Lone Wolf v. Ethan Hitchcock

Decision Date05 January 1903
Docket NumberNo. 275,275
Citation47 L.Ed. 299,187 U.S. 553,23 S.Ct. 216
PartiesLONE WOLF, Principal Chief of the Kiowas, et al., Appts. , v. ETHAN A. HITCHCOCK, Secretary of the Interior, et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

In 1867 a treaty was concluded with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes of Indians, and such other friendly tribes as might be united with them, setting apart a reservation for the use of such Indians. By a separate treaty the Apache tribe of Indians was incorporated with the two formernamed, and became entitled to share in the benefits of the reservation. 15 Stat. at L. 581, 589.

The first named treaty is usually called the Medicine Lodge treaty. By the sixth article thereof it was provided that heads of families might select a tract of land within the reservation, not exceeding 320 acres in extent, which should thereafter cease to be held in common, and should be for the exclusive possession of the Indian making the selection, so long as he or his family might continue to cultivate the land. The twelfth article of the treaty was as follows:

'Article 12. No treaty for the cession of any portion or part of the reservation herein described, which may be held in common, shall be of any validity or force as against the said Indians, unless executed and signed by at least three fourths of all the adult male Indians occupying the same, and no cession by the tribe shall be understood or construed in such manner as to deprive, without his consent, any individual member of the tribe of his rights to any tract of land selected by him as provided in article 3 [6] of this treaty.'

The three tribes settled under the treaties upon the described land. On October 6, 1892, 456 male adult members of the confederated tribes signed, with three commissioners representing the United States, an agreement concerning the reservation. The Indian agent, in a certificate appended to the agreement, represented that there were then 562 male adults in the three tribes. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 27, 52d Congress, second session page 17. Four hundred and fifty-six male adults therefore constituted more than three fourths of the certified number of total male adults in the three tribes. In form the agreement was a proposed treaty, the terms of which, in substance, provided for a surrender to the United States of the rights of the tribes in the reservation, for allotments out of such lands to the Indians in severalty, the feesimple title to be conveyed to the allottees or their heirs after the expiration of twenty-five years; and the payment or setting apart for the benefit of the tribes of $2,000,000 as the consideration for the surplus of land over and above the allotments which might be made to the Indians. It was provided that sundry named friends of the Indians (among such persons being the Indian agent and an army officer) 'should each be entitled to all the benefits, in land only conferred under this agreement, the same as if members of said tribes.' Eliminating 350,000 acres of mountainous land, the quantity of surplus lands suitable for farming and grazing purposes was estimated at 2,150,000 acres. Concerning the payment to be made for these surplus lands, the commission, in their report to the President announcing the termination of the negotiations, said (Senate Ex. Doc. No. 17, second session, 52d Congress):

'In this connection it is proper to add that the commission agreed with the Indians to incorporate the following in their report, which is now done:

'The Indians upon this reservation seem to believe (but whether from an exercise of their own judgment or from the advice of others the commission cannot determine) that their surplus land is worth two and one-half million dollars, and Congress may be induced to give them that much for it. Therefore, in compliance with their request, we report that they desire to be heard through an attorney and a delegation to Washington upon that question, the agreement signed, however, to be effective upon ratification no matter what Congress may do with their appeal for the extra half million dollars.'

In transmitting the agreement to the Secretary of the Interior, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs said:

'The price paid, while considerably in excess of that paid to the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, seems to be fair and reasonable, both to the government and the Indians, the land being doubtless of better quality than that in the Cheyenne and Arapahoe reservation.'

Attention was directed to the provision in the agreement in favor of the Indian agent and an army officer, and it was suggested that to permit them to avail thereof would establish a bad precedent.

Soon after the signing of the foregoing agreement it was claimed by the Indians that their assent had been obtained by fraudulent misrepresentations of its terms by the interpreters, and it was asserted that the agreement should not be held binding upon the tribes because three fourths of the adult male members had not assented thereto, as was required by the twelfth article of the Medicine Lodge treaty.

Obviously, in consequence of the policy embodied in § 2079 of the Revised Statutes, departing from the former custom of dealing with Indian affairs by treaty and providing for legislative action on such subjects, various bills were introduced in both Houses of Congress designed to give legal effect to the agreement made by the Indians in 1892. These bills were referred to the proper committee, and before such committees the Indians presented their objections to the propriety of giving effect to the agreement. H. R. Doc. No. 431, 55th Congress, second session. In 1898 the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives unanimously reported a bill for the execution of the agreement made with the Indians. The report of the committee recited that a favorable conclusion had been reached by the committee 'after the fullest hearings from delegations of the Indian tribes and all parties at interest.' H. R. Doc. No. 419, first session, 56th Congress, p. 5.

The bill thus reported did not exactly conform to the agreement as signed by the Indians. It modified the agreement by changing the time for making the allotments, and it also provided that the proceeds of the surplus lands remaining after allotments to the Indians should be held to await the judicial decision of a claim asserted by the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes of Indians to the surplus lands. This claim was based upon a treaty made in 1866, by which the two tribes ceded the reservation in question, it being contended that the lands were impressed with a trust in favor of the ceding tribes, and that whenever the reservation was abandoned, so much of it as was not allotted to the confederated Indians of the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache tribes reverted to the Choctaws and Chickasaws.

