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1. Almost froin the beginning of the current effort by the Catawba Indians to pursue what they believe to be a just claim, the members of the "tribe" have been divided in accordance with the settlement they would desire. More recently a suit among them was pending on a cash only settlement. Any claims of harmony do not convey the impression that agreement on a settlement has been attained.
2. The general population and the officers of government have differed as to whom the responsibility for solution devolves. The composition of investigating and negotiating teams has often received criticism.
3. The "division of our community" as viewed by political office holders tends to compromise elected leaders in their efforts to seek resolution. Some leaders have even refused to do more than issue broad general statements for fear of alienating portions of the electorate, a “no-win" situation which is quite understandable. Thus persons in authority see nothing but political liability in a situation which combines great uncertainty about the Claim and dissimilar views among citizens about the settlement.
4. Non-political entities—principally large and important employers—appar. ently see little benefit and great potential for barm by direct involvement in negotiations or even public expressions. They, however, have vigorously defended their interest in the court case and have pent large sums of money defending their rights to their plants and offices.
5. The position of the Federal agencies and the Administration has been less than consistent throughout the past months. A Federal Task Force set up in 1978 to study the Catawba Claim ceased to exist. This development seemed to be associated with the decision of the Department of Interior to withdraw its recommendation for a suit to effect ejection. Regardless of the intent of the Interior Department or the Administration, we see here other examples of uncertainty which offends any hope of a negotiated settlement.
These five instances are indicative of the grand scale of the near unmanage able conditions which exist among the good people who live in the region of the Claim. These conditions are further aggravated by the fact that the root cause of the dispute traces to developments alleged to have occurred more than a century ago. It is not surprising that no living person wishes to accept blame.
Whether under terms of a treaty or through the malfeasance of individuals, if a particular group of citizens is wronged, corrective measures should be sought. In instances of this nature, governments exist to do what individuals or clusters of citizens cannot do, including the ascertainment that a people has been wronged and the imposition of corrective measures. When governmental inquiry leads to the conclusion that an ancient people has been wronged, corrective measures should be taken, but there is no logic in allowing these measures to offend still another people who do not deserve this blame.
Our purpose here is to plead with the Congress to reach its conclusions and to take corrective measures, and we believe no purpose is served by further delays. We believe the conditions which might admit to negotiations are no longer available, and further postponement would be harmful to all parties.
Beyond the dilemmas attending the search for a resolution of the Catawba Claim, there are problems accompanying the fact of the Claim. These problems have caused irreparable harm to individual citizens and have hindered development of a region of the Nation which had every right to expect a fine period of industrial and commercial growth.
The officers and directors of the Rock Hill Area Chamber of Commerce as well as our Catawba Indian Claim Task Force, under the able leadership of first, Dr. Charles B. Vail, president of Winthrop College, and second, Attorney Tom Roper, have actively studied this matter and attempted with others to bring it to a reasonable solution for more than four years. We testified in 1979 before the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. We are knowledgeable on this issue, and concerned with its impact on all the citizens of our community.
On June 12, 1979, our report to the U.S. Congressional Committee contained many detailed examples of the negative impact of the Catawba claim on development in Rock Hill and Fort Mill. We are providing you today with copies of those supporting documents, although I do not plan to go through them in our testi. mony. Certainly these matters are known only too well to members of our community and others who have studied this issue thoroughly.
It will suffice simply to say that these documents show the range of problems our community has already encountered.
Delays in financing and construction because of lack of clear, unencumbered titles to land.
Refusal of industrial prospects brought to South Carolina by the State Development Board to consider Rock Hill because of the potential claims problem. Many factors govern the choice of a site for new or expanded industrial development, and it is seldom possible to know the full and definitive reasons for corporate decisions. With respect to the region of the Catawbas, there are specific and general evidences that the uncertainty of the Catawba Claim has restrained industrial and commercial development. In comparison with other parts of the Metrolina area centered in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina, the Catawba area has not sustained the growth that could have been expected. We make no argument that the Indian Claim is the sole factor, but we are driven inexorably to the conclusion that the Claim is of some consequence.
Damage to buyers and sellers of real estate because title insurance was not available
Lost Federal financing for housing for the elderly because HUD found unacceptable and unmarketable the Indian claim exception specified by title insurance.
More intangibly, a divided community and all the emotional and psychological harm divisiveness can bring.
Whether or not one believes in the validity and legality of the Catawba claim, these problems and others to date clearly show that the issue has already had a profoundly negative impact on the Rock Hill area.
Failure to settle the issue—which means endless litigation and further delaywould multiply this impact. The result would be more turmoil for this area, for the Catawba and non-Catawba alike.
We are talking about the further impact on the property owners in the claim area, those who own business and industrial property as well as residences, farms and woodlands.
