Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Opinion of the Court.

254 U. S.

as free as may be from any dispute of fact except the fact of death, and as soon as it reasonably can be done. It is said that the insurance companies now generally issue policies with such a clause. The state decisions, so far as we know, have upheld it. Unless it appears that the State concerned adopts a different attitude we should uphold it here. Simpson v. Life Insurance Co. of Virginia, 115 N. Car. 393; Mareck v. Mutual Reserve Fund Life Association, 62 Minnesota, 39; Goodwin v. Provident Savings Life Assurance Association, 97 Iowa, 226; Patterson v. Natural Premium Mutual Life Insurance Co., 100 Wisconsin, 118.

We are of opinion that the provision in the first mentioned document avoiding the policy if the insured should die by his own hand within two years from the date is an inverted expression of the same general intent as that of the clause in the second making the policy incontestable after one year, and that both equally mean that suicide of the insured, insane or sane, after the specified time shall not be a defence. It seems to us that that would be the natural interpretation of the words by the people to whom they are addressed, and that the language of each policy makes the company issuing it liable in the event that happened. We answer the first question in each certificate, yes. The other questions are disposed of by our answer to the first.

Answer to question 1 in No. 70, Yes.
Answer to question 1 in No. 71, Yes.

MR. JUSTICE DAY took no part in the decision of these

cases.

Syllabus.

HARRIS, FORMERLY FRANCIS, ET AL. v. BELL ET AL.

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

No. 51. Argued January 26, 1920.-Decided November 15, 1920.

1. Lands representing the distributive share of a Creek Indian who died after his enrollment and before their selection or allotment and which thereafter were selected, allotted and deeded in his name, pursuant to the Act of April 26, 1906, c. 1876, § 5, 34 Stat. 137, and earlier statutes, are to be considered as going to his heirs, not as a direct allotment to them but as an inheritance, the alienability of which by full bloods is determined, not by § 19 of the Act of 1906 or §1 of the Act of May 27, 1908, c. 199, 35 Stat. 312, respecting allotments to living allottees, but by the provisions governing alienability by heirs. P. 108.

2. In this regard it is not the usual distinctions between title by purchase and title by descent that must control, but the letter and spirit of the acts of Congress. Id.

3. The power vested in the Secretary of the Interior by the Act of April 26, 1906, supra, to approve or disapprove conveyances of inherited allotments when made by adult full-blood Indian heirs, was not recalled by the Act of May 27, 1908, supra, as to conveyances made, though not approved, before its enactment, nor does the lapse of 22 years between the deed and its approval affect the validity of the conveyance in the absence of any lawful intervening disposal. P. 109.

4. The provision in § 9 of the Act of May 27, 1908, supra, that no conveyance of any interest of any full-blood Indian heir shall be valid "unless approved by the court having jurisdiction of the settlement of the estate" of the deceased allottee, prescribes a rule for future conveyances. P. 110.

5. Section 6 of the Act of May 27, 1908, supra, which subjects the persons and property of minor allottees to the jurisdiction of the probate courts of the State of Oklahoma, does not include or affect inherited lands, in its provision that "no restricted lands of living minors shall be sold or encumbered, except by leases authorized by law, by order of the court or otherwise." Id.

Opinion of the Court.

254 U. S. 6. Section 6 of the Act of May 27, 1908, supra, and other acts of Congress, explicitly subject the persons and property of Indian minors of the Five Civilized Tribes to the jurisdiction of the probate (county) courts of Oklahoma; § 9 of that act declares that the death of any allottee shall remove all restrictions upon the alienation of his land, with the proviso that no conveyance of any interest of any full-blood Indian heir in such land shall be valid "unless approved by the court having jurisdiction of the settlement of the estate of said deceased allottee." Held, harmonizing the sections, that the proviso of § 9 is to be taken as referring only to adult full-blood heirs, and that a probate court having jurisdiction over the persons and property of minor full-blood heirs, but not of the settlement of the estate of the deceased allottee from whom they inherited, was the proper court to sanction a conveyance of the allotment made by their guardian. P. 111.

