The Nelson Act - legislation creating racially segregated Schools in Alaska.

CHAP. 277.—An Act To provide for the construction and maintenance of roads, the establishment and maintenance of schools, and the care and support of insane persons in the district of Alaska, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all moneys derived from and collected for liquor licenses, occupation, or trade licenses outside of the incorporated towns in the district of Alaska shall be deposited in the Treasury Department of the United States, there to remain as a separate and distinct fund, to be known as the "Alaska fund," and to be wholly devoted to the purposes hereinafter stated in the district of Alaska. One-fourth of said fund, or so much thereof as may be necessary, shall be devoted to the establishment and maintenance of public schools in said district; five per centum of said fund shall be devoted to the care and maintenance of insane persons in said district, or so much of said five per centum as may be needed; and all the residue of said fund shall be devoted to the construction and maintenance of wagon roads, bridges, and trails in said district.

SEC 2. That there shall be a board of road commissioners in said district, to be composed of an engineer officer of the United States Army to be detailed and appointed by the Secretary of War, two other officers of that part of the Army stationed in said district and to be designated by the Secretary of War. The said engineer officer shall, during the term of his said detail and appointment, abide in said district. The said board shall have the power, and it shall be their duty, upon their own motion or upon petition, to locate, lay out, construct, and maintain wagon roads and pack trails from any point on the navigable waters of said district to any town, mining or other industrial camp or settlement, or between any such town, camps, or settlements therein, if in their judgment such roads or trails are needed and will be of permanent value for the development of the district; but no such road or trail shall be constructed to any town, camp, or settlement which is wholly transitory or of no substantial value or importance for mining, trade, agricultural, or manufacturing purposes. The said board shall prepare maps, plans, and specifications of every road or trail they may locate and lay out, and whenever more than five thousand dollars in the aggregate shall have to be expended on the construction of any road or trail, contract for the work shall be let by them to the lowest responsible bidder, upon sealed bids, after due notice, under rules and regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of War. The board may reject any bid if they deem the same unreasonably high or if they find that there is a combination among bidders. In case no responsible and reasonable bid can be secured, then the work may be carried on with material and men procured and hired by the board. The engineer officer of the board shall in all cases supervise the work of construction and see that the same is properly performed. As soon as any road or trail laid out by the board has been constructed and completed, they shall examine the same and make a full and detailed report of the work done on the same to the Secretary of War, and in such report they shall state whether the road or trail has been completed conformable to the maps, plans, and specifications of the same. It shall be the duty of said board, as far as practicable, to keep in proper repair all roads and trails constructed under their supervision, and the same rules as to the manner in which the work of repair shall be done, whether by contract or otherwise, shall govern as in the case of the original construction of the road or trail. The cost and expenses of laying out, constructing, and repairing such roads and trails shall be paid by the Secretary of- the Treasury out of the road and trail portion of said "Alaska fund" upon vouchers approved and certified by said board. The Secretary of the Treasury shall, at the end of each month, send by mail to each of the members of said board a statement of the amount available of said "Alaska fund" for the construction and repair of roads and trails, and no greater liability for construction or repair shall at any time be incurred by said board than the money available therefor at that time in said fund. The members of said board shall, in addition to their salaries, be entitled to receive their actual traveling expenses paid or incurred by them in the performance of their duties-as members of the board.

SEC. 3. That the governor of the district of Alaska shall be ex officio superintendent of public instruction in said district, and as such shall have supervision and direction of the public schools in said district and shall prescribe rules and regulations for the examination and qualification of teachers, and shall make an annual report of the condition of the schools in the district to the Secretary of the Interior.

