« PreviousContinue »
chiefs or governors, judges and treasurers. They elected the members of their legislative bodies similar to those of the States. The Creeks by way of distinction called the two branches of their legislature the House of Kings and the House of Warriors. Each tribe had a written constitution and code of laws, simple, but made for the purpose of securing to every member of the tribes peaceful enjoyment of his rights.
As a consideration to these Indians for moving from their old homes, the Government assured them that they should never be subject to a repetition of the oppression that had trampled upon their liberties and rights in the Eastern States. This Indian Territory was vested in them in fee simple. They were promised in the treaties made with them that in their new home they should have full jurisdiction over persons and property within their limits. That they should make their own laws. That no State should ever be allowed to make laws for them as the Eastern States had persisted in doing, and finally that they should never be made part of any State of the union without their consent. So that in moving the Indians out here the Government had in mind the creation of an Indian Territory in fact, which should always be their home and should never become a State of the Union, at least so long as the Indian tribes survived. At that early day, this territory was ordained not to be a public domain subject to entry by white people, but essentially different from every other tract of land in the country.
As exemplifying the attitude of the Government, it was provided in the treaty of 1835 with the Cherokees that in recognition of the progress made by them in civilization and "with a view to illustrate the liberal and enlarged policy of the Government" towards them in their removal beyond the territorial limits of the States, they should be entitled to a delegate in the House of Representatives "whenever Congress should make provision for the same." Similar promises
were made to the other tribes.
While Congress passed laws to prevent white men going upon and occupying the lands of the Indians, licensed traders, licensed traders, mechanics and others desired by the In
dians were excepted. The Indians were a sociable class of people, and suffered many white people to come among them. White men married Indian girls, settled on the Indian lands and raised families, and with the rights given them by virtue of their Indian wives and Indian children, held and cultivated large tracts of land, and leased other tracts to white men who were not intermarried into the tribes. Drawn by the opportunities to make money by trading and farming free from taxation, white people came into this attractive country in great numbers. A generation ago there were as many white people as Indians in Indian Territory, and since then the number has been rapidly increasing, and they who formerly were merely by the sufferance of the Indians now so far exceed them in numbers and importance as to put the former lords of this domain in the background, demanding that laws and conditions be adjusted to the change which has made the ratio of white men to Indian about ten to oneon the Indian's land, to be sure—but there was the situation, and legislation had to be devised to fit it.
For years Congress has occupied the position of trying on the one hand to keep faith with the Indians in the matter of their treaty agreements, and to protect them from their own inexperience and from the white people who wish to own their lands, and on the other hand to adjust its laws and policy to the changed conditions brought about by the flood of white people, who have gone into this Indian domain and developed it into a great and wealthy community ripe for statehood. The compromise has not been satisfactory either to the white people or to the Indians, but it is probably the best that could be attained. The duty of Congress in the premises has not been clear, and the result has been a postponement until the last minute of decisive action concerning the question of statehood.
In 1900 Congress was urged to admit Oklahoma and Indian Territory as one State. It was told that there were then in Indian Territory 350,000 American citizens other than Indians, "without any political privileges, without local selfgovernment, mere tenants at will and peasants of the soil to 70,000 persons of
Indian extraction. They can build neither roads nor bridges, neither schools nor higher institutions of learning, neither asylums for the unfortunate nor refugees for the poor." The political parties readily enough promised in their platforms that statehood would be given these territories, but when the problem came up in Congress it was avoided or postponed repeatedly until the enabling act of 1906 was passed.
Foreseeing the inevitable occupation of Indian Territory by the dominant race, in 1898 Congress passed an act called the Curtis Act, for the protection of white people in Indian Territory. One of the principal features of this act was that providing a method by which white people could acquire title to the lots occupied by them in the towns and cities that had grown up over the land.
