Washington v. Miller
235 U.S. 422 (1914)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Washington v. Miller, 235 U.S. 422 (1914)

Washington v. Miller

No. 53

Submitted November 5, 1914

Decided December 14, 1914

235 U.S. 422

Syllabus

Under the original Creek Agreement of March 1, 1901, controlling effect was given to the Creek tribal laws of descent and distribution, rather than to the laws of Arkansas upon that subject put in force in the Indian Territory, and the provisions giving such effect to the tribal laws embraced allotments to living citizens as well as allotments on behalf of deceased citizens.

Under § 6 of the Supplemental Creek Agreement of June 30, 1902, the provisions of the agreement of March 1, 1901, giving effect to the Creek tribal laws of descent and distribution were repealed, and the provisions of c. 49 of Mansfield's Digest of the laws of Arkansas were substituted therefor with the proviso that only citizens of the Creek Nation should inherit lands of the Creek Nation except in instances where there were no such citizens to take the descent.

Section 6 looked to the future no less than to the present, and is intended to prescribe rules of descent applicable to allotments, and there is nothing in that section indicating that it was intended to be less comprehensive; the words "lands of the Creek Nation" as used therein mean lands in the Creek Nation, and include such lands after, as well as before, allotment.

The provision in the Act of April 28, 1904, making all the laws of Arkansas put in force in Indian Territory applicable to all persons and estates in that territory, being general, did not operate to repeal the special provisos in § 6 of the Act of June 30, 1902, confining the descent and distribution of Creek lands to citizens of the Creek Nation where there were Creek citizen heirs to take the inheritance.

Repeals by implication are not favored, and usually occur only in cases of such irreconcilable conflict between an earlier and later statute that effect cannot reasonably be given to both.

Where there are two statutes upon the same subject, the earlier being special and the later general, the presumption is, in the absence of an express repeal or an absolute incompatibility, that the special is to remain in force as an exception to the general.

There is no incompatibility between a general statute purporting to

Page 235 U. S. 423

regulate descent and distribution of all lands within a territory and a special statute directly regulating descent and distribution of a particular class of Indian lands therein.

Under 6 of the agreement of June 30, 1902, regulating descent and distribution of Creek Indian allotments, the noncitizen father does not inherit where there are citizens heirs who can take the inheritance. Questions concerning the effect of allegations and admissions which conflict with denials in the same pleading are matters of local pleading and practice, and the ruling of a state court thereon is not open to review in this Court.

34 Okl. 259 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction and application of the laws of descent and distribution relating to Creek Indian allotments, are stated in the opinion.

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