Seminole Nation v. United States
316 U.S. 286 (1942)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Seminole Nation v. United States, 316 U.S. 286 (1942)

Seminole Nation v. United States

No. 348

Argued April 1, 2, 1942

Decided May 11, 1942

316 U.S. 286

Syllabus

1. A claim against the Government by the Seminole Nation, based on Article VIII of the Treaty of August 7, 1856, whereby the Government undertook to provide a certain sum annually for ten years, to be used for specified purposes, but which, in the amount claimed, was diverted to the clothing and feeding of refugee Indians, held to have been released by Article VIII of the Treaty of March 21, 1866, and properly disallowed by the Court of Claims. P. 316 U. S. 290.

Page 316 U. S. 287

2. Payment by the Government to the tribal treasurer of the Seminole Nation, of certain amounts which, by Article III of the Treaty of 1866, the Government agreed to pay for the support of schools, satisfied the obligation of the Treaty and defeats recovery, whether payment to the tribal treasurer was authorized or not, since the schools actually received the benefit of the payments. P. 316 U. S. 292.

3. Under § 11 of the Act of April 26, 1906, a sum due under Article III of the Treaty of 1866, was in 1907 properly paid by the Government to the United States Indian Agent for the Seminoles. P. 316 U. S. 292.

4. A provision in Article VI of the Treaty of 1866 whereby the Government undertook to construct at a cost not exceeding $10,000 "suitable agency buildings" on the Seminole reservation, held not breached. P. 316 U. S. 293.

5. In respect of a claim of the Seminole Nation based on the Government's obligation, under a provision of Article VIII of the Treaty of 1856, to establish a trust fund in a specified amount and to pay the interest therefrom to the members of the Seminole Nation per capita as an annuity, held:

(a) The Court of Claims properly deducted the amount of overpayments found to have been made by the Government in certain years. P. 316 U. S. 294.

(b) Under the Act of 1906, which was not repealed by the jurisdictional act, payments in 1907, 1908, and 1909 were properly made to the United States Indian Agent for the Seminoles. P. 316 U. S. 294.

(c) As to payments made from 1870 to 1874 directly to the tribal treasurer and to designated creditors, pursuant to requests of the Seminole General Council, the Court of Claims should have made findings, since the issue was material, as to whether the General Council, during the years in question, was corrupt, venal, and false to its trust; whether, if such were the fact, it was known to the administrative officers of the Government charged with the disbursement of Indian moneys, and whether the Seminole Nation received the benefit of any of the payments. This branch of the case is remanded to the Court of Claims in order that the essential findings of fact may be made. Pp. 316 U. S. 294, 316 U. S. 300.

6. Certain payments made by the Government to the tribal treasurer of the Seminole Nation, after the passage of the Curtis Act of June 28, 1898, held not to have contravened § 19 of that Act, since that section forbade only payments to tribal officers which were to be

Page 316 U. S. 288

distributed by them to individual members of the tribe. However, this branch of the case also is remanded to the Court of Claims for further findings as to whether, from 1899 to 1907, tribal officers were mulcting the Seminole Nation; if so, whether administrative officers of the Government disbursing moneys to the Seminoles had knowledge thereof, and whether the Seminole Nation received the benefit of payments made to the tribal treasurer. Pp. 316 U. S. 301, 316 U. S. 307.

7. In respect to amounts which were expended gratuitously by the Government for the benefit of the Seminole Nation, and which, under Act of August 12, 1935, may be offset against the Government's liability, held that the Court of Claims should find and designate the precise expenditures to be used as offsets, instead of finding generally all the items which the Government may ever be entitled to use. P. 316 U. S. 308.

93 Ct.Cls. 500 reversed n part.

Certiorari, 314 U.S. 597, to review a judgment of the Court of Claims, as modified on motion for a new trial, in a suit by the Seminole Nation against the Government, brought under a special jurisdictional Act of August 16, 1937.

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