Friday, July 28, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 28

July 28, 1911 – Kah-Deen and Be-Be-Shank, young Minnesota Chippewa girls are in Washington, D. C., to tell how they were induced to sell for almost nothing valuable lands allotted to them by the government. The girls, who can neither read nor write, today testified through an interpreter before the Graham House Interior Department Expenditures Committee that they received only $200 each for tracts of 180-acre allotments. Under the law, only adults can dispose of their allotments.

The girls are two of three brought to Washington as witnesses in the investigation of alleged frauds perpetrated by land agents in gaining possession of large tracts of mineral and timber lands in the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota.

White Earth Reservation

Kah-Deen was a “hit.” Although she kept her eyes on her lap and scarcely ever looked up at the congressmen questioning her, the occasional long glances she cast at Margaret Warren, the interpreter through whom she answered, made it evident that many of the questions were to her mind funny in the extreme.

She related how she had spent the $200 received for her allotment for a second-hand sewing machine that cost $4.50 and a bed, and had given part of it to her parents for clothing for themselves. She said a Mr. Walter, who owned a bank at Waubun, had offered her $100 for her land, but that she had refused to sell for so small a figure. But when the “man who owned the bank across the street” offered her twice that amount, she said she sold him the land.

She knew Mr. Walter only as “the red-headed man” and the other she knew only as a “light-haired, smooth-faced man with specs.” When asked to pick out someone in the committee room of about the same age as the man with the “specs,” she struggled for a long while to get her eyes off the floor, but when she did, they fell on a young newspaper reporter and, much to his confusion, she pointed to him.

Kah-Deen said she was only 15 years old when persuaded to sell her land and that she had never been on or seen the property. After concluding her testimony, Chairman Graham asked Miss Warren, the interpreter, to tell Kah-Deen that the committee was very much pleased with her answers and that they were all her friends.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Indian Maids Tell of Sale of Their Lands for Song. White Earth Girls Testify at Probe they Got $200 Each for 180-Acre Allotments. Kah Deen, One of Witnesses Makes Hit With Investigators by Her Manner.”; July 29, 1911; p. 1.



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