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House. Comm. on Condition of Indians. Report, 1827
H.R. No. 68 On March 1, 1827, a Committee that had been directed to consider the condition of natives in the Commonwealth and to respond to petitions
from several people in Dukes County to settle land claims made its report. The Committee determined there were only about 1000 natives left in the
Commonwealth and almost none had any notion of their language or culture. There was a list of locations and numbers. The people were often very poor,
ill-educated, and alcohol was a problem. Maine had a welfare program and had agricultural grants. Massachusetts had had a guardian program for a
long time, but in the recent past, the guardians had become venal and all trust with the natives was lost. At present, the natives had no protection
from unscrupulous employers or land grabbers. Still, some natives had successful town government among themselves, especially because women could vote.
In the past, any native land sale had to be approved by the General Court, a time-consuming process. The Committee suggested that a guardian
determine the financial fitness of natives in his purview and provide licenses to natives who could buy and sell real estate among themselves. Beginning on
p. 13, An Act for the better regulation, instruction, and government of the Indians and people of color in the county of Duke's County, 1827. The
Governor was to appoint three people to work through and settle all the land ownership issue in the County and record the lands as owned in fee simple.
Wood or peat lands, quarries, mines, and clay pits were to be held in common. The Governor would appoint a guardian, who was a Justice of the Peace and
had to provide a performance bond. The guardian was to call a meeting of the local natives to set up a Town government, including two overseers and
a clerk. The guardian was to manage all accounts and settle disputes between the natives and the whites, recover debts, and protect the natives from
fraud. He could punish crimes, including illicit liquor sales. He was to grant licenses to residents to buy and sell property among themselves. He
had to exhibit his accounts on request and report to the Secretary of State once a year. He could lease the common lands for the benefit of the
community. He also had social responsibilities: escrow sailors' pay for the benefit of their families, bind out poor children to apprenticeships, manage
chronic drunks, in part by informing tavern owners not to serve certain people, watch over the schools, require child support, etc. He was to walk the
boundary between the native and white lands as necessary. He was to monitor land sales and contracts to prevent fraud and generally be a protector.
(Digitized from a microfilm copy of title originally held by the Massachusetts State Library).
Title:   The committee appointed at the last session of the legislature, to take into consideration the condition of the native Indians and descendants of native Indians, in this commonwealth ...
OCLC Number:   1389559296
Available Volumes
NameFiche CountOnlinePaper Backup
Vol. 1YesNo