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UNITED STATES AMERICA v. NOBLE.

decided: April 5, 1915.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
NOBLE.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

Author: Hughes

[ 237 U.S. Page 75]

 MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the court.

The Government brings this appeal to review a decree of the Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed a decree dismissing, upon demurrer, its suit as against the appellees. 197 Fed. Rep. 292.

The suit was instituted against the appellees, and others, to set aside certain mining leases of an Indian allotment, and assignments of rents and royalties, upon the ground that they were procured in fraud of the allottee, and were in violation of the restriction against alienation imposed by Congress. The land in question had been allotted to Charley Quapaw Blackhawk, a member of the Quapaw tribe of Indians, under the act of March 2, 1895, c. 188, 28 Stat. 876, 907. Patent was issued on September 26, 1896.The act of 1895 contained the following restriction:

"Provided That said allotments shall be inalienable for a period of twenty-five years from and after the date of said patents."

[ 237 U.S. Page 76]

     By the act of June 10, 1896, c. 398, 29 Stat. 321, 331, Congress authorized the allottees of lands, within the limits of the Quapaw Agency, 'to lease the same for a term not exceeding three years for farming purposes, or five years for mining or business purposes.' A further authorization -- the one here involved -- was made by the act of June 7, 1897, c. 3, 30 Stat. 62, 72, which was as follows:

"That the allottees of land within the limits of the Quapaw Agency, Indian Territory, are hereby authorized to lease their lands, or any part thereof, for a term not exceeding three years, for farming or grazing purposes, or ten years for mining or business purposes. And said allottees and their lessees and tenants shall have the right to employ such assistants, laborers, and help from time to time as they may deem necessary: Provided, That whenever it shall be made to appear to the Secretary of the Interior that, by reason of age or disability, any such allottee cannot improve or manage his allotment properly and with benefit to himself, the same may be leased, in the discretion of the Secretary, upon such terms and conditions as shall be prescribed by him. All acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this are hereby repealed."

The bill alleges that the allottee made the following mining leases of the allotted lands, and assignments of rents and royalties, to wit:

(1) Lease, dated January 11, 1902, to A.W. Abrams, for ten years from date, in consideration of the sum of $10, and a royalty of five per cent. of the market value of all minerals mined or removed (except gas, for which there was to be paid $40 per annum for each paying well), with the proviso that there should be a minimum rental of $20 a year in case the royalties did not exceed that amount.On August 13, 1903, the lease was assigned by Abrams to the Iowa & Oklahoma Mining Company.

(2) Lease, dated August 24, 1903, to A.W. Abrams,

[ 237 U.S. Page 77]

     for ten years from date, in consideration of $18, and of royalties which were the same as in first lease save that the minimum rental was $21 a year. This lease was assigned on November 2, 1904, to the Iowa & Oklahoma Mining Company.

(3) Lease, dated March 25, 1905, to L.C. Jones, and the appellee A.J. Thompson, for ten years from date, for $10 and five per cent. royalty. It was stated that the lease was subject to the first lease above mentioned. The interest of Jones ...


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