A public meeting was held in Sanders Theatre last evening. The subject announced for discussion was "The Condition of the Indians under existing laws and the need of further legislation." Rev. Edward H. Abbott of Cambridge was chairman of the meeting, and he said there were two great forces necessary to meet and overcome the Indian troubles; the first is the law - representing Justice, and the second is the gospel - representing Truth. For that reason gentlemen who stood for each of these forces had been asked to speak. He then introduced Professor James B. Thayer of the Harvard Law School. He took for his text, the title of an article he contributed to a recent number of the Atlantic Monthly: "A People Without Law." We are undertaking an unprecedented task, that of civilizing a nation. The Indians have lost all the civil society which they once had. The change has been gradual. We have placed over them a little despot - the Indian Agent. We depose and dispose of their chiefs as we like and we govern them without any any system of laws. We have not built upon what they had; we have destroyed it. All those best informed about the Indians say that what they need most is law. Educate them we must; religious instruction we owe them, but first of all, give them laws. Many attempts have been made to remedy their wrongs but they have been unsuccessful. A bill was prepared some time ago by Professor Thayer, Dr. Austin Abbott and Mr. Garrett. They were aided by lawyers and Indian specialists. The bill was presented to Congress by Mr. Dawes, against his desire; it was referred to a minor committee and no action has been taken on it. Last Monday, it was again brought up and this meeting was called to support it.
The present Congress proposes to remedy last year's extravagances by cutting down the Indian appropriation. They also propose to turn the only band of Indians in Colorado out of their homes. In order to prevent this, Professor Thayer offered the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting, the U. S. Government owes to the Reservation Indians, as a duty not second in importance to any other that can be named, the immediate establishment among them of a system of laws and the means of enforcing it.
Resolved, That the appropriation for educating the Indians should not be reduced but should be increased to the point necessary for carrying out the recommendations of Commissioner Morgan.
Resolved, That the proposed removal of the Southern Ute Indians from their reservation is contrary to sound principles, and that we agree with the Indian Commissioners that they should remain where they are and be encouraged to work out their own civilization there." These resolutions are to be sent to Washington, accompanied by a petition, signed by a large number of persons.
Dr. Austin Abbott, Dean of the New York University Law School spoke next. What can a people without land be, except lawless? In the Catholic Church, a man excommunicated is out of the community - almost literally. The Indians are in a similar state, they are excommunicated. It must follow that they are lawless and we cannot complain. We demand for the Indians an amenability to law and the right of appeal to law. The alternative now is law or war.
Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott followed. Liberty; government; education; this nation offers these three things to everybody except the Indians. We should give them a chance to make men of themselves. In order to do this our demand must be: down with the reservations, National law shall be introduced to them, there shall be no backward legislation. With the realization of these demands will come the resolution of the Indian Question.