Declassified in 1993
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS FIELD SERVICE
November 10, 1947
Mr. William Zimmerman, Jr.
Acting Conroissioner of Indian Affairs
Department of the Interior
Washington 25, D. C.
For the past months we have been devoting some time here in an
effort to bring into more active organization the several groups of
Indians who have either organized heretofore or are planning to do so.
The point of this letter has to do with the Keetoowah Band of Cherokee
Indians. In this conection, see your letter of November and other
The files of this office are incomplete and apparently the
recoillection of those who had to do with the organization is not too
clear. I have talked with Mr. Perkins, Mr Dwight, Mr
Hitcher, Mr. Jim Pickup and others, and we de not get a very Connected
story. It seem that a Constitution and By laws were proposed, were
acted upon properly by the so-called United Keetoowah Cherokee Band and
that the Constitution and By-laws as presented were recommended for
approval to the Secretary of the Interior, this action bearing
date of February 20, 1942. It appears that later on a statement of the
officials of the organization under date of October 2, 1942, claimed
3687. It then appears that some members of the Cherckee Tribe for
reasons not clear sought to change the name of the group to the United
Cherokee Band of Indians in Oklahoma.
The file disclose that in the record with reference to the Keetoowahs
is marked in pencil or pen and that United Cherokee Tribe is the
official name. It appears that in 1939 a convention for the purpose "of
voting for or against a. provisional Constitution" was called and
that later on in August,1940 another call "pursuant to the order of the
Band Council for the purpose of election of officers" and in this call
"nine" districts were named.
In October, 1946, I attempted to bring the officers of the Keetoowah
group together for my information about the organization, plans and
procedures. Rev. Jim Pickup answered the request in the form of a
letter which he signed as Chief of the United Cherokee Tribe of
Oklahoma, and later on in person, and I have been in frequent
correspondence or personal discussion with Mr. Pickup since that time.
My last discussion with him was today and in the discussion I asked
several questions which I.think need to be cleared up before we could
comply with your letter of November 6. In some manner, the idea
that there are "six" separate groups of the Keetoowah Indians has
gotten into the correspondence and the thinking of some of. those who
interested in the organization. While I did not have your .letter at
the time of my discussion with Mr. Pickup, it is clear that the
meiabership element is not fully resolved, that there are rival
organizations or at any rate difference of opinion as to who should be
representative of the Cherokee Nation.
The question arose some weeks ago in an effort to set out a means
of selection of an Attorney to represent the Cherokee Nation in the
matter of its claims, if any, against the United States before the
Claims Commission. As matters now stand, the assumption is that there
are "nine" groups of Cherokees, that each group should select a
representative, and that all of the representatives should come
together for the purpose of selecting the Attorney; however, it also
appears that the Keetoowah group wants to make selection of their own
delegates. It is obvious, of course, if they have 3500 members or more,
Mr. Pickup claimed 5000, that .they would overlap several of the
communities-might have members in all "nine" of the divisions.
It is, I think, accurate to say, however, that the whole Cherokee
situation is Shaping up in such way as to be indicative of a general
desire of a large number of the Cherokee people to join together in
some kind of effort to protect the lands of members of the group, to
try to do semething about the education, the health of the neglected
areas and to, as Mr. Pickup stat ed, help the Indian Service "to reach
out and get to the indians who need help".
We do not have a map delineating the "nine" divisions.
Apparently, the map was made by Mr. Dwight and Mr.
Xendine with some help in this Office. The original
of it is apparently not here and we do not seem to be able
to trace it. I have asked several of the members of the
Cherokee group about information and their files. It would seem
there is not much available from the organization.
Mr. Pickup has set December 10, 1947 as a time for bringing together
all the officials and as many members of the Keetoowah group as he can.
The meeting is to be held at Hulbert, Oklahoma 10 o'clock a. m. and
will have wide publicity. I am arranging to be there and I would like
to know, first, is there an approved Constitution and By-laws in the
Indian Office; second, is there a list of the 3687 names who are
alleged to have joined in a vote for approval of the Constitution and
By-laws and third, since the proposed Constitution and'By-laws provided
tor a Chief, what, if any, effect will such position have in relation
to that of the Principal Chief (Mr. J. B. Milam, Claremore,
Oklahoma) appointed by the President?
It is my observation, that the Cherokee group is less organized, more
disintegrated than the others. It seems to me, however, if we are to
get the support from a considerable number of Indians in a live and
active program in rehabilitation and social betterment, some kind of
organization is indicated. Inasmuch as the Keetoowab organization has
not only the benefit of law, but of several years effort, it, of
course, would seen to me that we should revive and bring up to date the
Indians interest in this organization.
I am sure that there is a. growing interest in it, probably because of
the questions I have raised" which I assume the Indian people are
taking as evidence of official interest in. the development of
their organization'. If the Office has time to do so, I would like to
have a little more complete resume of Office files in this matter. I
would like to be able to present to the
people on December 10 a comprehensive outline of suggestions and plans
for bringing the Keetoowahs into a full and effective organization.
I could have a photostatic copy of the map which you have made
and return it to you. Otherwise, I do not know just how I can get the
information as to what was in the thoughts of those arranging the plans
for the organization. Doubtless, a good deal of work was done by Mr.
Dwight, Mr. Xendine and others.
Very truly yours,
W. 0. Roberts