Starr v. Long Jim,
227 U.S. 613 (1913)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Starr v. Long Jim, 227 U.S. 613 (1913)

Starr v. Long Jim

No. 151

Argued January 28, 1913

Decided February 24, 1913

227 U.S. 613


An agreement as to division and allotment of lands between the Secretary of the Interior and chiefs representing Indians which is informal in terms and is afterwards ratified by Congress should be construed so as to confer upon the Indians the full measure of benefit intended.

The best interests of the Indians do not always require that they should be allotted lands in fee, rather than by having them held in trust by the government for them.

Page 227 U. S. 614

The agreement with Chief Moses and others of July 7, 1883, as to distribution of lands in the Columbia and Colville reservations and the Act of July 45, 1884, 23 State. 79, validating it, and the subsequent acts relating thereto, were properly construed by the Secretary of the Interior to the effect that the government held the land in trust for the Indian allottees for a period of ten years, and without power of alienation meanwhile except by consent of the Secretary.

The general rule that a conveyance with warranty estops the grantor when he afterwards becomes the owner to deny the grantee's title does not apply to a conveyance made by one non sui juris or that is contrary to public policy or statutory construction.

An allottee Indian who conveys by warranty deed before patent and during the period of suspension of alienation without the consent of the Secretary acts contrary to the policy of the law, and is not estopped to deny the validity of the deed after patent, and the grantee acquires no rights.

59 Wash. 190 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the title of Indians to lands within the Columbia Indian Reservation and the construction of an agreement allotting lands between Chief Moses and others, are stated in the opinion.

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