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Representative Thomas J. Geary accordingly introduced at the 2d Session of the 52d Congress legislation opening the Klamath River Reservation to settlers, and reserving to the Indians only such land as they might require for village purposes. [65] This time the Senate and House of Representatives passed an act declaring the reserve, as established by President Pierce's Executive Order of November 16, 1855, open "to settlement and purchase under the laws of the United States granting homestead rights," provided:

That any Indian now located on said reservation may, at any time within one year from the passage of this act apply to the Secretary of the Interior for an allotment of land for himself and, if the head of a family, for the members of his family under the provisions of the act of February eighth, eighteen hundred and eight-seven, entitled "An act to provide for the allotment of lands in severalty to Indians on the various reservations, and to extend the protection of the laws of the United States Territories over the Indians, and for other purposes," and if found entitled thereto, shall have the same allotted as provided in said act . . . Provided, That lands settled and . . . improved, and now occupied by . . . qualified persons under the land laws shall be exempt from such allotment unless one or more of said Indians have resided upon said tract in good faith for four months prior to the passage of this act.

And any person entitled to the benefits of the homestead laws of the United States who has in good faith prior to the passage of this act, made actual settlement upon any lands on the same reservation not allotted under the foregoing proviso and not reserved for the permanent use and occupation of any village or settlement of Indians, with the intent to enter the same under the homestead law shall have the preferred right, at the expiration of said period of one year to enter and acquire title to the land so settled upon, not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres, upon the payment therefore of one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre.

Proceeds from the sale of the reserve were to be paid into a fund to be used by the Secretary of the Interior for "the maintenance and education of the Yurok." [66]

Subsequently, the period in which the Indians could take up their allotments was extending from one to two years. Captain Dougherty, who had replaced Beers as agent responsible for the Hoopa Reservation in June 1893, reported on August 23, 1894, that 744 allotments had been made to date from the mouth of the Klamath to the mouth of the Trinity. [67] One hundred and twenty-five patents from whites had been received, of which 72 had been delivered to the patentees. While most of the land allotted could never be used for agriculture, it did guarantee to the Yurok the "tenure of their homes." [68]

Information that land on the former reservation would soon be available to those interested in acquiring a homestead was carried by the Del Norte Record in April 1894. The announcement read:

To Whom it may Concern
The Klamath Indian Reservation opened
May 21, 1894, a.m. Now prepared
to receive applications for homesteads. [69]

Although the Yurok had been freed from most Federal administrative controls, the majority of the Del Norte County whites were unwilling to recognize their civil rights. The establishment was unable to see "the wisdom of bringing Indians who were able to maintain themselves by industry within the provisions of the laws of the State, or according them and their property the protection of the courts." [70] Especially disconcerting was the failure of the state and county courts to take cognizance of torts committed by one Indian on another redman. This left the Yurok with no legal remedy, and resulted in actionable offenses becoming standing grievances, which could lead to bloodshed. [71] Time, however, was on the side of the Indians, and before many years had passed, the state and local courts accepted the Yurok of the Klamath as first class citizens.

Within four years of the discontinuance of the Reservation, Captain Dougherty was able to report that "since the allotment of lands their [the Yurok] condition has very materially improved." [72] Those wishing free medical attention could still receive it by visiting the hospital at the Hoopa Valley Agency. [73]

By 1894 many of the Yurok had intermarried with whites. According to the census taken by Captain Dougherty in 1895 there were 673 Yurok, comprising 168 families. One hundred and thirty-seven of these family units lived in modern dwellings (sawed or split lumber) while 31 resided in the hewn slab huts of their forefathers. The Yurok owned 76 horses or mules, and 26 head of cattle. About five-sixths of the cultivated land was in small tracts or gardens. Over half the Yurok spoke English, and most of the adult males made their living in what Captain Dougherty described as "civilized pursuits." [74]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004