Letters of Interest

Exhibit H1, H2, I

Office Of The Attorney General
Washington, D. C.
March 4, 1907

Dear Mr. President:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Loeb’s letter of this date, inclosing one from Senator Curtis, likewise of March 4. In the former communication I am requested to express my opinion as to the suggestion of Senator Curtis respecting the opinion furnished by me to the Secretary of the Interior of February 19, 1907, concerning the enrollment of certain claimants to Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship.

It is appropriate that I should explain, in the first place, how far and under what circumstances the matter had been previously called to my attention. On Saturday last Messrs. McMurray & Cornish, two of the attorneys for the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, called upon me and asked whether something could not be done to preserve from the adverse effect of my opinion the claim of certain Indians which were regarded by them and, according to their statement, by the two tribes as well, as highly meritorious. It was conceded by these gentlemen, in substance, first, that my opinion correctly stated the law, and. secondly, that the cases in which they were interested came within the purview of the said opinion. I told them, in substance, that, upon these two concessions, I could see nothing that might be done for the benefit of their clients except to apply to Congress for remedial legislation. To this they said that there were decisive objections. I then told them that personally I had some doubt as to whether the cases in which they were interested did come within the purview of my opinion, but I had not time then to examine the authorities: that I would, therefore, refer them to Mr. W. R. Harr, who has rendered me very valuable assistance in the preparation of this opinion, and if he thought the cases were not covered by the opinion, or that there was any reasonable doubt as to the correctness of the latter, and if either you or the Secretary of the Interior would ask me for a further opinion I would, in view of the urgency of the case, give the matter undivided attention, notwithstanding the pressure of other engagements, and furnish the supplemental opinion desired.

These gentlemen saw Mr. Harr, who thought, and, as I understand, led them to think, that their cases did not come within the terms of my opinion; but, so far as I am informed, they did not procure either from you or from the Secretary of the Interior any request for a further opinion on the subject. I received, however, such a request from Senator Curtis, written, I presume, at their request, to which I was obliged to reply that the Invariable and, in my Judgment, very salutary rule of the department prevented my giving an opinion, unless under the circumstances prescribed by the statute.

Since receiving your note I have considered the matter as carefully as the limited time at my disposal permitted, with the following result:

The cases on which I gave an opinion to the Secretary of the Interior were those of persona claiming to be Choctaw or Chickasaw citizens, who had been denied enrollment by the Dawes Commission, under the provisions of the act of 1896; who had appealed to the United States courts, as permitted by the same act, and there obtained a reversal of the action of the commission and their own admission to the rolls: whose enrollment had been subsequently annulled by proceedings taken in pursuance of the treaty of 1902. establishing the citizenship court, and who had been denied enrollment by that court upon a trial of the case de novo as permitted by the treaty in question. These claimants, who were, in fact, white people—the children of a white man by his second white wife, he having been previously married to an Indian woman—were admitted to enrollment by virtue of an opinion of the Assistant Attorney General for the Interior Department; and I was constrained to hold this enrollment erroneous, and to determine that they were not entitled to the privileges of Choctaw or Chickasaw citizenship.

The persons in whose behalf Messrs. McMurray & Cornish and Senator Curtis have intervened were enrolled as citizens by the Dawes Commission under the act of 1896; an appeal from this action of the commission was taken by the two nations to the United States courts and the decision of the Dawes Commission was there affirmed. This decree of the United States court was annulled as a result of the test case Instituted In the citizenship court, in accordance with the treaty of 1902; but the case Itself was not then transferred to the citizenship court, the claimants being apparently advised that they could rely upon the original decision of the Dawes Commission as entitling them to citizenship. It Is obvious that the two sets of cases are not at all parallel, and I fully agree with Mr. Harr and with Senator Curtis that the terms of my recent opinion do not cover these cases.

I find, however, that the precise question involved has been passed upon by this department In an opinion furnished to the Secretary of the Interior of May 9, 1904, by Acting Attorney General J. C. McReynolds, who, In a case exactly similar, determined that the decision by the citizenship court In the test case operated to annul, not merely the decrees of the United States court, but also the action of the Dawes Commission, when favorable to the claimants, from which appeals to these courts had been taken. Mr. McReynolds’s reasons seem to me very forcible, and, In view of the facts that this decision was rendered nearly three years ago, and that, so far as I am Informed, no steps were taken by these claimants or other persons affected by It to have It reviewed either by this department or by the courts until a few hours before the time when their possible rights to enrollment would expire, I think they must be considered as barred from relief by reason of their own laxness, at least so far as the executive departments are concerned.

