Reynolds v. Fewell - 236 U.S. 58 (1915)
U.S. Supreme Court
Reynolds v. Fewell, 236 U.S. 58 (1915)
Reynolds v. Fewell
Argued December 7, 8, 1914
Decided January 18, 1915
236 U.S. 58
The courts of Oklahoma have held that, under § 7 of the Original Creek Agreement of 1901, a noncitizen husband, while by reason of nonmembership in the tribe was not to be counted in determining the distributive shares for the purpose of allotment to, or in the right of, enrolled members of the tribe, was entitled under tribal laws to take an heir's part of the lands which had been allotted to his deceased citizen wife. De Graffenreid v. Iowa Land & Trust Co., 20 Okl. 687.
The laws of the Creeks were uncertain and ambiguous, and although the construction of a tribal law by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma is not a construction of a law of the state, and this Court has an undoubted right of review, it will not overturn, in a case at most only debatable, a rule of construction that for years has governed transfers of property.
The Supplemental Creek Agreement of 1902, providing that the descent and distribution of allotments should be in accordance with § 49, Mansfield's Digest, Laws of Arkansas, was not an interpretation
of the provisions for descent and distribution in the Original Creek Agreement of 1901, but an express repeal thereof and the establishment of another rule as to the future, but without affecting the meaning of the provision in the Original Agreement as to the cases governed by it.
34 Okl. 112 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Original Creek Agreement and the laws of descent applicable to allotments made thereunder, are stated in the opinion.