Native Americans

The Indian Treaties of 1854-1855 did not bring an immediate end to the Indian Reserves in eastern Kansas. A system of trust lands, diminished reserves and allotments for the nine tribes was established and years passed before all land in the reserves was legally transferable. [Lee, Homestead, 45] Meanwhile, the federal Trade and Intercourse Act of 1834 remained in effect, prohibiting unlawful settlement of whites on reserves, and providing heavy penalties for any attempt to acquire property by "purchase, grant, lease or other conveyance of lands, or of any title or claim thereto, from any Indian nation or tribe of Indians." [25 U.S.C. 177, sec.12] Unfortunately, white settlers immediately poured into Kansas Territory, completely ignoring the intercourse act and efforts to enforce the federal law were largely fruitless. [Gates, A Fragment, 228]

The Bogus Legislature added its own "Act Prohibiting Intercourse with Indians." [House Journal, 154] Without means to enforce its statutes in the territory, however, the legislature's action was also futile.

The Council received a petition from Louis P. Chouteau and others, half breeds in the Osage nation, praying admission to citizenship. The petition was referred to the Committee on Indian Relations, chaired by Baptist missionary David Lykins. [Council Journal, 63] Later, the Committee recommended a bill granting citizenship to Indians who had given up their reserves by treaty and had, in the words of the Shawnee treaty, agreed "to come under the laws and expect to be protected by the laws." [72 U.S. 737, Supreme Court, 1866] The Committee felt it could not legislate for others, like the Osages, who had not dissolved tribal relations and continued to reside on land to which Indian title had not been "resolved" and who were therefore "without the pale of our legislation." The Committee recommended such Indians petition Congress to allow preemption of all their lands or amend their treaties to do so. [Council Journal, 132]

President Coolidge and Osage leaders

Signing Ceremony for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924

A. M. Coffey of the Council offered an amendment to the proposed law: "all Indians who are inhabitants of this Territory, and who have adopted the customs of the white man, and who are liable to pay taxes, shall be deemed citizens." D.A.N. Grover offered a substitute amendment, more narrowly limiting citizenship to "inhabitant(s) above the age of twenty-one, who (have) resided in the Territory of Kansas for one year, and who (are owners) of land subject to taxation, and who (have) adopted the habits and customs of the white man." Grover's substitute failed, eight to four, and Coffey's amendment became part of the bill. [Council Journal, 185] In the House, however, the Committee on Elections, chaired by Joseph Anderson, recommended defeat of the Indian Citizenship bill, and it was rejected by a voice vote. [House Journal, 260]

Until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, [43 U.S. Statutes at Large 233] only some Native Americans were citizens. Some had married white men; others had been in military service, received allotments, or been admitted by special treaty or statute. The many who were not citizens were barred from the naturalization process open to foreigners. On June 2, 1924, Congress finally granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States. [] An opportunity was missed in Kansas Territory to lead the way sixty-nine years earlier.

Charles Clark