United States Creek Nation
295 U.S. 103 (1935)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

United States Creek Nation, 295 U.S. 103 (1935)

United States Creek Nation

No. 2

Argued October 8, 1934

Decided April 29, 1935

295 U.S. 103

Syllabus

1. By a treaty of 1833, and patent, the United States conveyed to the Creek Tribe of Indians in fee simple a large tract of land. By treaty of 1866, the Creeks receded half of the tract, the United States undertaking to survey the dividing line and guaranteeing the Creeks quiet possession of the other part. The survey, made in 1871, was recognized in an agreement between the Tribe and the United States, Act of March 1, 1889. By error of the Land Department, part of the unceded land was included (1872-73) in the survey of a tract assigned to the Sac and Fox Indians under a treaty of 1867, and later, in carrying out an agreement with those Indians, embodied in the Act of February 13, 1891, by which their lands were receded to the United States, the Creek lands so surveyed with them were erroneously assumed to be part of the Sac and Fox recession, and, due to such error, were disposed of under the last mentioned agreement, partly by allotments in severalty to the Sacs and Foxes and partly by sales to settlers, and such dispositions were effectuated by patents signed by the President. The United States retained the proceeds of the dispositions.

Held:

Page 295 U. S. 104

(1) That the claim of the Creek Tribe for compensation was a claim "arising under or growing out of" a "treaty or agreement" between the United States and that Tribe, or "arising under or growing out of" an "Act of Congress in relation to Indian Affairs," within the meaning of the Act of May 24, 1924, conferring jurisdiction on the Court of Claims to adjudicate. P. 295 U. S. 108.

(2) The lands were appropriated by the United States in circumstances which involved an implied undertaking by it to make just compensation to the Creek Tribe. P. 295 U. S. 109.

(3) The taking was accomplished not by the erroneous survey (1873), but by the disposals under the Act of 1891. P. 295 U. S. 111.

(4) Though the disposals rested upon an erroneous application of the Act of 1891, that application was, in effect, confirmed by the United States, so that the matter stands as if the Act had directed the disposals. P. 295 U. S. 111.

(5) Compensation should be based not on the value of the lands at the time of the erroneous survey nor at the time of bringing the suit, but on the value at time of the disposals, with reasonable interest added, as a measure to make up the full equivalent of value paid contemporaneously with the taking. P. 295 U. S. 111.

(6) As shown by the past agreements between the parties, a reasonable rate of interest is 5%. P. 295 U. S. 112.

2. Property of an Indian Tribe under guardianship of the United States cannot constitutionally be appropriated by the United States without just compensation. P. 295 U. S. 110.

77 Ct.Cls 159 reversed.

Certiorari, 292 U.S. 616, to review a judgment against the United States on a claim of the Creek Tribe of Indians.

Page 295 U. S. 105

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