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


Washington, D. C., January19, 1885.
W. T. ADAIR and examined.
By the Chairman :

Question. What is your name?—Answer. W. T. Adair.
Q. Where do you live?—A. At Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation.
Q. Are you a member of the Cherokee Nation?—A. Yes, sir; I am a< citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
Q. By birth?—A. Yes; by birth.
Q. What is your business?—A. I am a physician.
Q. Have you always lived there?—A. Yes, sir; I was born there, and have always resided there.
Q. Have you held any official position?—A. Yes, sir; I am medical superintendent of the two high schools.
Q. Have you held any other position except connected with your professional business?—A. No, sir.
Q. Where were you when the council of the Cherokee Nation authorized the execution of this lease?—A. I was at Tahlequah.
Q. Did you have any personal knowledge of the transaction there?—A. Some knowledge.
Q. State all you know about it.—A. At the time this lease was granted to these cattlemen there were two or three other companies there desiring to make a lease. There was a Cherokee company that I was president of myself. We offered the same thing and a little more for the land.
Q. How much more?—A. About twenty thousand more.
Q. That much a year?—A. Yes; twenty thousand a year more.
Q. Describe that company.—A. It is a company of about thirty persons.
Q. Are they citizens of the Cherokee Nation?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Had this company corporate existence, or was it a private association?—A. It was a private association of the citizens of the Cherokee Nation.
Q. Had they occupied any portion of this land?—A. No, sir.
Q. Were they men of capital?—A. Some of them were.
Q. How much capital had they to invest in this undertaking?—A. I do not know that I can say how much. We were an unorganized company bidding for the lease, and were able to give as good a bond and security as any other company.
Q. Did the company that took the lease give bond?—A. I think so.
Q. Did your company offer to furnish a bond?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Were the terms offered by this other company that got the lease any different from the terms made by your company?—A. I think not.
Q. Can you give any reason why these American citizens were preferred to Cherokee citizens?—A. I can give no sufficient reason.
Q. Do you know what influenced the Cherokee Nation to give this lease to American citizens for $20,000 less than you offered?—A. The impression was that these other parties used money.
Q. On what evidence is that impression founded?—A. All I can say is this: After the lease was obtained, I spoke to Mr: Drumm, who was present at my house. I said, "You have your lease." He said, "Yes, by a close vote." I said, "By one majority." I said, "I would not be surprised if you had to pay a good deal for it." He said, "You know we did not expect to get benefits like that for nothing. We expected to pay and we did pay."
Q. He did not say to whom, or how much was paid, did he?—A. No, sir.
Q. Did you ask him?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. After it passed the council, was there any effort made to get the principal chief to veto it?—A. That I do not know.
Q. Did your people generally acquiesce in it?—A. Yes, sir; they acĀ­cepted it.
Q. What was there, if any, indication about the capitol and the legislative council that led you to suspect that money was used?—A. Well, sir, the general impression was that money was used, and I believe it myself.
Q. Did you make that statement down there?—A. I stated it to several persons, sir.
Q. Did you state it to any of the friends of this lease?—A. I do not know.
Q. Did the council get to a vote on the proposition to take your offer?—A. I think not.
Q. How was it done, then? They simply took the other up and voted it through?—A. They never came to a vote on our offer.
Q. How long was the matter under discussion?—A. I do not know—some time, though.
Q. Were you in attendance at the time?—A. I was not in the Senate at the time.
Q. Was there any change in the sentiment of the people that led you to change your opinion you entertained or have expressed?—A. Well, I only came to the conclusion I have by everybody believing that these parties were buying our members.
Q. Do you have in mind any particular person to whom money was paid ?—A. No, sir.
Q. You cannot give any names?—A. No, sir; I could not say who received money.
Q. Your people generally acquiesced in this disposition of their land after it was voted through?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is the opinion now?—A. I think they do not think that it is the best thing, and inasmuch as the national council gave it to these men, we were willing to submit to it.
Q. Now that it is done, what is your opinion of it?—A. I do not think it is the best thing for our people.
Q. How I Would you change things if you could do it?—A. My idea would be to try to get the biggest dollar the land was capable of bringing.
Q. Is there anything else except increasing the rental that you would do if you had the disposition of this land?—A. I don't know that there is.
Q. Did you think it a wise thing to rent this body of land to a responsible party as a whole?—A. I do not think so; my private opinion is, that we had better not have leased it at all.
Q. How would you have disposed of it?—A. I think, in the future, this land will be worth much more to the Cherokee people, and I think by giving it to these people outside of the country, it is partly putting it out of our control.
Q. Do you think it better to lease it as a whole to some company of your own citizens?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Much better than to lease it in parcels?—A. Yes, sir; that was my opinion.
Q. Then your objection to it is that the Cherokee Nation did not keep it and occupy it?—A. Yes, sir; and that they did not get sufficient rental.
Q. Is the nation making a wise use of the rental in your opinion?—A. I think so.
Q. What is the money used for?—A. It is deposited in vaults of the capitol, and it will be held there until it accumulates to a certain amount, and then it is to be paid by act of council per capita.
Q. Do you think it is better to pay it that way than to devote it to a specific purpose?—A. Well, sir; I do not know about that, but I do not think it should be paid in that way.
Q. Suppose they should build a highway from the capitol to the railĀ­road, would that be as good a thing as to distribute it per capita?—A. I think so.
Q. You think the council could have made a wiser use of it?—A. Yes, sir; I think the council could invest this money and the interest applied that to our schools or something of the kind.
Q. How are the schools supported now?—A. By funds invested, and the interest upon those funds is used for the purpose.
Q. You have fluids invested here, have you not?—A. I think so.
Q. What does the council do with the money?—A. Under the law it is applied to certain purposes.
Q. What did they do with that $300,000 we paid into the Cherokee Nation last year?—A. That was paid per capita.
Q. Was it paid to any particular class, or to the whole tribe? —A. To Cherokees by blood.
Q. That, then, excludes half-breeds—A. No, sir; the half-breeds are considered Cherokees by blood. It excludes the freedmen and adopted white citizens.
Q. Anybody else?—A. I think also it excludes the Delawares and Shawnees.
Q. Those are Indians who were not Cherokees by blood or birth—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was there any quarrel over the disposition of the $300,000 paid by the United States to the Cherokees?—A. Yes, sir; I believe there was some dispute, and the parties probably sent a delegation to Washington.
Q. Did you know of any influence used by any outside parties in obtaining this lease?—A. No, sir.
Q. By any white people?—A. No, sir; not that I know of.
Q. Who was there besides Mr. Drumm representing the lessees?—A. I remember Colonel Eldred was there.
Q. Did you have any talk with him?—A. No, sir.
Q. Who was the most active in the matter?—A. He or Mr. Drumm?—A. I could not say. Both were present at the time.
Q. You were president of this other association?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. You took an active part yourself to bring about the lease for your people?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. So you had frequent interviews with the members of the council yourself, did you not?—A. No, sir; we simply made a proposition to the council and left it on its merits.
Q. It did not go on its merits, did it?—A. No, sir.
Q. Do you think the present Cherokee council is in favor of this lease—A. I do not know that I could answer that question.
Q. Do you know anything about the instructions. given to the delegation here to protest against our inquiring into this matter?—A. I have heard of that down there.
Q. Do you think the council would protest against it if they were asked?—A. I could not say.

