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Senator COHEN. A wonderful understatement, yes. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF FOXX AYERS, MEMBER OF CATAWBA TRIBE
Mr. AYERS. Mr. Chairman, my name is Foxx Ayers. Mr. Harris here has a throat problem and he has asked me to fill in for him.
Senator COHEN. Fine. Mr. AYERS. I am also a member of the Catawba Tribe committee. At this time, I would like to say that I agree with Mr. Lee's portion of the bill where he says that the Catawba should be paid with money, but not to that small amount. So therefore, Mr. Harris here is the chairman of the pro cash committee and I am the cochairman.
Now, Mr. Harris has on record here, 600 names out of approximately 700 voters. This was taken in 1978, I believe, but they were for a cash settlement. Then at a later date, when our lawyers went before the committee, Bob McFadden's committee in Columbia, we had given them permission to go down and discuss with them what they were to offer the Catawbas and then they were to bring it back and lay it out to us and we would vote on it.
Well, after the negotiation, they came back and said that there will be no settlement unless you accept a certain amount of land. Well, taking them at their word, I said, myself, if it has to be that way,
nen has to be that way. Senator COHEN. Who said this?
Mr. AYERS. Our lawyers. We had a couple of lawyers that went down and made the negotiation with the McFadden committee. They came back and reported to us that there would be no settlement unless we accepted land. So, we said, well, we will take that before the tribe. So this was explained to the tribe and the tribe then voted, that if it came up with a certain amount of money, so much would go to the tribe for monetary cash, and the rest would go for tribal land and economical development.
Now, at a certain period of time after that, the land was withdrawn, and me, I was very happy, because I represented the procash people that were not interested in the land.
I was told at a later date that our lawyers went down and told the Bob McFadden committee that the Indians will not settle unless you give them land, part land. So one end was twisted around and pushed to the other end.
Senator COHEN. How many members of the tribe are there!
Mr. AYERS. Right offhand, I have not been able to find out. I have asked a couple of times of the Secretary-Treasurer, and he says roughly 1,200 to 1,300. Now, there are approximately 700, I understand, of voting age, and the rest are children.
Senator Cohen. Out of the 700, you say you have 600 and how many!
Senator COHEN. Do you still have 620 votes that favor the monetary basis !
it should go.
Mr. AYERs. As far as I know. I have talked to several people and they said why do we not get this settled. If they are not going
to give us land like they said a couple of years back—we did not really want that to start with, but we were led to believe that we could not have a settlement unless there was land involved. And so now I am thinking, and the people that I have talked to said, let us get this settled, get this all behind us. Then the situation that you have in the city of Rock Hill will be abolished. I am thinking very much that that is the way
Now, I just wanted to explain that situation as far as the tribe voting for land in 1980.
Senator COHEN. What was the amount of money that was agreed upon at that time?
Mr. AYERS. We were thinking that, at the least, the amount of money would be $30 million. Now, the tribe had voted that three-fourths of that would be divided amongst the tribe and the other fourth would go for land, plus economic developments, and then we found out we could not have land, so therefore why not take the whole amount of cash and distribute it out equally. If anyone wants land, well, let him buy his land. Let him have title to it.
It is my opinion that the only way we can go forward is that we try to stand on our own two feet. I am not one to suggest that from generation to generation that we get a handout from the Federal Government. I do not believe in sitting down when someone is handing you something. So therefore I feel that the group that we represent feels the same way, about giving them a chance to go forward.
At the present time, I live in Columbia, S.C., so I have tried to go forward myself and a lot of others that do not live on the reservation, even the chief does not live on the reservation, or the assistant chief. Now, wherever they want to live, that is their business. I am not against that. They can live where they please. I like to think I can live where I please.
I only left the reservation because at that time, in that area, there was not much work. I used to work in Charlotte and the round trip was 100 miles a day. So I went down to Columbia and went to a trade school and learned to be an electrician, which I never followed through on, because I am a painter and they said that gets in your blood. And so I am staying a painter.
Senator COHEN. The painter or the paint?
Mr. AYERS. I will be frank with you, sir. I quit drinking before I started painting. I hung it up in 1952 and I did not start painting until 1957, so I have never touched it since. I have a good reputation of being a first-class painter, and I try to be honest about things. If I felt I could not be honest about things, I would not sit up here this afternoon and try to explain my side of things, representing 620 people who continue to ask you, what is going on? Why can we not have a settlement ? If we are not to get any land, well, let us settle for cash and get this thing over with.
No one wants to have hard feelings with anyone. Certainly, I am not having any hard feelings with any of the landowners. I do not really know that I can say that anyone has any hard feelings with them, or they had any hard feelings toward them.
Senator Cohen. Thank you very much for your testimony. We will be happy to include Mr. Harris's statement in the record.
[The prepared statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAVID A. HARRIS, CHAIRMAN, CATAWBA PRO-CASH
COMMITTEE I am David A. Harris and I am chairman of the Pro-Cash Committee and I am speaking for 620 Catawba Indians, out of approximately 700 of the tribe's eligible voters who desire an immediate cash only settlement to the Catawba Indian land claim in South Carolina. We are in support of the Gary Lee bill, however we do not agree with the amount of money to be set aside for settlement. We ask that the amount of money to be awarded be excluded from the bill and be determined by the Interior Department or the United States Court of Claims.
Neither I nor the Catawbas who I have contacted want any land. We do not want to take away any land from anyone. We will support the Gary Lee bill.
Mr. Chairman, I submit this testimony along with petitions from 620 Catawbas who support the Gary Lee bill."
Senator COHEN. We will complete the hearing today. I want to thank everyone here for their patience and bearing throughout. It is a very complicated area of the law and we are certainly going to give it very thoughtful consideration.
The hearing will stand adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 5:20 p.m., the hearing was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.)
· See Appendix, p. 1359.
LETTERS AND STATEMENTS
[NOTE.—No response had been received to the following questions at time of printing.)
Enclosed are questions concerning s. 2084, the Ancient Indian Land Claims Settlement Act. The questions are subdivided into related questions that are designated by either "a)" or "il" as is warranted. I would appreciate it if, in answering these questions, each subdivided question were answered individually.
I would also appreciate it if you would respond to these questions as soon as possible.
Thank you for your time and attention to these questions and I look forward to your response.
will am S. conen Chaiman
Section 5 of s. 2084, establishes a procedure whereby the
Secretary of the Interior is empowered to determine the
legal sufficiency of and to set compensation for causes of
resources were approved under section 4 of the Act.
Is the Secretary of the Interior in acting as a judge
in such matters presented with a conflict of interest
based on his trust obligations to those Indian tribes
that have a relationship with the federal government?
Is the Secretary of the Interior, as an officer of the
executivé branch of the United States, presented with
a conflict of interest in setting the liability of the
United States in these cases?
Section 5 sets no limit on the amount of liability the
Secretary of the Interior may determine.
Has the Interior
Department developed any standards that might guide the
determination of compensation?
If the Secretary of the Interior does not represent the
United States in reaching his determination, is the United
States going to participate in these determinations?
advised as to the participation of the United States? ii) If not, does the absence of the United States from
these proceedings raise any legal problems in light of its possible. liability?