The bill just referred to passed the House of Representatives on May 16, 1898. 31st Cong. Rec. p. 4947. When the bill reached the Senate that body, on January 25, 1899, adopted a resolution calling upon the Secretary of the Interior for information as to whether the signatures attached to the agreement comprised three fourths of the male adults of the tribes. In response the Secretary of the Interior informed the Senate, under date of January 28, 1899, that the records of the department 'failed to show a census of these Indians for the year 1892,' but that 'from a roll used in making a payment to them in January and February, 1893, it appeared that there were 725 males over eighteen years of age, of whom 639 were twenty-one years and over.' The Secretary further called attention to the fact that by the agreement of 1892 a right of selection was conferred upon each member of the tribes over eighteen years of age, and observed:

'If eighteen years and over be held to be the legal age of those who were authorized to sign the agreement, the number of persons who actually signed was 87 less than three fourths of the adult male membership of the tribes; and if twenty-one years be held to be the minimum age, then 23 less than three fourths signed the agreement. In either event, less than three fourths of the male adults appear to have so signed.'

With this information before it the bill was favorably reported by the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate, but did not pass that body.

At the first session of the following Congress (the Fifty-sixth) bills were introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives substantially like that which has just been noticed. Senate, 1352; H. R. 905.

In the meanwhile, about October, 1899, the Indians had, at a general council at which 571 male adults of the tribes purported to be present, protested against the execution of the provisions of the agreement of 1892, and adopted a memorial to Congress, praying that that body should not give effect to the agreement. This memorial was forwarded to the Secretary of the Interior by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs with lengthy comments, pointing out the fact that the Indians claimed that their signatures to the agreement had been procured by fraud, and that the legal number of Indians had not signed the agreement, and that the previous bills and bills then pending contemplated modification of the agreement in important particulars without the consent of the Indians. This communication from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, together with the memorial of the Indians, were transmitted by the Secretary of the Interior to Congress. Senate Doc. No. 76; H. R. Doc. No. 333; first session, Fifty-sixth Congress. Attention was called to the fact that although by the bgreement of October 6, 1892, one half of each allotment was contemplated to be agricultural land, there was only sufficient agricultural land in the entire reservation to average 30 acres per Indian. After setting out the charges of fraud and complaints respecting the proposed amendments designed to be made to the agreement, as above stated, particular...

To continue reading

Request your trial
315 cases
  • Apache Stronghold v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Arizona
    • February 12, 2021
    ...been deemed a political one, not subject to be controlled by the judicial department of the government." Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock , 187 U.S. 553, 565, 23 S.Ct. 216, 47 L.Ed. 299 (1903) ; see also Cherokee Nation v. Hitchcock , 187 U.S. 294, 308, 23 S.Ct. 115, 47 L.Ed. 183 (1902) ("The power e......
  • Attorney's Process And Investigation Serv. Inc v. Sac & Fox Tribe Of The Miss. In Iowa
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • July 7, 2010
    ...541 U.S. 193, 200, 124 S.Ct. 1628, 158 L.Ed.2d 420 (2004); see Williams, 358 U.S. at 223, 79 S.Ct. 269; Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 565, 23 S.Ct. 216, 47 L.Ed. 299 (1903), and thus “a proper respect both for tribal sovereignty itself and for the plenary authority of Congress in th......
  • Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • May 15, 1978
    ...in adjusting relations between and among tribes and their members correspondingly restrained. See Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 565, 23 S.Ct. 216, 221, 47 L.Ed. 299 (1903). Congress retains authority expressly to authorize civil actions for injunctive or other relief to redress viol......
  • Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians v. United States v. 10 8212 13, 1944
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 12, 1945
    ...525, 24 L.Ed. 440; Buttz v. Northern Pacific Railroad, 119 U.S. 55, 70, 7 S.Ct. 100, 106, 30 L.Ed. 330; Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 564, 23 S.Ct. 216, 220, 47 L.Ed. 299; United States v. Santa Fe Pacific R. Co., 314 U.S. 339, 347, 62 S.Ct. 248, 252, 86 L.Ed. 5 Letter of Commission......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
75 books & journal articles
  • Table of Cases
    • United States
    • The Path of Constitutional Law Suplemmentary Materials
    • January 1, 2007
    ...102 S.Ct. 1148, 71 L.Ed.2d 265 (1982), 1102, 1300 London Court Judge, City of v. Regina, 1 Q.B. 273 (1892), 280 Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 23 S.Ct. 216, 47 L.Ed. 299 (1903), Looney v. Crane Co., 245 U.S. 178, 38 S.Ct. 85, 62 L.Ed. 230 (1917), 1183 Lopez, United States v., 514 U.S......
  • Indigenous Subjects.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 No. 8, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...tribes may have lost powers by implication"). (344.) See Johnson v. M'Intosh, 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543, 603 (1823); Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553. 565-66 (1903); Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v. United States, 348 U.S. 272, 279, 289 (1955); United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 448 U.S. 371,......
  • Fleeing East from Indian Country: State v. Eriksen and Tribal Inherent Sovereign Authority to Continue Cross-jurisdictional Fresh Pursuit
    • United States
    • University of Washington School of Law University of Washington Law Review No. 87-4, June 2018
    • Invalid date
    ...COHEN'S HANDBOOK OF FEDERAL INDIAN LAW § 604[1], at 537 (Nell Jessup Newton et al., eds., 2005)). See generally Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 566 (1903) (declaring that Congress has the "plenary" right to abrogate Indian Treaties), abrogated by Delaware Tribal Business Comm. v. Week......
  • Protecting habitat for off-reservation tribal hunting and fishing rights: tribal comanagement as a reserved right.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 30 No. 2, March 2000
    • March 22, 2000
    ...percent to fifty percent of the harvestable fish that pass through recognized tribal fishing grounds). (54) Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553, 566 (55) See United States v. Dion, 476 U.S. 734, 738-40 (1986) (describing test for finding congressional abrogation of a tribal reserved right)......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT