Mattz v. Arnett 8212 1182, No. 71

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACKMUN
Citation412 U.S. 481,37 L.Ed.2d 92,93 S.Ct. 2245
PartiesRaymond MATTZ, Petitioner, v. G. Raymond ARNETT, Etc. —1182
Docket NumberNo. 71
Decision Date11 June 1973

412 U.S. 481
93 S.Ct. 2245
37 L.Ed.2d 92
Raymond MATTZ, Petitioner,

v.

G. Raymond ARNETT, Etc.

No. 71—1182.
Argued March 27 and 28, 1973.
Decided June 11, 1973.

Syllabus

Petitioner, a Yurok, or Klamath River, Indian, intervened in a forfeiture proceeding, seeking the return of five gill nets confiscated by a California game warden. He alleged that the nets were seized in Indian country, within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1151, and that the state statutes prohibiting their use did not apply to him. The state trial court found that the Klamath River Reservation in 1892 'for all practical purposes almost immediately lost its identity,' and concluded that the area was not Indian country. The state Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that since the area had been opened for unrestricted homestead entry in 1892, the earlier reservation status of the land had terminated. Indian country is defined by § 1151 as including 'all land within the limits of any Indian reservation under the jurisdiction of the United States government, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent.' The Klamath River Reservation was established by Executive Order in 1855 and included the area in question. In 1891, by Executive Order, the Klamath River Reservation was made part of the Hoopa Valley Reservation. The Act of June 17, 1892, provided that 'all of the lands embraced in what was Klamath River Reservation' reserved under the 1855 Executive Order, are 'declared to be subject to settlement, entry, and purchase under the laws of the United States granting homestead rights . . . Provided, That any Indian now located upon said reservation may, at any time within one year . . . apply to the Secretary of the Interior for an allotment of land . . .. And the Secretary of the Interior may reserve from settlement, entry, or purchase any tract . . . upon which any village or settlement of Indians is now located, and may set apart the same for the permanent use and occupation of said village or settlement of Indians.' The Act further provided that proceeds from the sale of the lands 'shall constitute a fund . . . for the maintenance and education of the Indians now residing on said lands and their children.' Held: The Klamath River Reservation was not

Page 482

terminated by the Act of June 17, 1892, and the land within the reservation boundaries is still Indian country, within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1151. Pp. 494—506.

(a) The allotment provisions of the 1892 Act, rather than indicating an intention to terminate the reservation, are completely consistent with continued reservation status. Seymour v. Superintendent, 368 U.S. 351, 82 S.Ct. 424, 7 L.Ed.2d 346. Pp. 496—497.

(b) The reference in the Act to the Klamath River Reservation in the past tense did not manifest a congressional purpose to terminate the reservation, but was merely a convenient way of identifying the land, which had just recently been included in the Hoopa Valley Reservation. Pp. 498—499.

(c) The Act's legislative history does not support the view that the reservation was terminated, but by contrast with the final enactment, it compels the conclusion that efforts to terminate by denying allotments to the Indians failed completely. Pp. 499—504.

(d) A congressional determination to terminate a reservation must be expressed on the face of the statute or be clear from the surrounding circumstances and legislative history, neither of which obtained here. Pp. 504—505.

(e) The conclusion that the 1892 Act did not terminate the Reservation is reinforced by repeated recognition thereafter by the Department of the Interior and by the Congress. Congress has recognized the reservation's continued existence by extending, in 1942, the period of trust allotments, and in 1958, by restoring to tribal ownership certain vacant and undisposed-of ceded lands in the reservation. P. 505.

20 Cal.App.2d 729, 97 Cal.Rptr. 894, reversed and remanded.

Lee J. Sclar, Berkeley, Cal., for petitioner.

Harry R. Sachse, New Orleans, La., for United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

Roderick Walston, San Francisco, Cal., for respondent.

