« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
JUSTICES WHITE and McKENNA, dissenting.
had been ascertained by the judgment of this court on April 17, 1893. By a proviso the Commissioner of Indian Affairs was directed" to withhold from distribution among the said Indians so much of any moneys due them by the United States as may be found justly and equitably due for legal services rendered, and to pay the same on account of the prosecution and recovery of the moneys aforesaid.” In the Indian Department appropriations act of June 10, 1896, 29 Stat. 321, c. 398, there was appropriated to pay the same Indians $2081.30 as their proportion of the perpetual annuities for the year ending June 30, 1897, and also the sum of $41,626.00, as a "final settlement by capitalizing their proportion of the perpetual annuities in question.” Reference was made to the judgment of this court as in the prior appropriation acts.
The action of the Secretary of the Interior in respect to the disbursement of the moneys so appropriated is summarized in finding of facts numbered III made by the Court of Claims in this action. It reads as follows:
“In June, 1895, the Secretary of the Interior ordered and directed that a census of the Indians be made under the act 2d March, 1895, 28 Stat. 894. The census roll was prepared under instructions of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated June 8, 1895—approved by the Secretary of the Interior June 15, 1895-by John W. Cadman, and is known as the
Cadman census roll. While the agent was so engaged in taking the census, John B. Shipman, Esq., attorney of record in the case of Pam-to-pee v. United States, addressed a communication to the Secretary of the Interior, dated July 27, 1895, representing that such census, by reason of the manner in which it was being taken, would omit many Indians entitled to be paid under the judgment of the court. Before further instructions were given by the Secretary of the Interior the agent, Cadman, in August, 1895, made and returned and filed in the Interior Department the census so made by him.
“ After this roll had been prepared many applications for enrollment were received by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, based upon the statement that while such applicants were not on the roll of 1866 they were on prior rolls from 1843 to 1866,
JUSTICES White and MCKENNA, dissenting.
or were the descendants of such persons. The question was then submitted to the Secretary of the Interior for an opinion as to whether the rolls from 1813 to 1866 should be considered in connection with the enrollment of those who were entitled to participate in the distribution of the $104,626 awarded by the Court of Claims.
“On January 10, 1896, the Secretary of the Interior made his final decision in regard to the Indians who should be enrolled and paid under the judgment of this court and the appropriation of Congress. Marcus D. Shelby, a special Indian agent, was designated by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to examine and report upon the claims of the several parties alleging to be descendants of the Pottawatomie Indians of Indiana and Michigan who were permitted by supplemental clause to the treaty of September 27, 1833, to remain east, and for whom the Court of Claims rendered a decision in their favor of $104,626, June 27, 1892. The instructions given to the agent by the Commissioner were dated February 5, 1896. The agent so designated proceeded to Michigan and reported the result of his investigation, bearing date of March 14, 1896. The report so made was accepted by the Secretary of the Interior as substantially correct, and the amount appropriated by Congress in satisfaction of the judgment of this court, 28 Stat. 450, as well as other funds appropriated to pay the Indians upon treaties mentioned in the petitions in said suits, (the sum paid being $118,554.52) paid to the persons upon the roll made by Cadman, after adding thereto two names on the recommendation of Shelby in closing his report as persons mentioned on the census roll of 1866. Later one more was added by the department. The money was paid to the Indians as communal owners. That is to say, it was paid pro rata to every living
. member of that portion of the tribe entitled to participate in the fund and not per stirpes.
“ Enclosed in the said letter of John B. Shipman was a list containing the names of over one hundred and fifty of the claimants herein, the names of their ancestors and number on the pay-roll of 1813 and 1844 being given as stated in the letter."
JUSTICES WHITE and MCKENNA, dissenting.
The report of agent Shelby was made a part of the findings of the court. The manner in which he proceeded to ascertain who were entitled to be added to the Cadman roll was thus summarized in the opinion below:
“ His report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, March 14, 1896, shows that he traveled through the country where these Indians resided, or were supposed to reside, and notified them, so far as he could, to appear
In his report he said: 'I found these people very badly scattered, and as they do not frequent post offices, the notices prepared for me to be posted in the various post offices, to give them notice of my coming, were of but little value. In nearly every instance, on reaching the vicinity of these Indians, I had to take teams and drive to their homes. I got, however, the newspapers to publish the principal points I would visit.' A number appeared, some of whom claimed because their ancestors' names were on the rolls of 1813 and 1844, others because they had Pottawatomie blood in their veins.
