Testimony taken by the Committee on Indian Affairs - 1885
Testimony taken by the Committee on Indian Affairs


Washington, D. C., January 24, 1885.
Hon. HIRAM PRICE examined.
By the Chairman :
Question. Mr. Price, do tell us something about the Iowa Indians. They seem to be a scattered people.—A. Do you mean the Indians in Iowa, or the tribe of Iowa Indians I
The Chairman . I mean the tribe.
Q. How many are in Iowa?—A. I do not know that there are many in Iowa. If you look at my last report you can find there as much information as I can give you.
The Chairman . Your report represents the number to be 132 in Nebraska, near the Iowa line, at the Great Nemaha Agency.
The Witness. Yes; at the Great Nemaha Agency, on the line close to Iowa.
The Chairman . And your report also says that there are 88 in the Indian Territory?
The Witness. That is the best information we can get.
Mr. Harrison. Are there only 88 in the Territory ?
The Chairman . That is all that is reported. The Executive set up a reservation in 1883, in the Territory—so it appears here by the Executive order.
Q. Mr. Price, was it the design of the Government to gather all the Indians by the name of Iowas down there?—A. Well, sir, I do not know, Mr. Senator. I cannot tell what the design of the Government was, I think that at one time there was a prospect of doing that, and the Nebraska lowas were told that if they could agree with the Iowas in the Indian Territory, steps would be taken to remove them there.
Q. What knowledge has the Department as to the character of that reservation?—A. Only what you can get in my report. I have never been there myself.
The Chairman . Well, air, it appears from the book that the reservation contains about 231,068 acres—88 upon this reservation, and 132 of the same tribe up at the Nemaha, Agency, in Nebraska. Unless it was designed to put some of the other Indians upon this reservation, I do not understand why it should be so large.
Q. Are there any other Indians there that you know of?—A. I should have to refresh my memory from the records, Mr. Senator. I have never been there, and do not know anything except from the reports of the agents.
Q. What kind of Indians are they? What is their condition?—A. Well, they are not what we consider the wildest Indians.
Q. Are they advanced considerably in civilization?—A. That depends upon what you would call civilization.
The Chairman . Self support, I mean.
The Witness. I could not tell you one half as much as you can get from the report of the agent.
The Chairman . This Executive order is dated August 15, 1883, and reads as follows :

It is hereby ordered that the following-described tract of country in Indian Territory, viz: Commencing at the point where the Deep Fork of the Canadian River intersects the western boundary of the Sac and Fox Reservation; thence north along said west boundary to the south bank of the Cimarron River; thence up said Cimarron River to the Indian Meridian; thence south along said Indian Meridian to the Deep Fork of the Canadian River; thence down said Deep Fork to the place of beginning, be, and the same hereby is, set apart for the permanent use and occupation of the Iowa and such other Indians as the Secretary of the Interior may see fit to locate thereon.