Page 483

Mr. Justice BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Our decision in this case turns on the resolution of the narrow question whether the Klamath River Indian Reservation in northern California was terminated by Act of Congress or whether it remains 'Indian country,' within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1151.1 When established, the reservation was described as 'a strip of territory commencing at the Pacific Ocean and extending 1 mile in width on each side of the Klamath River'

Page 484

for a distance of approximately 20 miles, encompassing an area not exceeding 25,000 acres. This description is taken from President Franklin Pierce's Executive Order issued November 16, 1855, pursuant to the authority granted by the Act of March 3, 1853, 10 Stat. 226, 238, and the Act of March 3, 1855, 10 Stat. 686, 699.2

Petitioner Raymond Mattz is a Yurok, or Klamath River, Indian, who since the age of nine, regularly fished, as his grandfather did before him, with dip, gill, and trigger nets, at a location called Brooks Riffle on the Klamath River. On September 24, 1969, a California game warden confiscated five gill nets owned by Mattz. The nets were stored near Brooks Riffle, approximately 200 feet from the river, and within 20 miles of the river's mouth.

The respondent Director of the Department of Fish and Game instituted a forfeiture proceeding in state court. Mattz intervened and asked for the return of his nets. He alleged, among other things, that he was an enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe, that the nets were seized within Indian country, and that the state statutes prohibiting the use of gill nets, Cal.Fish & Game Code §§ 8664, 8686, and 8630, therefore were inapplicable to him. The state trial court, relying on Elser v. Gill Net Number One, 246 Cal.App.2d 30, 54 Cal.Rptr. 568 (1966), found that the Klamath River Reservation in 1892 'for all practical purposes almost immediately lost its identity,'3 and concluded that the area where the

Page 485

nets were seized was not Indian country. The court thereby disposed of petitioner's primary defense to the forfeiture. It did not reach other issues bearing upon the application of the California statutes to Indian country and the existence of Indian fishing rights there.

On appeal, the State Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that, inasmuch as the area in question had been opened for unrestricted homestead entry in 1892, the earlier reservation status of the land had terminated. 20 Cal.App.3d 729, 97 Cal.Rptr. 894 (1971). The Supreme Court of California, one judge dissenting, denied a petition for hearing. See 20 Cal.App.3d, at 735, 97 Cal.Rptr., at 898. We granted certiorari, 409 U.S. 1124, 93 S.Ct. 933, 35 L.Ed.2d 255 (1973), because the judgments of the state courts appeared to be in conflict with applicable decisions of this Court.

We now reverse. The reversal, of course, does not dispose of the underlying forfeiture issue. On remand, the questions relating to the existence of Mattz' fishing rights and to the applicability of California law notwithstanding reservation status will be addressed. We intimate no opinion on those issues.

I

While the current reservation status of the Klamath River Reservation turns primarily upon the effect of an 1892 Act of Congress which opened the reservation land for settlement, the meaning and effect of that Act cannot be determined without some reference to the Yurok Tribe and the history of the reservation between 1855 and 1892.

The Yurok Indians apparently resided in the area of the lower Klamath River for a substantial period before 1855 when the Klamath River Reservation was established. Little is known of their prior history. There are sources, however, that provide us with relatively

Page 486

detailed information about the tribe, its culture, living conditions, and customs for the period following 1855. 4 That the tribe had inhabited the lower Klamath River well before 1855 is suggested by the name. Yurok means 'down the river.' The names of the neighboring tribes, the Karok and the Modok, mean, respectively, 'up the river' and 'head of the river,' and these appellations, as would be expected, coincide with the respective homelands. Powers 19; Kroeber 15.5

Page 487

By the Act of March 3, 1853, 10 Stat. 238, the President was 'authorized to make five military reservations from the public domain in the State of California or the Territories of Utah and New Mexico bordering on said State, for Indian purposes.' The Act of March 3, 1855, 10 Stat. 699, appropriated funds for 'collecting, removing, and subsisting the Indians of California . . . on two additional military reservations, to be selected as heretofore . . . Provided, That the President may enlarge the quantity of reservations heretofore selected, equal to those hereby provided for.' President Pierce then issued his order of November 16, 1855, specifying the Klamath River Reservation and stating, 'Let the reservation be made, as proposed.' Kappler 817.

The site was ideally selected for the Yuroks. They had lived in the area; the arable land, although limited, was 'peculiarly adapted to the growth of vegetables,' 1856 Report 238; and the river, which ran through a canyon its entire length, abounded in salmon and other fish. Ibid.; 1858 Report 286.6

In 1861 nearly all the arable lands on the Klamath River Reservation were destroyed by a Freshet, and, upon recommendation of the local Indian agent, some of the Indians were removed to the Smith River Reservation, established for that purpose in 1862. Only a small number of Yuroks moved to the new reservation, however, and nearly all those who did move returned within a few

Page 488

years to the Klamath River. Crichton v. Shelton, 33 I.D. 205, 208 (1904); Kappler 830; 1864 Report 122. The Smith River...

