Stephens v. Cherokee Nation , 174 U.S. 445 ( 1899 )


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  • 174 U.S. 445 (1899)

    STEPHENS
    v.
    CHEROKEE NATION.
    CHOCTAW NATION
    v.
    ROBINSON.
    JOHNSON
    v.
    CREEK NATION.
    CHICKASAW NATION
    v.
    ROBINSON.

    Nos. 423, 453, 461, 496.

    Supreme Court of United States.

    Argued and submitted February 23, 24, 27, 1899.
    Decided May 15, 1899.
    APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT IN THE INDIAN TERRITORY.

    *474 *475 Cherokee Nation cases. (Some argued, some submitted.)

    Mr. S.M. Porter for appellants argued Nos. 445, 446 February 24. Mr. Heber J. May for appellants argued other Cherokee cases February 27. Mr. A.H. Garland, Mr. R.C. Garland and Mr. M.M. Edmiston were on Mr. May's brief.

    Mr. William T. Hutchins and Mr. Wilkinson Call argued for the Cherokee Nation February 27.

    Mr. Joseph M. Hill and Mr. James Brizzolara filed a brief for appellants in No. 436.

    Mr. William M. Cravens filed a brief for appellants in No. 459.

    Chickasaw Nation cases. (All submitted.)

    Mr. Halbert E. Paine and Mr. Holmes Conrad for appellants, submitted February 23. Mr. Joseph G. Ralls also for appellants.

    Mr. C.C. Potter submitted for appellees February 23. The following submissions were made subsequently. Mr. Silas Hare and Mr. Charles A. Keigwin for appellants in No. 527. Mr. Thomas Norman and Mr. William I. Cruce for appellees in No. 472. Mr. C.C. Potter for appellee in Nos. 473 and 477. Mr. Robert H. West and Mr. James L. Norris for appellee in No. 474. Mr. Henry M. Furman, Mr. Calvin L. Herbert, Mr. William I. Cruce, Mr. Andrew C. Cruce and Mr. James C. Thompson for appellees in Nos. 469 and others. Mr. J.W. Johnson and Mr. Dorset Carter for appellees in No. 513. Mr. W.A. Ledbetter and Mr. S.T. Bledroe for appellees in No. 520.

    Choctaw Nation cases. (Some argued, some submitted.)

    Mr. J.M. Wilson for the Nation argued March 6, 7. Mr. C.L. Herbert for appellees in Nos. 586, 588 and 589, argued March 7. Mr. Yancey Lewis, Mr. W.W. Dudley and Mr. L.T. Michener for claimants in No. 438; Mr. Yancey Lewis for claimants in Nos. 447, 452, and 454; Mr. William Ritchie *476 for claimants in No. 453; Mr. M.M. Lindly, Mr. Jacob C. Hodges, Mr. P.D. Brewer and Mr. J.A. Hale for claimants in No. 578; Mr. Yancey Lewis and Mr. J.G. Ralls for claimants in No. 644; Mr. Walter A. Logan and Mr. William T. Hutchins for claimants in No. 648; and Mr. W.W. Dudley, Mr. L.T. Michener and Mr. Eugene Easton for claimants in No. 450; and Mr. Joseph G. Ralls for appellants in Nos. 648, 647, 646, 645, 643 and 651 submitted on their respective briefs.

    Creek or Muskogee Nation cases. (All submitted March 7.)

    Mr. William M. Cravens for appellants in Nos. 454, 461.

    Mr. Benjamin T. Du Val for the Muskogee Nation in Nos. 461 and 454.

    MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

    These appeals are from decrees of the United States court in the Indian Territory, sitting in first instance, rendered in cases pending therein involving the right of various individuals to citizenship in some one of the four tribes named; most of them came to that court by appeal from the action of the so-called Dawes Commission, though some were from decisions of tribal authorities; many questions are common to them all; and it will be assumed that in all of them the decrees were rendered and the court had finally adjourned before the passage of the act of July 1, 1898, providing for appeals to this court.