The Witness. I think, gentlemen, that we have just put the Toncawas in there.
Mr. Ingalls.What?
The Witness. That is a new tribe, the Toncawas. You can get at them accurately from the book.
The Chairman . Mr. Price, will you please spell that out?
The Witness. T-o-n-c-a-w-a-s.
Q. Have you any knowledge of the lease of this reservation of these Iowas to anybody for cattle-grazing purposes?—A. No, sir; no lease, Mr. Chairman, has been signed there and approved for anybody. What I know about leases is outside of my official position. No leases of any lands in Indian reservations have been approved by the Department.
Q. Have you any personal knowledge of any lease of this particular reservation?—A. I have not, without looking at the records; there may have been. You. have all that the Department knows in Senate DocuĀ­ment 54, and the supplement to that document, Senate Document 17.
Q. It don't appear positively whether your attention was called particularly to this lease.—A. If it is not in that document it was not called to our attention.
Q. If at any time a lease of this land has been made, it has been made without your personal knowledge?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Without any knowledge you have now, of it?—A. Yes, sir; except what I hear by report. I hear, at times, that somebody is going to lease this or that reservation.
Q. Have you heard anything in reference to the lease of this Iowa land?—A. No, sir.
Q. Now, Mr. Price, if you were about to remove these Toncawa Indians from Texas there, and if you found the whole reservation leased to white men for ten years, would the lease be in the way?—A. Not a bit. I do not think there is any such lease, sir.
Q. You have never heard that these Indians have leased the entire reservation, except what they want for their use, according to their own judgment?— A. I do not think I have.
Q. Do you think this a wise thing, to make such a lease as to lease their entire reservation to anybody for grazing purposes, leaving only such as they might feel they wanted to keep for themselves?—A. That involves this answer : If it were a personal matter with me, and I thought the Indians had more land than they could use, and they consented to it, I think it would he a good idea, under some regulation of law, to lease the land they were not using, provided the money could be made use of for the benefit of the Indians. I think under these circumstances it would be a good policy. That is my private opinion.
Q. Do you think it would be a good plan to allow an Indian tribe to lease their entire reservation under such terms as they pleased?—A. It would only be proper. I think, with the consent of the Indians, and with the approval of the Department. In that case only, and not where it did not have the approval of the Department. You have fifty letters, Mr. Chairman, in that document before you, upon this subject.
Q. Do you think it would be a proper thing for them to lease their entire reservation, supposing also, in addition to this lease of the entire reservation, the rental was so much a head for all the cattle the lessee had on this land; would that be a wise provision?—A. That would depend upon how much was to be paid, and how paid, and if the Indians were satisfied.
Q. Would you think it wise that somebody else beside the lessee and the Indians should be present and determine the interest of the transaction?—A. I think it ought to be examined and approved by the Department. That is my opinion.
Q. How would you advise the disposition of the rent money?—A. The wiser plan would be to allow the Secretary of the Interior to make such disposition of it as he thought best for the interest of the Indians. That would be a good policy if he could begin anew.
Q. Do you think it is necessary in the long run, to secure these lands to the Indians, that the Department should have an oversight of the whole thing?—A. That has been the policy pursued so far, sir.
Q. Have the Department had lately an Indian inspector by the name of Townsend in its employ?—A. Yes, sir; he was special agent when I came into the office, and he was there for a considerable time after-wards.
Q. Do you know when he resigned?—A. Yes, sir; he resigned on the 15th of February, 1883. The reason I know that is, I looked it up this morning.
Q. Did you have any knowledge that while he was in your employ as inspector he was securing for his own private interest a lease of Indian land on an Indian reservation?—A. No, sir; probably I should say here that he tendered his resignation on the 15th of February, 1883, and his resignation was not accepted until the 11th of March; between these dates I do not know but Mr. Townsend may have done something of the kind, and the Department may or may not have known about it.
Q. Had you any knowledge of his doing anything in this direction up to this time?—A. No, sir; I had no idea that he was doing anything except in connection with the business of the Government.
Q. Would it be a wise policy for the Government to permit its officials to go into the business!
The Witness. Well, now, Mr. Senator, that is a general question, and it cannot be answered by a yes or no.
If you were in the Government employ, and a man should ask your opinion of a business you wanted to go into, then you would be apt to give an answer pro or con. It would be wrong if, while in the employ of the Government, he should neglect the business of the Government to attend to his own private business.
Q. Do you think a man employed as an Indian inspector should be permitted to seems for his own private interest a lease of Indian land without the knowledge of the Department?—A. No, Or; I should say not, in general terms.
Q. Would it be proper for the Department, having knowledge of it, to permit him to do it?—A. I know that if the Department were asked to approve it the Department would say no, for the reason that it would be wrong for an Indian inspector employed by the Government and sent among the Indians to investigate what was going on to do a thing of this sort.
Q. Would it be proper for him to enter into a negotiation for a lease for himself?—A. That depends upon how much he should do, and how he should do it. He might innocently ask if they were going to lease their land, because he might have it in mind that he perhaps would resign some day, but if he uses his official position to negotiate a lease he could not secure without holding that position, he would be doing wrong, and it would not be sanctioned by the Department.
Q. Would there be any danger of the Indians having a contused idea as to whether he appeared amongst them as an official of the Government or as a private citizen?—.A. I do not know what the Indians might think. It depends entirely upon the manner in which he approached them.
Q. Then you think, Mr. Price, an Indian inspector could, in a proper manner, negotiate for his private interests with these Indians?—A. No, sir; I do not.
Mr. Cameron. Mr. Chairman, will you allow Mr. Price to explain the difference between a special agent and an inspector?
The Witness. Their duties are almost identical. There is this difference, which you probably ought to know : A special agent has to frequently take charge of the agency when the agent has been removed until another one is appointed. The inspector frequently puts the special agent into this position. He can place him in charge, but the inspector could not do this himself. The inspector has special duties to perform—examining the agencies to see if they are conducted in a proper manner.

