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


J. S. MORRISON sworn and examined.
By the Chairman :
Question. Mr. Morrison, what is your full name?—Answer. J. S. Morrison.
Q. What does J. stand for?—A. Jesse.
Q. Where do you reside?—A. At Darlington, Ind. Ter.
Q. What is your business?—A. I am a stockman.
Q. Are you a lessee of land in the Indian Territory?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. How much land does your lease cover?—A. One hundred and thirty-eight thousand two hundred and forty eight acres.
Q. In whose name?—A. In my own name.
Q. Are you the only one interested in it?—A. At the time it was made I was the only one.
Q. Who is interested now, or have you any objection to stating them?—A. I have no objection, sir. The names of the other parties are T. S. Bagley, and he has a partner by the name of Charles Work.
Q. Did you become a lessee from the beginning?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Under the same terms as the others?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Were you present when the leases were made?—A. Yes, sir; I was present at the agency during the whole transaction.
Q. Were you present at the council?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Will you state the transaction to the committee?—A. As I recollect, the matter was taken under consideration by the Indians in council. This was at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency.
Q. Then you are not a lessee of the Cherokee Strip?—A. No, sir. My lease is in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation.
Q. You are not a sublessee under the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association?—A. No, sir.
Q. Is it a sublease that you occupy?—A. No, sir; it was obtained directly from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians.
Q. You may state all about obtaining it?—A. The council was called in December, 1883, at which council the Indians requested the Department to allow them to lease certain portions of their reservation.
Q. What answer was returned to this request?—A. I do not know. After that Mr. Fenlon came down from Leavenworth, Kans., for the purpose of obtaining a portion of the reservation, and the Indians called a council, and in the first council they did not fairly understand the matter. They were afraid they were relinquishing their title. After some discussion the council was broken up.
Q. Who were present at the council?—A. Well, the commanding officer of Fort Reno, with some others, and the agent.
Q. Who was the agent?—A. John D. Miles was the agent. After the council was broken up, the Indians held a council in their camp and talked the matter over amongst themselves, and they discussed it among themselves for some time. They determined to make the leases. Then they agreed not only to lease the portion of the reservation Mr. Fenlon wanted, but a larger portion asked for by other parties. A map of the reservation was prepared, and they marked out certain divisions on that map which they were told would be to their benefit to lease. They decided to lease, and the leases were made and drawn up. Mr. Fenlon's and our lease was first prepared, and the others were prepared a few days after.
Q. What rental do you pay?—A. Two cents an acre.
Q. The Indians signed these leases?—A. Yes, sir; that is, they touched the pen.
Q. Did they do this as a body, or did somebody sign for them?—A. Each individual signed the lease.
Q. About how many names did you get?—A. I suppose fifty or sixty; about such a number. I know there was a very large number.
Q. Your lease was on the same terms as the others?—A. Precisely the same.
Q. What was done with your lease in reference to the Department?—A. It was referred to the Department in company with that of Colonel Hunter's, to be approved and returned.
Q. Did you have any conversation with any officer of the GovernĀ­ment, except Major Miles, upon the subject of leasing this land?—A. No, sir.
Q. Do you still occupy this land?—A. No, sir.
Q. When did you dispose of it?—A. In about six months after the lease was made.
Q. Did you stock the range fully?—A. No, sir; I did not.
Q. How much stock is there on it now?—A. About 10,000 head of cattle, in connection with another small lease.
Q. Are the occupants of this lease disturbed by anybody?—A. Yes, sir; they are disturbed by the Kiowas and Comanches. They do not know the line; they claim that the line is too far south, and they won't allow the line to be fenced.
Q. Did you realize any profit by the disposition of your range?—A. Yes, sir; I made thirteen hundred and some odd dollars.
Q. Were you present when the money was paid out?—A. Yes, sir; the paymaster distributed it on the ration tickets.
Q. You have lived quite a while among the Indians?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is it your opinion that it is better for them to lease their land than to undertake to be herders for themselves?—A. Well, it would be quite a number of years before they could acquire any stock of any number. They only have very small herds. It is, in my opinion, more beneficial for them to lease their lands. They never will take herds.
Q. How much land is there remaining in the reservation where your lease is?—A. Somewhere about 700,000 or 800,000 acres.
Q. Is it better than the leased land?—A. I think so.
Q. Could these Indians on the land that is left, if the Government were disposed to adopt the policy of making herders of them, be used to their benefit?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was anything paid to anybody for these leases?—A. Not that I ever heard of; I never heard of anybody being paid anything.
Q. Why did you dispose of your lease?—A. Because it was of more value than for me to retain it.
Q. Was there any reason why it was not worth as much to you as to anybody else?—A. No, sir; but these parties considered it of more value to them than I considered it to be to me. [Laughter.]

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