    The act of June 10, 1896, provided "that if the tribe, or any person, be aggrieved with the decision of the tribal authorities or the Commission provided for in this act, it or he may appeal from such decision to the United States District Court: Provided, however, That the appeal shall be taken within sixty days, and the judgment of the court shall be final."

    It must be admitted that the words "United States District Court" were not accurately used, as the United States Court in the Indian Territory was not a District or Circuit Court of *477 the United States, In re Mills, 135 U.S. 263, 268, and no such court had, at the date of the act, jurisdiction therein. But as, manifestly, the appeal was to be taken to a United States court having jurisdiction in the Indian Territory, and in view of the other terms of the act bearing on the immediate subject-matter, to say nothing of subsequent legislation, it is clear that the United States court in the Indian Territory was the court referred to. This conclusion, however, may fairly be said to involve the rejection of the word "District" as a descriptive term, and reading the provision as granting an appeal to the United States court in the Indian Territory, the question arises whether the judgments made final by the statute are the judgments of that court in the several districts delineated by the act of March 1, 1895, or of the appellate court therein provided for, which may be referred to later on, since it is objected in the outset that no appeal from the decisions of the Dawes Commission or of the tribal authorities could be granted to any United States court; and, furthermore, that, at all events, it was not competent for Congress to provide for an appeal from the decrees of the United States court in the Indian Territory after such decrees had been rendered and the term of court had expired, and especially as they were made final by the statute.

    As to the first of these objections, conceding the constitutionality of the legislation otherwise, we need spend no time upon it, as it is firmly established that Congress may provide for the review of the action of commissions and boards created by it, exercising only quasi judicial powers, by the transfer of their proceedings and decisions, denominated appeals for want of a better term, to judicial tribunals for examination and determination de novo; and, as will be presently seen, could certainly do so in respect of the action of tribal authorities.

    The other objection, though appearing at first blush to be more serious, is also untenable.

    The contention is that the act of July 1, 1898, in extending the remedy by appeal to this court was invalid because retrospective, an invasion of the judicial domain, and destructive of vested rights. By its terms the act was to operate *478 retrospectively, and as to that it may be observed that while the general rule is that statutes should be so construed as to give them only prospective operation, yet where the language employed expresses a contrary intention in unequivocal terms, the mere fact that the legislation is retroactive does not necessarily render it void.

    And while it is undoubtedly true that legislatures cannot set aside the judgments of courts, compel them to grant new trials, order the discharge of offenders, or direct what steps shall be taken in the progress of a judicial inquiry, the grant of a new remedy by way of review has been often sustained under particular circumstances. Calder v. Bull, 3 Dallas, 386; Sampeyreac v. United States, 7 Pet. 222; Freeborn v. Smith, 2 Wall. 160; Garrison v. New York, 21 Wall. 196; Freeland v. Williams, 131 U.S. 405; Essex Public Road Board v. Skinkle, 140 U.S. 334.

    The United States court in the Indian Territory is a legislative court and was authorized to exercise jurisdiction in these citizenship cases as a part of the machinery devised by Congress in the discharge of its duties in respect of these Indian tribes, and assuming that Congress possesses plenary power of legislation in regard to them, subject only to the Constitution of the United States, it follows that the validity of remedial legislation of this sort cannot be questioned unless in violation of some prohibition of that instrument.

    In its enactment Congress has not attempted to interfere in any way with the judicial department of the Government, nor can the act be properly regarded as destroying any vested right, since the right asserted to be vested is only the exemption of these judgments from review, and the mere expectation of a share in the public lands and moneys of these tribes, if hereafter distributed, if the applicants are admitted to citizenship, cannot be held to amount to such an absolute right of property that the original cause of action, which is citizenship or not, is placed by the judgment of a lower court beyond the power of reëxamination by a higher court though subsequently authorized by general law to exercise jurisdiction.