7. The general rule giving to the court of guardianship exclusive power to direct the guardian and supervise the management and disposal of the ward's property, obtains in Oklahoma, and an intention to depart from it in an act of Congress respecting the lands of minor full-blood Indians should not be accepted unless very clearly and explicitly evinced. P. 112.

250 Fed. Rep. 209, affirmed.

THE case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. James C. Davis for appellants.

The Solicitor General and Mr. Assistant Attorney General Nebeker also filed a brief on behalf of appellants.

Mr. William M. Matthews, with whom Mr. George S. Ramsey was on the brief, for appellees.

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the court.

By this suit certain conveyances of lands allotted in the name and right of a Creek Indian after his death were assailed, and their cancellation sought, by the heirs who

[blocks in formation]

made them. On the final hearing the District Court upheld two of the conveyances, 235 Fed. Rep. 626, and that decree was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals. 250 Fed. Rep. 209. The present appeal is by the heirs.

The circumstances to be considered are as follows: By the Act of March 1, 1901, c. 676, 31 Stat. 861, as modified by the Act of June 30, 1902, c. 1323, 32 Stat. 500, provision was made for the allotment and distribution of the Creek tribal lands and funds among the members of the tribe. An enrollment was to be made of (a) all members living on April 1, 1899, (b) all children born to members after that date up to and including July 1, 1900, and living on the latter date, and (c) all children born to members after July 1, 1900, up to and including May 25, 1901, and living on the latter date. All who were so enrolled were to share in the allotment and distribution. If any of these died before receiving his allotment and distributive share, the lands and moneys to which he "would be entitled if living" were to "descend to his heirs" and be "allotted and distributed to them accordingly." A provision in the Act of March 3, 1905, plainly intended to amend and supplement the earlier acts, authorized the inclusion of all children born between May 25, 1901, and March 4, 1905, and living on the latter date, c. 1479, 33 Stat. 1071.

Originally all lands allotted to living members in their own right were subjected to specified restrictions on alienation; but those allotted in the right of deceased members were left unrestricted up to the passage of the Act of April 26, 1906, c. 1876, 34 Stat. 137. Skelton v. Dill, 235 U. S. 206; Adkins v. Arnold, 235 U. S. 417, 420; Mullen v. United States, 224 U. S. 448; Brader v. James, 246 U. S. 88, 94; Talley v. Burgess, 246 U. S. 104, 107. Section 19 of that act materially revised the restrictions respecting lands of living allottees, and § 22 dealt with the alienation of inherited lands, including, as this court has

Opinion of the Court.

254 U.S.

held, lands allotted in the name and right of a member after his death. Talley v. Burgess, supra, p. 108. Section 22 read as follows:

"That the adult heirs of any deceased Indian of either of the Five Civilized Tribes whose selection has been made, or to whom a deed or patent has been issued for his or her share of the land of the tribe to which he or she belongs or belonged, may sell and convey the lands inherited from such decedent; and if there be both adult and minor heirs of such decedent, then such minors may join in a sale of such lands by a guardian duly appointed by the proper United States court for the Indian Territory. And in case of the organization of a State or Territory, then by a proper court of the county in which said minor or minors may reside or in which said real estate is situated, upon an order of such court made upon petition filed by guardian. All conveyances made under this provision by heirs who are full-blood Indians are to be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe."

Section 5 of the same act directed that all patents or tribal deeds for allotments should issue "in the name of the allottee"-meaning the member in whose right the allotment was made and provided that if he were then dead the title should inure to and vest in "his heirs," as if the patent or deed "had issued to the allottee during his life." A like provision is found in § 32 of the Act of June 25, 1910, c. 431, 36 Stat. 855.

Further provisions bearing on the alienation of lands of living allottees and also inherited lands were embodied in the Act of May 27, 1908, c. 199, 35 Stat. 312, to be noticed presently.

The lands in question were allotted in the name and right of Freeland Francis, a Creek child who was born in 1903, was lawfully enrolled June 10, 1905, and died twelve days later. After his death the allotment was

« ForrigeFortsett »