179 U.S. 494 (1900), United States v. Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nations

Citation:179 U.S. 494, 21 S.Ct. 149, 45 L.Ed. 291
Party Name:United States v. Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nations
Case Date:December 10, 1900
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 494

179 U.S. 494 (1900)

21 S.Ct. 149, 45 L.Ed. 291

United States

v.

Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nations

United States Supreme Court

December 10, 1900

APPEALS FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS

Syllabus

On the 4th day of June, 1891, the United States and the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians entered into an agreement whereby the Indians ceded to the United States a tract of land which is described in the opinion of the Court in this case, and the United States agreed in consideration thereof that out of the territory so ceded there should be allotted to each member of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians in the Indian Territory, native and adopted, one hundred and sixty acres of land in the manner and form described in the agreement. This agreement was ratified by the Indian Appropriations Act of March 2, 1895, which further conferred jurisdiction upon the Court of Claims, to hear and determine the claim of the Choctaws and the Chickasaws to a right, title

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and interest in the lands so ceded, and to render judgment thereon, with a right of appeal to this Court. Pursuant to that act, this suit was brought. The Court of Claims, after reciting that the lands in dispute were acquired by the United States "in trust for the settlement of Indians thereon, and in trust and for the benefit of said claimant Indians when the aforesaid trust shall cease," that "the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians were by the United States located within the boundaries of the lands hereinbefore described," that they "now number not more than one thousand and sixty persons," and that the location of the Wichitas and Affiliated Bands within said boundaries was "for the purpose of affording them permanent settlement therein," adjudged that the lands in dispute had been acquired and were held by the United States in trust for the purpose of settling Indians thereon, and that whenever that purpose was abandoned as to the whole or any part thereof, then all the lands not so devoted to Indian settlement should be held in trust by the United States for the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians exclusively. It was also adjudged that the members of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands, not exceeding one thousand and sixty, were equitably entitled to one hundred and sixty acres of land each out of the lands in dispute and that the same should be set apart to them by the United States, due regard being had to any improvements made thereon by them respectively for their permanent settlement. It was further adjudged that the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations were in law and equity entitled to and were the owners of such of the lands ceded to the United States by the Wichita and Affiliated Bands as remained, after satisfying the provisions for the Wichitas and Affiliated Bands, and that, in the event of the sale thereof by the United States, the Indian plaintiffs should be entitled to and receive the proceeds of such sale. This judgment being brought here on appeal, this Court, in its opinion, carefully reviewed all the legislation, and all the Indian treaties on the subject, and, as a result, held that, for the reasons given, the decree must be reversed with directions to dismiss the petition of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and to make a decree in behalf of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians fixing the amount of compensation to be made to them on account of such lands in the Wichita Reservation as are not needed in order to meet the requirements of the act of Congress of March 2, 1895, c. 188, and for such further proceedings as may be consistent with law and with this opinion.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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HARLAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

On the 4th day of June, 1891, an agreement was entered into between commissioners on behalf of the United States and the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians, in the Indian Territory, whereby those Indians did "cede, convey, transfer, relinquish, forever and absolutely, without any reservation whatever," to the United States "all their claim, title, and interest of every kind and character" to the land embraced in the following boundary:

Commencing at a point in the middle of the main channel of the Washita [Wichita] River where the 98th meridian of west longitude crosses the same, thence up the middle of the main channel of said river to the line of 98°40' west longitude, thence on said line of 98°40' due north to the middle of the channel of the main Canadian River, thence down the middle [of the channel] of said main Canadian River to where it crosses the 98th meridian, thence due south to the place of beginning.

28 Stat. 876, 895, c. 188.

In consideration of that cession, it was agreed on behalf of the United States that out of the territory ceded there should be allotted to each member of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians in the Indian Territory, native and adopted, one hundred sixty acres of land in the manner and form described in the agreement. It was provided that, upon the allotments' being made, the titles should be held in trust for the allottees for a period of twenty-five years, in the manner and to the extent provided for in the Act of Congress of February 8, 1887, 24 Stat. 388, 389, c. 119, and at the expiration of that period, the titles should be conveyed in fee simple to the allottees, or their heirs, free from all encumbrances. 28 Stat. 876, 895, 896, c. 188.

This agreement recited that, in addition to the allotments provided

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for and the other benefits to be received, the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians claimed and insisted

that further compensation, in money, should be made to them by the United States, for their possessory right in and to the lands above described in excess of so much thereof as may be required for their said allotments.

And it was stipulated in the agreement that

the question as to what sum of money, if any, shall be paid to said Indians for such surplus lands shall be submitted to the Congress of the United States, the decision of Congress thereon to be final and binding upon said Indians; provided, if any sum of money shall be allowed by Congress [21 S.Ct. 151] for surplus lands, it shall be subject to a reduction for each allotment of land that may be taken in excess of one thousand and sixty at that price per acre, if any, that may be allowed by Congress.

Art. 5.

It was further stipulated in the agreement that

there shall be reserved to said Indians the right to prefer against the United States any and every claim that they may believe they have the right to prefer, save and except any claim to the tract of country described in the first article of this agreement.

28 Stat. 876, 896, c. 188.

This agreement of 1891 was ratified by the act of Congress known as the Indian Appropriation Act of March 2, 1895. 28 Stat. 876, 894, 897, c. 188.

By that act, it was, among other things, provided:

The compensation to be allowed in full for all Indian claims to these lands which may be sustained by said court in the scrip hereinafter provided for shall not exceed one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre for so much of said land as will not be required for allotment to the Indians as provided in the foregoing agreement, subject to such reduction as may be found necessary under Article 5 of said agreement: Provided, That no part of said sum shall be paid except as hereinafter provided.

That whenever any of the lands acquired by this agreement shall, by operation of law or proclamation of the President of the United States, be open to settlement, they shall be disposed of under the general provisions of the homestead and townsite laws of the United States: Provided, That, in addition to the

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land office fees prescribed by statute for such entries, the entryman shall pay one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre for the land entered at the time of submitting his final proof: . . . Provided, That said lands shall be opened to settlement within one year after said allotments are made to the Indians.

That sections 16 and 36, 13 and 33, of the lands hereby acquired, in each township shall not be subject to entry, but shall be reserved, sections 16 and 36 for the use of the common schools, and sections 13 and 33 for university, agricultural college, normal schools and public buildings of the territory and future State of Oklahoma, and in case either of said sections or parts thereof is lost to said territory by reason of allotment under this act or otherwise, the governor thereof is hereby authorized to locate other lands, not occupied, in quantity equal to the loss: Provided, That the United States shall pay the Indians for said reserved sections the same price as is paid for the lands not reserved.

That as fast as the lands opened for settlement under this act are sold, the money received from such sales shall be deposited in the Treasury subject to the judgment of the court in the suit herein provided for, less such amount, not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars, as the Secretary of the Interior may find due Luther H. Pike, deceased, late delegate of said Indians, in accordance with his agreement with said Indians, to be retained in the Treasury to the credit and subject to the drafts of the legal representative of said Luther H. Pike: Provided, That no part of said money shall be paid to said Indians until the question of title to the same is fully settled.

That as the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations claim to have some right, title, and interest in and to the lands ceded by the foregoing agreement [the agreement above referred to], which claim is controverted by the United States, jurisdiction be and is hereby conferred upon the Court of Claims to hear and...

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