Quick Bear v. Leupp , 210 U.S. 50 ( 1908 )

  • 210 U.S. 50 (1908)


    No. 569.

    Supreme Court of United States.

    Argued February 26, 27, 1908.
    Decided May 18, 1908.

    *66 *67 Mr. Charles C. Binney and Mr. Hampton L. Carson, with whom Mr. N. Dubois Miller was on the brief, for appellants.

    The Solicitor General and Mr. Edgar H. Gans, with whom The Attorney General was on the brief, for appellees.

    *77 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

    We concur in the decree of the Court of Appeals of the District and the reasoning by which its conclusion is supported, as set forth in the opinion of Wright, J., speaking for the court. Washington Law Rep., v. 35, p. 766.

    The validity of the contract for $27,000 is attacked on the ground that all contracts for sectarian education among the Indians are forbidden by certain provisos contained in the Indian Appropriation Acts of 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898 and 1899. But if those provisos relate only to the appropriations made by the Government out of the public moneys of the United States raised by taxation from persons of all creeds and faiths, or none at all, and appropriated gratuitously for the purpose of education among the Indians, and not to "Tribal Funds," which belong to the Indians themselves, then the contract must be sustained. The difference between one class of appropriations and the other has long been recognized in the annual appropriation acts. The gratuitous appropriation of public moneys for the purpose of Indian education has always been made under the heading "Support of Schools," whilst the appropriation of the "Treaty Fund" has always been under the heading "Fulfilling Treaty Stipulations and Support of Indian Tribes," and that from the "Trust Fund" is not in the Indian Appropriation Acts at all. One class of appropriations relates to public moneys belonging to the Government; the other to moneys which belong to the Indians and which is administered for them by the Government.

    *78 From the history of appropriations of public moneys for education of Indians, set forth in the brief of counsel for appellees and again at length in the answer, it appears that before 1895 the Government for a number of years had made contracts for sectarian schools for the education of the Indians, and the money due on these contracts was paid, in the discretion of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, from the "Tribal Funds" and from the gratuitous public appropriations. But in 1894 opposition developed against appropriating public moneys for sectarian education. Accordingly, in the Indian Appropriation Act of 1894, under the heading of "Support of Schools," the Secretary of the Interior was directed to investigate the propriety of discontinuing contract schools and to make such recommendations as he might deem proper. The Secretary suggested a gradual reduction in the public appropriations on account of the money which had been invested in these schools, with the approbation of the Government. He said: "It would be scarcely just to abolish them entirely — to abandon instantly a policy so long recognized," and suggested that they should be decreased at the rate of not less than twenty per cent a year. Thus in a few years they would cease to exist, and during this time the bureau would be gradually prepared to do without them, while they might gather strength to continue without Government aid.

    Accordingly Congress introduced in the appropriation act of 1895 a limitation on the use of public moneys in sectarian schools. This act appropriated under the heading "Support of Schools" "for the support of Indian and industrial schools and for other purposes . . . $1,164,350, . . . provided, that the Secretary of the Interior shall make contracts, but only with the present contract schools for the education of Indian pupils during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1896, to an extent not exceeding eighty per cent of the amount so used in the fiscal year 1895, and the Government shall as early as practicable make provision for the education of the Indians in Government schools."

    *79 This limitation of eighty per cent was to be expended for contract schools, which were those that up to that time had educated Indians through the use of public moneys, and had no relation and did not refer to "Tribal Funds."

    In the appropriation act of 1896, under the same heading, "Support of Schools," the appropriation of public money of $1,235,000 was limited by a proviso that contracts should only be made at places where non-sectarian schools cannot be provided for Indian children to an amount not exceeding fifty per cent of the amount so used for the fiscal year 1895, and immediately following the appropriation of public money appears the expression, "and it is hereby declared to be the settled policy of the Government to hereafter make no appropriation whatever for education in any sectarian school." This limitation, if it can be given effect as such, manifestly applies to the use of public moneys gratuitously appropriated for such purpose, and not to moneys belonging to the Indians themselves. In the appropriation act of 1897 the same declaration of policy occurs as a limitation on the appropriation of public moneys for the support of schools, and the amount applicable to contract schools was limited to forty per cent of the amount used in 1895. In the act of 1898 the amount applicable to contract schools was limited to thirty per cent, and in the act of 1899 the amount so applicable was limited to fifteen per cent, these words being added: "this being the final appropriation for sectarian schools." The declaration of the settled policy of the Government is found only in the acts of 1896 and 1897, and was entirely carried out by the reductions provided for.