By the Chairman :

Q. While there on that business, can you conceive of the propriety of his entering into a negotiation with the Indians upon his own private account?—A. Well, sir, I can readily, conceive that a man might be as interested as possible, whether he be a special agent or inspector, and he might say to these Indians, "Is anybody going to lease your land What do you expect for that land?" He might have in his mind that he might want to make an offer at some future time. But if he made a contract at the time, that would he wrong.
Q. Why do you say you would not give your consent?—A. Because, the policy of leases has not been decided, and we would not give our consent to anybody's making a lease. We have given no endorsement to leases. The first I knew of this man's intention to enter into business on his own account was when he tendered his resignation. He tendered his resignation on the 15th of February, 1883, and my impression is that he talked of resigning before that time? I will say here that we considered him a very good agent, and it was with reluctance that we parted with him.
Q. You say it is possible he has communicated to you on the subject?—A. Only he may have talked of going into other business.
Q. Do you know of anybody coming to you to know if he might execute a lease of any land in the Sac and Fox country with a view to resigning?—A. I do not remember that.
Q. Do you remember that Mr. Parker called on you?—A. The only time I ever saw him was when he came to ask me some questions about Mr. Townsend, I think. Really I do not remember what he did say.
Q. Did he ever communicate to you anything like this? [The Chairman reads:]

Telegraph me Commissioner's consent that I should sign lease, in view of resignation upon completion of my present orders. Have good reasons to fear I might compromise my standing with Department without this. Hurry up.

The Witness. What is the date of that telegram ?
The Chairman . It is dated June 27, 1883.
The Witness. June 27,1883! No, sir; I do not think I ever saw that [Witness examining telegram.]
Q. You never read this telegram?—A. No, sir; I never read it.
Q. Have you any recollection of authorizing such an answer as this?
[The Chairman reads :]

E. B. Townsend, Cherryvale, Kansas:
Commissioner says no objections; sign.

The Chairman . That means to sign the lease, I think.
The Witness. Now, if you can tell me what the gentleman who sent that asked me, I can tell you what I said. I may have said I had no objections, in view of his going out of the service, but I do not remember now that I did say it.
Mr. Ingalls. Did Mr. Price know to whom that telegram was addressed? If not, I think it would be proper for him to know to whom it was addressed.
The Chairman. Mr. Parker testified that he received this telegram from Mr. Townsend, and Mr. Townsend stated, in his testimony, that he sent Mr. Parker this telegram on the day it bears date. This was a copy of his own dispatch and he got this answer the same day to it. Then Mr. Parker says he did receive it, and went and showed it to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and the Commissioner made a reply which he telegraphed to Mr. Townsend.
The Witness. I will tell you what is possible. I do not think Mr. Parker handed me the telegram. He might have asked if there was any objection to his negotiating the lease, but I have no recollection of that.
Mr. Cameron. The telegram says that he wished the consent of the Department in anticipation of his leaving the service.
The Witness. I would not sanction the lease by him while he was acting as agent; but if he should resign he would be outside the control of the Department.
Q. Would you have approved of his negotiating the terms of the lease while he was special agent?—A. Of course I would not sanction his executing the lease while he was in the service, nor negotiating for it. It was my impression that he had talked at some time of resigning.
Q. Did you ever receive any communication from anybody in the fall before he resigned, about the fact of what he was doing?—A. No, sir.
Q. Did you ever receive a letter from a Mr. Berry, or do you know of Mr. Berry?—A. Yes, sir; he was a trader at the Sac and Fox Agency.
Q. Is he a trader now?—A. No, sir; I think not.
Q. Did he write you about some trouble his brother had fallen into?—A. My letter answers that.
The Chairman . Gentlemen, I received a letter from Mr. Price yesterday.
The Witness. This Mr. Berry wrote me to know why his brother, who was clerk, was removed. He was removed from the office of clerk because of charges against him. I received a letter from him, which was not answered until Senator Plumb applied to the office, and I gave him the reason why.

