This is a suit in equity brought in this Court by the United States against the State of Minnesota to cancel
It is not questioned that the lands were swampy and in this respect within the swamp land grant, nor that the patents were sought by the State and issued by the land officers in good faith. But it is insisted, on behalf of the United States, first, that by treaties and other engagements with the Chippewa Indians entered into before the patents were issued the United States became obligated to apply the lands and the proceeds of their sale exclusively to the use, support and civilization of the Chippewas, and that this operated to exclude or withdraw the lands from the swamp land grant; secondly, that the State failed to select or claim the lands within the period prescribed in the act making the grant, and thereby lost any right which she may have had to have them patented to her; and, thirdly, that the grant was subject to a condition whereby the State was required to apply the lands or the proceeds of their sale in effecting their reclamation by means of needed ditches, and that before the patents were issued the State, by an amendment to her constitution, had disabled herself from complying with that condition and proclaimed her purpose to apply the lands and their proceeds otherwise, and thereby had lost any right she may have had to receive the patents. Stating it in another way, the insistence, on the part of the United States, is that the lands were appropriated or set apart for the Chippewas, that the land officers, misconceiving their authority
Besides disputing the several contentions just stated, the State advances two propositions, either of which her counsel conceive must end the case.
The first proposition is that the suit is essentially one brought by the Indians against the State, and therefore is not within the original jurisdiction of this Court. In support of the proposition it is said that the United States is only a nominal party — a mere conduit through which the Indians are asserting their private rights, — that the Indians are the real parties in interest and will be the sole beneficiaries of any recovery, and that the United States will not be affected whether a recovery is had or denied.
It must be conceded that, if the Indians are the real parties in interest and the United States only a nominal party, the suit is not within this Court's original jurisdiction. New Hampshire v. Louisiana, 108 U.S. 76; Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1; North Dakota v. Minnesota, 263 U.S. 365, 374-376. But the allegations and prayer of the bill — by which the purpose and nature of the suit must be tested — give no warrant for saying that the Indians are the real parties in interest and the United States only a nominal party. At the outset the bill shows that the Indians although citizens of the State, are in many respects, and particularly in their relation to the matter here in controversy, under the guardianship of the
Whether in point of merits the bill is well grounded or otherwise, we think it shows that the United States has a real and direct interest in the matter presented for examination and adjudication. Its interest arises out of its guardianship over the Indians and out of its right to invoke the aid of a court of equity in removing unlawful obstacles to the fulfillment of its obligations; and in both aspects the interest is one which is vested in it as a sovereign. Heckman v. United States, 224 U.S. 413, 437-444; United States v. Osage County, 251 U.S. 128, 132-133; La Motte v. United States, 254 U.S. 570, 575; Cramer v. United States, 261 U.S. 219, 232; United States v. Beebe, 127 U.S. 338, 342-343; United States v. New Orleans Pacific Ry. Co., 248 U.S. 507, 518. And see United States v. Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Ry. Co., 118 U.S. 120, 126; In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564, 584.
Counsel for the State point out that the Indians could neither sue the State to enforce the right asserted in their behalf nor sue the United States for a failure to call on the State to surrender the lands or their value; and from this they argue that the United States is under no duty
The State's second proposition is that the suit is barred by the provision in the Act of March 3, 1891, c. 561, § 8.
We come therefore to the merits, which involve a consideration of the past relation of the Indians to the lands and of the nature and operation of the swamp land grant to the State.