We are talking about a veritable moratorium on development in the Tri-County area affected by the claim.
We are talking about the inability of our economy to produce new jobs, and to provide goods and services for a growing residential population. This would provide more stimulus to the flight of workers, capital and consumer spending across the borders.
We are also talking about these things happening at a time when the spector of recession looms and inflation continues to aggravate our economic problems.
And, we are talking about the deepening of the divisions in our community that have already set neighbor against neighbor.
If that's not a definition of turmoil, it ought to be. Does it describe a com. munity in which you would like to live or invest your time and resources?
The question before us today is how to avert the problems. The Rock Hill Area Chamber of Commerce believes enactment of the Ancient Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1982 would be a solution which would be fair to all parties.
We support the concept of the Act which was introduced by Representative Lee and Senators D'Amato and Thurmond because we believe enactment of the Act would :
1) remove the clouds on the titles to land located within South Carolina and in particular York County and Rock Hill, resulting from the claims of Indian tribes or Indian groups;
2) approve, validate and ratify all Indian land transfers effective as of the date of such transfers and with the same effect given at the time of the transfers ; and
3) provide Indian tribes and groups affected by this Act with a means of obtaining fair and equitable compensation for their claims, including a cause of action in the Court of Claims against the United States for monetary compensation.
The Chamber's endorsement of this legislation should not be construed as support for payment of any claim not settled by the courts. We view this legislation as an opportunity for all parties concerned to pursue due process of law without obstructing normal title transfers or causing economic upheaval.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, we conclude this statement by asking you to support the enactment of the Ancient Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1982. We believe that negotiation is virtually beyond hope, and that litigation will do no more than aggravate the divisions and tensions among the people. Further, litigation will prolong indefinitely any decision which is generally acknowledged as an ultimate responsibility of the Congress.
We have suggested that the validity of the Claim is but a matter of opinion which is not uniformly accepted and hardly soluble in the absolute. The root causes of the dispute traces to a development occurring more than a century ago, and no living person is or wishes to accept the blame.
We urge consideration of the view that the actions of 140 years ago deserve careful study by legal scholars who should help us to understand the events of that distant time. It is historically important to know whether there were treaty violations of State or Federal Law and by whom. We do not condone any actions of the past found to be unfriendly to the welfare of our people, but we maintain that litigation today based on actions of our forefathers cannot effect remedy to generations who have long since passed beyond this place and time.
A reasonable solution such as this recognizes the proper role of government; avoids penalizing those who in good faith invested in our area, to our everlasting benefit; and gives our Catawba neighbors a new start at revitalizing their tradition. We personally do not address the question of the legality of the Catawba Claim. However, U.S. District Judge Joseph Willson of Pennsylvania has ruled that a 1959 federal law that disbanded the tribe now bars the Catawbas from recovering a colonial reservation.
Self-interest and community interests can co-exist if the proper attitudes and atmosphere exist.
The Rock Hill Area Chamber of Commerce is quite interested in doing whatever it can do to develop such attitudes and atmosphere. It reflects our sense of community. And we solicit your strong and swift support.
EXHIBIT la.-BELK REALTY CORPORATION
ROCK HILL, S.C.,
February 13, 1979. Dr. CHARLES VALL, President, Winthrop College, Rock Hill, s.c.
DEAR CHARLES : I, along with the entire Chamber of Commerce, appreciate your agreeing to continue as Chairman of the Catawba Indian Claim Task Force. Having served with you last year, I can appreciate the difficulty in finding a solution or even a means in which we might be most helpful.
Some of our members and most of the Rock Hill area are being adversely affected economically by the Indian Claim. And, as can be expected, when the pocket books are interfered with the complaints come in loud and clear.
In the Board of Directors Meeting held February 13, 1979, the Indian Claim was discussed at length. One of the suggestions was that this task force might want to appoint one of its members to join the Tri-County Landowners Association. This member would serve as a liaison between the two groups.
Another suggestion is that we should find out what the Governor's Group is doing about the Indian Issue.
It would be very beneficial if a small group could meet as soon as possible to determine what the current status of the claim is and so that Clint and I might pass along the input from other members.
Again I thank you for continuing this task force and I look forward to serving with you. Sincerely,
ROBERT L. BELK.
It is the understanding of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce that the Greater Rock Hill Chamber of Commerce will seek help from our United States Senators and Representative in bringing a speedy resolution to the problem created by the Indian claim.
Our Board of Directors encourages your Chamber's efforts in this matter and offers our assistance anytime we can be of help.
Best of luck in your efforts.
Very truly yours,
The members of the Greater Fort Mill Chamber of Commerce are
Your continuing program for community betterment is an inspiration
Yours very truly,
5. W. McAlhaney President