Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma v. United States, No. 1-57.

CourtCourt of Federal Claims
Writing for the CourtJONES, , and LITTLETON, WHITAKER and MADDEN
Citation140 Ct. Cl. 63,155 F. Supp. 727
Decision Date09 October 1957
Docket NumberNo. 1-57.
PartiesThe CADDO TRIBE OF OKLAHOMA et al. v. The UNITED STATES.

155 F. Supp. 727
140 Ct. Cl. 63

The CADDO TRIBE OF OKLAHOMA et al.
v.
The UNITED STATES.

No. 1-57.

United States Court of Claims.

October 9, 1957.


155 F. Supp. 728

O. R. McGuire, Washington, D. C., for appellant. Jay H. Hoag, Duluth, Minn., was on the briefs.

Clifford R. Stearns, Washington, D. C., with whom was Asst. Atty. Gen. Perry W. Morton, for appellee.

Before JONES, Chief Judge, and LITTLETON, WHITAKER and MADDEN, Judges.

LITTLETON, Judge.

Appellant Indian tribe asks this court to review and reverse a determination of the Indian Claims Commission partially adverse to appellant's assertion of ownership, use or occupancy of lands in northwestern Louisiana and southwestern Arkansas which appellant tribe purported to cede to the United States by treaty in 1835. Treaty of July 1, 1835, 7 Stat. 470. The case is presently before us on appellee's motion to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction in that the determination appealed from is not a final determination within the meaning of section 20(b) of the Indian Claims Commission Act, 60 Stat. 1049, 1054, 25 U.S. C.A. § 70s(b), which provides that either party may appeal to the Court of Claims only from a "final determination" of the Commission.

Appellant tribe founded its claim on section 2 of the Indian Claims Commission Act, 25 U.S.C.A. § 70a, authorizing determination of "(3) claims which would result if the treaties, contracts, and agreements between the claimant and the United States were revised on the ground of * * * unconscionable consideration * * * or any other ground cognizable by a court of equity." Appellant claimed to have ceded to the United States approximately 1,000,000 acres of land by the 1835 treaty, but to have received therefor a consideration so grossly less than the value of the lands conveyed that it was unconscionable. Cf. Osage Nation of Indians v. United States, 97 F.Supp. 381, 119 Ct.Cl. 592, certiorari denied 342 U.S. 896, 72 S.Ct. 230, 96 L.Ed. 672.

On December 15, 1954, the Indian Claims Commission issued an order in this case providing in part as follows:

"That the initial hearing in the above-entitled case shall be confined to the question of title or ownership of the territory claimed by plaintiff, or owned and occupied by it, and the area thereof, and all other issues of law or fact in said cause shall be postponed until the determination of said question."

A hearing was held and on March 8, 1956, the Commission entered what it designated an "Interlocutory Order"

155 F. Supp. 729
which was stated therein to be "on the issues of whether or not the plaintiffs are entitled to prosecute the claims asserted and whether or not the plaintiffs or their predecessors in interest had original title or recognized Indian title to the land, or any part of same, for which they claim to have received from the defendant for the cession of same unconscionable or inadequate consideration."

On that same date the Commission entered findings of fact and an opinion (Docket No. 226), 4 Ind.Cl.Com. 201, 214, determining that appellant tribe had established its right to assert the claim and that it had original Indian title at the time of the cession in 1835 to the land purported to be ceded, but only as to a part of such land.

The order of March 8, 1956 described the area which the Commission found to have been owned by aboriginal use and occupancy, i. e., Indian title, by appellant. On January 2, 1957, the Commission issued an order amending Finding No. 12 of its findings of fact of March 8, 1956, clarifying the description of the area found to have been owned by the appellant, and on the same date the Commission issued an order amending the interlocutory order of March 8, 1956.