    This brings us to consider the nature and extent of the *479 appeal provided for. We repeat the language of the act of July 1, 1898, as follows:

    "Appeals shall be allowed from the United States courts in the Indian Territory direct to the Supreme Court of the United States to either party, in all citizenship cases, and in all cases between either of the Five Civilized Tribes and the United States involving the constitutionality or validity of any legislation affecting citizenship, or the allotment of lands in the Indian Territory, under the rules and regulations governing appeals to said court in other cases: Provided, That appeals in cases decided prior to this act must be perfected in one hundred and twenty days from its passage; and in cases decided subsequent thereto, within sixty days from final judgment; but in no such case shall the work of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes be enjoined or suspended by any proceeding in, or order of, any court, or of any judge, until after final judgment in the Supreme Court of the United States. In cases of appeals, as aforesaid, it shall be the duty of the Supreme Court to advance such cases on the docket and dispose of the same as early as possible."

    This provision is not altogether clear, and we therefore inquire what is its true construction? Was it the intention of Congress to impose on this court the duty of reëxamining the facts in the instance of all applicants for citizenship, who might appeal; of construing and applying the treaties with, and the constitutions and laws, the usages and customs, of the respective tribes; of reviewing their action through their legislative bodies, and the decisions of their tribal courts, and commissions; and of finally adjudicating the right of each applicant under the pressure of the advancement of each case on the docket to be disposed of as soon as possible? Or, on the other hand, was it the intention of Congress to submit to this court only the question of the constitutionality or validity of the legislation in respect of the subject-matter? We have no hesitation in saying that in our opinion the appeal thus granted was intended to extend only to the constitutionality or validity of the legislation affecting citizenship or the allotment of lands in the Indian Territory.

    *480 Two classes of cases are mentioned: (1) Citizenship cases. The parties to these cases are the particular Indian tribe and the applicant for citizenship. (2) Cases between either of the Five Civilized Tribes and the United States. Does the limitation of the inquiry to the constitutionality and validity of the legislation apply to both classes? We think it does.

    It should be remembered that the appeal to the United States court for the Indian Territory under the act of 1896 was in respect of decisions as to citizenship only, and that in those cases the jurisdiction of the Dawes Commission and of the court was attacked on the ground of the unconstitutionality of the legislation. The determination of that question was necessarily in the mind of Congress in providing for the appeal to this court, and it cannot reasonably be supposed that it was intended that the question should be reopened in cases between the United States and the tribes. And yet this would be the result of the use of the words "affecting citizenship" in the qualification, if that qualification were confined to the last-named cases. The words cannot be construed as redundant and rejected as surplusage, for they can be given full effect, and it cannot be assumed that they tend to defeat, but rather that they are in effectuation of, the real object of the enactment. It is true that the provision is somewhat obscure, although if the comma after the words "all citizenship cases" were omitted, or if a comma were inserted after the words "the United States," that obscurity would practically disappear, and the rule is well settled that, for the purpose of arriving at the true meaning of a statute, courts read with such stops as are manifestly required. Hammock v. Loan and Trust Company, 105 U.S. 77, 84; United States v. Lacher, 134 U.S. 624, 628; United States v. Oregon & California Railroad, 164 U.S. 526, 541.

    On any possible construction, in cases between the United States and an Indian tribe, no appeal is allowed, unless the constitutionality or validity of the legislation is involved; and it would be most unreasonable to attribute to Congress an intention that the right of appeal should be more extensive in *481 cases between an Indian tribe and an individual applicant for citizenship therein.

    Reference to prior legislation as to appeal to this court from the United States court in the Indian Territory confirms the view we entertain.

    By section five of the judiciary act of March 3, 1891, c. 517, 26 Stat. 826, as amended, appeals or writs of error might be taken from the District and Circuit Courts directly to this court in cases in which the jurisdiction of the court was in issue; of conviction of a capital crime; involving the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States; and in which the constitutionality of any law of the United States, or the validity or construction of any treaty made under its authority, was drawn in question.

    By section six, the Circuit Courts of Appeals established by the act were invested with appellate jurisdiction in all other cases.

    The thirteenth section read: "Appeals and writs of error may be taken and prosecuted from the decisions of the United States court in the Indian Territory to the Supreme Court of the United States, or to the Circuit Court of Appeals in the Eighth Circuit, in the same manner and under the same regulations as from the Circuit or District Courts of the United States, under this act."