The lands are all within the region formerly occupied by the Chippewas. By a treaty made in 1837 the Indians ceded the southerly part of that region to the United States, 7 Stat. 536; and by a treaty made in 1855 they ceded to it a further part adjoining that ceded before, 10 Stat. 1165. But by the latter treaty nine reservations were set apart out of the ceded territory as "permanent homes" for designated bands. Four of these reservations were called the Mille Lac, the Leech Lake, the Winnibigoshish and the Cass Lake. This was the situation in 1860 when the swamp land grant theretofore made to other States was extended to Minnesota. Most of the
By a treaty made in 1863 six of the reservations, including the Mille Lac but not the Leech Lake, the Winnibigoshish or the Cass Lake, were ceded to the United States, and a large reservation, surrounding the Leech Lake, the Winnibigoshish and the Cass Lake reservations, was set apart as "future homes" for the Indians then on the ceded reservations, 12 Stat. 1249. The twelfth article of that treaty declared that the Indians were not obligated to remove from the old reservations to the new until certain stipulations respecting preparations for their removal were complied with by the United States. The United States complied with the stipulations and most of the Indians on the ceded reservations other than the Mille Lac removed, but some remained on and around those reservations. The same article declared: "Owing to the heretofore good conduct of the Mille Lac Indians [the band occupying the ceded Mille Lac reservation], they shall not be compelled to remove as long as they shall not in any way interfere with or in any manner molest the persons or property of the Whites." Some of the Mille Lac band removed, but many remained on and around the ceded reservation. A treaty negotiated in 1864 and amended and ratified in 1865 enlarged the large reservation set apart in 1863, 13 Stat. 693. By a treaty made in 1867 the greater part of the large reservation set apart in 1863 and enlarged in 1865 was ceded to the United States and an area of approximately 36 townships around White Earth Lake was set apart as a new reservation, to which the Indians in the ceded territory were to remove, 16 Stat. 718. That treaty left the Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish and Cass Lake reservations within what remained of the large reservation established in 1863 and
Under the Act of January 14, 1889, c. 24, 25 Stat. 642, the Chippewas ceded and relinquished to the United States all of their reservations, here described as then existing, save as a part of the White Earth reservation was set aside for allotments in severalty which were to be made by the United States and accepted by the Indians as their homes. The cession was declared to be for the purposes and on the terms stated in that Act and was to become effective on the President's approval, which was given March 4, 1890. The Act provided that the lands so ceded should be surveyed, classified as pine or agricultural and disposed of at regulated prices, and that the net proceeds should be put into an interest-bearing fund of which the Chippewas were to be the beneficiaries.
The Mille Lac reservation, although included in the cession of 1863, was again included in the cession under the Act of 1889. It was surveyed and opened to settlement and disposal under the public land laws after the cession of 1863; but this led to a controversy with the Indians over the meaning and effect of the clause in the twelfth article of the treaty of 1863, relating to the removal of the Mille Lac band, and that controversy resulted in a suspension of disposals. The controversy continued up to the cession under the Act of 1889 and was adjusted and composed in that cession. United States v. Mille Lac Chippewas, 229 U.S. 498. But after the survey and before the suspension about 700 acres,
In 1909, under a permissive statute, c. 126, 35 Stat. 619, the Mille Lac band brought a suit against the United States in the Court of Claims to recover for "losses sustained by them or the Chippewas of Minnesota" by reason of the opening of the Mille Lac reservation to settlement and disposal. In that suit recovery was sought in respect of all lands in that reservation which the United States had disposed of otherwise than under and in conformity with the Act of 1889, including those patented to the State as swamp lands May 13, 1871. Evidence was introduced showing the lands so patented and their value, and one of the questions discussed in the briefs and pressed for decision at the final hearing was whether the Indians were entitled to recover in respect of the lands in that patent, or were precluded therefrom by a provision in the Act of 1889, as accepted by the Indians, which the United States insisted had operated to confirm the State's claim under the patent. By the ultimate findings and judgment that controversy was resolved against the Indians and in favor of the United States. 51 Ct. Cls. 400. No appeal was taken from that judgment and it became final. It awarded about $700,000 to the Indians on account of the disposal of other lands, held not within the confirmatory provision, and the award was paid by putting the money in the Chippewa fund before mentioned, c. 464, 39 Stat. 823. Of course, the United States is without right to any recovery here in respect of the lands as to which it was adjudged there to be free from any obligation or responsibility to the Indians. So the lands in the patent of May 13, 1871, need not be considered further.
