241 U.S. 602 (1916), 682, United States v. Quiver

Docket Nº:No. 682
Citation:241 U.S. 602, 36 S.Ct. 699, 60 L.Ed. 1196
Party Name:United States v. Quiver
Case Date:June 12, 1916
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 602

241 U.S. 602 (1916)

36 S.Ct. 699, 60 L.Ed. 1196

United States



No. 682

United States Supreme Court

June 12, 1916

Submitted April 28, 1916




The policy reflected by the legislation of Congress and its administration for many years is that the relations of the Indians among themselves are to be controlled by the customs and laws of the tribe, save when Congress expressly or clearly directs otherwise.

Section 316 of the Penal Code does not embrace the offense of adultery committed by one Indian with another Indian on an Indian reservation.

The facts, which involve the construction and application of certain provisions of the act of March 3, 1887, and § 316, Penal Code, are stated in the opinion.

Page 603

VANDEVANTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE VANDEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a prosecution for adultery committed on one of the Sioux Indian Reservations in the State of South Dakota. Both participants in the act were Indians belonging to that reservation. The statute upon which the prosecution is founded was originally adopted as part of the Act of March 3, 1887, c. 397, 24 Stat. 635, and is now § 316 of the Penal Code. The section makes no mention of Indians, and the question for decision is whether it embraces adultery committed by one Indian with another Indian on an Indian reservation. The district court answered the question in the negative.

At an early period, it became the settled policy of Congress

Page 604

to permit the personal and domestic relations of the Indians with each other to be regulated, and offenses by one Indian against the person or property of another Indian to be dealt with, according to their tribal customs and laws. Thus, the Indian intercourse acts of 1796, c. 30, 1 Stat. 469, and 1802, c. 13, 2 Stat. 139, provided for the punishment of various offenses by white persons against Indians and by Indians against white persons, but left untouched those by Indians against each other, and the Act of 1834, c. 161, 4 Stat. 729, while providing that

so much of the laws of the United States as provides for the punishment of crimes committed within any place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States shall be in force in the Indian country,

qualified its action by saying, "the same shall not extend to crimes committed by one Indian against the person or property of another Indian." That provision, with its qualification, was later carried into the Revised Statutes as §§ 2145 and 2146. This was the situation when this Court, in Ex Parte Crow Dog, 109 U.S. 556, held that the murder of an Indian by another Indian on an Indian reservation was not punishable...

To continue reading