The Garrison Dam Agreement Signing, (21 May 1948) Fort Berthold, ND

Speech Text

[1] Mr. Secretary, General Wheeler Commissioner Zimmerman,

[2] You will excuse me, if, first I say that we will sign this contract with a heavy heart. With a few scratches of the pen, we will sell the best part of our reservation. Right now the future does not look too good for us. We are worried and we wonder whether everything will come out all right in the end.

[3] Next I want to refer to the negotiations when we wrote this contract. The Council was shown much consideration and courtesy by General Wheeler and General Crawford. We appreciated their attitude, and we understood that they went just as far as they could, under the amendment, in meeting our wishes. I also want to say that we received much help from our Indian Office. It is very popular to kick the Indian Office in the face. But some of our best friends are there, and on behalf of the Tribes, I want to thank them too for all that they have done for us.

[4] Why have we come here to sign this contract and why have more than half of the adult members of the Tribes signed it individually? It is because all of us have faith in our government. We have faith that this contract, as it is written, will be carried out by the Corps of Engineers and by the Department of the Interior.

[5] We have faith that Congress will recognize that this contract gives the Fort Berthold Indians only a part of what is due to them. The truth is, as everyone knows, our Treaty of Fort Laramie, made in 1851, and our Tribal Constitution, are being torn into shreds by the contract.

[6] We have faith that Congress will give us something which we have not yet hada real hearing on the effects of the Garrison taking on our reservation, and particularly on the Senator Langer’s Resolution.

[7] Senate Joint Resolution 209 had six purposes which I shall briefly mention.

[8] 1. To authorize a Land Readjustment Fund to consolidate the lands on the remainder of our reservation into economic use units.

[9] 2. To authorize an immediate appropriation for the benefit of the members of the Three Affiliated Tribes in anticipation of a Court of Claims judgement.

[10] 3. To reserve a block of electric power at low cost to be generated at Garrison Dam.

[11] 4. To provide for a proper investigation of the Fort Berthold residual reservation to determine feasibility of irrigation.

[12] 5. To authorize interest on the $5,105,625 appropriated to the Three Affiliated Tribes by the 1948 Civil Functions Act.

[13] 6. To exempt the $5,105,625 appropriation and any funds appropriated under the Resolution from liens for debts of the Three Affiliated Tribes.

[14] And now, with faith in the Government of the United States and in Almighty God, I, as chairman of the Tribal Council of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, put my signature to this document and I invite other members of the Council to do the same.