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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1883
([1883])

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. III-LXXI ff. PDF (28.2 MB)


Page XII

XII    REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
rent year. On the 18th September, 1882, Robert Poisal, a half-breed 
Arapaho belonging to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation in the In- 
dian Territory, while driving home with his niece, Mrs. Meagher, from 
the Sacred Heart Mission, in the Pottawatornie country in that Terri- 
tory, whither they had been to place some of their children at school, was
shot down and killed by Johnson Foster, a Creek Indian. This occurred 
at a point about 45 miles east of the agency, on the Shawneetown road, 
about 20 miles from Kickapoo Village, on the Pottawatoinie Reservarion, 
a tract of country specially set apart by act of Congress for the Potta-
watomies and Shawuees. There was no apparent motive for the murder 
other than plunder. The murderer was arrested by the Seminole Light 
Horse and brought into the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, whence, in 
order to escape the summary vengeance threatened by the Arapahoes, 
he was turned over to the military authorities at Fort Reno for safe 
keeping. 
The facts being reported to this Department, and an examination of 
the treaties with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians seemingly favoring 
the view that the United States court had jurisdiction of the crime com-
mitted, the honorable Attorney-General, upon the recommendation of 
the Department, instructed the United States attorney for the western 
district of Arkansas to arrange for the immediate removal of the 
prisoner to Fort Smith, and for his trial there before the United States
court. Section 2145 of the Revised Statutes provides- 
Except as to crimes the punishment of which is expressly provided for in
this title, 
the general laws of the United States as to the punishment of crimes committed
in 
any place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States,
except 
the District of Columbia, shall extend to the Indian country. 
Section 2146 enacts- 
The preceding section shall not be construed to extend to orimes committed
by one 
Indian against the person or property of another Indian, nor. to any Indian
committing 
any offense in the Indian country who has been punished by the local law
of the 
tribe, or to any case where by treaty stipulations the exclusive jurisdiction
over such 
offenses is or may be secured to the Indian tribes respectively. (See "An
act to cor- 
rect errors and supply omissions in the Revised Statutes of the United States,"
ap- 
proved February 18, 1875; 18 Stat., p. 316.) 
The United States attorney for the western district of Arkansas, hav- 
ing expressed the opinion that under section 2146, above quoted, the 
United States court was without jurisdiction in the premises, and that 
the trial and punishment of the offender was a matter properly belong- 
ing to the Indians themselves, the honorable Attorney-General was 
inclined to think it would be a useless expense to transpo-rt the prisoner
to Fort Smith, but invited a further expression of the views of this De-
partment before issuing definite instructions to the district attorney. 
On the 4th November last this office replied thr-ough the Department, and
referred to the second clause of the treaties with the Cheyenne and 
Arapaho Indians (15 Stat., 593; Id., 655), reading as follows- 
If bad men among the whites, or among other people subject to the authority
of the 
United States, shall commit any wrong upon the person or property of the
Indians, 


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