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203 practice notes
  • San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Auth. & Westlands Water Dist. v. Jewell, Case No. 1:13–CV–01232–LJO–GSA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 1, 2014
    ...and economic livelihood.” Parravano, 70 F.3d at 542. The Yurok Reservation “was ideally selected for the Yuroks.” Mattz v. Arnett, 412 U.S. 481, 487, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 37 L.Ed.2d 92 (1973). It encompasses the lower 44 miles of the Klamath River, including the confluence of the Klamath and Trin......
  • Mattz v. Superior Court, No. S002805
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 22, 1988
    ...review that history here. (See, e.g., Donnelly v. United States (1913) 228 U.S. 243, 33 S.Ct. 449, 57 L.Ed. 820; Mattz v. Arnett (1973) 412 U.S. 481, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 37 L.Ed.2d 92; United States v. Eberhardt (9th Cir.1986) 789 F.2d 1354; Blake v. Arnett (9th Cir.1981) 663 F.2d 906; Elser v. ......
  • Parravano v. Babbitt, No. C 93-2003 TEH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • July 29, 1994
    ...the reservation encompassed what is today the lower portion of the Yurok Reservation. According to the Supreme Court in Mattz v. Arnett, 412 U.S. 481, 486, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 2248, 37 L.Ed.2d 92 (1973), the site was ideally selected for the Yuroks. They had lived in the area; the arable land, a......
  • U.S. v. Newmont Usa Ltd., No. CV-05-020-JLQ.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of Washington
    • August 21, 2007
    ...for allotment, Congress, from time to time, enacted special legislation subjecting a particular reservation to allotment. Mattz v. Arnett, 412 U.S. 481, 497, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 37 L.Ed.2d 92 (1973). In this matter, Congressional acts dated June 19, 1902 and May 29, 1908, provided for the allotm......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
203 cases
  • San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Auth. & Westlands Water Dist. v. Jewell, Case No. 1:13–CV–01232–LJO–GSA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • October 1, 2014
    ...and economic livelihood.” Parravano, 70 F.3d at 542. The Yurok Reservation “was ideally selected for the Yuroks.” Mattz v. Arnett, 412 U.S. 481, 487, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 37 L.Ed.2d 92 (1973). It encompasses the lower 44 miles of the Klamath River, including the confluence of the Klamath and Trin......
  • Mattz v. Superior Court, No. S002805
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 22, 1988
    ...review that history here. (See, e.g., Donnelly v. United States (1913) 228 U.S. 243, 33 S.Ct. 449, 57 L.Ed. 820; Mattz v. Arnett (1973) 412 U.S. 481, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 37 L.Ed.2d 92; United States v. Eberhardt (9th Cir.1986) 789 F.2d 1354; Blake v. Arnett (9th Cir.1981) 663 F.2d 906; Elser v. ......
  • Parravano v. Babbitt, No. C 93-2003 TEH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • July 29, 1994
    ...the reservation encompassed what is today the lower portion of the Yurok Reservation. According to the Supreme Court in Mattz v. Arnett, 412 U.S. 481, 486, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 2248, 37 L.Ed.2d 92 (1973), the site was ideally selected for the Yuroks. They had lived in the area; the arable land, a......
  • U.S. v. Newmont Usa Ltd., No. CV-05-020-JLQ.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of Washington
    • August 21, 2007
    ...for allotment, Congress, from time to time, enacted special legislation subjecting a particular reservation to allotment. Mattz v. Arnett, 412 U.S. 481, 497, 93 S.Ct. 2245, 37 L.Ed.2d 92 (1973). In this matter, Congressional acts dated June 19, 1902 and May 29, 1908, provided for the allotm......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
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
    ...portions of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation for homesteading had not disestablished or diminished the reservation); Mattz v. Arnett, 412 U.S. 481, 496-97 (1974) (determining the same regarding an 1892 statute providing for allotment on the Klamath Tribes' Reservation and stating the sp......

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