United States v. Wildcat - 244 U.S. 111 (1917)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Wildcat, 244 U.S. 111 (1917)
United States v. Wildcat
Argued April 11, 12, 13, 1917
Decided May 21, 1917
244 U.S. 111
Acting under the enrollment provisions of the Curtis Act of June 28, 1898, and the Creek Agreement of March 1, 1901, the Dawes Commission was a quasi-judicial tribunal, and enrollments made by it and approved by the Secretary of the Interior are presumptively correct, and, unless impeached by very clear evidence of fraud, mistake, or arbitrary action, they are conclusive.
Whether or not a person alleged to be a member of the Creek Nation was living on April 1, 1899, is one of the questions going to the right of such person or his heirs to have his name enrolled under § 28 of Agreement of March 1, 1901, which the Dawes Commission was competent to decide; it is not a jurisdictional question, and an incorrect determination of it does not necessarily render the enrollment void. Scott v. McNeal, 154 U. S. 34, distinguished.
In enrolling members of the Creek Tribe in 1901, the Dawes Commission was authorized to presume that a person enrolled as a member of the tribe on the tribal rolls of 1895 was living on April 1, 1899, in the absence of proof of his death before that day or of circumstances indicating that he had died before the Commission acted.
The evidence in the case examined, and found wanting in proof of such arbitrary action on the part of the Dawes Commission as would establish a mistake of law or fact warranting the impeachment of its action in enrolling the Indian in whose name the allotment in question was made and patented.
An attempt of the Secretary of the Interior to set aside the enrollment and allotment of a deceased Creek Indian by striking his name from the rolls without notice to his heirs is ultra vires and void.
When a Creek citizen dies after April 1, 1899, and an allotment is afterwards made, and deeds issued, in his name, the title is vested in his heirs by § 28 of the Agreement of March 1, 1901. Skelton v. Dill, 235 U. S. 206-208.
Under the Creek Agreement of March 1, 1901, § 3, it was permissible for the Dawes Commission to enroll tribal citizens and make them allotments when they failed to make selections for themselves.
The case is stated in the opinion.