La Motte v. United States
254 U.S. 570 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

La Motte v. United States, 254 U.S. 570 (1921)

La Motte v. United States

No. 121

Submitted December 10, 1920

Decided January 24, 1921

254 U.S. 570

Syllabus

1. As an incident of its guardianship over the Osage Indians, the United States may sue to enjoin the assertion of rights under leases of restricted allotments obtained from members of the tribe without conforming to applicable provisions of the statutes and valid administrative regulations, and to enjoin the negotiation of other such unlawful leases in the future. P. 254 U. S. 575.

2. Under the Act of June 28, 1906, concerning the Osage Indians, § 7 of which gives members the right to lease their restricted allotments and provides that such leases "shall be subject only to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior," the Secretary is authorized not merely to approve or disapprove leases after execution, but to make necessary reasonable regulations prescribing in advance as conditions to approval of leases the mode in which they shall be executed and presented to him and the terms and conditions they shall contain for the protection of the Indian lessors. Id.

3. The authority of the Secretary to make such regulations is covered by § 12 of the act, declaring that all things necessary to carry the act into effect and not otherwise specifically provided for shall be done under his direction and authority, and without that section, it would be implied. P. 254 U. S. 576.

4. Section 7 of the act, in providing that such leases shall be subject "only" to the approval of the Secretary, distinguishes between leases by individuals, to be approved by the Secretary alone, and leases for the tribe, which, under § 3, need the sanction of the tribal council as well. Id.

5. Under § 7 of the act, construed with §§ 3 and 6 of the Act of April 18, 1912, the approval of the Secretary is requisite to the validity of leases of restricted lands of minor allottees or minor heirs, given by their guardians with the sanction of the local state courts in which the guardianships were pending. P. 254 U. S. 577.

6. Under § 7, supra, leases of restricted land made by an Indian parent having a certificate of competency, or by a white parent not a

Page 254 U. S. 571

member of the tribe, on behalf of minor allottees or heirs require the Secretary's approval. P. 254 U. S. 578.

7. Land allotted in the right of a deceased member cannot be leased by his heirs without the Secretary's approval if they are members of the tribe and without certificates of competency. Id.

8. A devise of a direct or inherited restricted allotment by a will made pursuant to § 8 of the Act of 1912, supra, and approved by the Secretary of the Interior operates as a conveyance of the land free of restrictions. So held in view of the broad language of the section and its interpretation by Congress. Id.

9. Neither under the common law nor under the statutes of Oklahoma may a testator impose an indefinite restriction on the right of his devisee to alienate the land devised. P. 254 U. S. 580.

10. Members of the Osage Tribe, though without certificates of competency, may lease, without the Secretary's approval, allotments which they have purchased after such allotments had become unrestricted, since there is nothing in the Acts of 1906 and 1912, supra, to reimpose restrictions once removed or to subject to restrictions all lands, however acquired, which members without such certificates may own. Id.

11. Purchasers or lessees of unrestricted undivided interests in Osage allotments should be enjoined from exerting control over the lands to the exclusion of Indian co-tenants of restricted interests, but, in this case, the injunction was so broad as to prevent them from dealing with their own interests, and should be modified. Id.

256 F. 5 modified and affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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