United States v. One Chevrolet Automobile, 2658

Decision Date26 May 1936
Docket NumberNo. 2658,2660.,2658
Citation16 F. Supp. 453
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Nevada

E. P. Carville, U. S. Atty., of Reno, Nev., for the United States.

George A. Montrose, of Gardnerville, Nev., and George L. Vargas, of Reno, Nev., for defendants.

NORCROSS, District Judge.

The above-entitled cases are libels filed against two automobiles owned respectively by two Indians for having been used in transporting intoxicating liquor in and upon what is known and so designated by federal statute as the Reno Indian Colony. As the cases present a similar question of fact and the same questions of law, they were consolidated for trial. The question for determination is whether the said Reno Indian Colony is "Indian Country" and hence subject to the penal laws applicable thereto. 25 U.S.C.A. § 247. If it may not be so classified then the proceedings must be dismissed and the property seized returned to the lawful owners thereof.

The said Reno Indian Colony consists of a tract of land slightly less than thirty acres lying within approximately a half mile east of the limits of the city of Reno, and between that city and the city of Sparks about a mile further to the east on the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Twenty acres of the tract were purchased from the then owners in the year 1917 for a consideration of $6,000, which consideration was paid in equal parts from two items contained in the act making appropriations for the Interior Department for that year (39 Stat. 123, 143), reading:

"For the purpose of procuring home and farm sites, with adequate water rights, and providing agricultural equipment and instruction and other necessary supplies for the nonreservation Indians in the State of Nevada, $15,000: * * *

"For the purchase of land and water rights for the Washoe Tribe of Indians, the title to which is to be held in the United States for the benefit of said Indians, $10,000, to be immediately available; for the support and civilization of said Indians, $5,000; in all, $15,000." Section 13.

The remainder of the tract was purchased ten years later in pursuance of the provisions of a special act of Congress, approved May 10, 1926 (44 Stat. 496), reading: "Be it enacted * * * That the Secretary of the Interior * * * purchase a certain described tract of land containing approximately eight and forty-two hundredths acres, situated in section 7, township 19 north, range 20 east, * *: Provided, That the said land when purchased shall be added to and become a part of the site for the Reno Indian colony heretofore purchased by the Government: Provided further, That the sum of $4,300 is hereby authorized to be appropriated, * * to be used in purchasing the tract of land hereinbefore described."

It is conceded that the state of Nevada by special act never relinquished jurisdiction over the land in question, nor was any procedure taken to comply with the general law (Nevada Comp.Laws, § 2895) respecting relinquishment of jurisdiction. Title to the land in question is in the United States. As said in Surplus Trading Co. v. Cook, 281 U.S. 647, 650, 50 S.Ct. 455, 456, 74 L.Ed. 1091: "It is not unusual for the United States to own within a state lands which are set apart and used for public purposes. Such ownership and use without more do not withdraw the lands from the jurisdiction of the state. On the contrary, the lands remain part of her territory and within the operation of her laws, save that the latter cannot affect the title of the United States or embarrass it in using the lands or interfere with its right of disposal."

The contention made on behalf of the government is that the said Reno Indian Colony is in effect an Indian reservation and hence should be regarded as Indian country, as such reservations are generally so regarded. No authority is cited expressly holding that land similarly acquired by purchase and set apart for the benefit of Indian wards of the government should be so classified.

The first use of the expression Indian country appears in an Act of Congress of July 22, 1790, 1 Stat. 137, dealing with the subject of trade and intercourse. See American Fur Co. v. United States, 2 Pet. 358, 368, 7 L.Ed. 450. The statute now in force had its origin in the Act of Congress of June 30, 1834, 4 Stat. 729. That statute defined the term Indian country to be: "All that part of the United States west of the Mississippi, and not within the states of Missouri and Louisiana, or the territory of Arkansas, and, also, that part of the United States east of the Mississippi river, and not within any state to which the Indian title has not been extinguished." Section 1.

When the Revised Statutes were adopted by the Congress in 1873, the definition of Indian...

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1 cases
  • United States v. Gowan
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • January 3, 1938
    ...Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decree of the District Court, U.S. v. One Chevrolet Automobile, 16 F.Supp. 453, dismissing libel proceedings brought by the United States praying forfeiture of two automobiles used to carry intoxicants......

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