United States v. Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations
179 U.S. 494 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, 179 U.S. 494 (1900)

United States v. Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nations

Nos. 88-90

Argued March 7-9, 1900

Decided December 10, 1900

179 U.S. 494

APPEALS FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS

Syllabus

On the 4th day of June, 1891, the United States and the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians entered into an agreement whereby the Indians ceded to the United States a tract of land which is described in the opinion of the Court in this case, and the United States agreed in consideration thereof that out of the territory so ceded there should be allotted to each member of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians in the Indian Territory, native and adopted, one hundred and sixty acres of land in the manner and form described in the agreement. This agreement was ratified by the Indian Appropriations Act of March 2, 1895, which further conferred jurisdiction upon the Court of Claims, to hear and determine the claim of the Choctaws and the Chickasaws to a right, title

Page 179 U. S. 495

and interest in the lands so ceded, and to render judgment thereon, with a right of appeal to this Court. Pursuant to that act, this suit was brought. The Court of Claims, after reciting that the lands in dispute were acquired by the United States "in trust for the settlement of Indians thereon, and in trust and for the benefit of said claimant Indians when the aforesaid trust shall cease," that "the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians were by the United States located within the boundaries of the lands hereinbefore described," that they "now number not more than one thousand and sixty persons," and that the location of the Wichitas and Affiliated Bands within said boundaries was "for the purpose of affording them permanent settlement therein," adjudged that the lands in dispute had been acquired and were held by the United States in trust for the purpose of settling Indians thereon, and that whenever that purpose was abandoned as to the whole or any part thereof, then all the lands not so devoted to Indian settlement should be held in trust by the United States for the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians exclusively. It was also adjudged that the members of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands, not exceeding one thousand and sixty, were equitably entitled to one hundred and sixty acres of land each out of the lands in dispute and that the same should be set apart to them by the United States, due regard being had to any improvements made thereon by them respectively for their permanent settlement. It was further adjudged that the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations were in law and equity entitled to and were the owners of such of the lands ceded to the United States by the Wichita and Affiliated Bands as remained, after satisfying the provisions for the Wichitas and Affiliated Bands, and that, in the event of the sale thereof by the United States, the Indian plaintiffs should be entitled to and receive the proceeds of such sale. This judgment being brought here on appeal, this Court, in its opinion, carefully reviewed all the legislation, and all the Indian treaties on the subject, and, as a result, held that, for the reasons given, the decree must be reversed with directions to dismiss the petition of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and to make a decree in behalf of the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians fixing the amount of compensation to be made to them on account of such lands in the Wichita Reservation as are not needed in order to meet the requirements of the act of Congress of March 2, 1895, c. 188, and for such further proceedings as may be consistent with law and with this opinion.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 179 U. S. 496

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

On the 4th day of June, 1891, an agreement was entered into between commissioners on behalf of the United States and the Wichita and Affiliated Bands of Indians, in the Indian Territory, whereby those Indians did "cede, convey, transfer, relinquish, forever and absolutely, without any reservation whatever," to the United States "all their claim, title, and interest of every kind and character" to the land embraced in the following boundary:

"Commencing at a point in the middle of the main channel of the Washita [Wichita] River where the 98th meridian of west longitude crosses the same, thence up the middle of the main channel of said river to the line of 98

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