    Since 1899 public moneys are appropriated under the heading "Support of Schools" "for the support of Indian and industrial schools and for other educational purposes," without saying anything about sectarian schools. This was not needed, as the effect of the legislation was to make subsequent appropriations for education mean that sectarian schools were excluded in sharing in them, unless otherwise provided.

    *80 As has been shown, in 1868 the United States made a treaty with the Sioux Indians, under which the Indians made large cessions of land and other rights. In consideration of this the United States agreed that for every thirty children a house should be provided and a teacher competent to teach the elementary branches of our English education should be furnished for twenty years. In 1877, in consideration of further land cessions, the United States agreed to furnish all necessary aid to assist the Indians in the work of civilization and furnish them schools and instruction in mechanical and agricultural arts, as provided by the Treaty of 1868. In 1889 Congress extended the obligation of the treaty for twenty years, subject to such modifications as Congress should deem most effective, to secure the Indians equivalent benefits of such education. Thereafter, in every annual Indian appropriation act, there was an appropriation to carry out the terms of this treaty, under the heading "Fulfilling Treaty Stipulations with and Support of Indian Tribes."

    These appropriations rested on different grounds from the gratuitous appropriations of public moneys under the heading "Support of Schools." The two subjects were separately treated in each act, and, naturally, as they are essentially different in character. One is the gratuitous appropriation of public moneys for the purpose of Indian education, but the "Treaty Fund" is not public money in this sense. It is the Indians' money, or at least is dealt with by the Government as if it belonged to them, as morally it does. It differs from the "Trust Fund" in this: The "Trust Fund" has been set aside for the Indians and the income expended for their benefit, which expenditure required no annual appropriation. The whole amount due the Indians for certain land cessions was appropriated in one lump sum by the act of 1889, 25 Stat. 888, chap. 405. This "Trust Fund" is held for the Indians and not distributed per capita, being held as property in common. The money is distributed in accordance with the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior; but really belongs to *81 the Indians. The President declared it to be the moral right of the Indians to have this "Trust Fund" applied to the education of the Indians in the schools of their choice, and the same view was entertained by the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia and the Court of Appeals of the District. But the "Treaty Fund" has exactly the same characteristics. They are moneys belonging really to the Indians. They are the price of land ceded by the Indians to the Government. The only difference is that in the "Treaty Fund" the debt to the Indians created and secured by the treaty is paid by annual appropriations. They are not gratuitous appropriations of public moneys, but the payment, as we repeat, of a treaty debt in installments. We perceive no justification for applying the proviso or declaration of policy to the payment of treaty obligations, the two things being distinct and different in nature and having no relation to each other, except that both are technically appropriations.

    Some reference is made to the Constitution, in respect to this contract with the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions. It is not contended that it is unconstitutional, and it could not be. Roberts v. Bradfield, 12 App. D.C. 475; Bradfield v. Roberts, 175 U.S. 291. But it is contended that the spirit of the Constitution requires that the declaration of policy that the Government "shall make no appropriation whatever for education in any sectarian schools" should be treated as applicable, on the ground that the actions of the United States were to always be undenominational, and that, therefore, the Government can never act in a sectarian capacity, either in the use of its own funds or in that of the funds of others, in respect of which it is a trustee; hence that even the Sioux trust fund cannot be applied for education in Catholic schools, even though the owners of the fund so desire it. But we cannot concede the proposition that Indians cannot be allowed to use their own money to educate their children in the schools of their own choice because the Government is necessarily undenominational, as it cannot make any law respecting an *82 establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The Court of Appeals well said:

    "The `Treaty' and `Trust' moneys are the only moneys that the Indians can lay claim to as matter of right; the only sums on which they are entitled to rely as theirs for education; and while these moneys are not delivered to them in hand, yet the money must not only be provided, but be expended, for their benefit and in part for their education; it seems inconceivable that Congress should have intended to prohibit them from receiving religious education at their own cost if they so desired it; such an intent would be one `to prohibit the free exercise of religion' amongst the Indians, and such would be the effect of the construction for which the complainants contend."

    The cestuis que trust cannot be deprived of their rights by the trustee in the exercise of power implied.

    Decree affirmed.

Document Info

DocketNumber: 569

Citation Numbers: 210 U.S. 50, 28 S. Ct. 690, 52 L. Ed. 954, 1908 U.S. LEXIS 1495

Judges: Fuller, After Making the Foregoing Statement

Filed Date: 5/18/1908

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 8/18/2016

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