Cherokee Nation v. Journeycake
155 U.S. 196 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cherokee Nation v. Journeycake, 155 U.S. 196 (1894)

Cherokee Nation v. Journeycake

No. 619

Argued and submitted October 18, 1894

Decided November 19, 1894

155 U.S. 196



The Cherokees and the Delawares having, on the 8th day of April, 1867, in pursuance of the provisions of the treaty of July 19, 1866, 14 Stat. 799, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, entered into a contract whereby it was agreed that on the fulfillment by the Delawares of the stipulations on their part contained in said contract, all the members of that tribe, registered as. provided in said contract, should become members of the Cherokee Nation, with the same rights and immunities and the same participation (and no other) in the national funds as native Cherokees, except as otherwise provided in the contract, the so registered Delawares were on such fulfillment of their stipulations thereby incorporated into the Cherokee Nation, and, as members and citizens thereof, were entitled to equal rights in the lands of that Nation and their proceeds.

On July 19, 1866, the United States and the Cherokee Nation entered into a treaty, 14 Stat. 799, the fifteenth article of which is as follows:

"The United States may settle any civilized Indians, friendly with the Cherokees and adjacent tribes, within the Cherokee country, on unoccupied lands east of the ninety-sixth degree, on such terms as may

Page 155 U. S. 197

be agreed upon by any such tribe and the Cherokees, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, which shall be consistent with the following provisions, viz.: should any such tribe or band of Indians setting in said country abandon their tribal organization, there being first paid into the Cherokee national fund a sum of money which shall sustain the same proportion to the then existing national fund that the number of Indians sustains to the whole number of Cherokees then residing in the Cherokee country, they shall be incorporated into and ever after remain a part of the Cherokee Nation, on equal terms in every respect with native citizens. And should any such tribe, thus settling in said country, decide to preserve their tribal organizations, and to maintain their tribal laws, customs, and usages, not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the Cherokee Nation, they shall have a district of country set off for their use by metes and bounds equal to one hundred and sixty acres, if they should so decide, for each man, woman, and child of said tribe, and shall pay for the same into the national fund such price as may be agreed on by them and the Cherokee Nation, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, and in cases of disagreement, the price to be fixed by the President."

"And the said tribe thus settled shall also pay into the national fund a sum of money, to be agreed on by the respective parties, not greater in proportion to the whole existing national fund and the probable proceeds of the lands herein ceded or authorized to be ceded or sold than their numbers bear to the whole number of Cherokees then residing in said country, and thence afterwards they shall enjoy all the rights of native Cherokees. But no Indians who have no tribal organizations, or who shall determine to abandon their tribal organizations, shall be permitted to settle east of the ninety-sixth degree of longitude without the consent of the Cherokee National Council, or of a delegation duly appointed by it, being first obtained. And no Indians who have and determine to preserve their tribal organizations shall be permitted to settle, as herein provided, east of the ninety-sixth degree of longitude without such consent's being first obtained unless the President of the United

Page 155 U. S. 198

States, after a full hearing of the objections offered by said council or delegation to such settlement, shall determine that the objections are insufficient, in which case he may authorize the settlement of such tribe east of the ninety-sixth degree of longitude."

Prior to that time, and in 1839, the Cherokee Nation had adopted a Constitution, § 2 of article I and section 5 of article III being in these words:

"SEC. 2. The lands of the Cherokee Nation shall remain common property; but the improvements made thereon, and in the possession of the citizens of the Nation, are the exclusive and indefeasible property of the citizens respectively who made or may rightfully be in possession of them, provided that the citizens of the Nation possessing exclusive and indefeasible right to their improvements, as expressed in this article, shall possess no right or power to dispose of their improvements, in any manner whatever, to the United States, individual states, or to individual citizens thereof, and that, whenever any citizen shall remove with his effects out of the limits of this Nation, and become a citizen of any other government, all his rights and privileges as a citizen of this Nation shall cease, provided, nevertheless, that the national council shall have power to readmit, by law, to all the rights of citizenship, any such person or persons who may at any time, desire to return to the Nation, on memorializing the national council for such readmission."

"SEC. 5. No person shall be eligible to a seat in the national council but a free Cherokee male citizen who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years."

"The descendants of Cherokee men by all free women, except the African race, whose parents may have been living together as man and wife according to the customs and laws of this Nation shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of this Nation as well as the posterity of Cherokee women by all free men. No person who is of negro or mulatto parentage, either by the father's or the mother's side, shall be eligible to hold any office of profit, honor or trust, under this government."

Const. and Laws Cherokee Nation, ed. of 1892, pp. 11, 12, 14.

Page 155 U. S. 199

Immediately following the treaty, the Cherokee Nation amended these sections, first adopting the following preamble:

"Whereas, by the treaty executed at Washington on the 19th day of July, A.D. 1866, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, through its delegation, ratified by the Senate and officially promulgated by the President of the United States, August 11, 1866, certain things were agreed to between the parties to said treaty, involving changes in the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, which changes cannot be accomplished by the usual mode; and,"

"Whereas, it is the desire of the people and government of the Cherokee Nation to carry out in good faith all of its obligations, to the end that law and order be preserved, and the institutions of their government maintained."

The sections, as amended, read as follows:

"SEC. 2. The lands of the Cherokee Nation shall remain common property until the national council shall request the survey and allotment of the same, in accordance with the provisions of article 20th of the treaty of 19th July, 1866, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation."

"SEC. 5. No person shall be eligible to a seat in the national council but a male citizen of the Cherokee Nation who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years and who shall have been a bona fide resident of the district in which he may be elected at least six months immediately preceding such election. All native-born Cherokees, all Indians, and whites legally members of the Nation by adoption, and all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the Rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months from the 19th day of July, 1866, and their descendants, who reside within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, shall be taken and deemed to be citizens of the Cherokee Nation."

Constitution and Laws Cherokee Nation, ed. 1892, pp. 31-33.

In pursuance of this treaty and under this amended Constitution, the Cherokees and Delawares came together and

Page 155 U. S. 200

entered into an agreement of date April 8, 1867, which, after referring to certain treaties, among them this of July 19, 1866, and reciting that a

"full and free conference has been had between the representatives of the Cherokees and the Delawares, in view of the treaties herein referred to, looking to a location of the Delawares upon the Cherokee lands, and their consolidation with said Cherokee Nation,"

stipulates as follows:

"Now therefore it is agreed between the parties hereto, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, as follows:"

"The Cherokees, parties of the first part, for and in consideration of certain payments, and the fulfillment of certain conditions hereinafter mentioned, agree to sell to the Delawares for their occupancy a quantity of land east of the line of the 96

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