The other reservations were surveyed after the cession under the Act of 1889. The field notes of the survey
In the brief on behalf of the United States an effort is made to overcome the cession in the treaty of 1855 by inviting attention to particular statements in correspondence and other papers of that period and arguing therefrom that the treaty was hastily negotiated with chiefs and warriors, not fairly representative of the bands affected, who were brought to Washington for the purpose and were there subjected to influences and pressure which prevented them from exercising a free judgment and adequately portraying and protecting the interests of such bands. But we think the argument is without any real basis in fact. The inferences sought to be drawn from the statements to which attention is invited are refuted rather than supported by the papers as a whole. While it appears that there was some dissatisfaction with the original selection of those who were to represent the Indians, it also appears that other chiefs and warriors representing the Indians who were dissatisfied were sent to Washington by the local superintendent of Indian affairs and that they actively participated in the negotiations and signed the treaty. The negotiations occupied ten sessions spread over a period of seven days and were reported. The reports indicate that the Indians who participated ably and loyally represented all the bands and spoke for them openly and with effect. Indeed, they persuaded the representatives of the United States to make concessions advantageous to all the bands which were
But, while the earnestness of counsel has induced us to examine the basis of the argument advanced, there is another reason why the effort to overcome the cession must fail. Under the Constitution the treaty-making power resides in the President and Senate, and when through their action a treaty is made and proclaimed it becomes a law of the United States, and the courts can no more go behind it for the purpose of annulling it in whole or in part than they can go behind an act of Congress. Among the cases applying and enforcing this rule some are particularly in point here. In United States v. Brooks, 10 How. 442, where a grant made to certain individuals by the Caddo Indians in a treaty between them and the United States was assailed by the United States as induced by fraud practiced on the Indians, the Court held that "the influences which were used to secure" the grant could not be made the subject of judicial inquiry for the purpose of overthrowing the treaty provision making it. In Doe v. Braden, 16 How. 635, a provision in the treaty whereby Spain ceded Florida to the United States which annulled a prior grant to the Duke of Alagon was assailed as invalid on the ground that the King, who made the treaty, was without power under the Spanish constitution to annul the grant. But the Court refused to go behind the treaty and inquire into the authority of the King under the law of Spain — and this because, as was explained in the decision, it was for the President and Senate to determine who should be recognized as empowered to represent and speak for Spain in the negotiation and execution of the treaty, and as they had recognized the King as possessing that power it was
By the act of September 28, 1850, Congress granted to the several States the whole of the swamp lands therein then remaining unsold, c. 84, 9 Stat. 519. The first section was in the usual terms of a grant in praesenti, its words being that the lands described "shall be, and the same are hereby, granted." The second section charged the Secretary of the Interior with the duty of making out and transmitting to the governor of the State accurate lists and plats of the lands described, and of causing patents to issue at the governor's request; and it then declared that on the issue of the patent the fee simple to the lands should vest in the State. The third section directed that, in making out the lists and plats, all legal subdivisions the greater part of which was wet and unfit for cultivation should be included, but where the greater part was not of that character the whole should be excluded. The question soon arose whether, in view of the terms of the first and second sections, the grant was in praesenti
By the Act of March 12, 1860, c. 5, 12 Stat. 3, Congress extended the Act of 1850 to the new States of Minnesota and Oregon, the material terms of the extending act being as follows:
"That the provisions of the act [of 1850] be, and the same are hereby, extended to the States of Minnesota and Oregon: Provided, That the grant hereby made shall not include any lands which the government of the United States may have reserved, sold, or disposed of (in pursuance of any law heretofore enacted) prior to the confirmation
"Sec. 2. That the selection to be made from lands already surveyed in each of the States including Minnesota and Oregon, under the authority of the act aforesaid, . . . shall be made within two years from the adjournment of the legislature of each State at its next session after the date of this act; and, as to all lands hereafter to be surveyed, within two years from such adjournment, at the next session, after notice by the Secretary of the Interior to the governor of the State, that the surveys have been completed and confirmed."