. All of these applicants were rejected for various reasons; some because their proof was insufficient; some because they or their forefathers had allied themselves with other Indian tribes; some because their fathers' names had been erroneously placed, in the opinion of Indian agents, upon the former rolls, and had been dropped from subsequent rolls.”
There was no finding that any notice had been given to Mr. Shipman of the movements of agent Shelby, nor was it found that any of the Indians whose names were furnished by Mr. Shipman to the Secretary of the Interior ever had actual notice of the investigation which the representative of the Secretary of the Interior made intermediate the receipt of the instructions of February 5, 1896, and the return of Shelby to Washington in the early part of the following month.
On April 22, 1899, the present action was instituted in the Court of Claims, the petition being filed on behalf of Phineas Pam-to-pee and 362 other named Indians, alleged to be a portion of the Indians in whose favor the judgment for $104,626 was rendered. The proceedings in the prior actions were set out and the passage of the various appropriating acts to which
JUSTICES WHITE and MCKENNA, dissenting.
allusion has already been made was averred, as also that distribution had been made of the greater part of the funds among 273 Indians, while nothing had been paid to the petitioners. Judgment was prayed for such proportionate amount of the various funds as the evidence might show the petitioners were entitled to, to be “allotted and awarded to them severally.”
After issue joined, the cause was tried and the Court of Claims filed findings of facts and conclusions of law. Finding III has heretofore been set out. Finding IV reads as follows:
“None of the Indians, parties in or represented by the present suit, were paid as aforesaid. A large number of them, to wit, 272, whose names are set forth in Schedule A annexed to claimants' requests for findings were descended from Indians whose names were enrolled on the rolls of Indians in Michigan in the years 1843, 1814, and 1866. A portion of the Indians who remained in Michigan as coming within the exemption of the treaty of September 27, 1833, were represented in both petitions in the cases of the Pottawatomie Indians v. The United States and the Pam-to-pee Indians v. The United States."
The Court of Claims thus expressly found that a large number of the Indians, claimants in this suit, had received nothing in the distribution made by the Secretary of the Interior, although some of these Indians were parties to or represented in the consolidated case, and were also represented by Mr. Shipman before the Secretary of the Interior, and were entitled to share in such distribution. In addition, from the facts found concerning the investigation made by Agent Shelby prior to the distribution referred to, the court below expressed the opinion that the investigation by Agent Shelby" was burried, and to the judicial mind is unsatisfactory.” Moreover, the court, considering the judgment rendered in the previous consolidated case and the acts of Congress making the appropriation to pay the judgment of $104,626, arrived at the conclusion that "there is not a line in the judgment of this court or in any statute of Congress which empowered or authorized the Secretary to dispose of the fund.” It was decided that the suit must be dismissed, because the petitioners had been guilty of such laches in pressing their claims after the appropriation was made and whilst the distribu
JUSTICES White and MCKENNA, dissenting.
tion was pending, as to debar them from all right to relief at the hands of the court.
It is difficult for me to determine precisely on what ground the theory of laches was predicated. In one aspect of the opinion below it would seem to have been rested upon the theory that, as the distribution of the money was a judicial act and not an administrative one, it was incumbent on the petitioners to have invoked the power of the court to control the Secretary of the Interior and compel him to distribute the money rightfully; on the other, that although the petitioners had formally notified the Secretary of their claims, they were nevertheless guilty of laches because they did not foresee that that officer would distribute the money without notice to them, and after an investigation which the court itself finds to have been wholly unsatisfactory to the judicial mind.
In the argument at bar the error which was committed in the distribution in question as shown by the facts found by the court below is not disputed. On the contrary, in addition to the error in the distribution so shown, it is expressly conceded that the distribution was besides fundamentally wrong, because it was made on an illegal basis. Thus it is said in the brief on behalf of the United States :
“It appears from the record in this case that the judgment was distributed not per stirpes but per capita. That is to say, all the Indians discovered were allowed to participate equally in the fund, irrespective of the generation to which they belonged. The son of an Indian who appeared on one of the pay rolls was allowed only the same amount which each of, say, five grandchildren of an Indian on one of the pay rolls was allowed. They should have taken by representation. The aggregate of the five shares of the five grandchildren mentioned should have equaled the share of the son of the original payee. The consequence is that the whole judgment was distributed on a wrong basis. The payments became due to individuals at various times. The record discloses no reason why the estate of the individual to whom such payment was due is not entitled to the whole of such payment.
“If any one on the pay rolls at the time the annuities became