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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1892
([1892])

Decision of Supreme Court of Michigan regarding taxation of certain Indians,   pp. 756-759 PDF (2.2 MB)


Page 756

756           LEGAL STATUS OF INDIAN ALLOTTEES. 
The Indian allottee remains fora time as shown above in a state of tutelage
and 
wardship, and the Indian agent placed over him is continued for the purpose
of 
executing the duties of the Government as his guardian. The fact that he
is a 
citizen does not take him from under the operation of the laws of Congress
made 
for his protection and benefit, and anyone who sells or gives him liquor
is liable 
to punishment. The district court of the United States for Washington I be-
lieve, ruled contrary to this view in a case tried by it in the spring of
1890. I 
have not seen that decision and I do not believe that it has been published;
but 
from the correspondence of the Indian agent on the subject, I believe the
deci- 
sion of the court was in error, because instead of following the decision
of the 
political departments of the Government as to the condition of the Indians
the 
court decided for itself how the particular class of Indians affected should
be 
regarded, and holding that as they were citizens of the United States the
action 
of Congress and the Executive in maintaining an agency over them was unau-
thorized, and that the Indians were not under an Indian agent within the
mean- 
ing of the statute. This seems to me to be contrary to the rule laid down
by 
the Supreme Court. The Indians affected by this decision below were those
of 
Puyallup Agency, Washington. 
In connection with this subject your attention is also invited to the opinion
of 
Attorney-General Miller of March 12, 1890 (19 Opinions, 511), which has a
most 
important bearing on the questions as to how the Indian allottees should
be re- 
garded and as to the duty of the Government to continue for a time its guardian
care over them and their lands. 
With regard to the application of section 5388 of the Revised Statutes to
the 
unlawful cutting of timber on Indian allotments, I have to say that, as construed
by the Attorney-General, the law clearly is that Indian allottees do not
have 
the right to cut green merchantable timber on their allotments for the purpose
of sale alone (19 Opinions, 232), but that- 
"The cutting or destroying of timber on lands which have been patented
to 
individual Indians is not an offense punishable under the act of June 4,
1888, 
chapter 340, amendatory of section 5388, Revised Statutes." (Ibid, 183.)
Depredations committed upon timber on allotments can, it seems, only be sued
for by the United States as trustee of the allottee. 
Very respectfully,                           TJM      G 
T. J. MORGAN, 
Commissioner. 
DECISION OF SUPREME COURT OF MICHIGAN REGARDING TAXA- 
TION OF CERTAIN INDIANS. 
[Supreme court. The auditor-general, petitioner and appellant, v8. Sarah
Williams, defendant. 
Filed December 22, 1892.] 
DURAND, J. 
The petition was filed in this case by the auditor-general under section
52 of 
act No. 195 of the session laws of 1889, praying for a decree in favor of
the State 
of Michigan against certain lands in Isabella County for the taxes of 1889,
among 
which lands are those of the defendant, being the southwest quarter of the
southeast quarter of section 24, in township 15 north, range 4 west. 
The defendant, who is an Indian woman of the Chippewas of the Saginaw, 
Swan Creek, and Black River Indians, filed her objections to the tax, claiming
that her land was not taxable for the reason that it was patented to her
on Feb- 
ruary 9, 1885, under and by virtue of the treaties of August 2, 1855, and
October 
18, 1864, between the United States and the Chippewas of Saginaw, Swan Creek
and Blask River, in which she was denominated as a "not so competent,"
and 
which contained a clause that the land shall never be sold or alienated to
any 
person or persons whomsoever, without the consent of the Seoretary of the
In- 
terior for the time being. It is admitted that she is the-patentee, under
such 
patent, and that the Secretary has not removed the disability -of "not
so com- 
petent," mentioned therein; that he has not authorized the alienation
of the 
land; that she has not applied to him for the removal of such disability,
and 
that this land is a part of the lands set apart by the United States for
the In- 
dians, under the treaties referred to. 
The treaty of October 18, 1864, among other things contains the following:
" So soon as practicable after the ratification of this treaty, the
agent for the 
said Indians shall make out a list of all those persons who have heretofore
made 
selections of lands under the treaty of August 2, 1855, aforesaid, and of
those 


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