Citizenship: Dissolution of the Tribe

Posted By BrokenClaw on January 15, 2007

After years of public pressure and internal conflict, the Chippewa and Munsee Indians finally voted in favor of the federal Indian Appropriation Act of 1897 that provided for the appraisal, distribution, and disposal of their tribal lands and funds in Franklin County, Kansas. The vote was taken on 26 July 1897 at the Moravian mission school. Of the 80 members of the combined tribes, 40 were eligible to vote, and 39 were present to vote. The final tally came out 22 for, 10 against, and 7 abstain. The vote was certified by Robert McCoonse, William Kilbuck, George Veix, and William McCoonse. Three years later the act was finalized.

On 8 November 1900 the Swan Creek and Black River Band Chippewa and Christian Munsee received their final disbursement of federal funds. The result of that event was the dissolution of the tribes as recognized native Americans, the final step in a process known as assimilation. In return, the members of the tribes were granted full United States citizenship.

Prior to the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, native Americans did not generally have the rights of US citizenship. They were specifically excluded in the Fourteenth Amendment. By the 1920s, many native Americans had gained citizenship through marriage, military service, or special laws and treaties like the one described here. But it wasn’t until the Act of 1924 that all restrictions were removed and all native Americans were granted automatic citizenship.

George Veix was the tribal secretary, and he described the events of the day in his journal. Without much fanfare and with few details, Veix wrote a brief two-page narrative to document the official nature of the proceedings. Those who were present that day posed for a final tribal photograph.

journal page journal page

The digital scans of the journal pages were provided by the Clio Caleb Church family. Click on the thumbnails to view the larger images. My transcription of these two pages is below.

feathers

Chippewa Hills. Nov. 8th 1900

On this date, Maj. W.R. Honnell came and made the final payment to the now desolved confederated bands of Chippawa and Muncie Indians, and also to deliver the Government Patents to such of those entitled thereto where the title to lands held by such persons are clear and free from other intricate questions involving the question of inheritence.

Maj. Honnell had previously given notice of his comming some two weeks in advance, the consequences was that all were in rediness to receive their prorata share of the Principal fund. Some six or seven of the recent births were cut off from participating in the final payment, altho’ most of them had previously participated in the small payments. This was done by the Interior Department because of the births having occurred subsequent to the time of enrollment taken by Comm’r C.A. Swart.

Each person participating in the payment received the sum of four hundred ninety one and 47/100 dollars, ($491.47) and each person aged eighteen years and over received and receipted for their own share; parents not guardians were not allowed to draw their wards share of funds except they give sufficient bond endorsed by one of the Banks at Ottawa. In default of such an endorsement on the bond, the Agent is compelled to take arbitrary action in the matter by appointing guardians for such minors. The following day, Nov. 9th was devoted to this business of making out guardianship papers. In but a few instances the parents or guardians were able to give the required bond. Lawyer Harris son of J.R. Harris was appointed as guardian for some of the children, and Young Skinner of the First National bank was the guardian appointed for the rest of those out side of the few exceptions mentioned above.

There was, for some cause or other a name of a child enrolled in and with family of Rev. J.H. Kilbuck who was not and never had been in existance. The name, the writer does not now remember.

The sum of $491.47 was therefore returned to the Department by the Agent, or at least that is what he said he intended to do, and have it placed to the credit of those Indians entitled thereto, together with the funds realized from the leasing of the School land which amount to four hundred dollars more.

This this record closes the final proceedings, unless other minor matters of interest to the now Citizen Indians should transpire hereafter, in which case it will be noted down for future historical reference.

Geo. Veix, Sec’y

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