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

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U.S. Supreme Court

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

Reuben Quick Bear v. Leupp

No 669

Argued February 26, 27, 1908

Decided May 18, 1908

210 U.S. 50

Syllabus

A statutory limitation on expenditures of the public funds does not, in the absence of special provision to that effect, relate to expenditures of treaty and trust funds administered by the government for the Indians.

The provisions in the Indian Appropriation Acts of 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898 and 1899 limiting and forbidding contracts for education of Indians in sectarian schools relate only to appropriations of public moneys raised by general taxation from persons of all creeds and faith and gratuitously appropriated, and do not relate to the disposition of the tribal and trust funds which belong to the Indians -- in this case, the Sioux Tribe -- themselves, and the officers of the government will not be enjoined from carrying out contracts with sectarian schools entered into on the petition of Indians and to the pro rata extent that the petitioning Indian are interested in the fund.

A declaration by Congress that the government shall not make appropriations for sectarian schools does not apply to Indian treaty and trust funds on the ground that such a declaration should be extended thereto under the religion clauses of the federal Constitution.

35 Wash.L.Rep. 766 affirmed.

The appellants filed their bill in equity in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, alleging that:

"1. The plaintiffs are citizens of the United States, and members of the Sioux Tribe of Indians of the Rosebud Agency, in the State of South Dakota, and bring this suit in their own right as well as for all other members of the Sioux Tribe of Indians of the Rosebud Agency."

"2. The defendants are citizens of the United States and residents of the District of Columbia, and are sued in this action as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Treasurer of

Page 210 U. S. 51

the United States, and the Comptroller of the Treasury, respectively."

"3. That by Article VII of the Sioux Treaty of April 29, 1868, 15 Stat. 635, 637, continued in force for twenty years after July 1, 1889, by § 17 of the Act of March 2, 1889, 25 Stat. 888, 894, 895, c. 405, the United States agreed that, for every thirty children of the said Sioux Tribe who can be induced or compelled to attend school, a house shall be provided, and a teacher competent to teach the elementary branches of an English education shall be furnished, who will reside among said Indians, and faithfully discharge his or her duties as a teacher."

"4. That, for the purpose of carrying out the above provision of the said treaty during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1906, the following appropriation was made by the Act of March 3, 1905, § 1, 33 Stat. 1048, 1055:"

" For support and maintenance of day and industrial schools, including erection and repairs of school buildings in accordance with article seven of the treaty of April twenty-nine, eighteen hundred and sixty-eight, which article is continued in force for twenty years by section seventeen of the Act of March second, eighteen hundred and eighty-nine, two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars."

"The fund so appropriated is generally known as the Sioux Treaty Fund."

"5. That § 17 of the said Act of March 2, 1889, further provides as follows:"

" And, in addition thereto, there shall be set apart out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of three million of dollars, which said sum shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the Sioux Nation of Indians as a permanent fund, the interest of which at five percentum per annum, shall be appropriated, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, to the use of the Indians receiving rations and annuities upon the reservations created by this act, in proportion to the numbers that shall

Page 210 U. S. 52

so receive rations and annuities at the time that this act takes effect, as follows: one half of said interest shall be so expended for the promotion of industrial and other suitable education among said Indians, and the other half thereof in such manner and for such purposes, including reasonable cash payments per capita as, in the judgment of said Secretary, shall, from time to time, most contribute to the advancement of said Indians in civilization and self-support."

"This fund of three million dollars is generally known as the Sioux Trust Fund."

"6. That the interest on the said Sioux Trust Fund is paid annually by the United States in accordance with the provisions of the second clause of the Act of April 1, 1880, 21 Stat. 70, c. 41, reading as follows:"

" And the United States shall pay interest semiannually, from the date of deposit of any and all such sums in the United States Treasury at the rate per annum stipulated by treaties or prescribed by law, and such payments shall be made in the usual manner, as each may become due, without further appropriation by Congress."

