Grayson v. Harris,
267 U.S. 352 (1925)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Grayson v. Harris, 267 U.S. 352 (1925)

Grayson v. Harris

No. 187

Argued January 16, 1925

Decided March 2, 1925

267 U.S. 352


1. Judgment held reviewable by certiorari, and not be writ of error. P. 267 U. S. 353.

2. Paragraph 6 of the Supplemental Creek Agreement, confirmed by Act of June 30, 1902, c. 1323, 32 Stat. 500, declares that descent and distribution of land and money provided by Act of March 1, 1901, c. 676, 21 Stat. 861, shall be in accordance with c. 49 of Mansfield's Digest of the Statutes of Arkansas, in force in the Indian Territory, but contains provisos (a) that only citizens of the Creek Nation and their Creek descendants shall inherit lands of the Creek Nation, but (b) that, if there be no person of Creek citizenship to take descent, then the inheritance shall go to noncitizen heirs in the order named in said chapter 49.

Held, that the preferred right of Creek citizens to inherit Creek allotted lands applies not only to inheritance immediately from the original allottee, but also in subsequent stages of devolution, so that where an allotment made originally in the names of deceased Creek freedmen was inherited from them by an heir who was a Creek citizen, upon her death it descended to her more remote kindred, who were Creek citizens, in preference to her next of kin who was neither a Creek citizen nor a descendant of a Creek citizen. P. 267 U. S. 355.

Page 267 U. S. 353

3. Where the state court decided as a pure matter of fact that plaintiffs were Creek citizen, but by error of law denied them their resultant federal right to preference in inheritance of Creek lands, held that the finding of fact was not so related to the denial of federal right as to be reexaminable in this Court. P. 267 U. S. 357.

4. The rule that, when the decision of a state court may rest upon a nonfederal ground adequate to support it, this Court will not take jurisdiction to determine the federal question has no application where the nonfederal ground might have been considered by the state court, but was not. P. 267 U. S. 358.

90 Okla. 147 reversed.

Error and certiorari to a decree of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma which reversed a decree in favor of Grayson et al. in their suit to recover an interest in a Creek Indian allotment and for an accounting for oil and gas extracted from it.

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