The amended interlocutory order of January 2, 1957, which is the subject matter of the present appeal, provided in pertinent part as follows:

"The parties filed proposed findings of fact and briefs and said issues were submitted to the Commission for determination; and the Commission, now being fully advised, finds that claimants have satisfactorily established their right to assert the claims herein and that their predecessors in interest held original Indian title at the time of the cession of the land involved to the defendant through exclusive use and occupancy on said date, and long prior thereto, to the following described tract of land, to wit:
* * * * *
"This Commission further finds that the predecessors in interest of plaintiffs ceded said land to the defendant on July 1, 1835; and that plaintiffs are entitled to an award for the value of said land as of July 1, 1835, less such part thereof as was granted to parties other than the defendant by the treaty of July 1, 1835 with the predecessors in interest of plaintiffs, and less the amount of any credits or offsets to which the defendant may be entitled.
"In keeping with the opinion herein rendered, the findings of fact previously made, and the amendment to Finding No. 12 this day made, all of which are made a part of this order, It Is Ordered and Directed by this Commission that this case proceed for the determination of the acreage of the above-described tract of land and the value thereof on July 1, 1835, less such part thereof as was granted to parties other than the United States by treaty of July 1, 1835 with the predecessors in interest of plaintiffs, or any land which may have been acquired subsequently by said predecessors in interest, if any, and the amount of consideration heretofore received by the plaintiffs or their predecessors in interest for said land, and the amount of any offsets under the provisions of the Indian Claims Commission Act to which the defendant may be entitled, and * * *." Italics supplied.

The appellant Tribe has appealed from the above quoted order insofar as that order finds that appellant owned only the land described in the order, on the ground that the record submitted to the Commission fully established the fact that plaintiff exclusively used, occupied and controlled the much larger area claimed in its petition. Appellant urges that the order is a final determination within the meaning of the Indian Claims Commission Act because it apparently finally forecloses appellant's rights asserted in its claim as to the land which the Commission found appellant did not own. The Government appellee

155 F. Supp. 730
took no appeal from the order of the Commission but has moved to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the order appealed from is not a "final determination" within the meaning of the statute from which an appeal lies. Accordingly, there is before us at this time only the question whether in a claim for unconscionable consideration, a determination by the Indian Claims Commission is final whereby it is concluded by the Commission that the tribal plaintiff had no title, hence no basis for asserting a claim of unconscionable consideration, as to a substantial part of the land included in its claim

Section 20 of the Indian Claims Commission Act provides that the Court of Claims shall have exclusive jurisdiction to affirm, modify, or set aside "final" determinations of the Indian Claims Commission. Section 19 of the Act, 25 U.S. C.A. § 70r contains a definition of a "final determination" of the Commission as follows:

"The final determination of the Commission shall be in writing, shall be filed with its clerk, and shall include (1) its findings of fact upon which its conclusions are based; (2) a statement (a) whether there are any just grounds for relief of the claimant and, if so, the amount thereof; (b) whether there are any allowable offsets, counterclaims, or other deductions, and, if so, the amount thereof; and (3) a statement of its reasons for its findings and conclusions."

It will be seen from the above that Congress has defined a "final determination" to be a determination, supported by findings of fact and conclusions of law, which either results in a money judgment for plaintiff or in a dismissal of the petition. It is, of course, obvious that the order appealed from herein falls far short of that statutory definition of a final determination. The question then is, does the order appealed from possess sufficient finality to support an appeal within the jurisdictional limits laid down by Congress in section 20 of the Act?

The two-step determination of claims typified by the order appealed from is not new. This court at one time adopted a rule requiring the initial determination in Indian cases originating in this court to be addressed to the question of liability reserving the question of amount of recovery, if any, until the scope of the right is first established.1 A similar problem is met with in patent infringement cases where a substantial question may require litigation as to the validity and infringement of the patent prior to any determination as to the amount of recovery. We extended our rule covering separate determinations of liability presently Rule 38(c), formerly Rule 39 (b) to apply to any case in this court and to allow for such procedure whether upon stipulation of the parties or upon order of the court.

