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U.S. Supreme Court

Sioux Tribe of Indians v. United States, 316 U.S. 317 (1942)

Sioux Tribe of Indians v. United States

No. 798

Argued April 10, 1942

Decided May 11, 1942

316 U.S. 317


1. Orders of the President, in 1875 and 1876, withdrawing areas of public lands from sale and settlement and setting them apart for the use of the Sioux Indians as additions to their permanent treaty reservation, conveyed no interest to the tribe for which it was entitled to compensation from the United States when, by subsequent executive orders, the lands were restored to the public domain. Pp. 316 U. S. 325, 316 U. S. 330.

2. Since the Constitution places the authority to dispose of public lands exclusively in Congress, the Executive's power to convey any interest in these lands must be traced to Congressional delegation of its authority. P. 316 U. S. 326.

3. The basis of decision in United States v. Midwest Oil Co., 236 U. S. 459, was that, so far as the power to withdraw public lands from sale is concerned, such a delegation could be spelled out from long continued Congressional acquiescence in the executive practice. P. 316 U. S. 326.

4. The answer to whether a similar delegation occurred with respect to the power to convey a compensable interest in these lands to the Indians must be found in the available evidence of what consequences were thought by the Executive and Congress to flow from the establishment of executive order reservations. P. 316 U. S. 326.

5. There was no express constitutional or statutory authorization for the conveyance of a compensable interest to the tribe by the executive orders of 1875 and 1876, and no implied Congressional delegation of the power to do so can be inferred from the evidence of Congressional and executive understanding. P. 316 U. S. 331.

Page 316 U. S. 318

6. The inclusion of executive order reservation in the provision of the General Allotment Act for allotting reservation land to Indians in severalty did not amount to a recognition of tribal ownership of the land prior to allotment. P. 316 U. S. 330.

94 Ct.Cls. 450 affirmed.

Certiorari, 315 U.S. 790, to review a judgment, in a suit against the United States under a special jurisdictional Act. The judgment denied recovery of compensation for land alleged to have been taken by the United States from the petitioning tribe of Indians.

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