    The act of March 1, 1895, provided for the appointment of additional judges of the United States court in the Indian Territory and created a Court of Appeals with such superintending control over the courts in the Indian Territory as the Supreme Court of Arkansas possessed over the courts of that State by the laws thereof; and the act also provided that "writs of error and appeals from the final decisions of said appellate court shall be allowed, and may be taken to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Judicial Circuit in the same manner and under the same regulations as appeals are taken from the Circuit Courts of the United States," which thus in terms deprived that court of jurisdiction of appeals from the Indian Territory trial court under section 13 of the act of 1891. Prior to the act of 1895, the United States court in the Indian *482 Territory had no jurisdiction over capital cases, but by that act its jurisdiction was extended to embrace them. And we held in Brown v. United States, 171 U.S. 631, that this court had no jurisdiction over capital cases in that court, the appellate jurisdiction in such cases being vested in the appellate court in the Indian Territory. Whether the effect of the act of 1895 was to render the thirteenth section of the act of 1891 wholly inapplicable need not be considered, as the judgments of the United States court in the Indian Territory in these citizenship cases were made final in that court by the act of 1896, and this would cut off an appeal to this court, if any then existed, whether the finality spoken of applied to the judgments of the trial court or of the appellate court. And when by the act of July 1, 1898, it was provided that "appeals shall be allowed from the United States courts in the Indian Territory direct to the Supreme Court of the United States, ... under the rules and regulations governing appeals to said court in other cases," the legislation taken together, justifies the conclusion that the distribution of jurisdiction made by the act of March 3, 1891, was intended to be observed, namely, that cases falling within the classes prescribed in section five should be brought directly to this court, and all other cases to the appellate court, whose decision, as the legislation stands, would in cases of the kind under consideration be final. We do not think, however, that the analogy goes so far, in view of the terms of the act of 1898, that in cases brought here the whole case would be open to adjudication. The matter to be considered on the appeal, like the appeal itself, was evidently intended to be restricted to the constitutionality and validity of the legislation. The only ground on which this court held itself to be authorized to consider the whole merits of the case upon an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States in a case in which the constitutionality of a law of the United States was involved, under section 5 of the act of March 3, 1891, c. 517, was because of the express limitation in another part of that section of appeals upon the question of jurisdiction; and there is no kindred limitation in the act now before us. Horner v. United States, 143 U.S. 570, 577. The judgments of the *483 court in the Indian Territory were made final, and appeals to this court were confined, in our opinion, to the question of constitutionality or validity only.

    Was the legislation of 1896 and 1897, so far as it authorized the Dawes Commission to determine citizenship in these tribes, constitutional? If so, the courts below had jurisdiction on appeal.

    It is true that the Indian tribes were for many years allowed by the United States to make all laws and regulations for the government and protection of their persons and property, not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States; and numerous treaties were made by the United States with those tribes as distinct political societies. The policy of the Government, however, in dealing with the Indian Nations was definitively expressed in a proviso inserted in the Indian Appropriation Act of March 3, 1871, c. 120, 16 Stat. 544, 566, to the effect:

    "That hereafter no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty: Provided, further, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to invalidate or impair the obligation of any treaty heretofore lawfully made and ratified with any such Indian nation or tribe," which was carried forward into section 2079 of the Revised Statutes, which reads:

    "SEC. 2079. No Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty; but no obligation of any treaty lawfully made and ratified with any such Indian nation or tribe prior to March third, eighteen hundred and seventy-one, shall be hereby invalidated or impaired."

    The treaties referred to in argument were all made and ratified prior to March 3, 1871, but it is "well settled that an act of Congress may supersede a prior treaty and that any questions that may arise are beyond the sphere of judicial cognizance, and must be met by the political department of the *484 Government." Thomas v. Gay, 169 U.S. 264, 271, and cases cited.

