Following the negotiation of the 1892 McCumber Agreement, a basic framework for enrollment of people into the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa was established. This framework followed six general rules to govern enrollment. These were:
After the initial McCumber Roll, no further provision was made to maintain the membership roll on a current basis. In fact, misinterpretation of a decision of the Department of the Interior in a land case, Voight v. Bruce, 44 L. D. 524, led to a policy under which the roll was considered closed as of October 8, 1904, the date on which the updated McCumber Agreement (the Act of April 21, 1904), was ratified and accepted by the Turtle Mountain Band. In the ensuing confusion, Agents on the reservation were instructed to list all children of members on a “census roll” and not on a membership roll.
This confusion persisted until 1939, when the Commissioner of Indian Affairs instructed the Superintendent at the Turtle Mountain Agency to call a meeting of the Turtle Mountain Band to discuss a policy for future enrollment, and to enroll all children born to enrolled Turtle Mountain Chippewa Indians. The Department, by letter of May 28, 1939, recommended legislation to authorize corrections to the roll, to include not only children of members but also members of the Little Shell faction not previously enrolled. The Act of May 24, 1940, 54 Stat. 219, gave an opportunity to enroll to “all unenrolled Indians who were members of the band or bands which constituted the Turtle Mountain Tribe prior to October 8, 1904, but who failed to apply for enrollment on the roll closed on that date, and their descendants of one-half or more Indian blood” (later reduced to one-quarter) and provided that thereafter the roll should be kept up to date by Secretary of the Interior. John H. Holst was assigned the work of preparing the roll contemplated by the 1940 Act.
He first conferred with older Indians who were familiar with the history of the Indians, examined records and visited several of the distant groups, including some in Montana. He examined census rolls and eliminated the names of deceased Indians and Indians domiciled in Canada, all with the approval and advice of the council of the Turtle Mountain Band and prominent , elderly Indians. He held hearings, lasting ten days, at Fort Totten, two at Belcourt, and one at Fort Peck: He provided further opportunity by correspondence. On three trips to Montana to confer with people claiming entitlement to enrollment as Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Mr. Holst talked with various groups and gave notice of hearings to be held at Fort Peck Agency. He did not receive a single application from Montana. The leaders of the Montana groups stated that they would not remove to Turtle Mountain to obtain assignments, they did not wish to enroll at the Turtle Mountain Agency, and preferred to reside on Fort Belknap or the Rocky Boy Reservations. Mr. Holst recommended that no further effort be made to include the people of possible Chippewa descent then resident in Montana on the Turtle Mountain roll.
BEFORE THE INDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION DOCKET 113, TURTLE MOUNTAIN BAND OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS, PETITIONER, V. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT. PETITIONERS PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT AND BRIEF, DOCKET: ICC 18-A INDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION, FEBRUARY 27, 1951