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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1905
Part I ([1905])

Taxation of Indian lands in Iowa,   pp. 480-482 PDF (1.1 MB)


Page 482

482      REPORTS OF THE        DEPARTMENT       OF THE    INTERIOR. 
taxes had ever been paid thereon. The defendant alleged want of jurisdiction
in the State 
courts and want of capacity to sue. 
The difficulty presented in the case arises from the manner in which the
Federal Govern- 
ment deals with Indians living in tribal relation. By numerous treaties with
these Indians 
they have on their part surrendered to the Government their claim to valuable
lands, and 
the Government on its part has promised its protection and care. 
The Government will not permit these Indians, though they bought their lands
from 
annuities received from the Government, to in any way sell, encumber, or
transfer their 
interest in their lands only with the consent and approval of the Secretary
of the Interior. 
The courts have uniformly held that Indians living in tribal relations are
in a state of pupil- 
age and are wards of the Federal Government. In addition to these holdings
of the court 
and the treatment of the Indians by the Federal Government, in 1896 the legislature
of 
Iowa by a special act tendered to the Federal Government the exclusive jurisdiction
over 
the Indians and their lands, with certain reservations [one of which was
the right to tax 
their lands] therein, and by such act so soon as the Federal Government accepted
said 
tender the jurisdiction of the State therein should cease. In July following
the Federal 
Government by a special act of Congress accepted the jurisdiction so tendered
absolutely, 
and in view of such action on the part of the legislature and Congress the
court held that 
the State courts had no right to hear and determine any question involving
the civil rights 
or wrongs of these Indians. On the question of the capacity to sue, the court
held that 
inasmuch as these Indians must be considered as wards of the Government they
were under 
a legal disability, the same as an insane person or a minor and the like,
and suit should be 
brought in the name of the Indian agent or superintendent representing the
Federal Gov- 
ernment and whose duty it is to care for and look after the interests of
these Indians. 
After a full and exhaustive presentation of the whole subject and a consideration
of the 
authorities cited, which were irreconcilably in conflict, the court sustained
the defendant's 
motion to dismiss the case upon both grounds urged in the motion. 


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