    As to the general power of Congress we need not review the decisions on the subject, as they are sufficiently referred to by Mr. Justice Harlan in Cherokee Nation v. Southern Kansas Railway Company, 135 U.S. 641, 653, from whose opinion we quote as follows:

    "The proposition that the Cherokee Nation is sovereign in the sense that the United States is sovereign, or in the sense that the several States are sovereign, and that that nation alone can exercise the power of eminent domain within its limits, finds no support in the numerous treaties with the Cherokee Indians, or in the decisions of this court, or in the acts of Congress defining the relations of that people with the United States. From the beginning of the Government to the present time, they have been treated as `wards of the nation,' `in a state of pupilage,' `dependent political communities,' holding such relations to the General Government that they and their country, as declared by Chief Justice Marshall in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 5 Pet. 1, 17, `are considered by foreign nations, as well as by ourselves, as being so completely under the sovereignty and dominion of the United States, that any attempt to acquire their lands, or to form a political connection with them, would be considered by all as an invasion of our territory and an act of hostility.' It is true, as declared in Worcester v. Georgia, 6 Pet. 515, 557, 569, that the treaties and laws of the United States contemplate the Indian Territory as completely separated from the States and the Cherokee Nation as a distinct community, and (in the language of Mr. Justice McLean in the same case, p. 583,) that `in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our Government we have admitted, by the most solemn sanction, the existence of the Indians as a separate and distinct people, and as being vested with rights which constitute them a State, or separate community.' But that falls far short of saying that they are a sovereign State, with no superior within the limits of its territory. By the treaty of New Echota, 1835, the United States covenanted and agreed that the lands ceded to *485 the Cherokee Nation should at no future time, without their consent, be included within the territorial limits or jurisdiction of any State or Territory, and that the Government would secure to that nation `the right by their national councils to make and carry into effect all such laws as they may deem necessary for the government of the persons and property within their own country, belonging to their people or such persons as have connected themselves with them;' and, by the treaties of Washington, 1846 and 1866, the United States guaranteed to the Cherokees the title and possession of their lands, and jurisdiction over their country. Revision of Indian Treaties, pp. 65, 79, 85. But neither these nor any previous treaties evinced any intention, upon the part of the Government, to discharge them from their condition of pupilage or dependency, and constitute them a separate, independent, sovereign people, with no superior within its limits. This is made clear by the decisions of this court, rendered since the cases already cited. In United States v. Rogers, 4 How. 567, 572, the court, referring to the locality in which a particular crime had been committed, said: `It is true that it is occupied by the tribe of Cherokee Indians. But it has been assigned to them by the United States as a place of domicil for the tribe, and they hold and occupy it with the consent of the United States, and under their authority... . We think it too firmly and clearly established to admit of dispute that the Indian tribes, residing within the territorial limits of the United States, are subject to their authority.' In United States v. Kagama, 118 U.S. 375, 379, the court, after observing that the Indians were within the geographical limits of the United States, said: `The soil and the people within these limits are under the political control of the Government of the United States, or of the States of the Union. There exist within the broad domain of sovereignty but these two... . They were, and always have been, regarded as having a semi-independent position when they preserved their tribal relations; not as States, not as nations, not as possessed of the full attributes of sovereignty, but as a separate people, with the power of regulating their internal and social relations, and *486 thus far not brought under the laws of the Union or of the State within whose limits they resided... . The power of the General Government over these remnants of a race once powerful, now weak and diminished in numbers, is necessary to their protection, as well as to the safety of those among whom they dwell. It must exist in that Government, because it has never existed anywhere else, because the theatre of its exercise is within the geographical limits of the United States, because it has never been denied, and because it alone can enforce its laws on all the tribes.' The latest utterance upon this general subject is in Choctaw Nation v. United States, 119 U.S. 1, 27, where the court, after stating that the United States is a sovereign nation limited only by its own Constitution, said: `On the other hand, the Choctaw Nation falls within the description in the terms of our Constitution, not of an independent State or sovereign nation, but of an Indian tribe. As such, it stands in a peculiar relation to the United States. It was capable under the terms of the Constitution of entering into treaty relations with the Government of the United States, although, from the nature of the case, subject to the power and authority of the laws of the United States when Congress should choose, as it did determine in the act of March 3, 1871, embodied in section 2079 of the Revised Statutes, to exert its legislative power.'"

