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Applications filed under Mineral Leasing Act of Feb. 25, 1920, fiscal year of 1935,
with totals to June 30, 1935
State grants-Areas patented or certified in fiscal year 1935
454 1, 453
Railroad grants—Land approved in fiscal year 1935 for patent or certification
Atlantic & Pacific (now Santa Fe Pacific).
40 1, 520
201 2, 609 6, 134
Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf.
do.. Minnesota. Wisconsin
414 696 29 80
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
(JOHN COLLIER, Commissioner)
This annual report is burdened with overcondensed statements of things done and more things yet to do; with urgencies, programs, and life-and-death necessities, all under the compulsion of speed.
It is all true. But the foundations of Indian life rest in a quiet earth. Indian life is not tense, is not haunted with urgencies, and does not fully accept the view that programs must be achieved, lest otherwise ruin shall swiftly befall.
Indian life is happy. Even the most poverty-stricken and seem ingly futureless Indians still are happy. Indians have known how to be happy amid hardships and dangers through many thousand years. They do not expect much, often they expect nothing at all; yet they are able to be happy. Possibly this is the most interesting and important fact about Indians.
A brief outline of the report is included for convenience in use:
Page The accelerated task..
113 Reorganizing Indian life_
114 The isolation of the Indian Service brought to an end.
119 Personnel administration
119 Indian employment opportunities.
122 Extension and industry
128 Applied anthropological research.
136 Indian land and minerals; tribal claims.
140 Indian unit of the National Resources Board_
143 Soil conservation
143 Emergency conservation work.
151 Probate work.
151 Review of major legislation since 1933.
THE ACCELERATED TASK
The Indians and the Indian Service have had a difficult and challenging year, due to drought and depression; on the other hand, many Indians, and Indian property, have benefited from the generous relief appropriations. The effort to spend these relief funds wisely has meant extra work for the Service staff, which already had. assumed the additional burden of launching the Indian reorganization program without benefit of new funds or personnel.
REORGANIZING INDIAN LIFE
The Indian Reorganization (modified Wheeler-Howard) Act was approved June 18, 1934. Its passage made mandatory a complete change in the traditional Federal Indian policy of individual allotment of land—which resulted in the break-up of Indian reservations—and of destroying Indian organization, institutions, and racial heritage to the end that the Indian as an Indian might disappear from the American scene with the utmost speed.
The net result of this policy has been the loss of two-thirds of the 139,000,000 acres owned by Indian tribes in 1887, the year when the General Allotment Act was adopted; and the individualization policy has broken up the land remaining on allotted reservations, has disrupted tribal bonds, has destroyed old incentives to action, and has created a race of petty landlords who in the generous Indian manner have shared their constantly shrinking income with the ever-increasing number of their landless relatives and friends.
The Indian Reorganization Act prohibits future allotments, and the sale of Indian lands except to the tribes; it restores to the tribes the unentered. remnants of the so-called surplus lands of the allotted reservations thrown open to white settlement; it authorizes annual appropriations for the purchase of land for landless Indians, provides for the consolidation of Indian lands, and sets up a process which enables Indians voluntarily to return their individual landholdings to the protection of tribal status, thus reversing the disintegration policy.
The act also authorizes a ten-million-dollar revolving loan fund, the use of which is restricted to those tribes which organize and incorporate so as to create community responsibility. It is expected that the organization of Indians in well-knit, functional groups and communities will help materially in the creation of new incentives for individual and collective action. The Indian is not a
rugged individualist”; he functions best as an integrated member of a group, clan, or tribe. Identification of his individuality with clan or tribe is with him a spiritual necessity. If the satisfaction. of this compelling sentiment is denied him as it was for half a century or more—the Indian does not, it has been clearly shown, merge into white group life. Through a modernized form of Indian organization, adapted to the needs of the various tribes (a
form of organization now authorized by law), it is possible to make use of this powerful latent civic force.
The Indian Reorganization Act was passed a few days before the end of the Seventy-third Congress. None of the authorized appropriations, however, became available until May 1935. For land purchases the authorized appropriation was reduced to one-half, or $1,000,000; the revolving credit fund was limited to a quarter of the authorization, or $2,500,000; for organizing expenses the amount was reduced from $250,000 to $175,000.
THE INDIANS HOLD THEIR FIRST ELECTIONS
Congress had ordained in section 18 that each tribe must be given the unusual privilege of deciding at a special election whether itwanted to accept these benefits or reject them. Beginning with August 1934 and ending June 17, 1935, a series of 263 elections resulted in the decision by 73 tribes, with a population of 63,467 persons, to exclude themselves from the benefits and protection of the act, and by 172 tribes, with the population of 132,426 persons, to accept the act.
The participation of the Indians in these referendum elections. was astonishingly heavy. In national elections, when a President is chosen and the interest of the voters is aroused through a long, intensive campaign, the average number of ballots cast does not exceed 52 percent of the total number of eligible voters; in referendum elections deciding on such matters as constitutional ratifications, bond issues, etc., when no personalities are injected into the campaign, less than 35 percent of the eligible voters participate. The referendum election on the Indian Reorganization Act did not concern itself with candidates and personalities, yet 62 percent of all adult Indians came to the polls and cast their ballots.
This heavy participation becomes even more significant when it is remembered that at least half the Indian voters could not speak the English language, that reading and writing were unknown to many of them, and that most of them had never voted before. Yet so great was their interest that grandmothers and grandfathers past the allotted span of three score and ten walked many miles to the polling places, there to mark and cast their ballots with celerity and dispatch even though some of them had to be instructed which end of the pencil to use.
Except in a single tribe (Isleta Pueblo), not an Indian voice was raised against the participation of women; everywhere the right of the feminine element to take part in the referendums was conceded without question.