|Testimony taken by the Committee on Indian Affairs|
HIRAM T. LANDRUM.
HIRAM T. LANDRUM sworn and examined.
By the Chairman:
Question. What is your Christian name?—Answer. Hiram T. Landrum.
Q. Where do you reside?—A. I reside on Grand River, Cherokee Nation, 20 miles east of Vinita.
Q. Are you a member of the Cherokee Nation?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is your business?—A. Principally that of farming.
Q. Have you a farm in the Territory?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Under your exclusive supervision?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. How much of a farm?—A. I have about 60 acres under cultivation.
Q. What title do you have to land for exclusive occupation there under your laws?—A. Well, under our law regulating settlement of the public domain, we have a certain exclusive privilege. Our citizens are allowed under the law to make homes anywhere on the public domain, so as not to interfere with the rights of other citizens.
Q. Can you exclude other people from that land?—A. Yes, sir; we can exclude other people from that land as long as we occupy it ourselves. One citizen cannot set up or erect improvements within certain legal limits.
Q. What are considered legal limits?—A. One-quarter of a mile from any other man’s legal improvements.
Q. How much land can you take in that way? Can you take in for your own use?—A. Well, sir, there is no limit. A person can take in as much as he can cultivate and hold.
Q. Can you go anywhere and take up this land?—A. Yes, sir; we can take up land anywhere, except within such a distance from anybody else.
Q. Do you hold it against anybody else when you have done that?—A. Yes, sir; we can hold it by erecting legal improvements.
Q. What are they?—A. A legal improvement is $50 worth of improvements required to be put on the place within six months after locating the claim.
Q. Can you convey that to somebody else ?—A. I can convey the privilege of occupying the same right that I have.
Q. When you die does it go to your children or heirs ?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you hold any official position in reference to the government of the Territory?—A. At present I am a member of Cherokee Senate, also a member of the Cherokee delegation representing the interest of that nation here before the Government.
Q. How long have you been a member of the senate?—A. I was elected on the first Monday of last August a year ago.
Q. Was that after the law in reference to the lease was made?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Were you a member when the lease was made?—A. No, sir.
Q. How far do you reside from the capital?—A. Seventy-five miles.
Q. Have you any knowledge of the legislation which led to the lease?—A. Nothing at all.
Q. Did you take sides on the question of leasing the land?—A. No, sir.
Q. Has the legislature or council met since your election?—A. No, sir.
Q. What, in your opinion, is the feeling among the nation in reference to this lease?—A. Well, I never heard any dissatisfaction among the mass of the people.
Q. Have you any knowledge of the name in which this lease was obtained?—A. No, sir.
Q. Did you know what means were used to get it through the legislature?—A. No, sir; I know nothing about that.
Q. How many payments have there been under it?—A. There have been two or three payments made under it.
Q. What has been done with the money?—A. My understanding is that it has been deposited in the Cherokee national treasury for some special purpose. The law, I think, provides that whenever the revenue amounts to $300,000 it shall be paid per capita among the people. That is my understanding.
Q. What is your opinion of the wisdom of this policy?&mdash'A. Well, I think it is far better than what we have been doing—that is, it is a great deal more money than we have received prior to that.
Q. If it were a new question to-day, would you recommend this lease? Would you favor the lease if it were presented now for the first time?—A. Well, sir, I think they could make a more profitable disposition of the land.
Q. In what particular?—A. It could be leased for a little more.
Q. About what do you think would be a fair rental?—A. Not being very well acquainted with the country, I cannot say what would be a fair rental in my mind.
Q. Do you know what rentals are in other parts of the Territory?—A. No, sir.
Q. Have you any knowledge whether the Cherokee Nation could have; other parties at a higher rate It is my opinion that they could have gotten more rental.
Q. Do you think it was wise to authorize the lease to these particular individuals, rather than to open it to competition?—A.Well, sir, I don’t know. Not being acquainted with the particular individuals, I can’t say. I am only acquainted with two or three of the members of that association.
Q. Have you been frequently at the capital since or before the lease was executed?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you any knowledge of any improper means being used?—A. No, sir; I have not.
