Fellows v. Blacksmith - 60 U.S. 366 (1856)
U.S. Supreme Court
Fellows v. Blacksmith, 60 U.S. 19 How. 366 366 (1856)
Fellows v. Blacksmith
60 U.S. (19 How.) 366
The United States made two treaties, one in 1838 and one in 1842, with the Seneca Indians. residing in the State of New York, by which the Indians agreed to remove to the West within five years and relinquish their possessions to certain assignees of the State of Massachusetts and the United States agreed that they would appropriate a large sum of money to aid in the removal, and to support the Indians for the first year after their removal to their new residence.
But neither treaty made any provision as to the mode or manner in which the removal of the Indians or surrender of the reservations was to take place.
The grantees of the land under the Massachusetts assignment cannot enter upon it and take forcible possession of a farm occupied by an Indian, but are liable to an action of trespass quare clausum fregit if they do so.
The removal of tribes of Indians is to be made by the authority and under the care of the government, and a forcible removal, if made at all, must be made under the direction of the United States.
The courts cannot go behind a treaty, when ratified, to inquire whether or not the tribe was properly represented by its head men.
The facts of the case are stated in the opinion of the Court.