By the Chairman :

Q. At the time he wrote about his brother, or at any time, did he communicate anything about Mr. Townsend?—A. Yes, sir; I think in that same letter he did, and I think I have his letter to me with me now; but I did not expect to be asked about that matter. I have it, however.
Q. You think that is his letter?—A. Yes, sir; that is the only letter I know of, March, 1884.
Q. That is the one Mr. Plumb took to you?—A. Yes, sir; that came through him, and I at the time wrote this :

It will be a sufficient answer to say that no such letter as he refers to has been sent to this office, nor have we any knowledge of such a letter here, and Special Agent Townsend is no longer in the Indian service.

Q. Was that written at the time the letter came to you?—A. No, sir. This Mr. Berry wrote to Mr. Plumb that he had not received a letter, and I answered him and gave him a copy of the charges against the other Mr. Berry.
Q. Were there any charges against this Mr. Berry?—A. No, sir; not that I know of.
Q. You do not know how long after you received this letter it was that Mr. Plumb communicated with you?—A. This was the 7th of March. Mr. Plumb came there probably the 1st of April.
Q. Was that the only letter you received?—A. That is the only one I remember or that I have any recollection of.
The Chairman . Here is Mr. Price's to me upon the subject. Can I read it ?
The Witness. I have no objection.

(The letter is as follows:)

January 22, 1885.
Hon. Henry L. Dawes,
Chairman Committee on Indian Affairs:

Sir: I am in receipt of your letter of yesterday informing me that some part of Mr Berry's testimony referred to me, and you suggest that possibly I might wish to look at the testimony and make some explanation. On an examination of the testimony to-day I only find that Mr. Berry complains of me because his letter asking to be informed of the nature of the charges against his brother was not answered.
I enclose herewith a letter from Mr. Andrews, who has charge of this class of correspondence, which will explain the delay, particularly when it is remembered that letters that are answered in their regular order of filing sometimes (and this is particularly the case during the session of Congress) are not answered for more than one month.
Orders of court, and resolutions of Senate and House, calling for copies of papers, and requests of Members of the Senate and House take precedence, and are generally made special.
The letter of Mr. Berry complaining of some acts of Mr. Townsend did not reach me until after Mr. Townsend had left the service, and consequently I could do nothing in the matter.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

By the Chairman :

Q. Your letter to me infers that you never got any letter from Mr. Berry until after Mr. Townsend resigned. If he wrote you any letter earlier than this you did not receive it or have no knowledge of I sent to Mr. Andrews, who has charge of the tiles of the office, and this is the letter he sent me. I made a memorandum at the time I received it, and I have no knowledge of receiving any letter earlier than that.
The Chairman. Mr. Berry testified that in the fall he sent you a letter.
The Witness. This is the letter I received from Mr. Andrews, who has charge of the files.
(The letter is as follows:)

January 22, 1885.
Hon. H. Price,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs: Sir: The records of the office show that the permit which was given Thomas E. Berry (a licensed trader at the Sac and Fox Agency) to employ as clerk Andrew A. Berry was, on the 15th day of February, 1884, revoked, and the agency directed to order him to leave the reservation.
The charge against Berry was "debauching the wife of Joseph Regnier."
On the 7th day of March, 1884, a letter was received from Thomas E. Berry, asking that the charges against Andrew A. Berry be investigated by the new agent for the Sac and Fox Agency. No reply had yet been made to Berry, and on the 1st day of April, 1854, a letter from Berry was received by reference of Senator Plumb, making, among other things, the same request.
A reply was made to Senator Plumb on the same day that the charge was sustained by ample proof, and that action was had without submitting the. case to the agent. A copy of the charge, which was made by the husband of Mrs. Reguier, was given in the above reply to Senator Plumb and the letter of Berry returned.
The missionary at the Sac and Fox Agency interested himself in the matter, and urged that the case be attended to without giving it notoriety.
Very respectfully, &c.,