Q. Did you hear at the capital or anywhere else what means were used to obtain this lease?—A. No, air.
Q. Has it ever come to your ears that money was used, directly or indirectly?—A. I have heard it rumored.
Q. Who told you anything about it?—A. I am not able to tell you who told me. It was merely a supposition among the Indians. I knew nothing about it, and have no information upon the subject.
Q. What is the basis of the rumor; that scum improper means were used?—A. I do not know that I understand you, Mr. Senator.
Q. What do you know of the origin of such a rumor?—A. I do not know how it originated.
Q. What do you know about the rumor at first?—A. I just heard that the supposition was that there had been money used.
Q. With whom I—A. The rumor was that it had been used among some of the members, but no names were called.
Q. Was the rumor in such shape as to indicate who they were?—A. No names were called, and I could not infer that it was any particular individual.
Q. You could not infer who was meant?—A. No, sir.
Q. Any member of the council t—A. No, sir.
Q. Or the executive head?—A. No, sir, I could not infer that any particular person was meant.
Q. Who did you understand went there to get this lease?—A. Well, sir, the present association. They are the parties, I understand, who went there to get it.
Q. Well, they did not all go?—A. I don’t suppose they did.
By Mr. Ingalls :
Q. Of how many members does this legislative body consist?—A. The lower house consists of forty members and the senate of eighteen.
Q. For what term are they chosen?—A. For two years.
Q. Members of each body are chosen for two years?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then the whole body is elected every two years?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. When and how long do they sit?—A. They convene the first Monday of November of each year, and the time is limited by the constitution. They hold for thirty days, which is construed to be thirty working days.
Q. You ale now a member?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have they held a session since you were elected?—A. Yes, sir; I have sat two sessions—last November and the year before.
Q. Were you a member the time this lease was authorized by the act of the legislature?—A. No, sir.
Q. How far do you live from the region where the land was leased?—A. About 125 miles, I suppose.
Q. Do you live in a thickly settled portion of the Territory?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. How many people are there in your district?—A. There are a fraction over 700 voters.
Q. Has this matter of a lease been discussed among the people of your district?—A. It has not been discussed at all.
Q. It is known, is it not?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Has any dissatisfaction been expressed to any considerable extent?—A. No, sir.
Q. Do these rumors you speak of, as affecting the purity of that transaction, involve any particular persons?—A. No, sir; they are only rumors.
Q. I understand you to say that the policy of leasing is a wise one?—A. Well, sir, I stated awhile ago that it is better than what we had been doing previous to it.
Q. What have you to say about the adequacy of the consideration? I understand you think if the lease were renewed now, it might be worth more. What is your opinion as to the adequacy of the consideration at the time the lease was made?—A. At the time I supposed the consideration was about an adequate one.
Q. You think it was a fair compensation?—A. Yes, sir.
By Mr. Harrison:
Q. Did you understand you were renting 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 acres?—A. I understood 6,000,000 acres.
Q. Did you not understand they were offering 2 cents an acre for these 6,000,000 acres, and calculating on 5,000,000 instead of 6,000,000?—A. Well, sir, my impression was that they were renting 6,000,000 acres.
Q. You do not know of any other lease made for 2 cents an acre?—A. I do not know anything about any other lease.
By the Chairman :
Q. You knew it was $100,000 in the gross?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you thought it was 6,000,000 acres?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did it not strike you it was less than 2 cents an acre?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. If the Cherokee Nation could give a lease that could hold against everybody for five years, do you think they could command a better rental?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did the fact that it was to be leased under the chances that it might be taken away or dispossessed have any effect upon the amount they would get?
The Witness. Do you mean the future?
The Chairman . No; when the lease was made.
A. It was a fact that if the Department had opposed it, the lease would not have been made.
Q. You understood the Department favored it?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you read Bushyhead’s message on the subject?—A. I believe I did.
Q. Did you understand that the United States could take it under contract whenever they wanted it?—A. My understanding was that the United States could take such an amount of land as they wanted, in order to settle Indian tribes on it. If I remember the law right, it provides that when the United States wants it to settle Indian tribes on, they can take it.
Q. My inquiry was, what effect that had upon the amount of rental you could obtain?—A. I have not formed any opinion on that point.
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