United States v. Choctaw Nation
193 U.S. 115 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Choctaw Nation, 193 U.S. 115 (1904)

United States v. Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations

Nos. 322-323

Argued January 26-27, 1901

Decided February 23, 1904

193 U.S. 115



The provisions of the Treaty of July 10, 1866, between the United States and the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians in regard to the Chickasaw freedmen were not complied with, either by the Indians who did not confer any rights on the freedmen or by the United States which did not remove any of the freedmen from the Territory of the Indians.

The freedmen were never adopted into the Chickasaw nation, or acquired any rights dependent on such adoption, and are not entitled to allotments in Choctaw and Chickasaw lands as members thereof, and, not having removed from the territory, are not entitled to any beneficial interest in the $300,000 fund referred to in the treaty, which, in case they were not adopted into the Chickasaw nation, was to be held in trust for such of the freedmen, and only such, as removed from the territory.

Under the subsequent agreement of 1902, and not independently thereof, the freedmen became entitled to land equal to forty acres of the average land of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, the Indians to be compensated therefor by the United States, Congress having, by the agreement of 1902, provided for them in this manner in case it should be, as it is, determined in this case that they are not entitled otherwise to allotments in the Choctaw and Chickasaw lands.

These are cross-appeals from a decree of the Court of Claims, entered in a suit brought under an agreement between the United States and the Choctaw and the Chickasaw Indians, made March 21, 1902, and ratified and affirmed by the Act of July 1, 1902. 32 Stat. 641, 649.

The controversy is as to the relations of the Chickasaw freedmen to the Chickasaw Nation, and the rights of such freedmen, independent of such agreement, in the lands of the said Indian nations under the third article of the Treaty of 1866 between the United States and the said nations, and under

Page 193 U. S. 116

any and all laws subsequently enacted by the Chickasaw Legislature or by Congress.

There is no dispute about the facts. They are substantially as follows: by Treaty of October 20, 1832, the Chickasaw Indians ceded to the United States, for the purpose of sale, their land east of the Mississippi River and later were permitted to migrate west of that river. By the Treaty between the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes of June 17, 1837, the Chickasaw tribe was permitted to occupy, with the Choctaw tribe, certain territory within the United States, the United States confirming the treaty and such occupation by a treaty with the tribes June 22, 1855. By this treaty, the lands were guaranteed

"to the members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, their heirs and successors, to be held in common; so that each and every member of either tribe shall have an equal undivided interest in the whole."

By said treaty, the said tribes leased to the United States "all that portion of their common territory west of the ninety-eighth degree of west longitude" for the settlement of the Wichita and other tribes of Indians. The leased territory was also to be opened to the settlement by Choctaws and Chickasaws. This is the "leased district" hereinafter referred to. The Choctaws and Chickasaws are separate nations. Upon the breaking out of the Civil War, they entered into relations with the Southern Confederacy, and took up arms against the United States. On January 1, 1863, the President of the United States, in pursuance of the Proclamation of September 22, 1862, issued a proclamation abolishing slavery.

The appellants in No. 323 are the survivors or descendants of the slaves held by the Chickasaw Nation, and number about 9,066. The Creeks, Cherokees, and Seminoles also rebelled against the United States, and, on the tenth of September, 1865, a treaty was entered into at Fort Smith, Arkansas, between them, said Choctaws and Chickasaws. and the United States by which they and the said Choctaws and Chickasaws renewed their allegiance to the United States and acknowledged themselves to be under the protection of the United States and covenanted and agreed that thereafter they would in all things recognize the

Page 193 U. S. 117

government of the United States, which should exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them. The United States, on its part, promised to afford ample protection for the security of the persons and property of the respective nations or tribes. The treaty was ratified by the Legislature of the Chickasaw Nation.

A treaty was concluded between the United States and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians and proclaimed July 10, 1866. It provided, among other things, as follows:

"Article II. The Choctaws and Chickasaws hereby covenant and agree that henceforth neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than in punishment of crime whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted in accordance with laws applicable to all members of the particular nation, shall ever exist in said nations."

"Article III. The Choctaws and Chickasaws, in consideration of the sum of three hundred thousand dollars, hereby cede to the United States the territory west of the 98

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