The words "be, and the same hereby are, extended" in the principal provision and the words "the grant hereby made" in the proviso signify an immediate extension to these new States of the grant in praesenti made to other States in 1850. Other parts of the proviso signify an exclusion of particular lands from the grant as extended, but not a change in its nature. Indeed, if the grant as extended were regarded as taking effect only on the issue of the patent, the proviso would be practically an idle provision; while if the grant be regarded as in praesenti, like the original, the proviso serves a real purpose. Of course, the principal provision and the proviso are to be read together and taken according to their natural import, if that be reasonably possible — and we think it is. Thus understood, they show that Congress, while willing and intending to extend to these new States the grant in praesenti made to other States in 1850, was solicitous that the reservation, sale and disposal of lands (pursuant to laws in existence at the date of the extension) should not be interrupted or affected pending the identification and patenting of lands under the grant, and that the proviso was adopted for the purpose of excluding from the grant as extended all lands which might be reserved, sold or disposed of (in pursuance of any law
The Act of 1860 was construed as we here construe it by Secretary Delano in 1874, 1 Copp's P.L.L. 475, and by Secretary Schurz in 1877, 2 id. 1081; and their construction was adopted and applied by their successors up to the time of this suit,
The 706 acres, before described as within the Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish and Cass Lake reservations as originally created, were not public lands when the grant was extended to the State, but were then reserved and appropriated for the use of the Chippewas, and so were excepted from the grant. Probably the patenting of them to the State was a mere inadvertence, for it was not in accord with rulings of the Secretary of the Interior on the subject. But, be that as it may, the patenting was contrary to law and in derogation of the rights of the Indians under the Act of 1889. Therefore, the United States is entitled to a cancellation of the patents as to these lands, unless the State has sold the lands, and in that event is entitled to recover their value.
The 152,124.18 acres, before described as within the cession of 1855, were not reserved or otherwise appropriated when the grant was extended, but were then public lands; and, being swampy in character, they were included in the grant and rightly patented under it, unless there be merit in some of the contentions on the part of the United States which remain to be considered.
It next is said — assuming the grant was in praesenti and included these lands — that in virtue of the treaty-making power the United States could, and did by the
On examining the treaties we do not find anything in them which may be said to be certainly indicative of a purpose to divest the State of her right to these lands. The areas reserved by the treaties were described in general terms — as by indicating the exterior boundaries or designating the area as a stated number of townships around a particular lake. The areas were very large — one comprising more than a million acres. No doubt the descriptions were sufficient to carry the whole of each area, if free from other claims; but there was nothing in them or in the other provisions signifying a purpose to disturb prior disposals or to extinguish existing rights under them. True, it was said that the reservations were established as "future homes" for the Indians; but this meant that the Indians were to live within the reservations, and did not have reference to any particular lands within their limits. The areas were vastly in excess of what would be needed for individual homes and farms, and included many lands wholly unfit for that purpose. The areas were dotted with lakes — some navigable — and with swamps — some almost impassable. In short, it is apparent that the treaties dealt with extensive areas in a general way and not with particular lands in a specific way. So we think they must be read as impliedly excepting
The case of Minnesota v. Hitchcock, 185 U.S. 373, is cited as making for a different conclusion; but it does not do so. The question there was whether the State was entitled, under the school land grant, to sections 16 and 36 in the part of the Red Lake reservation which was ceded under the Act of 1889. That grant was expressed in words of promise, not of present grant. Title was to pass when the lands were identified by survey, if they were then public; and if at that time they were not public but otherwise disposed of, the State was to be entitled to other lands in their stead. The lands in question never had been public; and their cession under the Act of 1889 was not absolute or unqualified but in trust that they be sold as provided in that act for the benefit of the Indians. After that cession the lands in the ceded part of the reservation were surveyed and the government officers took up the task of selling them in pursuance of the trust. The State then sued to establish her claim to sections 16 and 36 and to prevent their sale. The Court ruled against the State, and the following excerpt from the opinion (p. 393) discloses the grounds on which the decision proceeded:
