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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 XIII

REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.         X1II 
the United States will, upon proof made to the agent and forwaided to the
Commis- 
sioner of Indian Affairs at Washington city, proceed at once to cause the
offender 
to be arrested and punished according to the laws of the United States, and
also re- 
imburse the injured person for the loss sustained. 
and took the position that the murder having been committed within the 
Pottawatomie country, the prisoner came within the meaning of the term 
,' other people subject to the authority of the United States," and
was 
excepted from the general la w as expressed in section 2146, and therefore
that the United States court could take .jurisdiction of the case; citing
the case of Crow Dog, a Sioux Indian recently tried and convicted by the
United States court iu Dakota, for the murder of Spotted Tail, an Indian
of the same tribe. On the 7th November last the honorable Attorney- 
General replied to the effect that, while admitting there was some ground
for the argument, he considered the question of jurisdiction by the United
States court over the case as so doubtful as to render it inexpedient to
incur the expense of the prisonei's removal and trial at Fort Smith. 
The military authorities at Fort Reno, having applied through the 
War Department to be relieved of the custody of the prisoner, this 
office, in view of the opinion of the Attorney-General, by letter of the
I ith June last, inquired of the Department what disposition should be 
made of the prisoner. Attention was called to the fact that the courts 
of the Creek Nation, to which nation the prisoner belonged, were with- 
out jurisdiction, the murder having been committed outside the lits 
of their country; that the Absentee Shawnees and Pottawatomies, 
within whose boundaries the crime was committed, had no laws appli- 
cable to the case, and that neither the Cheyennes and Arapahoes nor the 
Absentee Shawnees and Pottawatomies were parties to the reciprocity 
compact entered into between the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Osage 
and other nations, on the 4th June, 1870 (see Laws of Muscogee, or 
Creek N4 tion, edition 1880, p. 85); and it was suggested that in view of
the many complications attendant on the case the Attorney-General be 
requested to reconsider his decision, to the end that the question of juris-
diction might be passed upon by the United States court, or that the 
Department be pleased to indicate what action should be taken upon the 
request of the War Department, in order that full justice might be done 
all parties concerned. Said letter having been duly referred to the 
Department of Justice, the honorable Attorney-General on the 27th 
June last replied at considerable length, setting forth his views on the
legal aspect of the case and adhering to his opinion already expressed 
that there was but little ground to hope that the United States court 
had jurisdiction of the offense. Recognizing, however, the embarrass- 
ments prevailing, he stated that if it occurred to the Department as a 
matter of importance that the opinion of the courts should be taken in the
course of a vigorous prosecution of the crime he would cheerfully execute
whatever suggestion might be made, adding that such prosecution, what- 
ever its issue, might more effectually call the attention of Congress to
the 
I- 
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