264 U.S. 446 (1924), 240, United States v. Payne

Docket Nº:No. 240
Citation:264 U.S. 446, 44 S.Ct. 352, 68 L.Ed. 782
Party Name:United States v. Payne
Case Date:April 07, 1924
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 446

264 U.S. 446 (1924)

44 S.Ct. 352, 68 L.Ed. 782

United States



No. 240

United States Supreme Court

April 7, 1924

Argued February 25, 1924




1. The United States, as guardian of tribal Indians, is bound to discharge its trust with good faith and fairness, and treaties made with them should be liberally construed. P. 448.

2. The treaty made in 1855 with the Quileute and other Indians, by which they surrendered broader claims for a limited reservation, provided for money "to clear, fence, and break up a sufficient quantity of land for cultivation," and authorized the President to assign "lands" in severalty to the Indians for permanent homes. Held that timbered lands were not intended to be excluded from assignment. Id.

3. The General Indian Allotment Act should be construed when possible in harmony with previous Indian treaties. Id.

4. The General Allotment Act, in limiting allotments to "eighty acres of agricultural or one hundred and sixty acres of grazing land to any one Indian," was not meant to preclude an allotment of timbered lands, capable of being cleared and cultivated, but simply to differentiate in the matter of area between lands adaptable to agricultural uses and lands valuable only for grazing purposes. P. 449.

284 F. 827 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court for the plaintiff and appellee Payne in his suit to determine his right to an allotment of land in an Indian Reservation.

Page 447

SUTHERLAND, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellee, an Indian of the Quillehute tribe, brought suit in the federal District Court for the Western District of Washington to determine his right to an allotment of an 80-acre tract of land in the Quinaielt Indian Reservation in that state. Authority for bringing the suit is found in 28 Stat. 305, c. 290, as amended by 31 Stat. 760, c. 217. The treaty with the Quillehute and other Indians, made in 1855, among other things, provides for the removal and settlement of these Indians upon a reservation to be selected for them by the President, and for the payment by the United States of $2,500 "to clear, fence, and break up a sufficient quantity of land for...

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