By Mr. Harrison:

Q. How did you intend to use the land—to occupy it with your company or to sublease it?—A. We intended to sublease it, or that was our idea. We intended to sublease it to responsible parties.
Q. It was not your plan to occupy the land yourself, but to sublease it—A. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Bowen:

Q. The whole of the $300,000 has been divided?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. None of it remains?—A. I suppose 7½ per cent. of it was paid, as I understood there, to parties who assisted in procuring the $300,000.
Q. To whom was this 7½ per cent. paid?—A. I do not know who those parties were. I do not know anything about it.

By the Chairman :

Q. Do you know on what representation this 7½ per cent. was paid?—A. No, sir. I could have heard, but being the superintendent of the schools it was my business to be gone the morning when this matter came up.

By Mr. Gorman:

Q. Who was associated with you in the company?—A. I think I could mention one or two, but there was something like twenty or thirty Cherokees interested.
Q. Were they all Cherokees?—A. Yes, sir; I think so.

By Mr. Cameron:

Q. In what shape did you put your proposition ? How did you make it to the council?—A. We just proposed to lease the Cherokee lands, west of the ninety-sixth meridian, for a certain consideration and for a certain time.
Q. You made that proposition to the council?—A. Yes, sir; we made that proposition to the council.
Q. Was it made openly in council?—A. I think so.
Q. By whom was it made?—A. I do not know. Some of the men who had the proposition in charge did it, but I do not remember who had it.
Q. Were you present in the council when it was made?—A. Well, sir, I live right there.
Q. I mean in the room.—A. No. sir; I was not. I hardly ever went into the council chamber. My business required my presence elsewhere, and I hardly ever went in there.
Q. Do you know whether or not it appears in the report of the proceedings of the council that such a proposition was made?—A. No, sir; but I think the record ought to show it.

By Mr. Bowen:

Q. Do I understand you to say that some of the Cherokee council were opposed to the lease?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was there more than ones?—A. I think so; several, I think.
Q. About how many, as near as you can remember?—A. Three or four members, I think.
Q. Were they associated with you?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Has your nation, prior to this lease, supported the legal Government with the funds of the nation?—A. Yes, sir; the Government has been supported by funds invested, the interest of which we draw semiannually.
Q. Was that sufficient, before this lease was made, to maintain the Government?—A. Yes, sir; we did not need the Government money. It is in the Treasury now.

By Mr. Gorman:

Q. I suppose your desire was to have the natives go into the grazing business?—A. Yes, sir, partly.
Q. The country west of ninety-six is all considered Cherokee property, is it not?—A. Yes, sir; and we believe it ought to be kept in the possession of the Cherokee Indians.
Q. Do you think the rental is fair?—A. No, sir.
Q. What would be a fair rental for this land?—A. Six cents, or somewhere along there, per year.
Q. Do you know of any other land that amounts to that much per year?—A. Yes, sir. Lands in that section of the country and in Texas, we have understood, lease at as high as 6 cents. Lands have been leased there in different parts of the country, from 4 to 8 cents per acre.
Q. Where do you mean?—A. I could not say positively myself anything about it.
Q. Are not the lands worth more now than when the lease was agreed upon?—A. I think so. Parties have constantly told us that there are persons who would give three times the amount for the land.
Q. Have any of these parties who said they would do this come forward and offered to give that much, or is it a mere rumor?—A. There was some offer of the kind made at the time the lease was made. Since then we have been informed that those men who lease those lands have subleased for much more than they leased them for themselves.
Q. What was your proposition?—A. We offered to give a hundred thousand dollars or more.
Q. Was that the way you put your offer in?—A. I cannot say. My recollection is that we offered$100,000, and, if necessary, we would give more than that. We offered $100,000 to $125,000 on that basis.

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