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U.S. Supreme Court

Delaware Indians v. Cherokee Nation, 193 U.S. 127 (1904)

Delaware Indians v. Cherokee Nation

No. 240

Argued December 1-2, 1903

Decided February 23, 1904

193 U.S. 127


In a suit brought under § 25 of the Act of June 28, 1898, 30 Stat. 495, by the Delaware Indians residing in the Cherokee Nation for the purpose of determining their rights in and to the lands and funds of the Cherokee Nation under their contract and agreement with the Cherokee Nation of April 8, 1867,

Held that the registered Delawares acquired in the 157,000 acres set off to them east of the ninety-sixth meridian only the right of occupancy during life with a right upon allotment of the lands to not less than 160 acres, together with their improvements, and their children and descendants took only the rights of other citizens of the Cherokee Nation as the same are regulated by law.

Held that the Cherokee Nation has been recognized as a distinct political community, Cherokee Fund Cases, 117 U. S. 288, having its own constitution

Page 193 U. S. 128

and laws and power to administer the same, and it was not the purpose of the Enabling Act under which this suit was brought to revise the political action of the administration of the Nation in admitting persons to citizenship therein under authority of provisions of its constitution which were in force when the Delawares were consolidated with the Cherokee Nation.

Held that the Enabling Act contemplated a judgment of the court, determining the rights of the Delawares and Cherokees in the lands and funds of the Cherokee Nation, in such wise as to enable a division to be made conformable to the rights of the parties as judicially determined.

Held that the bill should not be dismissed because the Delawares have not proved their asserted claims, but a decree should be entered finding the registered Delawares entitled to participate equally with Cherokee citizens of Cherokee blood in the allotment of lands.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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