Declassified in 1993

Muskogee, Oklahoma
November 10, 1947

Mr. William Zimmerman, Jr.
Acting Conroissioner of Indian Affairs
Department of the Interior
Washington 25, D. C.

Dear Sir:
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 correspondence.

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 United Keetoowah
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 are
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, and infact
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