It was apparently the above old Rule 39(a) of this court which prompted the Indian Claims Commission to issue its Rule 22(f) quoted in the margin below.2 Evidently the fact that the Supreme Court has reviewed determinations of the Court of Claims which decided only questions of liability with judgment that claimant was entitled to recover, leaving for further determination matters of the amount of the money judgment, has persuaded

155 F. Supp. 731
appellant that similar orders of the Indian Claims Commission are within the appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Claims. See Central Eureka Mining Company v. United States, 146 F.Supp. 476, 134 Ct.Cl. 1, in which the court rendered a judgment holding the Government liable and plaintiff entitled to recover, and reserving for further proceedings the question of the amount of...

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4 practice notes
  • 'We Hold the Government to Its Word': How McGirt v. Oklahoma Revives Aboriginal Title.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 7, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...context of the Indian Claims Commission Act... is applicable to the issue in this case." (citing Caddo Tribe of Okla. v. United States, 155 F. Supp. 727 (Ct. CI. (264.) United States v. Dann, 706 Fad 919, 924 (9th Cir. 1983) ("We disagree with the government's contention that the bar provis......
  • Prairie Band of Potawatomi Indians v. United States, Appeal No. 2-57.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • July 16, 1958
    ...may be final even though it only "finally disposes of a collateral issue." See also Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma v. United States, Ct. Cl., 155 F.Supp. 727, where interlocutory order granted only partial 3 Baltimore Contractors v. Bodinger, 348 U.S. 176, 179, 75 S.Ct. 249, 99 L.Ed. 233. See Cobb......
  • Seminole Indians of Florida v. United States, Appeal No. 15-72.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • January 18, 1973
    ...the context of the Indian Claims Commission Act, supra, was fully discussed by this court in Caddo Tribe of Okla. v. United States, 155 F.Supp. 727, 140 Ct.Cl. 63 (1957). In Caddo, the court concluded that the ICC Act did not define finality explicitly; therefore, the court applied the defi......
  • U.S. v. Dann, No. 77-1696
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 15, 1978
    ...F.2d 495, 209 Ct.Cl. 43.) 2 The title phase of a decision by the ICC is not a final order. (Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma v. United States, 155 F.Supp. 727, 140 Ct.Cl. 63 (1957).) Caddo arose in the context of an attempt to appeal a title-phase decision. Although Caddo was directly concerned with......
3 cases
  • Prairie Band of Potawatomi Indians v. United States, Appeal No. 2-57.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • July 16, 1958
    ...may be final even though it only "finally disposes of a collateral issue." See also Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma v. United States, Ct. Cl., 155 F.Supp. 727, where interlocutory order granted only partial 3 Baltimore Contractors v. Bodinger, 348 U.S. 176, 179, 75 S.Ct. 249, 99 L.Ed. 233. See Cobb......
  • Seminole Indians of Florida v. United States, Appeal No. 15-72.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • January 18, 1973
    ...the context of the Indian Claims Commission Act, supra, was fully discussed by this court in Caddo Tribe of Okla. v. United States, 155 F.Supp. 727, 140 Ct.Cl. 63 (1957). In Caddo, the court concluded that the ICC Act did not define finality explicitly; therefore, the court applied the defi......
  • U.S. v. Dann, No. 77-1696
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 15, 1978
    ...F.2d 495, 209 Ct.Cl. 43.) 2 The title phase of a decision by the ICC is not a final order. (Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma v. United States, 155 F.Supp. 727, 140 Ct.Cl. 63 (1957).) Caddo arose in the context of an attempt to appeal a title-phase decision. Although Caddo was directly concerned with......
1 books & journal articles
  • "We Hold the Government to Its Word": How McGirt v. Oklahoma Revives Aboriginal Title.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 7, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...context of the Indian Claims Commission Act... is applicable to the issue in this case." (citing Caddo Tribe of Okla. v. United States, 155 F. Supp. 727 (Ct. CI. (264.) United States v. Dann, 706 Fad 919, 924 (9th Cir. 1983) ("We disagree with the government's contention that the bar provis......

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