Sunderland v. United States,
266 U.S. 226 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sunderland v. United States, 266 U.S. 226 (1924)

Sunderland v. United States

No. 79

Argued October 16, 1924

Decided November 17, 1924

266 U.S. 226


1. The United States is not bound by a decree of a state court, to which it was not a party, quieting title to restricted Indian land against the Indian in favor of his attempted grantee, but may have both the conveyance and the decree set aside by suit in the federal court. P. 266 U. S. 232.

2. The fact that land has become subject to jurisdiction of a state and exclusively within the control of her laws does not prevent the United States from restricting for a limited time the right of a tribal Indian to alienate it, when purchased for him with funds derived from the sale of other lands originally subject to a like restriction. Such restriction not conflicting with any statute, rule of law or policy of the state, the question of supremacy of power does not arise. Id.

3. The validity of such a restraint on alienation imposed by the United States is not to be tested by the power of an ordinary grantor to impose a like restraint on an ordinary grantee. P. 266 U. S. 233.

4. So long as the Indians remain wards of the government, the interposition of the strong shield of the federal law is justified, to the end that they be not overreached or despoiled in respect of their property of whatsoever kind or nature. P. 266 U. S. 234.

5. In view of the general protective policy towards the Indians, statutory authority to the Secretary of the Interior to remove restrictions on allotted lands in the Five Civilized Tribes "under such rules and regulations concerning terms of sale and disposal of the proceeds for the benefit of the respective Indians as he may prescribe" (Act of May 27, 1908, § 1, c.199, 35 Stat. 312) justifies a rule that, where lands are purchased for Indians of the restricted class with the proceeds of sale of restricted allotted lands, the deed of the lands purchased shall contain a like restriction. Id.

6. Also, the authority of the Secretary to withhold his consent to a proposed investment of such proceeds of sale subject to his control includes the lesser authority to allow the investment upon condition that the property bought shall be impressed with a like control. P. 266 U. S. 235.

Page 266 U. S. 227

7. Evidence held sufficient to show that restrictions on alienation in a deed to an Indian were directed by the Secretary of the Interior. P. 266 U. S. 235.

287 F. 468 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court setting aside at the suit of the United States, a deed made to the appellant by a half-blood Creek Indian, and a decree of an Oklahoma court quieting the title against the Indian in the appellant's favor.

Page 266 U. S. 231

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