"7. That the Act of June 7, 1897, § 1, 30 Stat. 62, 79, c. 3, contains the following provision:"

" 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."

"8. That, in violation of the said provision of the Act of June 7, 1897, the said Francis E. Leupp, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, as aforesaid, has made or intends to make, for and on behalf of the United States, a contract with the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions of Washington, District of Columbia, a sectarian organization, for the care, education, and maintenance, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1906 of a number of Indian pupils of the said Sioux Tribe at a sectarian school on the said Rosebud Reservation, known as the St. Francis Mission Boarding School, and in the said contract has agreed to pay, or intends to agree to pay, to the said Bureau of Catholic Indian

Page 210 U. S. 53

Missions of Washington, District of Columbia, a certain rate per quarter as compensation for every pupil in attendance at the said school under the said contract, the said payment (which, as the plaintiffs are informed and believe, will amount to the sum of $27,000), to be made either from the said Sioux Treaty Fund or from the interest of the said Sioux Trust Fund, or from both."

"9. That all payments made to the said Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions of Washington, District of Columbia, under the said contract, either out of the said Sioux Treaty Fund or out of the interest of the said Sioux Trust Fund, will be payments for education in a sectarian school, and will be unlawful diversions of funds appropriated by Congress, and in violation of the above-recited provision of the Act of June 7, 1897, and such payments will seriously deplete the interest of said Sioux Trust Fund, to the great injury of the plaintiffs and all other members of the said Sioux Tribe of Indians of the Rosebud Agency, and will unlawfully diminish the amount of money which should be expended out of the said Sioux Treaty Fund and the interest of the said Sioux Trust Fund for lawful purposes, for the benefit of the said plaintiffs and all other members of the said Sioux Tribe of Indians of the Rosebud Agency, and will also unlawfully diminish the cash payments which the said plaintiffs and all other members of the said Sioux Tribe of Indians of the Rosebud Agency are entitled to receive per capita out of the interest of the said Sioux Trust Fund."

"10. That the plaintiffs have never requested nor authorized the payment of any part of the said Sioux Treaty Fund, or of the interest of the said Sioux Trust Fund, to the said Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions of Washington, District of Columbia, or any other person or organization whatever, for the education of Indian pupils of the said Sioux Tribe in the said St. Francis Mission Boarding School, or any other sectarian school whatever, but have, on the contrary, protested against any use of either of the said funds, or the interest of the same, for the purpose of such education. "

Page 210 U. S. 54

"11. That the plaintiffs have no remedy at law."

"Wherefore the plaintiffs ask relief, as follows:"

"I. That a permanent injunction issue against the said Francis E. Leupp, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to restrain him from executing any contract with the said Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions of Washington, District of Columbia, or any other sectarian organization whatever, for the support, education, or maintenance of any Indian pupils of the said Sioux Tribe at the said St. Francis Mission Boarding School, or any other sectarian school on the said Rosebud Reservation or elsewhere, and that a permanent injunction issue against the said Francis E. Leupp, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and the said Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Secretary of the Interior, to restrain them from paying or authorizing the payment of, either by themselves or by any of their subordinate officers or agents whatever, any moneys of either the said Sioux Treaty Fund or the interest of the said Sioux Trust Fund, or any other fund appropriated, either by permanent appropriation or otherwise, for the uses of the said Sioux Tribe, to the said Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions of Washington, District of Columbia, or to any other sectarian organization whatever, for the support, education, or maintenance of any Indian pupils of the said Sioux Tribe at the said St. Francis Mission Boarding School or any other sectarian school on the said Rosebud Reservation or elsewhere."

"II. And for a permanent injunction against the drawing, countersigning, and paying any warrants in favor of the said Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions of Washington, District of Columbia, or any other sectarian organization whatever, for the support, education, and maintenance of any Indian pupils of the said Sioux Tribe at the said St. Francis Mission Boarding School, or any other sectarian school on the said Rosebud Reservation or elsewhere, payable out of any money appropriated, either by permanent appropriation or otherwise, for the uses of the said Sioux Tribe."

