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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1904, Part II
([1904])

Report of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes,   pp. 1-198 ff. PDF (110.1 MB)


Page 6

REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR. 
and the multiplicity of statutes and the conflict of provisions occa- 
sioned no little embarrassment, difficulty, and delay. 
The judicial and executive duties of the work were greatly aug- 
mented by reason of the fact that Congress did not see fit to limit the 
determination of any matter, however small, to the final.jurisdiction 
of the Commission. It imposed the duty upon the Interior Depart- 
ment of review and control of all proceedings; and it extended the 
right of appeal in every detail and particular to all the claimants and 
citizens of the tribes. This largely multiplied proceedings and the 
making of records. Added to this, there have been injunctions by the 
courts, stopping the work in important branches and for long periods 
of time. It can readily be seen how, under conditions like these, with 
every man who failed of his purpose an active dissenter; with every 
detail subject to distant control; with Congress and the public often 
deceived, and the dissatisfied, ignorant, and recalcitrant elements 
stimulated and supported by those who seek to retain a privilege or 
secure an advantage, the work would be increased, unsettled, retarded, 
and embarrassed in every conceivable way. 
For the past six years that the Commission has been authorized to do 
this work it has labored under these conditions. We have been daily 
witnesses of the distress of the people caused by delay, not only of 
the approximately 90,000 citizens of the tribes, but also of the esti- 
mated 600,000 other residents of the Territory whose legitimate 
interests suffer from an unsettled state of affairs. It will be seven 
years consumed in this work if it is completed, as we expect, by July 
1, 1905; and the administration of these communal estates, amount- 
ing to nearly 20,000,000 acres of land, and to perhaps hundreds of 
millions of dollars in actual values, will then have consumed that 
amount of time and have cost less than 10 cents per acre. We trust 
that a consideration of the facts here stated will lead to the conclusion
that, under the circumstances, the time consumed has not been unrea- 
sonable or the cost unduly great. 
LEGISLATION. 
Appended to this report is a compilation of the various laws of 
Congress relating to the transformation of conditions in Indian Ter- 
ritory, the execution of which devolved, to a greater or less extent, 
upon this Commission.   (Appendix No. 1, p. 53.)  The only impor- 
tant additions made to these laws during the past year are embodied 
in the Indian appropriation act approved April 21, 1904 (Appendix 
No. 1, p. 119), which provided a fund recommended by the Commis- 
sion as sufficient to practically complete its work during the year 
ending June 30, 1905. This act makes provision for the sale of the 
surplus lands of the Creek Nation, provides special relief for Dela- 
ware-Cherokees who were in rightful possession of improved lands, 
and liberalizes the provisions of the agreements with the several tribes
as to the sale of lands by allottees. It also limits the existence of the
Commission to July 1, 1905, that being fixed as the date upon which 
its labors shall have been finished. 
Certain matters extend, by operation of existing laws, beyond the 
date fixed for the completion of this work. For example, the agree- 
ments with the Choctaws, Chickasaws. and Cherokees provide that 
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