Hynes v. Grimes Packing Co.
337 U.S. 86 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hynes v. Grimes Packing Co., 337 U.S. 86 (1949)

Hynes v. Grimes Packing Co.

No. 24

Argued October 21, 1948

Decided May 31, 1949

337 U.S. 86




Under § 2 of the Act of May 1, 1936, the Secretary of the Interior issued Public Land Order No. 128, designating as an Indian reservation, for the use and benefit of the native inhabitants of Karluk, Alaska, certain described lands and the waters adjacent thereto extending "3,000 feet from the shore line at mean low tide." Claiming authority under the White Act, 43 Stat. 464, which prescribed drastic penalties for violations, the Secretary promulgated a regulation prohibiting commercial fishing in the waters of the reservation except by natives or their licensees. Companies which for years had engaged in canning fish taken from these waters, which depended on that source of supply for profitable operations, and which had a substantial investment in their business, sued in the District Court to enjoin permanently the exclusion of their fishermen from the reservation, on the ground of the invalidity of the Land Order and the regulation. Named as sole defendant was the Regional Director for the Territory of Alaska of the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior.


1. The Secretary of the Interior is not an indispensable party defendant to the suit, since a decree requiring the defendant and his subordinates to cease their interference will afford all the relief sought without the necessity of requiring the Secretary or any of his subordinates to take any affirmative action. Pp. 337 U. S. 96-97.

2. The District Court had equity jurisdiction of the suit. Pp. 337 U. S. 97-100.

(a) The facts sufficiently show that the complainants are without an adequate remedy at law, and will suffer irreparable injury unless the enforcement of the regulation is restrained. Pp. 337 U. S. 97-100.

(b) Although criminal prosecutions, even under an invalid statute, will ordinarily not be restrained, a civil action will lie in exceptional circumstances that make an injunction necessary effectually to protect property rights. Pp. 337 U. S. 98-99.

Page 337 U. S. 87

3. The Secretary's inclusion in the Karluk Reservation of the waters described in the Land Order was authorized by § 2 of the Act of May 1, 1936. Pp. 337 U. S. 100-116.

(a) The provision of § 2 of the Act of May 1, 1936, authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to designate as a reservation any "public lands which are actually occupied" by Indians in Alaska, did not preclude the inclusion of coastal waters in the Karluk Reservation. Pp. 337 U. S. 110-116.

(b) The fact that tidelands are embraced within the area designated as the Karluk Reservation is without significance. Pp. 337 U. S. 114-115.

(c) A statute which authorized permanent disposition of federal property would be strictly construed to avoid inclusion of fisheries by implication. P. 337 U. S. 104.

(d) The Secretary of the Interior was without statutory authority to convey to the Indians any permanent title or right in the lands or waters of the Karluk Reservation. Pp. 337 U. S. 101-106.

(e) Indian reservations in Alaska, established or enlarged under § 2 of the Act of May 1, 1936, are subject to the unfettered will of Congress. P. 337 U. S. 106.

(f) Nonrevocability in the case of the Karluk Reservation cannot be predicated on the language of the Act of June 18, 1934, which must be construed as effective only where there has been specific recognition by the United States of Indian rights to control absolutely tribal lands. Pp. 337 U. S. 106-107.

(g) References to general legislation on public lands in Alaska, appearing in a letter of the Secretary of the Interior printed in the House and Senate Reports on the bill which became the Act of May 1, 1936, cannot be regarded as an adequate basis for adjudging power in the Secretary to dispose finally of such lands. Pp. 337 U. S. 108-110.

4. The regulation prohibiting commercial fishing in the waters of the Karluk Reservation except by natives or their licensees was void as a whole, because in violation of the proviso of the White Act that "no exclusive or several right of fishery shall be granted." Pp. 337 U. S. 116-123.

(a) The general prohibition and the exception in the regulation are not separable, and the regulation may not be upheld as imposing a prohibition applicable to everyone. P. 337 U. S. 118.

(b) The White Act, the purpose of which was to protect and conserve the fisheries of Alaska on a nonmonopolistic basis,

Page 337 U. S. 88

authorizes the establishment of preserves or closed areas in reservations created under § 2 of the Act of May 1, 1936. Pp. 337 U. S. 118-119.

(c) Section 8 of the White Act does not make exclusive the power of the Territorial Legislature to license fishing. P. 337 U. S. 121.

(d) Licenses for fishing may be required by the Secretary of the Interior in areas regulated under the White Act, but such licenses may be only regulatory in character, and, within the discretion of the Secretary, must have their cost fixed so as not to exceed the estimated cost of reasonable policing of the area. Pp. 337 U. S. 121-122.