Previously to this act, white people had enclosed, occupied and built upon these town lots without a vestige of title; they had bought and sold the mere possessory right to lots by bills of sale, trusting to an indulgent Congress in the future to confirm these claims of title. This faith in the action of Congress induced the building of valuable and lasting improvements, business blocks and residences in scores of Indian Territory towns before this law was passed.
Quite as important a feature of the Curtis Act was that providing for making allotment of all the lands of the five civilized tribes among the members thereof, in the proportion that the number of members of a tribe bore to the amount of land held by that tribe, so that every man, woman and child of each tribe would hold in severalty an equal amount of average land, each member being permitted to allot land containing his farm, home or improvements. The Creek and Seminole allotment is 160 acres per head; the Cherokee average allotment is 80 acres; Choctaws and Chicasaws 320 acres. Provision was made also for participation in this allotment by the ex-slaves of these Indians and their descendants, the Indians having been compelled by Congress soon after the emancipation of their slaves to share their lands with them. The details of these allotments were arrived at by subsequent treaties between the Government and the
different tribes; they were ratified reluctantly by the Indians, who realized that it mattered little whether they agreed to them or not, and that they offered probably the best solution of the situation.
The enrollment of the Indians and the allotment of their lands in severalty to approximately 100,000 members of the tribes has engaged for years the services of a United States Čommission commonly called the Dawes Commission, so named after its first chairman, the late Senator Dawes, who had given much thought to the great work which he was not to see completed. The work of this commission has been very aptly described as the administration of this huge estate of nineteen and one-half million acres.
As the land was held in common occupancy by the tribes, title in any particular tract could not be conveyed; and after allotment there were restrictions on the alienation of the land by the allotee. The homestead cannot be sold for twenty-one years, but as to the remainder of the allotment Congress has so modified the restrictions that the freedman or ex-slave allottees can sell all of their lands except their homesteads, and Indians less than full bloods can sell inherited lands, and upon satisfying the Secretary of the Interior of their capacity to take care of their money may have their restrictions removed except as to their homesteads. The result has been that millions of acres of land have been sold to settlers from the States.
The five civilized tribes having settled upon the eastern part of their new domain, left unoccupied the western part. This half became known as the "Oklahoma Lands," Oklahoma being a Choctaw word meaning "Home of the Red Man." This great tract of unoccupied country became a great temptation to the hardy rovers of the West, who planned and attempted clandestine appropriation of its fertile valleys and prairies.
An extensive scheme was organized in 1879 by parties in Missouri and Texas to take possession of part of Indian Territory not occupied by the Indians, but in 1880 they were driven out by President Hayes. Returning later they were warned by President Arthur in 1884 to keep out, but this warning not having the desired
effect, the next year President Cleveland sent troops to drive them out.
The logical result of this situation was, that in a few years Congress purchased from the Five Civilized Tribes these "Oklahoma Lands," and established them into a territory known as Oklahoma Territory. The name Indian Territory was thereafter confined to the region to the east remaining in the possession of the Indians. 1,900,000 acres of this Oklahoma Territory were thrown open to settlement by proclamation of President Harrison at noon on April 22, 1889, and by night fifty thousand settlers who had encamped on the border rushed in, formed a provisional government and laid out townsites. In a single day the city of Guthrie, with 10,000 population, sprang into existence.
The Government had settled upon the Oklahoma lands remnants of other tribes, including the Sac and Fox, the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Pottawattomie, Tonkawa, Kickapoo, Caddo, Kiawa and Comanche, and, as cessions were obtained from these Indians from time to time, additional tracts were thrown open to white settlement in 1891, 1892, 1893, 1895 and 1901, and on nearly every occasion the same wild rush of home-seekers was witnessed. In 1901 the method of distribution was varied somewhat, the Government disposing of the allotments by a drawing or lottery. During the fall and winter of 1906, 400,000 acres of Kiawa lands known as the "Big Pasture" were thrown open by a still different method. Persons desiring allotments were required to submit sealed bids and for the 3,000 quarter sections offered, there were over 76,000 bids submitted.
