Chippewa Indians of Minnesota v. United States - 301 U.S. 358 (1937)
U.S. Supreme Court
Chippewa Indians of Minnesota v. United States, 301 U.S. 358 (1937)
Chippewa Indians of Minnesota v. United States
Argued February 2, 1937
Decided May 17, 1937
301 U.S. 358
1. In a suit under permissive legislation by the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota against the United States to recover the value of 663,421 acres of land, comprising the "diminished Red Lake Reservation," alleged to have been ceded to the United States under the Act of January 14, 1889, in trust for the benefit of the plaintiffs and subsequently disposed of or appropriated by the United States in disregard of the trust and of the rights of the plaintiffs, held:
(1) That the question who had the Indian title to the lands in the Red Lake Reservation prior to and at the time of the cession was material. P. 301 U. S. 372.
(2) The Indian title to the lands in the Red Lake Reservation prior to and at the time of the cession was in the Red Lake bands. A contrary opinion in a report of the Committee of the House of Representatives accompanying the bill which, with amendments, became the Act of January 14, 1889, was based on a misapprehension of the situation. P. 301 U. S. 372.
(3) The Act of January 14, 1889, though declaring that, as to the Red Lake Reservation, the cession should be sufficient if made by "two-thirds of the male adults of all the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota," should be construed, taken as a whole, as requiring in addition the consent of two-thirds of the male adults of the bands occupying that particular Reservation. P. 301 U. S. 375.
(4) The cession by the Red Lake bands reserved all of the lands described in their instrument of cession as reserved for allotments, not merely the part of the lands so described which was actually required to make and fill allotments at the time. P. 301 U. S. 377.
(5) Lands of the Red Lake Reservation which were intended to be reserved for allotments but by mutual mistake were included in the cession under the Act of 1889, and which were later added to the reserved lands by an Executive Order, are not, in equity, a part of the ceded areas. P. 301 U. S. 378.
(6) An Act of February 20, 1904, adopting an agreement between the United States and the Red Lake Indians ceding in trust a portion of their diminished reservation held of no aid to the plaintiffs' claim in this case. P. 301 U. S. 379.
2. The power of the Government to control and manage the property of its Indian wards is subject to constitutional limitations; the lands of one tribe may not be given to another, nor may the Government deal with the lands a its own. P. 301 U. S. 375.
3. An Act of Congress should not be so construed as to imperil its validity if this may reasonably be avoided. P. 301 U. S. 376.
80 Ct.Cls. 410 affirmed.
Appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims dismissing the petition in a suit brought by the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota against the United States to recover the value of lands alleged to have been held in trust for the plaintiffs and to have been disposed of or appropriated in violation of the rights of the Indians. The Red Lake Band of Chippewas intervened in opposition to the plaintiffs' claim.