History 430: Theory and Practice
On January 4, 1918, the Miami Record Herald ran a story that had become quite common in the years preceding. The newspaper out of Miami, Oklahoma received a story that the United States Government had declared three members of the Quapaw tribe incompetent to manage their funds and land. The rumor mill declared a bad investment led to Ben Quapaw, Se-Sah Quapaw, and Wah Tah Neh Zah Goodeagle to receive the declaration. In the minds of many, it was just another Indian wasting their mining money. What was happening was a far more troubling situation. Two attorneys who had been working for Benjamin and Se-Sah had discovered that a declaration of incompetence would allow them to become the managers of their clients' funds. After having them both declared incompetent, the two lawyers went on a two-year spending spree that used $170,000 of the two tribal members' money, a figure that would translate to almost 3 million of dollars in modern currency. From 1926 to 1929, Bureau of Indian Affairs agent J.L. Suffecool authorized the spending of $262,000 of vehicles, which would cost approximately $500 apiece. The Tri-State mining area was a godsend to many members of the QUapaw tribe, but corruption within the government and strangling restrictions made it difficult for the Quapaw people to function with their tribal identity intact.
Adams, Jordan, "Paupers to Princes: Quapaw Royalties from the Tri-State Mining Area Land-Leases and their Effects of the Tribal Culture" (2012). Theory and Practice: Hist 430. 11.