SEC. 4. That the common council of the incorporated towns in said district shall have the power, and it shall be their duty, in their respective towns to establish school districts, to provide the same with suitable schoolhouses, and to maintain public schools therein and to provide the necessary funds for the schools; but such schools when established shall be under the supervision and control of a school board of three members, consisting of a director, a treasurer, and a clerk, to be elected annually by the vote of all adults who are citizens of the United States or who have declared their intention to become such and who are residents of the school district. The members of said board first elected shall hold their offices for the term of two, and three years, respectively, and until their successors are elected and qualified, and one member of such board shall be elected each year thereafter and shall hold his office for a period of three years and until his successor is elected and qualified; and they shall each, before entering upon the duties of their office, take an oath in writing to honestly and faithfully discharge the duties of their trust. In case a vacancy in the membership of said board occurs from death, resignation, removal, or other cause, such vacancy may be filled by a special election, upon ten days’ notice, called by the remaining members of the board upon the petition of five qualified voters. All money available for school purposes, except for the construction and equipment of schoolhouses and the acquisition of sites for the same, shall be expended under the direction of said board, and the treasurer of said board shall be the custodian of said money, and he shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, give his bond, with sufficient sureties, to the school district, in such sum as the common council may direct, and subject to its approval, but not less than twice the amount that may come into his hands as treasurer, conditioned that be will honestly and faithfully disburse and account for all money that may come into his hands as such treasurer. The said board shall have the power to hire and employ the necessary teachers, to provide for heating and lighting the schoolhouse, and in general to do and perform everything necessary for the due -maintenance of a proper school.

SEC. 5. That the clerk of the district court shall have the power, and, it shall be his duty, in the division to which he is appointed and in which he resides, upon petition as hereinafter specified, to establish by order in writing a school district at any camp, village, or settlement outside of the limits of any incorporated town, but such school district shall not embrace more than forty square miles of territory nor contain less than twenty resident white children between the ages of six and twenty years. The said petition shall specify as near as may be the location and boundary of the proposed school district, the, number of people, the number of families, and the number of children between the ages of six and twenty years, resident therein, and such other material facts as tend to show the necessity for the establishment of the school district. Said petition shall be signed by not less than twelve persons of adult age who are citizens of the United States or have declared their intention to become such and who reside within the boundaries of the proposed school district. If the clerk of the court is satisfied that it is necessary and proper to grant such petition, he shall make an order in writing establishing the school district prayed for, describing the same and defining its boundaries, and he shall also in said order appoint three of the petitioners to supervise and give notice of the first election, and shall specify the time and place of the same. The original order shall remain on file in the records of the court, and a copy of the same shall be posted at three public places in the school district at least ten days before the election, and such posting shall be deemed a sufficient notice of such election. All persons qualified to sign said petition shall be qualified to vote at said election. The qualified voters of said school district shall at said election choose by a plurality vote a school board of three members, consisting of a clerk, a treasurer, and a director, who shall, before entering upon the duties of their trust, each take an oath in writing to honorably and faithfully discharge the duties of their office. In case a vacancy in the membership of said board occurs from death, resignation, removal, or other cause, such vacancy may be filled by a special election, upon ten days’ notice, called by the remaining members of the board upon the petition of five qualified voters. The treasurer shall be the custodian of the moneys of the school district, and he shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, give his bond to the school district, with sufficient sureties, to be approved by the clerk of the court, and in such sum as he may direct, but not less than twice the amount of money that may come -into his hands as treasurer, conditioned that he, the treasurer, will honestly and faithfully disburse and account for all the money that may come into his hands by virtue of his office. Said board shall have the power to build or rent the necessary schoolhouse or schoolroom, to equip the same with the necessary furniture and fixtures, to provide fuel and light, to hire and employ teachers, and in general to do and perform everything that may be necessary for the maintenance of a public school. The members of said board shall hold office for the term of one year and until their successors are elected and qualified. An annual election shall be held each year, after the first election, for the election of members of said board. As soon as the members of said school board have been elected and qualified, they shall send to the clerk of the court and file in his office a certificate of their election under the hand and seal of the judges or supervisors of election, their oaths of office, and the bond of the treasurer, and the clerk of the court shall file said papers and carefully keep them as a part of the files and records of his office, and he shall at once send to the governor of the district of Alaska a certified copy of said papers, together with a certified copy of the order establishing the school district, and the governor shall duly file and preserve the same. The said board, as soon as they have complied with the requirements aforesaid, shall immediately report in writing- to the governor the number of children in their school district between the ages of six and twenty years that intend to attend a public school, and the wages per month for which a teacher can be obtained; and after a school has been opened and maintained they shall, at the end of each school term, report to the governor in writing the length of the term, the wages paid the teacher, the total number of pupils in attendance, and the daily average of such attendance at such term. The governor shall assign and set apart to each school district established and organized under the provisions of this section a sum, not less than three hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, in proportion. to the number of pupils in the district, for the construction and equipment of a schoolhouse, which sum shall be paid by the Secretary of the Treasury to the treasurer of the school district upon the order and voucher of the governor out of that portion of the said Alaska fund set apart for the establishment and maintenance of public schools. The residue of said portion of said fund, or so much thereof as may be necessary, shall by the governor be apportioned among the several school districts established under the provisions of this section in amounts sufficient for each district to pay the wages of a teacher, together with the expense of fuel and light, for five months’ school in each year. And the amounts so apportioned to each school district shall be paid to the treasurer of the district by the Secretary of the Treasury upon the order and voucher of the governor out of the said portion of said fund.

