Mr. Sherman to Mr. Romero.

No. 231.]

Sir: Referring to my note of March 10, touching the matter brought to the Department’s attention by yours of the 1st instant, of the Fort Yuma Reservation Indians who have crossed over into Mexico and [Page 390] established themselves on the ranch of Guillermo Andrade, I have the honor to inclose herewith copy of a letter from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior, showing the action taken by him to induce the Indians to return to their reservation.

Accept, sir, etc.,

John Sherman.
[Inclosure in No. 231.]

Mr. Browning to Mr. Bliss.

Sir: I am in receipt, by your reference for early report, of a communication from the Secretary of State, dated March 5, inclosing a note of March 1 from. Mr. Romero, the Mexican minister at this capital, informing him that a number of Yuma Indians, belonging to the Yuma Reservation in California, have crossed into Mexican territory and established themselves on the ranch called “Algodones,” situated in the territory of Lower California, and owned by Señor Don Guillermo Andrade, without the consent of the latter; that Mr. W. C. Hefferman, a superintendent in the Indian-school service, informed Señor Andrade that the said Yuma Indians had quitted the United States because they did not wish to send their children to school, but that in allotting the lands of the Yuma Reservation the Indians now on the Algodones ranch made application for their share, which indicates a purpose to retain their status in the United States; that Señor Andrade applied to the Government of Mexico to have the said Indians expelled from his land by force, but before giving orders to that end the Government desires to know whether the United States Government can compel them to return to the Yuma Reservation. Mr. Romero incloses a list of the names of these Indians—39 in number.

I have the honor to report that heretofore it has been found impracticable, if not impossible, to return Indians to and confine them upon a reservation against their will, without keeping them in actual confinement under guard, and for this there is no authority of law. Local authorities in this country have reported unlawful settlements by Indians and they have been uniformly advised of the difficulty of keeping Indians on a reservation, and that as they were amenable to the local police laws, they should be punished for any violations thereof.

In appreciation, however, of the courteous action of the Mexican Government in calling our attention to this trespass, I have, by letter of this date, instructed the United States Indian Agent, Mission Agency, California, within whose jurisdiction the Yuma Indians of California are located, to proceed at once to Mr. Andrade’s premises, in Mexico, and use every legitimate means in his power to induce the trespassers to return to their reservation, or, failing in that, to at least effect their removal from the Territory or Lower California. Should he also fail in this effort this office will, upon receipt of his report to that effect, submit such suggestions for the consideration of the Mexican Government as the facts found may appear to warrant.

Very respectfully, etc.,

D. M. Browning, Commissioner