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CRAMER V. UNITED STATES, 261 U. S. 219 (1923)

U.S. Supreme Court

Cramer v. United States, 261 U.S. 219 (1923)

Cramer v. United States

No. 207

Argued January 15, 16, 1923

Decided February 19, 1923

261 U.S. 219


1. Lands definitely occupied by individual Indians were excepted from the Central Pacific grant of July 25, 1866, c. 242, 14 Stat. 239, as lands "reserved . . . or otherwise disposed of." P. 261 U. S. 226.

2. Such possessory rights, though not recognized by any statute or other formal governmental action of the time, were protected by the settled policy of the government towards the Indians. P. 261 U. S. 229.

3. The Act of March 3, 1851, which required that claims of rights in lands in California derived from Spain and Mexico be presented for settlement within a specified time, and directed the Commission thereby created to inquire into the tenures of certain Indians, has no application to claims of individual Indians, not of those classes, and based on an occupancy not shown to have been initiated when the act was passed. P. 261 U. S. 230.

4. The United States, as guardian of individual Indians who have occupied public land in accordance with its policy, may maintain a bill to cancel a patent illegally issued to another for the land so occupied. P. 261 U. S. 232.

5. The six-year limitation on suits by the United States to annul land patents is inapplicable when the suit is to protect the rights of Indians. P. 261 U. S. 233.

6. The acceptance by government agents of leases from a patentee on behalf of Indian occupants cannot estop the government from maintaining the Indian's independent right to the land occupied by a suit against the patentee. P. 261 U. S. 234.

7. The rights of one who occupies part of a subdivision of public land without laying claim to or exercising dominion over the remainder are confined to the part occupied. P. 261 U. S. 234.

276 F. 78 reversed.

Page 261 U. S. 220

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals reversing a decree of the district court and directing cancellation of a patent as to 360 acres of land in a suit brought by the United States for that purpose on behalf of several Indians.

Page 261 U. S. 224

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