||First Council at Cass Lake
August 23, 1889
Council was opened by Rev. John Coleman, a Chippewa Episcopal clergyman, followed by a few words from Maj. B.P. Schuler, Indian agent, introducing the members of the Commission.
Mr. Rice. My friends, I will tell you in as few words as possible why the President sent us here. Some of you have heard the explanations before.
Mr. Rice then fully explained the act, and continued:
I know there are some unsettled matters. There is the reservoir – there is probably something coming to you from that, but by doing this you do not wipe out that at all; your claim against the Government for those damages will be as strong as ever.
As I said, this is different from former treaties. The treaty you made three years ago still lies with the Great Council. This embodies all the good parts of that, and many others. When you accept this it goes right to the President and will be closed this fall. When here forty-two years ago, I told the men then living that I hoped to come back again and bring something that would be pleasing to them.
You understand that you will have time to select your allotments here on agricultural lands, such of you as wish to remain, while those who prefer to got to White Earth can do so. So it will make no difference whether you take your lands here or there, you will all receive the same.
When the pine is sold there will be plenty of work for all, cutting pine, making hay, and various other pursuits. I dare not tell you all that I think on the subject, but I have no doubt that you will be the richest Indians in the whole country in a very few years. I think before another year rolls around there will be another railroad not far from you, so that you can get supplies cheap, which will also give you a great deal of work in getting out ties and such employment.
From what I know and have heard of you you are different from many of the Indians. You are all quiet honest people, and this proposition is so plain that I do not believe it will take long to give an answer.
When we went to Red Lake some people tried to make a disturbance there, but when the Indians understood it they all signed, although a few living on the north shore did not agree, but they have since sent for a paper that they might also sign.
You know very well that a change has taken place. The game has left the country. You must get work in order to live and take care of your children. The building of school-houses and the employing of teachers – the money for these things will all be expended here, and you will have not only the advantage of educating the children at home, but you will have the advantage of the money laid out here. I can tell you that it is the best offer ever made to any Indians on this continent. It will put you all on the road to prosperity and to living a better and a higher life.
When we leave you this time, our duties are not ended. If the Master of Life spares us, we expect to return and see these things are carried into effect; that your allotments are made and that justice is done. I think I have told you everything. If there is any matter I have omitted, or if there are questions you wish to ask, let me know and I will explain further. There are but a few of you, but we thought it a duty to come here, and it is certainly a pleasure to me to explain to you everything even if you are few in number. Your agent accompanies us wherever we go for the purpose of hearing what is said, seeing your condition, etc., and seeing that everything is carried out, as many matters will be left to him hereafter. We are all working together as one man for your future good.
Way-ge-mah-wish-kung. It is impossible for us to misunderstand this. I wish to talk to you on the subject of your visit. I wish to state that I should have gone to Washington when the treaty of 1855 was made. I started to go, but before I got to Leech Lake, I turned back. The man who made the cession here did not know the amount of land that belonged to us, and he made a wrong line. In 1863 three of them who went down were shown a very large reservation that we were going to own together. That man there (indicating song-ge-ge-shing) he knew about it when his father returned from Washington.
When our reservation was set aside, we did not know anything about it. There was not a single man there from Cass Lake to mark out a reservation, and so there is no reservation to speak of. I think we are entitled to some redress on account of the land that was taken without our permission. There was no one who went from here to cede the land, and we were certainly entitled to something more than was paid us. I want to know what you think about this matter.
Mr. Rice. There have been mistakes made by Indians who went to Washington to treat, and the Great Father has decided that no more Indians should come here for that purpose, but that treaties should be made on your own ground, so that you will all know what is done.