Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
#9 In the van,
Tribal Resource Specialist Don Gentry
Don Gentry: Well, there’s a lot of misinformation about it, and the Tribes do have information to address what happens, you know. We could try to make sure you get something by the end of the day. But, the thing that I think is so confusion to people, tribal members did have an option at Termination to receive their share of assets in cash at that time, or to be managed by, at that time, an unknown entity. US bank ended up being that entity.
Barb Hall, Klamath Bucket Brigade Executive Director: The first group that opted out, that was like 1600 members?
Don: When you say opted out, both what became the remaining and non-remaining or the withdrawing members, they were both terminated at the same time.
Barb: Right, but the 1600 opted out and got, what was it, $50,000 a piece?
Barb: Okay, $43,000. Then when the 660 or whatever it was, that were terminated later, that held on, they got $50,000.
Don: They got way more than that.
Bob Flowers, Project Irrigator: They got more than that.
Barb: Oh, okay.
Don: And then the other thing that complicates things is there were some legal suits against the Federal Government, too, and some settlements regarding mismanagement because…
Barb: Right, because you had mismanagement of your timberlands, mismanagement of, well let’s see, you went back to court like 4 times.
Don: Ah, I don’t know exactly how many times, but I do know that there were different cases that were in discussion, and they settled a number of them all at once.
Barb: Yeah, but at least you got to go to claims court and win.
Don: Yeah. Well, actually we went to claims court and then settled out of court is my understanding. So, there was a lot of… In both cases, there was a lot of misinformation, a lot of things going around in the communities. I wasn’t around at that time. I happened to miss the rolls. The rolls were closed in August 54, and I was born in April 55, so I didn’t have a chance to make a decision, or my parents couldn’t make a decision for me, you know.
Bob: Okay, my understanding was that there was actually at least a group from the Tribes that went to DC, Washington, to lobby for the Termination for the Tribes.
Don: Yeah. There was actually, the person is pretty well known. He was involved in tribal government. This is what I have been able to learn from talking to people about the history. There was a faction of people in the Tribes that… Some of them were mixed-blood tribal members, like me. You know, they kind of felt that they weren’t a part of either community. Not very well accepted in the Tribes or in the non-Indian community.
Bob: Was that a problem in the Tribes?
Don: No, it’s not today, you know, but there were some folks that felt that way. If you go clear back into the history, some of the Modoc people felt under represented. The Yahooskin felt under represented. So, there is…
Bob: So, you’re saying a faction, not necessarily that represented the Tribes, was doing this.
Don: There was a guy by the name of Wade Crawford that was an elected official at the time.
Bob: He was?
Don: Not at the time of Termination, but prior. I mean he had a political following, and actually the discussions about… It wasn’t Termination, it was basically the Tribes taking control of their own assets and getting the Federal Government out of the picture and managing ourselves like we wanted to do it. So, there was that perspective. There were some people that just wanted to get out. What happened, during the congressional testimony this one individual, Wade Crawford, was given the floor to speak as if he was an elected official of the Klamath Tribes, and he wasn’t. He wasn’t sent back there, but he did have a following of a group of people that were supporting Termination, and the folks that were elected officials from the Tribes that were sent back there, spoke against Termination.
Barb: But, he wasn’t the only one that spoke that was for it.
Don: Oh yeah. There were others that were allowed to speak for it, but the Tribes initial position was to speak against it.
Man: You can get a hold of… I’ve seen just…
Bob: Okay, so then how come… Now Edison Chiloquin, was one that, he became a very well famous person because of it.
Man: How come he never had, I mean, that was the year… I’m the same age as you.
Don: Uh huh.
Bob: That was the era of the Klamath Indians that I can speak of, because of the ones I know in that time, during that era. He was an outcast. He was down-trodden.
Don: Sure. Oh yeah.
Bob: He was shunned you might say, and yet in my eyes, he was a very big person because he stood for what he wanted, so I guess I am having a real misunderstanding.
Don: Well, see… There was an Act of Congress, you know, the Termination Act and the Individual Disbursement Act, and he basically refused the check. He lobbied a strong political position, and got all these supporters, and then it basically took an Act of Congress for him to get, and actually, I don’t believe, he actually ever owned the land, it says special trust land. It’s still federally owned land from my understanding. He didn’t receive the check. They passed an Act of Congress. In fact, the Forest Service consulted with him, and I’m not sure what the arrangements are now that he is deceased, but it’s still, from my understanding, federal land, you know, just because of the way things transpired. It’s not like it was his land that was free and clear.
Bob: But I guess from my standpoint, if there had been a lot more Klamath Indians on that vote, it would be a lot easier for me to understand the hard feelings of Termination.
Don: Oh yeah, I can understand that, but you know…
Barb: Something else about Termination too that I don’t know if you brought up Don, is the fact that the terminated members were also given an allotments.
Don: Well, yeah. The whole allotment act proved to be one way to allow tribal lands to get out of folks hands. I mean they gave tribal allotments, individual allotments, to people. In fact the property that I’m living on is an old tribal lot.
Barb: I understand that not all of the members took the allotment. There were a lot of cases of the allotments not ever getting awarded. They applied for them, but it’s like it just never happened.
Don: Yeah. I’m not sure how that works.
Barb: …160 acres per person.
Don: I think that was it, yeah.
Horsely: Was that the Act in 1920 when they were allowed to sell their allotments; the allotees could sell their deeded land.
Don:Yeah, I think so.
Horsley: And that is how we have a lot of these in holdings or…
Barb: Little pieces of private property right in the middle of the forest.
Don: Yeah, some married non-tribal members, and the tribal member passed away, and it passed out of tribal members hands at that time. The piece on Dotney Flat, on the very south end that is now owned by Jeldwin… There is a very small piece of the meadow down there, 160 acres, belonged to a real proud family member that owed a bill at the local general store in Chiloquin, and basically, he gave them the land in lieu of the $300 or something that he owed, and those kind of things happen. My wife’s grandparents were actually swindled out of a big chunk of their land right on the Sprague River near Calm Can Springs. They thought that they were borrowing money against their land when in fact they were selling their land, and they sold it over, but they were ashamed and felt like backward stupid Indians, and they didn’t do anything about it to try to…
Bob: I can remember that era well.
Out of van to next forest talk
Page Updated: Thursday May 26, 2011 03:18 AM Pacific
Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2004, All Rights Reserved