicial body, and of pro- 
ceeding with the work under the constitutional power of Congress, 
and largely, at least, regardless of the will of the tribes. 
A strenuous effort was made to prevent the adoption of the latter 
course. So pronounced was the opposition and so severe were the 


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