(e) The White Act does not empower the Secretary of the Interior to raise general funds for native welfare or general conservation purposes from White Act preserves. P. 337 U. S. 122.

(f) The proviso of § 1 of the White Act "that no exclusive or several right of fishery shall be granted" applies to commercial fishing by natives, as well as by fishing companies, nonresidents of Alaska, or other American citizens, and so applies whether those natives are or are not residents on a reservation. Pp. 337 U. S. 122-123.

(g) The adoption of a corporate charter and a constitution by the Native Village of Karluk under §§ 16 and 17 of the Wheeler-Howard Act cannot expand the power of the Secretary of the Interior under the White Act. P. 337 U. S. 122.

(h) The sanctions of the White Act may not be employed to protect the Karluk Reservation against trespass. Pp. 337 U. S. 122-123.

5. In view of the fact that the foregoing holdings establish a new basis for administrative and judicial conclusions, the decrees of the District Court and the Court of Appeals granting a permanent injunction on the ground of the invalidity of both the regulation and the Land Order are vacated, and the case is remanded to the District Court with directions as to further proceedings. Pp. 337 U. S. 123-127.

165 F.2d 323, decree vacated and case remanded.

Several companies which were engaged in the canning of fish in Alaska brought an action against the Regional Director to enjoin the enforcement of a federal regulation prohibiting commercial fishing in the waters of the Karluk Reservation. The District Court granted a permanent injunction. 67 F.Supp. 43. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 165 F.2d 323. This Court granted certiorari.

Page 337 U. S. 89

333 U.S. 866. Decrees vacated and case remanded for further proceedings, p. 337 U. S. 127.

MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Secretary of the Interior, on May 22, 1943, issued Public Land Order 128. It is set out in full below. [Footnote 1] In this case, the significant part of No. 128 is that the Secretary included in the reservation, by paragraph 2, adjacent tidelands and coastal waters along the entire shore line of the uplands that touched Shelikof Strait between Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. The authority of the Secretary to utilize presidential power in the designation of this reservation out of public lands in Alaska flows from a delegation to the Secretary of presidential power to withdraw or reserve public lands and revoke or

Page 337 U. S. 90

modify prior reservations. Executive Order No. 9146, of April 24, 1942, 1 C.F.R., Cum.Supp. 1149. The presidential power over reservations is made specific by the Act of June 25, 1910. [Footnote 2] Another statutory provision, however, is the principal basis for Order 128. This is

Page 337 U. S. 91

§ 2 of the Act of May 1, 1936, 49 Stat. 1250. This act was passed to extend to Alaska the benefits of the Wheeler-Howard Act of June 18, 1934, 48 Stat. 984, and to provide for the designation of Indian reservations in Alaska. As § 2 is important in our discussion, the pertinent provisions are set out in full:

"SEC. 2. That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to designate as an Indian reservation any area of land which has been reserved for the use and occupancy of Indians or Eskimos by section 8 of the Act of May 17, 1884 (23 Stat. 26), or by section 14 or section 15 of the Act of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 1101), or which has been heretofore reserved under any executive order and placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior or any bureau thereof, together with additional public lands adjacent thereto, within the Territory of Alaska, or any other public lands which are actually occupied by Indians or Eskimos within said Territory: Provided, That the designation by the Secretary of the Interior of any such area of land as a reservation shall be effective only upon its approval by the vote, by secret ballot, of a majority of the Indian or Eskimo residents thereof who vote at a special election duly called by the Secretary of the Interior upon thirty days' notice. . . ."

The Native Village of Karluk held a meeting on May 23, 1944, and accepted "the proposed Indian Reservation for this village. The adoption of said Reservation passed by a vote of 46 for and 0 against. 11 of the eligible voters were absent." Seenote 26infra. Under § 19 of the Wheeler-Howard Act, the Alaskan aborigines are classified as Indians.

On March 22 and August 27, 1946, the Secretary of the Interior amended the Alaska Fisheries General Regulations,

Page 337 U. S. 92

50 C.F.R., 1946 Supp., § 208.23, that related to the commercial fishing for salmon in the Kodiak Area Fisheries by the addition of a subsection (r), reading as follows:

"(r) All waters within 3,000 feet of the shores of Karluk Reservation (Public Land Order No. 128, May 22, 1943), beginning at a point on the east shore of Shelikof Strait, on Kodiak Island, latitude 57

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