"III. And for general relief. "

Page 210 U. S. 55

The defendants answered, 1. Admitting

"that the plaintiffs are citizens of the United States, and members of the Sioux Tribe of Indians, but aver that the said Indians are only nominal plaintiffs, the real plaintiff being the Indian Rights Association, who have had this suit brought for the purpose of testing the validity of the contract hereinafter referred to."

2. Admitting

"that they are residents of the District of Columbia, and are sued in this action as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Treasurer of the United States, and the Comptroller of the Treasury, respectively. These defendants, as officers of the government of the United States, have no interest in the controversy raised by the bill except to perform their duties under the law, and they therefore, as such officers, respectfully submit the validity of the contract hereinafter referred to, and the payments thereunder, to the judgment of this honorable court. The real defendant in interest is the 'Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions' -- a corporation duly incorporated by chapter 363 of the Acts of Assembly of Maryland for the year 1894, for the object, inter alia, of educating the American Indian directly, and also indirectly, by training their teachers and others, especially to train their youth to become self-sustaining men and women, using such methods of instruction in the principles of religion and of human knowledge as may be best adapted to these purposes."

"As the object of the bill filed is to test the validity of a contract made between the Commissioner for Indian Affairs and the said 'Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions,' and the validity of the payment of the money thereunder, this answer will set forth the facts and the statutes of the United States under which it is contended that such contract and the payment of money thereunder are valid."

This the answer then did at length, and inasmuch as the case was submitted on bill and answer with certain statements of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, it is thought that the answer

Page 210 U. S. 56

should be given substantially in full as it is in the margin. *

The case was heard on the bill, the answer, and certain

Page 210 U. S. 57

proofs, consisting of replies made by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to certain questions asked in behalf of the plaintiffs, and also of certain statements in the reports of the

Page 210 U. S. 58

Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the years 1895 and 1906, inclusive, and was argued by counsel, and, upon consideration, an injunction was decreed from

"paying, or authorizing the payment of, either by themselves or by any of their subordinate

Page 210 U. S. 59

officers or agents whatever, any moneys of the Sioux Treaty Fund, referred to in the said bill and answer, appropriated for the uses of the Sioux Tribe of Indians, to the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions at Washington, District of Columbia, for the support, education,

Page 210 U. S. 60

or maintenance of any Indian pupils of the said Sioux Tribe at the St. Francis Mission Boarding School on the Rosebud Reservation in the State of South Dakota, as provided

Page 210 U. S. 61

in the contract referred to in said bill and answer, and that the defendants be further restrained from drawing, countersigning, and paying any warrants in favor of the said Bureau of Catholic

Page 210 U. S. 62

Indian Missions, for the purpose aforesaid, payable out of the said Sioux Treaty Fund; and"

"It is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that so much of the prayer of the said bill as asks that an injunction issue

Page 210 U. S. 63

against the defendants, restraining them from paying or authorizing the payment of any of the interest of the Sioux Trust Fund to the said Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions under the said contract, be refused; and "

Page 210 U. S. 64

"It is further ordered and adjudged that each party pay the respective costs by each incurred."

Each party prayed an appeal from so much of the decree as was adverse to them. It was stipulated

"that the amount

Page 210 U. S. 65

which was to have been paid from the Sioux Treaty Fund under the contract in regard to which this suit is brought is approximately $24,000. "

Page 210 U. S. 66

The case was submitted on record and briefs, and the court affirmed the decree below in respect of the income of the "trust fund," and reversed the injunction against the payment from the "treaty fund," and remanded the case with directions to dismiss the bill at the cost of the complainants, whereupon the case was brought to this Court on appeal.

Page 210 U. S. 77

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