SEC. 6. That the clerks of school districts in the incorporated towns shall, at the end of each school term, report to the governor in writing the length of the term, the wages paid the teacher, the number of pupils in attendance, and the average daily attendance during the term.

SEC. 7. That the schools specified and provided for in this Act shall be devoted to the education of white children and children of mixed blood who lead a civilized life. The education of the Eskimos and Indians in the district of Alaska shall remain under the direction and control of the Secretary of the Interior, and schools for and among the Eskimos and Indians of Alaska shall be provided for by an annual appropriation, and the Eskimo and Indian children of Alaska shall have the same right to be admitted to any Indian boarding school as the Indian children in the States or Territories of the United States.

SEC, 8. That commissioners appointed by the judges of the district court in the district of Alaska, pursuant to existing laws, shall, as ex officio probate judges and in the exercise of their probate jurisdiction, have the power, and it shall be their duty, in their respective districts, to commit, by warrant under their hands and seals, all persons adjudged insane in their districts to the asylum or sanitarium provided-for the care and keeping of the insane of the district of Alaska. No person shall be adjudged insane or committed as such, except upon and pursuant to the following proceedings, to wit: Whenever complaint in writing is made by any adult person to a commissioner that there is an insane person at large in the commissioner’s district, the commissioner shall at once cause such insane person to be taken into custody and to be brought before him, and he shall then immediately summon and impanel a jury of six male adults, residents of the district, to inquire, try, and determine whether the person so complained of is really insane. The members of said jury shall, before entering upon the discharge of their duty, each take an oath to diligently inquire, justly try, and a true verdict render, touching the mental condition of the person charged with being insane. Before entering upon such trial the commissioner shall appoint some suitable person to appear for and represent in the proceeding the person complained of as insane. And in case there is a physician or surgeon in the vicinity who can be procured, the commissioner shall cause such surgeon or physician to-examine the person alleged to be insane, and after such examination to testify under oath before the jury in respect to the mental condition of said person, The commissioner shall- preside at said hearing and trial. All witnesses that may be offered shall be heard and shall be permitted to testify under oath in said matter, and after having heard all the evidence, the said jury shall retire to agree upon a verdict, and if the jury unanimously, by their verdict in writing, find that the said person so charged with being insane as aforesaid is really and truly insane and that he ought to be committed to the asylum or sanitarium aforesaid, and the commissioner approves such finding, he shall enter a judgment adjudging the said person to be insane and adjudging that he be at once conveyed to and thereafter properly and safely kept in the said asylum or sanitarium until duly discharged therefrom by law. The commissioner shall thereupon, under his hand and seal, issue his warrant, with a copy of said judgment attached, for the commitment of said insane person to the asylum or sanitarium aforesaid, which warrant shall be delivered to the marshal of the division in which said proceedings are had, and shall direct said marshal to safely- keep and deliver said insane person to said asylum or sanitarium, and the said marshal, for the service of process in connection with and the guarding and transportation of the insane, shall be compensated from the same source and in the same manner as in the case of prisoners convicted of crime. The commissioner, the jurymen, and the witnesses in said proceeding shall be entitled to the same compensation and mileage as in civil actions. And all the compensation, mileage, fees, and all other expenses and outlays incident to said proceedings shall be audited and allowed by the district judge of the division in which said proceedings are pending and had, and when so audited and allowed shall be paid by the clerk of the court in such division as the incidental expenses of the court are by him paid and from the same fund.

SEC. 9. That all Acts and parts of Acts inconsistent with this Act are, to the extent of such inconsistency, hereby repealed.

Approved, January 27, 1905.

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