Indian reservation timber and the creation of the Indian forest service

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1972

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Abstract

In 1910 the creation of the Indian Forest Service and the provisions of the Indian Omnibus Act climaxed the slow development of the rights of Indians to log and profit from their reservation timber resources. Although the Indians had sold land and timber from the earliest days of white settlement of the United States, the "reservation policy" of restricting Indians to western, limited areas for the protection of Indians and settlers developed as westward expansion pushed across the continent during the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, the wardship concept and the belief that the end of the Indians as an ethnic group was inevitable joined to restrict the Indians from selling the timber on their shrinking reservations. According to a landmark Supreme Court decision of 1874 the Indians could not sell timber unless it was incidental to land clearing for agriculture. By 1874 many tribes had already begun to log their foreSts and participate in the white lumber industry. Between 1874 and 1889 Indian tribes in Wisconsin and Minnesota continued to log either openly or through illicit collusion with white lumbermen. Special logging privileges for dead timber or timber on allotments given to individual Indians were granted in the 1880's by the Indian Office. However, the 1874 decision did.succeed in restricting Indians on reservations in Oregon and Washington and preventing them from profiting from their resources to any great extent. In addition, the continuing United States land cessions, the new concepts of allotting land in small parcels to Indians, and white land frauds deprived the Indians of their timberlands everywhere. [...]

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Indigenous people of North America

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