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UNITED STATES V. NICE, 241 U. S. 591 (1916)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Nice, 241 U.S. 591 (1916)

United States v. Nice

No. 681

Argued April 24, 1916

Decided June 12, 1916

241 U.S. 591


The General Allotment Act of 1887 discloses that the tribal relation of the Indians, while ultimately to be broken up, was not to be dissolved by the making or taking of allotments, and subsequent legislation shows repeated instances in which the tribal relation of allottee Indians was recognized as continuing during the trust period.

Congress has power to regulate or prohibit traffic in intoxicating liquor with tribal Indians within a state, whether upon or off an Indian reservation.

When Indians are prepared to exercise the privileges and bear the burdens of one sui juris, tribal relations may be dissolved and the national guardianship ended, but the time and manner of ending the guardianship rests with Congress.

Legislation affecting the Indians is to be construed in their interest, and a purpose to make a radical departure is not lightly to be inferred.

Words in a statute, although general, must be read in the light of the statute as a whole, and with due regard to the situation in which they are to be applied.

Under the General Allotment Act of 1887 and the act of March 2, 1889, making allotments of lands in the Rosebud Reservation, tribal relations and government wardship were not disturbed by the allotments or the trust patents, and during the trust period, Congress has power to regulate or prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquor to Allottee Indians, and so held as to the act of January 30, 1897, c. 109, 29 Stat. 506.

In view of many enactments of Congress since the decision of this Court in Matter of Heff, 197 U. S. 488, reflecting the intent of Congress in regard to sale of intoxicating liquor to Indians, this Court is constrained to and does overrule that decision.

The facts, which involve the construction and constitutionality of the provisions of the Act of January 30,

Page 241 U. S. 592

1897, prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors to allottee Indians, are stated in the opinion.

Page 241 U. S. 595

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