A territorial Government for Oklahoma was organized in 1890, at which time she had a population of 61,834. In 1900 her population had grown to 398,000. In 1890 the population of Indian Territory was 75,000; in 1900 it was 392,000. In the succeeding seven years the population of both had increased about equally, adding on an average 100,000 each year to the whole territory, which goes to make the new State of Oklahoma.
The growth of this country is remarkable, and the more so when taking into account the adverse conditions which have obtained in the Indian Territory part of
the new State. Oklahoma Territory has been favored by its territorial Government for seventeen years, and by Congressional legislation looking to the settling of all disturbing questions and the building of a State of it. Indian Territory was never intended to be a State, and Congress has consistently adhered to that theory. What it has become is in spite of conditions intended to hold it back. It has never had any form of representative government except such as is found in incorporated towns, and that of the tribes, participated in of course only by the Indians. But this latter form of Government practically ceased to exist on March 4, 1907, by decree of Congress.
Indian Territory, of course, has had its courts, whose judges were appointed by the President and the Senate. The search for the laws that controlled here reveals a heterogeneous mass of authority. They were found in certain statutes of Arkansas which, by Congress, were put in effect in Indian Territory so far as applicable; in the United States statutes; in the rules and regulations of the Interior Department; in the opinions of the AttorneyGeneral; in the treaties between the Government and the Indians; in the laws and usages of the tribes themselves; and elsewhere, when everything else failed, in the common law. A condition probably without parallel in the country.
The judicial branch of the Government has flourished. Of the legislative, there was none. The executive has been represented by the agencies of the Interior Department, whose duties have to do almost solely with the "citizen," or Indian residents, individually and in their relations. with white people. There were no laws to provide for schools outside of towns. other than Indian schools. The result Iwas that schools and academies for white children have flourished only in the towns. There were no laws to levy taxes for public improvements so that bridges and roads have been made by voluntary contribution. In the towns, no special assessments could be levied, but in spite of it, streets have been paved, sidewalks have been built, and other improvements created by publicspirited citizens. Only by the approval of the Secretary of the Interior could towns and cities bond themselves for waterworks,
sewer and school purposes.
But notwithstanding the conditions that would discourage investors and home-seekers elsewhere, capital has been pouring in, investing in farm lands, developing mines, producing oil, building railroads, erecting business houses, refining oil-finding its way into every avenue that offers safe and lucrative investment. Tens of thousands of families looking for congenial surroundings, the advantages of school, churches and good society, a mild climate and the prospect of a comfortable livelihood, have moved to Indian territory, all willing to take their chances with inadequate laws.
Oklahoma was the ideal home of the red man. Its beauties so impressed Washington Irving that in 1833 he wrote "A Tour of the Prairies," which chronicled a trip he took through the Indian Territory part of the new State. In describing this country, he said: "It consists of great grassy plains, interspersed with forests and groves of trees, and watered by the Arkansas, the Grand Canadian, the Red River and their tributary streams. Over these fertile and verdant wastes still roam the elk, the buffalo and the wild horse, in all their native freedom. *** It was early in October, 1832, that I arrived at Fort Gibson, a frontier post of the Far West, situated on the Neosha or Grand River, near its confluence with the Arkansas."
The romance attaching to this old fort of Indian Territory was destined to rest not alone on this unquestioned claim to distinction. Before the Mexican War, Zachary Taylor was in command of the post and the remains of his house are still in evidence. At the same time, Jefferson Davis, as a lieutenant, was stationed there when he began the courtship of Tay
lor's daughter, so distasteful to the General, which later resulted successfully to Davis, General Taylor's objection having been overcome while observing Davis's gallantry on the field of battle in the Mexican War. Still later, the wife of Admiral Dewey spent part of her honeymoon there with the husband of her younger days, Captain Hazen, later General Hazen, who was in command of the post. James G. Blaine spent a time at the post while on a visit to his son-in-law, Major Coppinger, and was nursed through a spell of sickness in one of the houses there. Another visitor at the same time was Gail Hamilton, who afterward wrote her impressions of the country. General Rucker, the father-in-law of General Sheridan, was at one time in command of Fort Gibson, and the remains of his first wife, a Cherokee woman, lie in the National Cemetery a mile from the post. There rest also the remains of Tahlihina, the Cherokee wife of Sam Houston, and Billy Bowlegs, the Seminole chief who opposed General Jackson during the Seminole war in Florida, is buried there.
