From our archives, 100 years ago
Joseph Moses, “chief of the Columbias,” and three other Colville tribal leaders returned from Washington D.C., disappointed and discouraged.
They had presented a petition to the government “setting forth the grievance of the Indians relative to the allotment of lands on the Colville Reservation.”
They were apparently disputing a 1906 agreement in which the tribes had relinquished rights to the south half of the reservation in exchange for an allotment of 80 acres to each adult Indian. But the tribal leaders said that this was not how the agreement had been represented to them.
“The Indians never knew that the government officials were going to allot the south half of the Colville Reservation until the allotting agents were on the ground,” said Chief Moses. “From what we learned in Washington, it seems that federal agents had reported we had agreed to relinquish our rights to the land, which was set aside for us by presidential proclamation in 1872.”
Chief Moses said “contracts purporting to have been signed by us” were on file, but the Indians had signed them under the impression that they were merely receipts for their part of the north half of the reservation, which had been taken away many years before.
The federal Commissioner of Indian Affairs told the delegation that “the department is powerless to give them any relief, and that the matter will have to be handled by Congress.”