Hallowell v. Commons
239 U.S. 506 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hallowell v. Commons, 239 U.S. 506 (1916)

Hallowell v. Commons

No. 135

Submitted December 15, 1915

Decided January 10, 1916

239 U.S. 506


Under the Act of June 25, 1910, the Secretary of the Interior has power to ascertain the legal heirs of an allottee Omaha Indian dying during the period in which an allotment made to him under the act of August 7, 1882, was held in trust, and the decision of the Secretary is final and conclusive.

Congress, by the Act of June 25, 1910, restored to the Secretary of the Interior the power taken from him by the Acts of 1894 and 1901 to determine the heirs of allottee Indians dying during the trust period, making his jurisdiction exclusive, with no exceptions for pending litigation.

The rule that the repeal of.a statute does not extinguish liability incurred thereunder held not applicable to the statute in this case, which simply changes the tribunal to hear the case and takes away no substantive rights.

Congress, in its plenary control of Indians, has power to pass the Act

Page 239 U. S. 507

of June 25, 110, vesting in the Secretary of the Interior the determination of heirs of allottee Indian dying within the trust period; the act evinces a change of policy on the part of Congress, and its opinion as to the better manner in which the rights of the Indians can be preserved.

Even though the district court may have had jurisdiction of a suit to determine the heirs of an allottee Omaha Indian who died during the trust period when this suit was commenced, it has no jurisdiction since the passage of the Act of June 25, 1910, vesting exclusive jurisdiction in the Secretary of the Interior to ascertain such heirs.

210 F. 793 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the district court of the United States of a suit affecting title to an allotment made under the Act of August 7, 1882, to a member of the Omaha Tribe of Indians, are stated in the opinion.

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