    Such being the position occupied by these tribes, (and it has often been availed of to their advantage,) and the power of Congress in the premises having the plenitude thus indicated, we are unable to perceive that the legislation in question is in contravention of the Constitution.

    By the act of June 10, 1896, the Dawes Commission was authorized "to hear and determine the application of all persons who may apply to them for citizenship in said nations, and after such hearing they shall determine the right of such applicant to be so admitted and enrolled," but it was also provided:

    "That in determining all such applications said Commission shall respect all laws of the several nations or tribes, not inconsistent with the laws of the United States, and all *487 treaties with either of said nations or tribes, and shall give due force and effect to the rolls, usages and customs of each of said nations or tribes: And provided further, That the rolls of citizenship of the several tribes as now existing are hereby confirmed and any person who shall claim to be entitled to be added to said rolls as a citizen of either of said tribes, and whose right thereto has either been denied or not acted upon, or any citizen who may within three months from and after the passage of this act desire such citizenship, may apply to the legally constituted court or committee designated by the several tribes for such citizenship, and such court or committee shall determine such application within thirty days from the date thereof."

    The act of June 7, 1897, declared that the Commission should "continue to exercise all authority heretofore conferred on it by law to negotiate with the Five Tribes, and any agreement made by it with any one of said tribes, when ratified, shall operate to suspend any provisions of this act if in conflict therewith as to said nation: Provided, That the words `rolls of citizenship,' as used in the act of June tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-six, making appropriations for current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department and fulfilling treaty stipulation with various Indian tribes for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-seven, shall be construed to mean the last authenticated rolls of each tribe which have been approved by the council of the nation, and the descendants of those appearing on such rolls, and such additional names and their descendants as have been subsequently added, either by the council of such nation, the duly authorized courts thereof, or the Commission under the act of June tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-six. And all other names appearing upon such rolls shall be open to investigation by such Commission for a period of six months after the passage of this act. And any name appearing on such rolls and not confirmed by the act of June tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-six, as herein construed, may be stricken therefrom by such Commission where the party affected shall have ten days' previous notice that said Commission *488 will investigate and determine the right of such party to remain upon such roll as a citizen of such nation: Provided, also, That any one whose name shall be stricken from the roll by such Commission shall have the right of appeal, as provided in the act of June tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-six.

    "That on and after January first, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, all acts, ordinances and resolutions of the council of either of the aforesaid Five Tribes passed shall be certified immediately upon their passage to the President of the United States and shall not take effect, if disapproved by him, until thirty days after their passage: Provided, That this act shall not apply to resolutions for adjournment, or any acts, or resolutions, or ordinances in relation to negotiations with commissioners heretofore appointed to treat with said tribes."

    We repeat that in view of the paramount authority of Congress over the Indian tribes, and of the duties imposed on the Government by their condition of dependency, we cannot say that Congress could not empower the Dawes Commission to determine, in the manner provided, who were entitled to citizenship in each of the tribes and make out correct rolls of such citizens, an essential preliminary to effective action in promotion of the best interests of the tribes. It may be remarked that the legislation seems to recognize, especially the act of June 28, 1898, a distinction between admission to citizenship merely and the distribution of property to be subsequently made, as if there might be circumstances under which the right to a share in the latter would not necessarily follow from the concession of the former. But in any aspect, we are of opinion that the constitutionality of these acts in respect of the determination of citizenship cannot be successfully assailed on the ground of the impairment or destruction of vested rights. The lands and moneys of these tribes are public lands and public moneys, and are not held in individual ownership, and the assertion by any particular applicant that his right therein is so vested as to preclude inquiry into his status involves a contradiction in terms.

    The judgments in these cases were rendered before the passage *489 of the act of June 28, 1898, commonly known as the Curtis Act, and necessarily the effect of that act was not considered. As, however, the provision for an appeal to this court was made after the passage of the act, some observations upon it are required, and, indeed, the inference is not unreasonable that a principal object intended to be secured by an appeal was the testing of the constitutionality of this act, and that may have had controlling weight in inducing the granting of the right to such appeal.