"Congress does not, by the section making the school land grant, either in letter or spirit, bind itself to remove all burdens which may rest upon lands belonging to the Government within the State, or to transform all from their existing status to that of public lands, strictly so called, in order that the school grant may operate upon the sections named. It is, of course, to be presumed that Congress will act in good faith; that it will not attempt to impair the scope of the school grant; that it intends that the State shall receive the particular sections or their equivalent in aid of its public school system. But considerations may arise which will justify an appropriation
It further is said that, assuming the State was entitled to these lands, she lost her right by failing to make selection of them within the prescribed period after they were surveyed. There is no merit in this contention. It rests on a misconception of what constitutes a selection in the sense of the requirement in the second section of the Act of 1860, before quoted. The earlier statute of 1850, in its second section, charged the Secretary of the Interior with the duty of making out and transmitting to each State accurate lists of the lands falling within the grant; and to do this it was necessary that he determine which lands were swampy and which not swampy. The Act said nothing about the evidence on which his determination should be based or the mode of obtaining the evidence. In taking up the administration of the grant, the Secretary accorded to each State a choice between two propositions: first, whether she would abide by the showing in the government surveyor's field notes; and, second, if the first proposition was not accepted, whether she would through her own agents make an examination in the field and present claims for the lands believed to be swampy accompanied by proof of their character. Some of the States elected to abide by the surveyor's field notes and others elected to take the other course. In the administration of the grant these elections were respected and given effect, save as there were some merely temporary departures. Where the election was to abide by the field notes that, without more, was regarded a continuing selection by the State of all lands thus shown to be swampy. Where the election was to take the other course the presentation of claims with supporting proofs was
Shortly after the Act of 1860 the propositions theretofore submitted to other States were submitted to Minnesota by the Secretary's direction in a letter from the Commissioner of the General Land Office. After stating the propositions the Commissioner said: "By the adoption of the first proposition the State will receive all the lands to which she is justly entitled, as the field notes of the survey are very full in characterizing or giving descriptions to the soil; and an important reason for doing so is
The further contention is made that the State before the issue of the patents forfeited her right to receive them by disabling herself, through an amendment to her constitution, from complying with the provision in the Act of 1850 directing that the lands passing to the State under the grant, or the proceeds of their sale, "be applied, exclusively, as far as necessary," in effecting their reclamation by means of needed levees and ditches. The State did declare in an amendment to her constitution, adopted in 1881, that the lands should be sold and the pvoceeds inviolably devoted to the support and maintenance of public schools and educational institutions; but it does not follow that she disabled herself from reclaiming the lands or formed or declared a purpose not to reclaim
Finally much stress is laid on the provisions of the Act of 1889, the cession under it, and resulting rights of the Indians and obligations of the United States. But it suffices here to say that the Act of 1889 was without application to lands in which the Indians had no interest, that the cession under it was only of lands in which they had
Our conclusion on the whole case is that the bill must be dismissed on the merits as to all the lands, excepting the 706 acres described as within the Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish and Cass Lake reservations as defined and existing in 1860, and that as to them the United States is entitled to a decree canceling the patents for such as have not been sold by the State and charging her with the value of such as she has sold. By reason of the relation in which the United States is suing, the value should be determined on the basis of the prices which would have been controlling had the particular lands been dealt with, as they should have been, under the Act of 1889, United States v. Mille Lac Chippewas, supra, 510.
The parties will be accorded twenty days within which to suggest a form of decree giving effect to our conclusions and to present an agreed calculation of the value of so much of the 706 acres as has been sold.