Charlotte J. Simmons

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