Ash Sheep Co. v. United States
252 U.S. 159 (1920)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Ash Sheep Co. v. United States, 252 U.S. 159 (1920)

Ash Sheep Company v. United States

Nos. 212, 285

Argued January 30, 1920

Decided March 1, 1920

252 U.S. 159

Syllabus

Whether or not, by a cession of lands from an Indian tribe, the United States becomes trustee for the Indians or acquires an unrestricted title depends in each case upon the terms of the agreement or treaty by which the cession is made. P. 252 U. S. 164.

The Act of April 27, 1904, c. 1624, 33 Stat. 352, amending and ratifying an agreement with the Crow Indians, established the relation of trustee and beneficiary, the Indians ceding their possessory rights in certain lands of which the fee was in the United States and the United States undertaking to sell them (sections 16 and 36 excepted) to settlers and to apply the proceeds in specified ways for the benefit of the Indians. Id.

Such lands therefore are not "public lands" of the United States, but are Indian lands within the meaning of Rev.Stats. § 2117, which imposes a penalty for driving stock to range and feed on any land belonging to any Indian or Indian tribe without the tribe's consent. P. 252 U. S. 166.

Considered in the light of its purpose, early origin, and long practical construction, Rev.Stats. § 2117 includes sheep under the term "cattle." Id.

The rule of strict construction is not violated by allowing the words of a penal statute to have full meaning or the more extended of two meanings, where such construction best harmonizes with the context and most fully promotes the objects of the legislation. P. 252 U. S. 170.

An action by the United States to recover a statutory penalty for a trespass is not barred by an earlier decree in equity awarding it an injunction and nominal damages but denying a claim for the penalty as incompatible with the equity jurisdiction. Id.

250 F. 591, 254 id. 59, affirmed.

The cases are stated in the opinion.

Page 252 U. S. 163

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