231 U.S. 28 (1913), 352, United States v. Sandoval

Docket Nº:No. 352
Citation:231 U.S. 28, 34 S.Ct. 1, 58 L.Ed. 107
Party Name:United States v. Sandoval
Case Date:October 20, 1913
Court:United States Supreme Court

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231 U.S. 28 (1913)

34 S.Ct. 1, 58 L.Ed. 107

United States



No. 352

United States Supreme Court

October 20, 1913

Argued February 27, 1913




Congress has power to make conditions in an Enabling Act, and require the state to assent thereto, as to such subjects as are within the regulating power of Congress. Coyle v. Oklahoma, 221 U.S. 559, 574.

Such legislation, when it derives its force not from the resulting compact, but solely from the power of Congress over the subject, does not operate to restrict the legislative power of the state in respect to any matter not plainly within the regulating power of Congress. Coyle v. Oklahoma, 221 U.S. 559, distinguished.

The status of the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico and their lands is such that Congress can competently prohibit the introduction of intoxicating liquors into such lands notwithstanding the admission of New Mexico to statehood.

The power and duty of the United States under the Constitution to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes includes the duty to care for and protect all dependent Indian communities within its borders, whether within its original limits or territory subsequently acquired and whether within or without the limits of a state. United States v. Kagama, 118 U.S. 375.

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Congress may not bring a community or body of people within range of its power by arbitrarily calling them Indians; but, in respect of distinctly Indian communities, the questions whether and for how long they shall be recognized as requiring protection of the United States are to be determined by Congress, and not by the courts.

In reference to all political matters relating to Indians, it is the rule of this Court to follow the executive and other political departments of the government whose more special duty it is to determine such affairs. If they recognize certain people as a tribe of Indians, this Court must do the same.

Quaere, and not decided, whether the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico are citizens of the United States.

The fact that Indians are citizens is not an obstacle to the exercise by Congress of its power to enact laws for the benefit and protection of tribal Indians as a dependent people.

Congress has power to exclude liquor from the lands of the Pueblo Indians, for although the Indians have a fee simple title, it is communal, no individual owning any separate tract. United States v. Joseph, 94 U.S. 614, distinguished.

It was a legitimate exercise of power on the part of Congress to provide in the Enabling Act under which New Mexico was admitted as a state against the introduction of liquor into the Indian country, and the prohibition extends to lands owned by the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico.

198 F. 53 reversed.

The facts, which involve the validity, as applied to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, of the Act of January 30, 1897, as supplemented by the Enabling Act of June 20, 1910, in regard to the introduction of intoxicating liquor into Indian country and the status of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, are stated in the opinion.

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VANDEVANTER, J., lead opinion

[34 S.Ct. 2] MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a criminal prosecution for introducing intoxicating liquor into the Indian country, to-wit, the Santa Clara pueblo, in the State of New Mexico. In the district court, a demurrer to the indictment was sustained and the indictment dismissed upon the theory that the statute upon which it is founded is invalid, as applied to Indian pueblos in New Mexico, because usurping a part of the police power of the state and encroaching upon its equal footing with the other states. 198 F. 539.

The indictment is founded upon the Act of January 30, 1897, 29 Stat. 506, c. 109, as supplemented by § 2 of the Act of June 20, 1910, 36 Stat. 557, c. 310, being the New Mexico Enabling Act. The first act makes it a punishable offense to introduce intoxicating liquor into the Indian country, and the second, in naming the conditions upon which New Mexico should be admitted into the Union,

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prescribed,1 in substance, that the lands then owned or occupied by the Pueblo Indians should be deemed and treated as Indian country within the meaning of the first act and of kindred legislation by Congress.