By the Chairman :

Q. This letter does not indicate any letter previous?—A. No, sir.
Q. I understand you to say, as far as you are able to state, the office has no knowledge of any letter previous to that from Mr. Berry?—A. Yes, sir; I believe Mr. Berry complains, as I understand from the testimony, that he had not been answered.
The Chairman . As I understand his testimony, he said previous to this time, in the fall, he had written to you, making a statement in regard to this matter.
Mr. Cameron. I understand Mr. Price to say that he was advised by Mr. Andrews, who has charge of this class of correspondence, that there was no other letter on tile except the one he produced.
Mr. Ingalls. The question is whether Mr. Price, as Commissioner, ever received such a letter.
Mr. Cameron. If he had received it in the ordinary course of business, it would now be on file.
The Witness. Yes, sir; it would be on file. Mr. Andrews sent me back this letter, and it is evidently the letter he complains of.

By Mr. Harrison:

Q. Did you inquire whether there was any previous letter?—A. No, sir.
Mr. Harrison. Perhaps it would be well to have you examine the files of the office carefully. The file clerk having found one, be might have concluded that it was the only one received from Mr. Berry.
The Witness. I will have the examination made, but I am pretty sure that I received no other letter.
Mr. Bowen. Mr. Price, I would like to inquire if the Cherokees have been paid any money on account of any of their lands west of the Arkansas River that are not occupied by other Indians, and, if so, how much has been paid?
The Witness. You are speaking of the Cherokee Strip or outlet?
Mr. Bowen. The question is general.
The Witness. That is the only unoccupied land they have. I will read you the report of the Department on this subject, which is contained in that letter from the Secretary of the Interior to the President of the Senate, and dated January 3, 1885.

By Mr. Ingalls:

Q. January 3, instant?—A. Yes, sir; it is Senate Ex. Doc. 19. The Secretary referred the matter to me. Let me read it; the resolution of the Senate asked—

First. What was the price paid said Cherokee Nation per acre for their lands west of Arkansas River.
Second. Whether there has been more than one appraisement of such lands; and if so, what, and by what authority.
Third. If the payment of said $300,000 was on account of any lands belonging to said Cherokee Nation west of the Arkansas River other than the lands occupied by the Pawnees, Nez Percés, Poncas, Otoes, Missourias, and Osages.

The Witness. Here is my answer :

Washington, D. C., December 30, 1884.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, by Department reference, for report, of Senate resolution dated December 23, 1884, referring to the act of March 3, 1883, appropriating the sum of $300,000, to be paid to the Cherokee Nation of Indians out of the funds due under appraisement for Cherokee lands west of the Arkansas River, and directing the Secretary of the Interior to inform the Senate as soon as practicable—
"First. What was the price paid said Cherokee Nation per acre for their lands west of the Arkansas River.
"Second. Whether there has been more than one appraisement of such lands; and if so, what, and by what authority.
"Third. If the payment of said $300,000 was on account of any lands belonging to said Cherokee Nation west of the Arkansas River other than the lauds occupied by the Pawnees, Nez Percés, Poncas, Otoes (and) Missourias, and Osages."
In reply, I have to state that the Cherokees have not been paid for all their lands lying west of the Arkansas River
There are of these lands 6.574,586.56 acres, of which there has been but one appraisement.
The appraised value of these lands, as fixed by the President June 23, 1879, by virtue of the authority vested in him by the act of 1872 (17 Stat., 190), and the act of 1876 (19 Stat., 120), is as follows:

230,014.04 acres, at 70 cents per acre, Pawnees; see act 1876 (19 Stat., 28) $161,009 82
4,344, 572. 51 acres, st 47.49 cents per acre 3,013,037 48
6,574,586. 56 acres 3,174, 047 30

The following dispositions have been made out of the lands in question, viz:

