241 U.S. 432 (1916), 322, Levindale Lead & Zinc Mining Company v. Coleman

Docket Nº:No. 322
Citation:241 U.S. 432, 36 S.Ct. 644, 60 L.Ed. 1080
Party Name:Levindale Lead & Zinc Mining Company v. Coleman
Case Date:June 05, 1916
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 432

241 U.S. 432 (1916)

36 S.Ct. 644, 60 L.Ed. 1080

Levindale Lead & Zinc Mining Company



No. 322

United States Supreme Court

June 5, 1916

Argued April 25, 1916




A statute should, if possible, be construed in the light of its obvious policy, and, as restrictions against alienation of Indian allotments evince a continuance of the policy of guardianship over Indians which does not embrace persons not of Indian blood, it would require clear language to show an intent to impose restriction on allotted lands of non-Indians even if inherited from Indians.

Restrictions such as those contained in the Osage Indian Allotment Act of 1906 do not run with the land until they attach, and then only in accord with the intendment of the Act.

A legislative declaration of the intent of a previous act is not absolutely controlling, and ,in this case, held that later acts of Congress in regard to Osage Indian allotments did not attempt to import into the earlier act a restriction which lay wholly outside of its express terms and the policy it was intended to execute.

The restriction on alienation provisions of the Osage Indian Allotment Act of June 28, 1906, c. 3572, 34 Stat. 539, do not apply to lands, or interests in lands, coming lawfully into ownership of white men who are nonmembers of the Osage tribe.

43 Okl. 13 reversed.

The facts, which involve rights of a white heir of an Osage Indian to the allotment of the latter, and the construction of the Act of June 28, 1906, under which the allotment was made, are stated in the opinion.

Page 433

HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

Charles Coleman, the defendant in error, brought this suit to set aside a conveyance of an undivided interest in lands inherited from his Indian wife and child, who were members of the Osage Tribe. Judgment was entered annulling the conveyance upon the ground that it was executed in violation of restrictions imposed by Congress. The judgment was affirmed by the supreme court of the state (43 Okl. 13), and this writ of error has been sued out.

The case was decided upon a motion for judgment on the pleadings, and there were special findings of the facts which the pleadings disclosed. It appears that the plaintiff, Charles Coleman, was a white man, lawfully married to an Indian woman, Mary Chesewalla; that their child, Joseph Coleman, was born on February 27, 1906, and died on the same day, leaving his father and mother his sole heirs; that his mother died intestate on February 28, 1906, leaving as her sole heirs Charles Coleman, Herbert Chesewalla, and Floyd Chesewalla; that both decedents were duly enrolled as members of the Osage Tribe, and were entitled to allotments under the act of Congress of June 28, 1906, c. 3572, 34 Stat. 539, and that, after their death, allotments were made in their right to the heirs of each respectively, the allotment deeds being approved by the Secretary of the Interior and recorded in the year 1909. By the death of his wife and child, the plaintiff took title as heir to an undivided one-half interest in the lands allotted in the right of the former, and to an undivided three-fourths interest in lands allotted in the right of the latter. These lands have not been partitioned. In February, 1909, Charles Coleman conveyed by warranty deed his undivided interest to the defendant (plaintiff in error) the Levindale Lead & Zinc Mining Company. It is further set forth that his wife had not received

Page 434

a certificate of competency. There was no finding and no basis in the record for a finding that [36 S.Ct. 645] Charles Coleman was a member of the Osage Tribe by adoption, enrollment, or otherwise.

The lands prior to the...

To continue reading