Administering Native Peoples 1824
John Marshall (1755–1835), James Monroe (1758–1831)
In Johnson v. M’Intosh case decision, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that Chief Justice John Marshall can exercise sovereignty over new lands whenever they are found. You can read the details o this case below.
The creation of the Office of Indian Affairs inside the War Department establishes the bureaucracy that would oversee the nation’s “manifest destiny” goals—the belief that the nascent nation has the right to expand to the Pacific. As the US military defeats American Indian tribes, the government will establish treaties with them, and the tribes will be sent to reserves.
“Under the regulations set by the department, the management of the fund for Indian civilisation is likewise entrusted to your responsibility.” You are also in charge of investigating claims resulting from legislation governing relations with Indian tribes, and will submit them to this Department after analyzing and briefing them, endorsing a proposal for their permission or disallowance.”
Johnson v. M’Intosh – 21 U.S. 543, 5 L. Ed. 681, 1823 U.S. LEXIS 293, 8 Wheat. 543
RULE: The United States has unambiguously accepted the huge and wide rule that now governs the country’s civilized population. They possess and assert the title by which it was gained. They claim, as have all others, that discovery provided an exclusive right to terminate the Indian title to possession, either by purchase or conquest, as well as a right to such a degree of sovereignty as the people’s circumstances would allow.
While it was colonies, the crown or its grantees held the right to award lands, which is currently held by the United States government. The legality of any of their titles has never been called into doubt. It has been applied uniformly to all Indian-owned land. Any right that would compete with or govern it must be negated by the presence of this power. An absolute claim to lands cannot exist in more than one individual or in more than one government at the same time.
An absolute title must be exclusive, or at the very least, exclude all other titles that are incompatible with it. All institutions acknowledge the crown’s absolute title, subject only to the Indian right of occupancy, and the crown’s absolute title to extinguish that right. This is irreconcilable with the Indians having an absolute and complete title.
FACTS: The plaintiffs, largely British subjects and their successors, claimed title to land in Illinois that the Piankeshaw Indians had given them prior to the American Revolution. They claimed that their title stemmed directly from the Native Americans who had previously held the land, and that it was thus superior to the defendants’.
ISSUE/QUESTION: Whether plaintiffs’ land title, which was conveyed by a Native American tribe, was superior to defendants’ land title, which was conveyed by the US government.
CONCLUSION: Defendants’ land grant came directly from the US government, and the district court determined that their claim was superior. The court reached this conclusion based on the premise that the Piankeshaw were unable to transmit the property since they never “owned” it in the conventional sense. The Court agreed, and the defendants’ land grant title was affirmed.
The Trail of Broken Treaties (1972).
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)