In 1948, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribal council traveled to Washington, D.C. to express the dire conditions of the reservation and the problems facing the people there. Before the Congressional hearing, Representative William Frederick Lemke (August 13, 1878 – May 30, 1950), of North Dakota, took a moment to speak on behalf of the tribe...
Going back to my early childhood when these Chippewa Indians used to have these two-wheel carts and the pony hitched to them and they went out and collected buffalo bones. They used to pass over the only usable bridge over the creek near our home and they used to have trains 2 miles long all loaded with buffalo bones headed for Devil's Lake.
Later on as we developed they used to come and help us harvest the crops. They brought their whole families, their children and everything to the farm. They lived in tents even when there was snow on the ground. We used to run the threshing machines late into the year.
And then one winter I remember, somebody came into our home at night. It was 40 degrees below zero outside. The next morning, we found Indians in our home. One of them was none other than Little Shell, your former chief. Some of the pullman cars are named after him now on the Great Northern. When we got up they were cooking their food, their bacon, and they told us that they were on their way to see the Great White Father on foot as they had to walk to Devils Lake where they took the train to Washington, D.C.
My father asked Chief Little Shell what he wanted to see the Great White Father about, and he replied, "Get paid for the land he took away from us."
My father then asked, "Where is this land he took away from you?” “Well,” he said, “the land you are living on used to belong to us, and the Great White Father took it away, and we want to be paid for it.”
I do not believe he was ever paid for it. Now, these Indians are here now because they are in a desperate situation. The Red Cross has been taking care of them. Think of it. Government wards are being taken care of by the Red Cross while we are sending millions and billions of dollars abroad. It seems to be inconsistent. These Indians are here this morning to give us their viewpoint as to what should be done. I think the Chippewa Indians are in the worse condition of any of them because they have just about 40 acres of ground to an individual, or family, I forget which.
Mar. 16, 1948, House Subcommittee on Indian Affairs; Committee on Public Lands. House.
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