To the editor:
I have specific points concerning the Shawnee tribe's Sunflower Plant land claim.
First, the Shawnee tribe's reservation was the first established in 1825. It consisted of 1.6 million acres. The Shawnee's Manypenny Treaty of 1854 diminished this to 200,000 acres. This land was then divided into 200-acre allotments for each Shawnee member. The larger ceded area belonged to another group of Shawnees, the Absentee Band. This group never occupied the land beyond the 200,000 acres.
However, the proceeds from this land being sold paid for the Black Bob Hoof Bands of Shawnee to be removed to Oklahoma. In other words, the 200,000-acre section, which is now Johnson County, was never properly ceded by the U.S. Congress. The fact that the Shawnee Treaty of March 2, 1867, was rejected by Congress backs up this assertion. The Absentee's Shawnee Land money paid for other Shawnees to be moved. The Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma is due compensation in the form of land.
Federal laws also play into this. Tribes have first choice on federal surplus lands. Since the Shawnees still have three sections of unceded Shawnee allotments in Johnson County, U.S. Law, Title 18, Section 1151, defines this area as Indian Country. The Supreme Court ruling on Blue Jacket v. Kansas (1867) stated that the Shawnee allotments were untaxable, or reserved lands. The 1823 Supreme Court McIntosh ruling gave tribes the supreme right of land occupancy.
Only Congress can allow tribal land sales. No state can deal directly with tribes. New York state's land claims issues with the Oneida, Cayuga and Mohawk are examples of similar wrongdoing.