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United States v. Osage County, 251 U.S. 128 (1919)

United States v. Osage County

No. 309

Argued April 16, 1919

Decided December 15, 1919

251 U.S. 128


As the guardian of noncompetent Osage Indians, whose surplus allotments are submitted to state taxation under the Act of June 28, 1906, c. 3572, 34 Stat. 539, the United States may maintain a suit to protect such allottees as a class from being despoiled of their property through arbitrary, excessive, and discriminating taxes imposed upon them by the state tax officials in systematic and intentional disregard of the state laws. P. 251 U. S. 132.

The proper officials of the United States (the United States Attorney under direction of the Attorney General) have implied authority to institute and conduct such a suit, and this is recognized by the Act of March 2, 1917, c. 146, 39 Stat. 969, 983, providing for an appraisement of the lands to ascertain the extent of overassessment. Id.

In such a case, the United States is not obliged to resort to the remedies afforded to individuals by the state law for the correction of mistakes committed in the tax proceedings, but may invoke the equity jurisdiction to avoid a multiplicity of suits and secure an adequate remedy for the Indians as a class. P. 251 U. S. 133.

254 F. 570 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 251 U. S. 129

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