To the Pawnees, act 1876 (19 Stat., 28):
230, 014.04 acres, at 70 cents per acre 161,009 82
To the Nez Perces, act 1878 (20 Stat., 74):
90,710.89 acres at 47.49 cents per acre 43, 078 60
To the Poncas, act 1881 (21 Stat.,422):
101, 894.31 acres, at?7.49 cents per acre 48, 389 46
To the Otoes and Missourias, act 1881 (21 Stat., 380):
129,113.20 acres, at?7.49 cents per acre 61,315 85
551,732.44 acres 313,793 73

On account of the Cherokee lands lying west of the Arkansas River, the following payments have been made, viz :

Under act June 16, 1880 (21 Stat.. 248) $300,000 00
Under act March 3, 1881 Poncas (21 Stat., 422) 48,389 46
Under act March 3, 1883 (22 Stat., 624) 300,000 00
Total 648.389 46

This sum is $334,595.73 in excess of the value of the lands disposed of at the price fixed by the President.
With the exception of the Ponca"in which case an express appropriation was made, this Department holds that the above-named appropriations were made on account of all the lands of the Cherokee Nation lying west of the Arkansas River, including the assignments made therefrom, as above stated.
The acts of June 16, 1841, and March 3, l883, expressly provided that the appropriations thereby made were to be paid to the Cherokee Nation out of the funds due, under appraisement, for its lands west of the Arkansas River.
The Pawnees, Ponces, Nez Percés, and Otoes and Missourias have made no payments to the Cherokees for the tracts occupied by them respectively. All payments made on account of these lands have been made by the Government.
The resolution of the Senate is herewith returned.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
The Hon. Secretary of the Interior.

By Mr. Harrison :

Q. Has the land that was taken west of the Arkansas River been paid for?—A. Something has been paid on account. The whole of the Cherokee outlet contains over 6,500,000 acres, and of this the Government of the United States has taken 551,000 acres. Under the treaty we made with these Indians we have the right, at any time, to settle friendly Indians upon this land.
Q. The Cherokees kept the whole of the eastern portion of their lands?—A. Yes, sir; all of the eastern portion. We have a right to take the whole of the Cherokee strip, which contains six and a half million acres.
Q. Do you mean that we have a right to take this at any time?—A. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Bowen:

Q. I understood you to say that the Cherokee Nation owed the Government about $300,000.—A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long have they been owing it, and what rate of interest has been charged upon it?—A. Well, sir, there has been no interest charged that I know of. I don't think any interest is paid at all.
Q. You say you think the Government can take that land at any time?—A. Yes, sir; it looks to me as a very clear case, but they claim that we cannot.
Mr. Harrison. I understood that the treaty with the Cherokees allowed us, under the provisions of that treaty, to take the land west of the Arkansas River, and that takes the whole of the strip.
The Witness. Yes, sir; the whole of the strip from the Arkansas River west.
Mr. Ingalls. The degree is mentioned in the treaty
Mr. Harrison. I think it is ninety-six.
The Chairman . Mr. Price, that treaty required that this price should be a matter of agreement between the Cherokees and the United States.
The Witness. Yes, sir; but they never did agree upon a price, and the appraisement which was made was returned to the President, and the President fixed the price at 47.49 cents. The President went on and made the appraisement without their knowledge, so they complained.
Q. Mr. Price, would you do me the favor to cause some one to search for that matter? It is important to silence complaint.

By Mr. Bowen:

Q. Referring once more, Mr. Price, to the $300,000, I wish to ask whether that amount stands charged on the books of the Department?—A. I don't know whether it does or not, but I think so; I have not examined the books. I know that these are the payments that have been made and I presume the ledger will show that.

By Mr. Cameron:

Q. Mr. Price, I have been told that there were some Otoes and Shawnees on this Iowa reservation. Do you know whether that is so or not?—A. I will have to go to the books. You can get that from my report; that will show it.

Return To Testimony Index.
This site may be freely linked, but not duplicated without consent.
All rights reserved. Commercial use of material within this site is prohibited.
The copyright (s) on this page must appear on all copied and/or printed material.
© 2021 by C.S.L.S.A. Site Coordinator