United States v. Pelican
232 U.S. 442 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Pelican, 232 U.S. 442 (1914)

United States v. Pelican

No. 787

Argued January 13, 1914

Decided February 24, 1914

232 U.S. 442

Syllabus

The Colville Reservation in the Washington was set apart by Executive order in July, 1872, has been repeatedly recognized by acts of Congress and is a legally constituted reservation, and, as such, is included in Indian country to which § 2145, Rev.Stat., refers.

A legally constituted Indian reservation is nonetheless embraced within the Indian country referred to in § 2145, Rev.Stat., because it may have been segregated from the public domain.

The authority of Congress to deal with crimes committed on or against Indians upon the lands within an Indian Reservation is not affected

Page 232 U. S. 443

by the admission of the Territory within which it is included as a state into the Union.

Lands allotted in severalty to the Indians on the Colville Reservation under the Acts of July 1, 1892, and July 1, 1898, when the rest of the reservation was thrown open to settlement, were held in trust by the United States for the allottees under the jurisdiction and control of Congress for all governmental purposes relating to the guardianship and protection of the Indians.

Congress has power to punish crimes committed by or against Indians upon allotted lands, and the allotments in severalty are embraced in the term Indian country as used in § 2145, Rev.Stat., and the allotments of the Colville Reservation have not been excluded therefrom by the statutes providing for the allotments.

Territorial jurisdiction of the United States does not depend upon the size of the particular areas held for federal purposes. Criminal Code, 272.

The retention by the United States of jurisdiction over Indian allotments is based on the fundamental consideration of the protection of a dependent people. United States v. Rickert,188 U. S. 432.

Part of the national policy in regard to Indians is that the United States shall retain control over the allotments in severalty for the statutory period during which the Indians are to be maintained as well as prepared for assuming habits of civilized life and ultimately the privileges of citizenship.

Congress has power under the Constitution to continue the guardianship of the government over Indians for the period specified in the statutes for keeping the title of the allotments in the United States.

Even if one committing a crime on an Indian allotment is not an Indian, if the crime was committed against an allottee Indian within the trust period, it is punishable under the law of the United States, and the federal court has jurisdiction.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the district court of the United States over crimes committed within Indian country, are stated in the opinion.

Page 232 U. S. 444

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