The primary intent of the Act of January 11, 1915, c. 7,38 Stat.
791, amending the Indian Depredation Act, was to remove the defense
of alienage, and it is only cases dismissed on that ground that it
provides for reinstating. P. 251 U. S.
Assuming that, by omitting the word "band" from § 1 of the
original act, the amendment recognized claims for depredations by
hostile bands of friendly tribes, a claim of a citizen previously
dismissed because the depredating band was hostile, though the
tribe was not, is not subject to reinstatement under the amendment,
and, treated as a new claim, it is barred by the three-years'
limitation of the original act. Id.
53 Ct.Clms. 320 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Page 251 U. S. 383
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims
dismissing the appellant's petition upon demurrer. The claim is for
depredations committed on June 10, 1866, by a band of the Ute tribe
of Indians, known as Blackhawk's band. The Act of March 3, 1891, c.
538, § 1, 26 Stat. 851, gave jurisdiction to the Court of Claims
over all claims for property of citizens taken or destroyed by
Indians belonging to any band, tribe, or nation in amity with the
United States. See
Rev.Stats. § 2156. Act of June 30,
1834, c. 161, § 17, 4 Stat. 729, 731. The appellant's intestate
filed his claim, but on June 13, 1898, the Court of Claims held
that the Blackhawk band of Utes was not in amity with the United
States, and dismissed the petition. The present petition relies
upon the Act of January 11, 1915, c. 7, 38 Stat. 791, amending the
first section of the Act of 1891 so that, in all claims for
property of citizens or inhabitants of the United States taken or
destroyed by Indians belonging to any tribe in amity with and
subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, &c., the
alienage of the claimant shall not be a defense to said claims,
with provisos to be mentioned. The present petition, filed
September 21, 1917, alleges that the tribe of Utes was in amity
with the United States.
The claimant contends that the amendment had two purposes -- not
merely to give inhabitants the same rights as citizens, but also to
admit claims for damage done by hostile bands from a tribe that
maintained its amity, subject to a proviso that suit had been
brought upon them
Page 251 U. S. 384
theretofore in the Court of Claims. It is said that claims of
that nature that still were pending in the Court have been awarded
judgment under the new jurisdiction. Another proviso in the Act is
that claims that have been dismissed by the Court for want of proof
of citizenship or alienage shall be reinstated, and the petition
prays that the former claim be consolidated with this suit, and
that judgment be awarded upon the evidence filed in the former
case. It is pointed out as an anomaly that the case of a neighbor
of the intestate who suffered damage from the same band on the same
day was reinstated and passed to judgment, his claim having been
dismissed at an earlier date because he was not a citizen at the
But we are of opinion that the judgment of the Court of Claims
was plainly right. The emphasis and primary intent, at least, of
the Act of 1915 was to remove the defense of alienage. When it goes
on by an express proviso to reinstate claims dismissed upon that
ground and says nothing as to the other class, it is impossible to
extend the words. According to the claimant's necessary argument,
Congress had claims for damage by hostile bands before its eyes. On
the face of the act, it had before them also the matter of
reinstatement. Yet it did not purport to reinstate claims of the
present class. According to the claimant's account, there was
something for the act to operate on in the way of damage by hostile
bands, and the words cannot be carried further than they go. The
Court of Claims rightly held that the old claim was not reinstated
and that, considered as a new claim, the present suit was barred by
the three-years' limitation in the original act.