SPERRY OIL & GAS CO. V. CHISHOLM, 264 U. S. 488 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sperry Oil & Gas Co. v. Chisholm, 264 U.S. 488 (1924)

Sperry Oil & Gas Co. v. Chisholm

No. 164

Argued January 16, 1924

Decided April 7, 1924

264 U.S. 488


1. A final decree of the circuit court of appeals in a suit removed to the district court upon the ground that it arose under the laws of the United States held reviewable here by appeal, and not by certiorari. P. 264 U. S. 490.

2. Under the constitution and statutes of Oklahoma, the family homestead of an Indian may include his tribal "homestead" allotment as well as his tribal "surplus" allotment, and a lease, invalid because executed by the husband alone, may be set aside in a suit brought by the husband and wife, unless she is estopped by her acts and conduct from asserting its invalidity. P. 264 U. S. 492.

3. The power of Congress to deal with the Indians in Oklahoma as a dependent people and legislate concerning their property with a view to their protection was reserved by the Oklahoma Enabling Act, the terms of which were accepted by an ordinance of the constitutional convention of Oklahoma later ratified with the constitution of the state. P. 264 U. S. 493.

4. The authority given by the Act of Congress of May 27, 1908, to a Cherokee Indian of the half-blood to make an oil and gas lease upon his restricted "homestead" allotment, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, cannot be limited or contravened by the provision of the Oklahoma law attaching to the execution of a lease upon the family homestead the condition that it must be also executed by his wife. P. 264 U. S. 494.

5. The provision of the Oklahoma Enabling Act that all laws in force in Oklahoma Territory at the time of the admission of the state should be in force throughout the state, "except as modified or changed by this Act or by the constitution of the state," related only to laws affecting the citizens of the state generally, and did not authorize the application of such laws in contravention of acts passed by Congress in reference to the property of Indians under the power expressly reserved in the Enabling Act itself. P. 264 U. S. 496.

6. The provision in the Oklahoma Constitution that nothing in the laws of the United States shall deprive any Indian or other allottee

Page 264 U. S. 489

of the benefit of the homestead laws of the state cannot give validity to laws of the state repugnant to the reserved powers of the United States in legislating in respect of the lands of Indians. P. 264 U. S. 497.

7. The "surplus" allotment of a half-blood Cherokee, upon being freed from all federal restrictions by the Act of May 27, 1908, supra, became subject to the laws of Oklahoma like property of other citizens, including the law (supra, par. 2) restricting the disposition of family homesteads. P. 264 U. S. 497.

8. Regulations of the Secretary of the Interior providing that, if restrictions were removed from part of the land included in an oil and gas lease, the entire lease should continue subject to approval and supervision, and all royalties thereunder be paid to the Indian agent until lessor and lessee arranged for separate accountings upon the restricted and unrestricted land held not to relieve a lease, as to the unrestricted land included, from invalidity under the Oklahoma family homestead law. P. 264 U. S. 498.

9. Where an oil and gas lease of land is found invalid under the family homestead law, the court cannot permit the lessees to continue extracting oil and gas upon the condition that they do not interfere with the owners' use of the surface as a homestead. P. 264 U. S. 498.

282 F. 93 affirmed in part and reversed in part; certiorari dismissed.

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals affirming a decree of the district court which cancelled a lease made by an Indian of his homestead and surplus allotments, together constituting his family homestead, upon the ground that, not being executed by his wife, the instrument was invalid under the Oklahoma family homestead law. Certiorari also was granted.

Page 264 U. S. 490

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