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Whether without this legislative interpretation the first act would have included the pueblo lands we need not consider. The territorial supreme court had but recently held that it did not include them (United States v. Mares, 14 N.M. 1), and Congress, evidently wishing to make sure of a different result in the future, expressly declared that it should include them. That this was done in the Enabling Act, and that the state was required to, and did, assent to it as a condition to admission into the Union, in no wise affects the force of the Congressional declaration, if only the subject be within the regulating power of Congress. As was said by this Court in Coyle v. Oklahoma, 221 U.S. 559, 574:

It may well happen that Congress should embrace in an enactment introducing a new state into the Union, legislation intended as a regulation of commerce among the states, or with Indian tribes situated within the limits of such new state or regulations touching the sole care and disposition of the public lands or reservations therein, which might be upheld as legislation within the sphere of the plain power of Congress. But in every such case such legislation would derive its force not from any agreement or compact with the proposed new state, nor by reason of its acceptance of such enactment as a term of admission, but solely because the power of Congress extended to the subject, and therefore would not operate to restrict the state's legislative power in respect of any matter which was not plainly within the regulating power of Congress.

To the same effect are Pollard v. Hagan, 3 How. 212, 224-225, 229; Ex Parte Webb, 225 U.S. 663, 683, 690-691.

The question to be considered, then, is whether the status of the Pueblo Indians and their lands is such that Congress competently can prohibit the introduction of intoxicating liquor into those lands notwithstanding the admission of New Mexico to statehood.

There are as many as twenty Indian pueblos scattered

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over the state, having an aggregate population of over 8,000. The lands belonging to the several pueblos vary in quantity, but usually embrace amount 17,000 acres, held in communal, fee simple ownership under grants from the King of Spain, made during the Spanish sovereignty, and confirmed by Congress since the acquisition of that territory by the United States. 10 Stat. 309, c. 103, § 8; 11 Stat. 374, c. 5. As respects six of the pueblos, one being the Santa Clara, adjacent public lands have been reserved by executive orders for the use and occupancy of the Indians.

The people of the pueblos, although sedentary, rather than nomadic, in their inclinations, and disposed to peace and industry, are nevertheless Indians in race, customs, and domestic government. Always living in separate and isolated communities, adhering to primitive modes of life, largely influenced by superstition and fetichism, and chiefly governed according to the crude customs inherited from their ancestors, they are essentially a simple, uninformed, and inferior people. Upon the termination of the Spanish sovereignty, they were given enlarged political and civil rights by Mexico, but it remains an open question whether they have become citizens of the United States. See Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Arts. VIII and IX, 9 Stat. 922, 929; United States v. Joseph, 94 U.S. 614, 618; Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94. Be this as it may, they have been regarded and treated by the United States as requiring special consideration and protection, like other Indian communities. Thus,2 public moneys have been expended in presenting them with farming implements and utensils,

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and in their civilization and instruction; agents and superintendents have been provided to guard their interests; central training schools and day schools at the pueblos have been established and maintained for the education of their children; dams and irrigation works have been constructed to encourage and enable them to cultivate their lands and sustain themselves; public lands, as before indicated, have been reserved for their use and occupancy where their own lands were deemed inadequate; a special attorney has been employed since 1898 at an annual cost of $2,000, to represent them and maintain their rights, and when latterly the territory undertook to tax their lands and other property, Congress forbade such taxation, saying:

That the lands now held by the various villages or pueblos of Pueblo Indians, or by individual members thereof, within Pueblo reservations or lands, in the Territory of New Mexico, and all personal property furnished said Indians by the United States, or used in cultivating said lands, and any cattle and sheep now possessed or that may hereafter be acquired by said Indians, shall be free and exempt from taxation of any sort whatsoever, including taxes heretofore levied, if any, until Congress shall otherwise provide.

33 Stat. 1048, 1069, c. 1479. An exempting provision was also inserted in § 2 of the Enabling Act.

The local estimate of this people is reflected by a New Mexico statute adopted in 1854, and carried into subsequent compilations, whereby they were "excluded from the privilege of voting at the popular elections of the territory" other than the election of overseers of ditches in which they were interested, and the election of the...

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