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CHEROKEE NATION v. SOUTHERN KANSAS RAILWAY COMPANY

decided: May 19, 1890.

CHEROKEE NATION
v.
SOUTHERN KANSAS RAILWAY COMPANY



APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS.

Author: Harlan

[ 135 U.S. Page 642]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an appeal from a decree of the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Arkansas. The litigation between the parties arises out of an act of Congress, approved July 4, 1884, entitled "An act to grant the right of way through the Indian Territory to the Southern Kansas Railway Company, and for other purposes." 23 Stat. 73. By the first section of that act the above company was authorized to locate, construct, operate and maintain a railway, telegraph and telephone line, through the Indian Territory, beginning at a point on the northern line of the Territory, where an extension of the Southern Kansas Railway from Winfield in a southerly direction would strike that line, running thence south in the direction of Dennison, Texas, on the most practicable route, to a point at or near where the Washita River empties into the Red River, with a branch constructed

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     from a point at or near where the main line crosses the northern line of the Territory, westwardly along or near that line to a point at or near where Medicine Lodge Creek crosses the northern line of the Territory, and from that point in a southwesterly direction, crossing Beaver Creek at or near Camp Supply, and reaching the west line of the Indian Territory at or near where Wolf Creek crosses the same, with the right to construct, use and maintain such tracks, turnouts and sidings as the company might deem it to their interest to construct along and upon the right of way and depot ground by that act granted. The second section grants to the company a right of way of a prescribed width through the Territory for its main line and branch road, stations and telegraph and telephone lines, subject to the condition that no part of the lands granted shall be used otherwise than for the company's railroad, telegraph and telephone lines, and that if any portion ceases to be so used, it shall revert to the nation or tribe of Indians from which it was taken.

The third section, upon which some of the principal questions in the case depend, is in these words:

"SEC. 3. That before said railway shall be constructed through any lands held by individual occupants, according to the laws, customs and usages of any of the Indian nations or tribes through which it may be constructed, full compensation shall be made to such occupants for all property to be taken or damage done by reason of the construction of such railway. In case of failure to make amicable settlement with any occupant, such compensation shall be determined by the appraisement of three disinterested referees, to be appointed by the President, who, before entering upon the duties of their appointment, shall take and subscribe, before competent authority, an oath that they will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of their appointment, which oath, duly certified, shall be returned with their award. In case the referees cannot agree, then any two of them are authorized to make the award. Either party being dissatisfied with the finding of the referees shall have the right, within ninety days after the making of the award and notice of the same, to appeal by

[ 135 U.S. Page 644]

     original petition to the courts, where the case shall be tried de novo. When proceedings have been commenced in court, the railway company shall pay double the amount of the award into court to abide the judgment thereof, and then have the right to enter upon the property sought to be condemned, and proceed with the construction of the railroad. Each of said referees shall receive for their services the sum of four dollars per day for each day they are engaged in the trial of any case submitted to them under this act, with mileage at five cents per mile. Witnesses shall receive the usual fees allowed by the courts of said nations, costs, including compensation of the referees, shall be made a part of the award, and be paid by such railroad company."

The 5th, 6th and 8th sections are as follows:

"SEC. 5. That said railway company shall pay to the Secretary of the Interior, for the benefit of the particular nations or tribes through whose lands said main line and branch may be located, the sum of fifty dollars, in addition to compensation provided for in this act for property taken and damages done by the construction of the railway for each mile of railway that it may construct in said Territory, said payments to be made in installments of five hundred dollars as each ten miles of road is graded. Said company shall also pay, so long as said Territory is owned and occupied by the Indians, to the Secretary of the Interior the sum of fifteen dollars per annum for each mile of railway it shall construct in the said Territory. The money paid to the Secretary of the Interior under the provisions of this act shall be apportioned by him, in accordance with the laws and treaties now in force among the different nations and tribes, according to the number of miles of railway that may be constructed by said railway company through their lands: Provided, That Congress shall have the right, so long as said lands are occupied and possessed by said nations and tribes, to impose such additional taxes upon said railroad as it may deem just and proper for their benefit: Provided further, That if the general counsel [council] of either of the nations or tribes through whose lands said railway may be located shall within four months

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     after the filing of maps of definite location as set forth in section six of this act, dissent from the allowances provided for in this section, and shall certify the same to the Secretary of the Interior, then all compensation to be paid to such dissenting nation or tribe under the provisions of this act shall be determined as provided in section three for the determination of the compensation to be paid to the individual occupant of lands with the right of appeal to the courts upon the same terms, conditions and requirements as therein provided: Provided further, That the amount awarded or adjudged to be paid by said railway company for said dissenting nation or tribe shall be in lieu of the compensation that said nation or tribe would be entitled to receive under the provisions of this section. Nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit Congress from imposing taxes upon said railway, nor any Territory or State hereafter formed through which said railway shall have been established from exercising the like power as to such part of said railway as may lie within its limits. Said railway company shall have the right to survey and locate its railway immediately after the passage of this act.

"SEC. 6. That said company shall cause maps showing the route of its located lines through said Territory to be filed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior, and also to be filed in the office of the principal chief of each of the nations or tribes through whose lands said railway may be located; and after the filing of said maps no claim for a subsequent settlement and improvement upon the right of way shown by said maps shall be valid as against said company: Provided, That when a map showing any portion of said railway company's located line is filed as herein provided for, said company shall commence grading said located line within six months thereafter, or such location shall be void, and said location shall be approved by the Secretary of the Interior in sections of twenty-five miles before construction of any such section shall be begun."

"sec. 8. That the United States Circuit and District Courts for the Northern District of Texas, the Western District of

[ 135 U.S. Page 646]

     Arkansas, and the District of Kansas, and such other courts as may be authorized by Congress, shall have, without reference to the amount in controversy, concurrent jurisdiction over all controversies arising between said Southern Kansas Railway Company and the nations and tribes through whose territory said railway shall be constructed. Said courts shall have like jurisdiction, without reference to the amount in controversy, over all controversies arising between the inhabitants of said nations or tribes and said railway company; and the civil jurisdiction of said courts is hereby extended within the limits of said Indian Territory without distinction as to citizenship of the parties, so far as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this act."

The Cherokee Nation having dissented from the allowance provided for in the fifth section of the above act, commissioners were appointed by the President, as provided in the third section. They met at Topeka, Kansas, on the 26th of August, 1886, and having duly qualified according to law, proceeded to the Indian Territory in the discharge of their duties. Their report to the President, made September 25, 1886, states that they inspected the located line of road as it traversed the territory of the Cherokee Nation, with its branch, and that upon an actual view of the lands proposed to be taken and appropriated for right of way, station grounds, etc., under the act of Congress, they found that said Nation was entitled to receive as adequate compensation for such lands and for damages done by the construction of the railway, for thirty-five and one-half miles of the main line, the sum of $93 for each mile, aggregating for the whole distance $3301.50. They also found and awarded as adequate compensation and damages in respect to the lands to be taken and appropriated for the branch line, one hundred and twelve and 54/100 miles in length, the sum of $36 for each mile, aggregating for the whole distance the sum of $4051.44.The commissioners ordered that the railway company, within ten days after receiving notice from the Secretary of the Interior that their report was filed, should deposit with that officer the total amount of the awards made by them, for such disposition under the law

[ 135 U.S. Page 647]

     and the order of the Secretary as might be just and proper. This report having been filed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior, its contents were made known by that officer to the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in a communication dated October 29, 1886.

The Cherokee Nation, by the act of its National Council, approved December 17, 1886, concurred in by its House, December 16, 1886, dissented from and rejected as unjust, inequitable and without ...


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