Oklahoma, "the home of the red man," a State of the Union! Not content with invading the Indian's home and compelling him to share it with us, we have even robbed him of his name. With unsuspecting irony, as though to record for future generations the shame of Indian despoilation of this day, Fate has caused this new home of the white man to bear a name which characterizes it as the dearest heritage of the Indian-his home. To him the name is signalized as a badge of the white man's dishonor. To him the name of the new State is a mockery-a reminder of the things that were overwhelmed by the onrush of the irresistible Caucasian race.
THE CONQUEST OF PERU
BY ANNA BRABHAM OSBORN
Fiction story writers who are capable of striking a new vein and of making a proper exploitation of all of its leads are rare, and Anna Brabham Osborn is one of these. In "The Conquest of Peru," she has written a story that is absolutely entrancing at times, and the romantic feature of it all is an automobile. Hundreds of stories have been written around an automobile, but no story that has come under my notice is quite the success our readers will vote the "Crimson Joy" to be. Anna Brabham Osborn has a future as a fiction short story writer.
EDITOR OVERLAND MONTHLY.
ILVIA SAT on the back stoop, wrapped in pale gray gauze and stormy meditation. With her round chin sunk in a rosy palm, she nursed its dimpled oval and her cumulative wrath. This I knew by the waxing high lights on her cheeks and the stiletto points in her eyes.
At sight of me, her chin flew up and her hand flew down. The ancient stoop timbers creaked a protest as she gripped their edges and gave a little militant bounce.
"There's such a thing as carrying prejudice too far," she hurled down the gravelly path, up which I was cautiously advancing, admiring the eruptive phenomenon of Silvia aroused.
"Yes, ma'am," I agreed meekly, seating myself tentatively on the lowest step. I had lived with Silvia five years, and I had learned things; my education had been quite liberal.
"That a motor car and a brown cow should raise such a barrier between Peru and Idlemead!" she fumed. "It is ridiculous!"
"The Cordilleras ever had to be passed to reach the treasures of Peru," I murmured pacifically, thinking the while how splendidly the idea would work into a lecture. It seemed to have a dewy freshness compared with Over-the-Alps-lies-Italy, so long dangled over the fires of commencement eloquence.
"The Cordilleras," echoed Silvia, catching the allusion with evident pleasure. Her two hands closed around one knee, the stilettos drew back into their sheathes, leaving her eyes softly contemplative. I moved up two steps with great bravado.
"Tony"-Silvia leaned over, bringing her face on a level with mine-"don't you see, this horrid estrangement will spoil our short, precious vacation weeks? Never to run over to Aunt Sarah with a cookery tangle; never to have that sweet little Bessie running in with wonderful cottage cheese or cookies that melt in your mouth. Tony, I can't stand it."
"The Spaniards' first move," I ventured, "was to get possession of the person of the Inca."
"Tony, you're a genius," declared Silvia, clapping her hands.
"Yes, ma'am," I assented modestly. "Your flashes of intelligence are sometimes almost human," she added squelcher, having noted my rising vanity.
Then humbled again, she gathered her chin into the pink embrace of her left hand and appealed: "They enticed him to their castle or something, didn't they?"
"Invited him to dine at Caxamalca," I offered in my best encyclopedic style.
"Tony, get out the car!" Silvia had risen and was performing stunts with the gray head-wrapping. "I shall emulate the great-great