- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2017

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The extensive records collection of the Indian Claims Commission era from the late longtime Minot attorney Jonathan C. Eaton Jr. are among three special collections of historical value in the Three Tribes Museum near New Town.

Eaton, best known as Jock to family and friends, died Oct. 25, 2016.

Marilyn Hudson, longtime administrator of the Three Tribes Museum, said Eaton and his wife, Betty, were good friends of the museum, visiting the facility and making a number of donations, including the Eaton collection, a large blue vase made by the Three Tribes Stoneware program in the 1960s and a western painting.

“Mr. Eaton liked everything connected with the American West,” Hudson said.

The Eaton collection and two others at the museum - the Cross collection and the Wilson collection - are directly related to North Dakota history in general and to the Three Affiliated Tribes in particular, said Hudson.

The Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/2kOvuZ3 ) reports the Eaton collection is comprised of an extensive record of the aboriginal and treaty lands of all Indian tribes in North Dakota. It includes a sizeable collection of maps needed to substantiate various tribal land claims for the Indian Claims Commission.

In 1946, Congress created the Indian Claims Commission to hear and determine claims against the United States on behalf of any Indian tribe. The commission existed until April 10, 1957. During this time, Indian tribes filed 852 claims with the commission. The Three Affiliated Tribes filed a number of land and accounting claims which became known as Docket 350.

Hudson said Eaton worked with the Washington, D.C., law firm, Wilkinson, Cragun, Barker, Walker, during their litigation of the claims filed by the Three Affiliated Tribes against the U.S. government for loss of lands, loss of buffalo, etc. A number of claims were filed and were settled in the 1980s.

Betty Eaton said Hans Walker Jr., with the Washington, D.C., law firm, asked her husband to join in the work and they and Walker became friends. Walker, who was born on the Fort Berthold Reservation, died in 2015.

The Cross collection focuses on tribal government in the 1940s and 1950s with emphasis on the Garrison Dam period, Hudson said. Hudson’s father, Martin Cross, was chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Cross collection also includes the Indian Claims Commission, tribal attorney issues, the Eisenhower termination policy period and other federal-tribal relationships. A record of the North Dakota Inter-Agency Council, the Governor’s Interstate Council and National Congress of American Indians are parts of this collection.

She said the Wilson collection chronicles the modern history of the Three Affiliated Tribes and is primarily post-Garrison Dam era.

“It has significant value for us here in North Dakota in that it has the continuity of one physician’s (Dr. Herbert Wilson) 45-year history with the people of Fort Berthold. Included are studies of health matters as well as planning and maintaining a health care delivery system.

After his long career as a physician on the Fort Berthold Reservation, Wilson and his wife Lilian moved to Bismarck where they reside.

Several years ago the museum, through a State Historical Society of North Dakota Cultural Heritage Grant program, inventoried and did other work to document the three collections.

Hudson said there is an inter-relationship among the three collections, particularly between the Indian Claims era and the Garrison Dam era.

“The original claims were filed during the 1940s at the same time negotiations were taking place for the Garrison Dam. However, these claims were not settled until the 1970s and early 1980s,” Hudson said.

She said Wilson’s records provide an on-going historical perspective of the Fort Berthold people after the relocation from the Missouri River valley.

“These collections contain North Dakota history often overlooked by researchers and historians,” Hudson said. She said some of the topics include the Indian Claims Commission era, the termination period of the 1950s and Indian Bureau policies such as tribes hiring attorneys to represent them. She said also of special significance is the material on the construction of railroads and its impact on reservation lands.

Hudson retired as administrator of the museum in 2015. The MHA Elders organization on the Fort Berthold now manages the museum. The museum is closed for the winter months but will reopen in the spring.


Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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