The Struggle for Self-Determination: History of the Menominee Indians since 1854

By David R. M. Beck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
From Allotment to
Incorporation

Federal mismanagement and control over Menominee resources only served to increase Menominee resentment of U.S. oversight and to strengthen tribal resolve to do something about it. The 1920s proved to be a crucial decade in the history of Menominee political resistance and self-determination. During the 1920s the tribe attempted to hold the United States to its major responsibility—directing tribal development under the 1908 law. Instead of fulfilling this duty, federal officials attempted to make one after another astonishing changes that, in the federal view, would bring the tribe to self-sufficiency. Though the Menominee also desired self-sufficiency, they were unwilling to permit the United States to relinquish its trust-based responsibility to the tribe. Although the Menominee considered all of the federal proposals and made some proposals of their own, tribal leaders could not come to an agreement with federal officials on how they should be carried out, and eventually they rejected them. The outcome of two key issues, allotment and incorporation, helped shape modern Menominee governance.


ALLOTMENT

Despite the tribe’s rich forest resource, the Indian Service continued to hope to individualize Menominee holdings and to turn tribal members into farmers. The Menominee accepted the concept of allotment in 1919 under Superintendent Edgar A. Allen, a strong supporter of allotment as a method to end federal supervision of Indians, but they did not accept it under the terms Allen proposed. Not until the late 1920s would the fundamental differences between the Menominee and federal definitions of allotment become fully crystallized.

Allen pushed the Menominee to allot because it would be a first step toward removing Indians from federal responsibility, toward providing “equal rights and equal opportunity” for all races.1 Allen, according to J. P. Kinney, “never regarded seriously the provisions of the act of March 28, 1908 … requiring

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