Charlotte J. Simmons Statement to Subcommittee on Indian Affairs & Public Lands, House commite on Interior & Insular Affairs
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee:
My name is Charlotte Simmons. I live in Boise, Idaho and am here representing the Delawares of Idaho, Inc., for which I serve as a member of the Tribal Council. My father, Arthur A. Creech, who is chairman of the Tribal Council of the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. joins me in this statement.
Delawares of Idaho is a non-profit corporation, the members of whom are Delaware Indians comprising approximately 175 in number, the majority of them live in the state of Idaho but members are also located in the states of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma and California.
Delawares of Idaho, Inc. is incorporated in the State of Idaho. Prior to the incorporation of the group, it had existed as a loosely knit band of Delaware Indians; the ancestors of the members of the group, (and, indeed, some of the older members still living) migrated from Oklahoma many years ago to the western and northwestern States.
The Delawares of Idaho, Inc. have been diligently seeking two main objectives: (1) certification as a federally recognized Indian Tribe of the United States of America; and (2) that its deserving members, all of whom are descendants of the same Delawares Indians who entered into the Delaware Treaty of 1866 with the U.S. Government, be designated to share in funds appropriated by Congress for distribution to Delaware Indians in redress of past wrongs inflicted upon the Delawares generally by the U.S. Government.
Although those efforts to date have been unsuccessful, the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. believe that they should be entitled both to tribal certification and to share in any funds presently being considered by the Congress of the United States for appropriation to Delaware Indians , for the following reasons: All of the members of the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. trace their Indian blood to a common group of Indian ancestors. We have available, and submit herewith, six master charts which describe the Indian ancestry of six individuals: Grace Creech, Arthur A. Creech, Violet Creech, Elsie D. Creech, Bruce L. Creech and William Fent. (exhibits “A” through “F”) The remainder of the members of our group are then keyed into these master charts by tracing the members’ ancestry to one of the six named individuals. Birth certificates and other documentary evidence are available as to each member of the group in support of the claimed lineage.
Our group’s ancestors do not appear on either the Dawes Commission Roll of 1906 or the 1940 Base Reconstructed Census Roll, upon which eligibility to share in past judgment funds has been primarily based. The reason for this omission is shrouded in mystery. The members’ eldest known ancestor, Rebecca Lucas, was clearly a member if the tribe which eventually became known as the “Cherokee Delawares.” She is listed as Entry No. 638, Allotment No. 929 on the 1867 John G. Pratt’s Registry of Delaware Indians which listed the Delawares who elected to remove from Kansas to Oklahoma, pursuant to the Treaty of 1866. Rebecca Lucas’ daughter, Lucinda Marshall, appears on the same registry as Entry No. 310, Allotment No. 928, along with her husband William Marshal, Entry No. 399, Allotment No 333. Copies of pertinent portions of the Pratt Registry are included as Exhibits “G” and “H.” The originals may be found in the National Archives in Record Group No. 75.
Rebecca Lucas and William and Lucinda Marshall are also listed as Delaware Indians on a number of receipts prepared by the United States in order to record the payment of various allotments. Rebecca Lucas received $125.00 in 1867 (Exhibit “I”) and a total of $75.00 in 1868 (Exhibits “J” and “K”). It is noteworthy that the receipts are signed by Lucinda Marshall as “daughter and head of family alottee.” Lucinda also received $75.00 on her own behalf in 1868 (Exhibit “L”). William Marshal received some payments in 1868 as one of the heirs of a certain Annie Marshall (Exhibits “M” and “N”). In addition, a formal document recording William Marshall’s 1865 land allotment as a Delaware is attached as Exhibit “O.”
There are a number of other records describing William and Lucinda Marshall as Delaware Indians. William’s name appears on the 1896 payroll of Cherokee Delawares prepared by D. W. Lipe (Exhibit “P”). He is also listed on the 1898 roll of Delawares residing in the Cherokee Nation under the name William Marshall Connor-Washer. Despite the addition of the Connor-Washer, his true identity is established by the use of his entry number, which corresponds with the number issued to him on the Pratt Registry. Lucinda Marshall appears on the same roll, and a copy of the original record on file with the Kansas State Historical Society is attached as Exhibit “Q.”
William and Lucinda Marshall had a daughter named Mary Francis Marshall, who was apparently born in 1846. In 1866, Mary Marshall married James R. Fent and a certificate regarding the marriage record is attached as Exhibit “R.” Mary Marshall is listed as a member of the Cherokee Delawares in an 1887 Fine Book on file with the Federal Records Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Our group has been unable to obtain a copy of this document, but the BIA may be able to do so. Mary’s Delaware ancestry is established, however, by her death certificate (Exhibit “S”) which lists William and Cynda (Lucinda) Marshall as her parents.
James Fent and Mary Marshall had nine children, including William Fent and Otelia E. Creech (nee Fent) (Exhibit “T”). All of our members are direct lineal descendants of either William Fent and Otelia E. Creech, and they are able to trace their ancestry in an unbroken line to members of the Delaware tribe who were living adults when the Delawares’ Kansas land was ceded to the United States. See 14 Stat. 793 (1866).
It is therefore our strong opinion that the members of the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. should share in the distribution of any proposed Delaware funds, even though their ancestors do not appear on the 1906 or 1940 rolls. The documentation which we have submitted with this statement establishes that the members ancestors should have been included on the 1906 roll. In support of our contention, I refer you to a memorandum of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, dated February 17, 1973, in which the Assistant Solicitor of Division of Indian Affairs stated:
I believe that it is legally proper to determine the 1972 act …. That there should be included on the payment roll being prepared on the basis of the 1906 and 1943 [sic] rolls those persons, or descendants of such persons, who were qualified to be on either the 1906 or 1943 rolls, but who were not actually named on either roll.
It is clear that our members are fully entitled to redress for past wrongs inflicted by the United States Government on their ancestors. To date, however, none of the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. or their ancestors have ever yet shared in any award made for the benefit of the Delaware Indians by the United States Government down through the years. The main reason for the omission is that our group, separated by great distances from the main body of the tribe, were simply unaware of the various plans and their entitlement to share in them. They initiated their efforts diligently, only to find that the time period had run for filing claims; of course, they also learned that their ancestors’ names were not on the 1906 Roll. Furthermore, my Aunt, Violet Creech, through an attorney, wrote to the appropriate authorities of the United States Government clear back in 1911 seeking entitlement to her land allotments in Oklahoma, (Exhibits “U” “V” and “W.” ) Her efforts went unrewarded. However, it would be extremely unfortunate and would constitute a substantial injustice if the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. were not permitted to share in the funds now available for distribution.
Furthermore, in view of the fact that the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. have not shared in any funds appropriated to date, the members of the Delawares of Idaho, Inc. strongly believe that any legislation prepared by this committee should be structured in such a way as to recompense them for past omissions, in addition to their pro rata share of the present redress. In other words, the Idaho Delawares should receive a larger per capita share that other groups who have already shared in prior awards, on a formula designed to equalize them with the members of the other groups.
Very truly yours,
Charlotte J. Simmons