    The act is comprehensive and sweeping in its character, and notwithstanding the abstract of it in the statement prefixed to this opinion, we again call attention to its provisions. The act gave jurisdiction to the United States courts in the Indian Territory in their respective districts to try cases against those who claimed to hold lands and tenements as members of a tribe and whose membership was denied by the tribe, and authorized their removal from the same if the claim was disallowed; and provided for the allotment of lands by the Dawes Commission among the citizens of any one of the tribes as shown by the roll of citizenship when fully completed as provided by law, and according to a survey also fully completed; and "that if the person to whom an allotment shall have been made shall be declared, upon appeal as herein provided for, by any of the courts of the United States in or for the aforesaid Territory, to have been illegally accorded rights of citizenship, and for that or any other reason declared to be not entitled to any allotment, he shall be ousted and ejected from said lands."

    The act further directed, as to the Cherokees, that the Commission should "take the roll of Cherokee citizens of eighteen hundred and eighty, not including freedmen, as the only roll intended to be confirmed by this and preceding acts of Congress, and to enroll all persons now living whose names are found on said roll, and all descendants born since the date of said roll to persons whose names are found thereon; and all persons who have been enrolled by the tribal authorities who have heretofore made permanent settlement in the Cherokee Nation whose parents, by reason of their Cherokee blood, *490 have been lawfully admitted to citizenship by the tribal authorities, and who were minors when their parents were so admitted; and they shall investigate the right of all other persons whose names are found on any other rolls and omit all such as may have been placed thereon by fraud or without authority of law, enrolling only such as may have legal right thereto, and their descendants born since such rolls were made, with such intermarried white persons as may be entitled to citizenship under Cherokee laws." And that the Commission should make a roll of Cherokee freedmen, in compliance with a certain decree of the Court of Claims; and a roll of all Choctaw freedmen entitled to citizenship under the treaties and laws of the Choctaw Nation, and all their descendants born to them since the date of the treaty; and a roll of Chickasaw freedmen entitled to any rights or benefits under the treaty of 1866, and their descendants; and a roll of all Creek freedmen, the roll made by J.W. Dunn, under the authority of the United States, prior to March 14, 1867, being confirmed, and the Commission being directed to enroll all persons now living whose names are found on said roll, and their descendants, with "such other persons of African descent as may have been rightfully admitted by the lawful authorities of the Creek Nation."

    The Commission was authorized and directed to make correct rolls of the citizens by blood of all the tribes other than the Cherokees, "eliminating from the tribal rolls such names as may have been placed thereon by fraud or without authority of law, enrolling such only as may have lawful right thereto, and their descendants born since such rolls were made, with such intermarried white persons as may be entitled to Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship under the treaties and laws of said tribes."

    It was also provided that "no person shall be enrolled who has not heretofore removed to and in good faith settled in the nation in which he claims citizenship."

    The Commission was authorized to make the rolls descriptive of the persons thereon, so that they might be thereby identified, and to take a census of each of said tribes, "or *491 to adopt any other means by them deemed necessary to enable them to make such rolls;" and it was declared that "the rolls so made, when approved by the Secretary of the Interior, shall be final, and the persons whose names are found thereon, with their descendants thereafter born to them, with such persons as may intermarry according to tribal laws, shall alone constitute the several tribes which they represent."

    The act provided further for the resubmission of the two agreements, with certain specified modifications, that with the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and that with the Creeks, for ratification to a popular vote in the respective nations, and that if ratified, the provisions of these agreements so far as differing from the act should supersede it. The Choctaw and Chickasaw agreement was accordingly so submitted for ratification August 24, 1898, and was ratified by a large majority, but whether or not the agreement with the Creeks was ratified does not appear.

    The twenty-sixth section provided that, after the passage of the act, "The laws of the various tribes or nations of Indians shall not be enforced at law or in equity by the courts of the United States in the Indian Territory;" and the twenty-eighth section, that after July 1, 1898, all tribal courts in the Indian Territory should be abolished.

    The agreement with the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes contained a provision continuing the tribal government, as modified, for the period of eight years from March 4, 1898; but provided that it should "not be construed to be in any respect an abdication by Congress of power at any time to make needful rules and regulations respecting said tribes."

