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Message to Congress Reporting on the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota

March 04, 1890

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

In pursuance of the authority and direction contained in the act of Congress approved January 14, 1889, entitled "An act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota," three commissioners were appointed by the President on February 26, 1889, as therein authorized and directed, namely, Henry M. Rice, of Minnesota, Martin Marry, of Dakota, and Joseph B. Whiting, of Wisconsin, to negotiate with said Indians.

The commissioners have submitted their final report, with accompanying papers, showing the results of the negotiations conducted by them, and the same has been carefully reviewed by the Secretary of the Interior in his report to me thereon.

Being satisfied from an examination of the papers submitted that the cession and relinquishment by said Chippewa Indians of their title and interest in the lands specified and described in the agreement with the different bands or tribes of Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota was obtained in the manner prescribed in the first section of said act, and that more than the requisite number have signed said agreement, I have, as provided by said act, approved the said instruments in writing constituting the agreement entered into by the commissioners with said Indians.

The commissioners did not escape the embarrassment which unfortunately too often attends our negotiations with the Indians, namely, an indisposition to treat with the Government for further concessions while its obligations incurred under former agreements are unkept. I am sure it will be the disposition of Congress to consider promptly and in a just and friendly spirit the claims presented by these Indians through our commissioners, which have been formulated in the draft of a bill prepared by the Secretary of the Interior and submitted herewith.

The act of January 14, 1889 (25 U. S. Statutes at Large, p. 642), evidently contemplated the voluntary removal of the body of all these bands of Indians to the White Earth and Red Lake reservations; but a proviso in section 3 of the act authorized any Indian to take his allotment upon the reservation where he now resides. The commissioners report that quite a general desire was expressed by the Indians to avail themselves of this option. The result of this is that the ceded land can not be ascertained and brought to sale under the act until all of the allotments are made.

I recommend that the necessary appropriations to complete the surveys and allotments be made at once available, so that the work may be begun and completed at the earliest possible day.

A copy of the report made by the commissioners, with copies of all the papers submitted therewith, except the census rolls, is herewith presented for the information of the Congress.


Benjamin Harrison, Message to Congress Reporting on the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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