If you think It desirable, I will embody the foregoing conclusions in a formal opinion.

I remain, as ever, yours, very respectfully,
Charles J. Bonaparte.

The President,
The White House.

Exhibit H2.

The White House,
Washington, March 5, 1907

My Dear Mb. Secretary:

I enclose a communication from Attorney General Bonaparte in regard to certain Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship cases. By direction of the President this is to be treated as a formal opinion.

Very truly, yours,
Wm. Loeb, Jr., Secretary to the President.

Hon. James B. Garfield
Secretary of the Interior.

Exhibit I.

Copy of notice removed from wall of land office at Atoka, Okla., in November, 1908.

(torn) The Interior,
The Five Civilized Tribes.

Enrollment of Minor Children of Citizens of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations

By the act of Congress appr(torn) April 26, 1906 (H. R. 5976), entitled “An act to provide (torn) the final disposition of the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes In the Indian Territory, and for other purposes,” it was provided as follows:

“That for ninety days (torn) approval hereof applications shall be received for en roll me (torn) who were minors living March fourth, nineteen hundred (torn) parents have been enrolled us members of the Choctaw and (torn) . . tribes, or have applications for enrollment pending at the (torn) ereof, and for the purpose of enrollment under this section illegitim(torn) en shall take the status of the mother, and allotments shall be made (torn) dren so enrolled.”

Notice is hereby given that the Comm (torn) ner to the Five Civilized Tribes will, up to and inclusive of midnight of Wednesday, July 25, 1906, receive applications for the enrollment of minor children who were living March 4, 1906, and whose parents have been enrolled as members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribes of Indians, or have applications for enrollment as citizens of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations now pending.

Such applications may be made personally at any time up to and inclusive of July 25, 1906. at the general office of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes at Muskogee. Indian Territory; also at the Choctaw land office at Atoka, Indian Territory, and at the Chickasaw land office at Ardmore, Indian Territory, from July 1 to July 25. 1906.

Applications by mail should be addressed to the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes, Muskogee. Indian Territory, and mailed in sufficient time to reach the office of the commissioner at Muskogee, Indian Territory, not later than July 25, 190 (torn).

The commissioner will maintain appointments at varlo (torn) owns in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations for the reception of applications for the (torn) hnent of minor children as citizens of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, as follows (torn) :

Choctaw Nation :

Hugo, May 7th to 11th, Inclusive (torn).
Bennington, May 14th to 18th (torn).
Idabel, May 21st to 25 inclusi (torn).
Alikchi, May 28th to June Is (torn).
Smithvllle, June 4th to 8th (torn).
Tuskahoma, June 12th to 1 (torn).
Poteau, June 18th to 22nd inclu (torn).
Caddo, June 18th to 22nd inclus (torn).
(torn) outh McAlester, June 25th (torn) inclusive.
(torn) ita, June 25th to 29th inclusive.

Chickasaw Nation:
(torn) uncan. May 7th to 11th, inclusive.
Chlckasha, May 14th to 18th, inclusive.
Pauls Valley, May 21st to 25th, inclusive.
Ada, May 28th to June 1st, inclusive.
Tishomingo, June 4th to 8th, inclusive.
Colbert, June 11th to 15th, Inclusive.

All such applications must be made to the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes and submitted upon the blanks provided for that purpose by this office.

(torn) he rules of the commissioner require that applications for the enrollment of minor child (torn) accompanied by the affidavit of the mother and the attending physician or the midwife at (torn) of the child. In event that either of the affiants are unable to write, signature by (torn) must be attested by two witnesses. Each affidavit must be executed before a notary public and the Notarial seal of the officer must be attached to each separate affidavit.

The reception of application is limited to minor children of members of the Choctaw (torn) nd Chickasaw Tribes of Indians and to the minor children of persons who have applications pending for enrollment as citizens of the said nations on April 26, 1906, and does not include the children of Choctaw and Chickasaw freedmen.

Tams Bixby, Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes.
(torn) Indian Territory, April 26, 1906.

Webmasters Note: The (torn) is in the original document

United States Congress. Five Civilized Tribes In Oklahoma, Reports of the Department of the Interior and Evidentiary Papers in support of S. 7625, a Bill for the Relief of Certain Members of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, Sixty-second Congress, Third Session. Department of the Interior, United States. 1913.

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