    For reasons already given we regard this act in general as not obnoxious to constitutional objection, but in so holding we do not intend to intimate any opinion as to the effect that changes made thereby, or by the agreements referred to, may have, if any, on the status of the several applicants, who are parties to these appeals.

    The elaborate opinions of the United States court in the Indian Territory by Springer, J., Clayton, J., and Townsend, J., contained in these records, some of which are to be found *492 in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1898, page 479, consider the subject in all its aspects, and set forth the various treaties, tribal constitutions and laws, and the action of the many tribal courts, commissions and councils which assumed to deal with it, but we have not been called on to go into these matters, as our conclusion is that we are confined to the question of constitutionality merely.

    As we hold the entire legislation constitutional, the result is that all the

    Judgments must be affirmed.

    MR. JUSTICE WHITE and MR. JUSTICE McKENNA dissented as to the extent of the jurisdiction of this court only.

Document Info

DocketNumber: Nos. 423, 453, 461, 496

Citation Numbers: 174 U.S. 445, 19 S. Ct. 722, 43 L. Ed. 1041, 1899 U.S. LEXIS 1512

Judges: Fuller, After Stating the Case

Filed Date: 5/15/1899

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 11/9/2017

Authorities (17)

The Cherokee Nation v. the State of Georgia , 30 U.S. 1 ( 1831 )

Worcester v. Georgia , 31 U.S. 515 ( 1832 )

Sampeyreac and Stewart v. United States , 32 U.S. 222 ( 1833 )

United States v. Rogers , 45 U.S. 567 ( 1846 )

Freeborn v. Smith , 69 U.S. 160 ( 1865 )

Hammock v. Loan & Trust Co. , 105 U.S. 77 ( 1882 )

United States v. Kagama , 118 U.S. 375 ( 1886 )

Choctaw Nation v. United States , 119 U.S. 1 ( 1886 )

Freeland v. Williams , 131 U.S. 405 ( 1889 )

United States v. Lacher , 134 U.S. 624 ( 1890 )

In Re Mills , 135 U.S. 263 ( 1890 )

Cherokee Nation v. Southern Kansas R. Co. , 135 U.S. 641 ( 1890 )

Essex Public Road Bd. v. Skinkle , 140 U.S. 334 ( 1891 )

Horner v. United States , 143 U.S. 570 ( 1892 )

United States v. Oregon & California R. Co. , 164 U.S. 526 ( 1896 )

Thomas v. Gay , 169 U.S. 264 ( 1898 )

Brown v. United States , 171 U.S. 631 ( 1898 )

View All Authorities »

Cited By (119)

Jones v. Meehan , 175 U.S. 1 ( 1899 )

Ansley v. Ainsworth , 180 U.S. 253 ( 1901 )

Cherokee Nation v. Hitchcock , 187 U.S. 294 ( 1902 )

Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock , 187 U.S. 553 ( 1903 )

United States v. Rickert , 188 U.S. 432 ( 1903 )

Ex Parte Joins , 191 U.S. 93 ( 1903 )

Delaware Indians v. Cherokee Nation , 193 U.S. 127 ( 1904 )

Morris v. Hitchcock , 194 U.S. 384 ( 1904 )

Matter of Heff , 197 U.S. 488 ( 1905 )

Cherokee Intermarriage Cases , 203 U.S. 76 ( 1906 )

Wallace v. Adams , 204 U.S. 415 ( 1907 )

Fleming v. McCurtain , 215 U.S. 56 ( 1909 )

Tiger v. Western Investment Co. , 221 U.S. 286 ( 1911 )

United States Ex Rel. Lowe v. Fisher , 223 U.S. 95 ( 1912 )

Heckman v. United States , 224 U.S. 413 ( 1912 )

Gritts v. Fisher , 224 U.S. 640 ( 1912 )

Johannessen v. United States , 225 U.S. 227 ( 1912 )

United States v. Sandoval , 231 U.S. 28 ( 1913 )

Sizemore v. Brady , 235 U.S. 441 ( 1914 )

Woodward v. De Graffenried , 238 U.S. 284 ( 1915 )

View All Citing Opinions »