250 U.S. 58 (1919), 179, Kenny v. Miles

Docket Nº:No. 179
Citation:250 U.S. 58, 39 S.Ct. 417, 63 L.Ed. 841
Party Name:Kenny v. Miles
Case Date:May 19, 1919
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 58

250 U.S. 58 (1919)

39 S.Ct. 417, 63 L.Ed. 841




No. 179

United States Supreme Court

May 19, 1919

Argued January 24, 1919




Subject to the provisions as to certificates of competency, lands allotted as homestead and surplus respectively, under the Act of June 28, 1906, c. 3572, 34 Stat. 539, in the right of a deceased Indian member of the Osage tribe, duly enrolled, and descending to Indian heirs, likewise members duly enrolled, are subject to the same restrictions on alienation as are imposed upon lands allotted to living members. P. 63. Levindale Lead Co. v. Coleman, 241 U.S. 432; Mullen v. United States, 224 U.S. 448, and Skelton v. Dill, 235 U.S. 206, distinguished.

Section B of the Act of April 18, 1912, c. 83, 37 Stat. 86, provides that

the lands of deceased Osage allottees, unless the heirs agree to partition the same, may be partitioned or sold upon proper order of any court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with the laws of the State of Oklahoma: Provided, That no partition or sale of the restricted lands of a deceased Osage allottee shall be valid until approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

Held: (1) that the term "restricted lands" refers to the restrictions on alienation imposed by Congress to protect the Indians from their own incompetency (p. 61), and (2) that, in the absence of approval by the Secretary, a judgment for partition or sale, in a suit brought under this section in the state court respecting such lands, is inoperative, so that a finding of heirship, forming a part of it, is not conclusive in other proceedings. P. 65.

162 P. 775, reversed.

Page 59

The case is stated in the opinion.

VANDEVANTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

In concluding a proceeding in the County Court of Osage County, Oklahoma, for the settlement of the estate of Lah-tah-sah, a deceased Indian woman, it became necessary to determine who were her heirs. Two claimants appeared and sought to establish such a relation. One, John Kenny, claimed to be a son and the sole heir, and the other, Laban Miles, claimed to be the surviving husband and an equal heir with Kenny. It was conceded that Kenny was a son, but it was disputed that Miles ever was the deceased's husband. If he was such when she died, he and Kenny were equal heirs; otherwise Kenny was the sole heir.

At the hearing in that proceeding, Miles produced and relied on a judgment in a partition suit, which he had brought against Kenny in the district court of the same county, wherein it was found that he and the deceased were married about a year before her death, and that he remained her husband until she died. Over Kenny's protest, based on congressional enactments presently to be noticed, the county court treated that judgment as a conclusive determination of the matters so found, and rejected evidence produced by Kenny to show that there had been no such marriage. It was accordingly adjudged that Miles and Kenny were equal heirs, and that decision was affirmed by the supreme court of the state. 162 P. 775. The case is here on writ of certiorari.

Page 60

Whether, consistently with the congressional enactments on which Kenny's protest was based, the judgment in the partition suit could be treated as conclusive of the matters therein found is the ultimate federal question in the case.

Lah-tah-sah was an Indian of the Osage Tribe, duly enrolled as such. This entitled her to share in the division and allotment of the lands and funds of the tribe under the Act of June 28, 1906, c. 3572, 34 Stat. 539. She died intestate August 19, 1908. Thereafter, two tribal deeds naming her as grantee,1 and...

To continue reading