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Letter to Secretary Krug Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Distribution of Capital Reserve Funds of the Klamath Indians.

March 29, 1948

My dear Mr. Secretary:

The bill, H.R. 2502, authorizing the distribution of a portion of the capital reserve fund of the Klamath Indians, was approved by me today, and has now become law. Under its provisions each member of the Klamath Tribe will have $500 credited to his account, which sum can be expended only for certain purposes specified in the bill, and each veteran will receive, in addition, a cash payment of $200.

As a general rule I question the soundness of distributing Indian capital funds in per capita payments. Two exceptional factors have led me to approve H.R. 2502. First, it explicitly provides that the funds credited to the account of each member shall be used for worth-while purposes, which are spelled out in detail in its provisions. Second, it leaves intact more than $1,000,000 of the capital reserve fund, evidently with the expectation that this balance will be employed in forward-looking tribal programs for the permanent benefit of all Klamath Indians.

It is my hope that the members of the Klamath tribe will be prudent and wise in the use of the money now to be made available so that this legislation will in reality provide for their economic advancement. They must remember that the money represents a part of their heritage and should be so invested that it will bring them benefits long after it is spent. I will expect you to frame the expenditure regulations required by this legislation in a way that will insure actual application of the money to the purposes specified in its provisions. As an even more important precaution, each member of the tribe should exercise great care in determining the uses to which his share of the money will be put, with a view to obtaining the largest amount of income over the longest possible period.

It is also my hope that the members of the Klamath Tribe will soon develop a sound program for the permanent investment in productive assets of the undistributed portion of the capital reserve fund. Such a program might appropriately include industrial developments that will open up opportunities for utilizing and improving the industrial skill of the members, land acquisitions that will help to block up their timber and agricultural holdings into more economic units, and credit facilities that will assist them towards the goal of self-reliant prosperity. You should do everything possible to encourage the speedy formulation and adoption of a tribal program along these lines.

In conclusion, I urge that the Klamath Indians give deep thought to the use of their resources, both individual and tribal, in ways that will insure their future security and progress. I say this because it will not be possible for them to recover these resources if they are once lost through unwise transactions.

Sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

[The Honorable, The Secretary of the Interior]

Note: As enacted, H.R. 2502 is Public Law 463, Both Congress (62 Stat. 92).

Harry S. Truman, Letter to Secretary Krug Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Distribution of Capital Reserve Funds of the Klamath Indians. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232513

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