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United States Supreme Court

112 U.S. 94

Elk  v.  Wilkins


This is an action brought by an Indian, in the circuit court of the United States for the district of Nebraska, against the registrar of one of the wards of the city of Omaha, for refusing to register him as a qualified voter therein. The petition was as follows: 'John Elk, plaintiff, complains of Charles Wilkins, defendant, and avers that the matter in dispute herein exceeds the sum of five hundred dollars, to-wit, the sum of six thousand dollars, and that the matter in dispute herein arises under the constitution and laws of the United States; and, for cause of action against the defendant, avers that he, the plaintiff, is an Indian, and was born within the United States; that more than one year prior to the grievances hereinafter complained of he had severed his tribal relation to the Indian tribes, and had fully and completely surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the United States, and still so continues subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; and avers that, under and by virtue of the fourteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States, he is a citizen of the United States, and entitled to the right and privilege of citizens of the United States. That on the sixth day of April, 1880, there was held in the city of Omaha (a city of the first class, incorporated under the general laws of the state of Nebraska, providing for the incorporation of cities of the first class) a general election for the election of members of the city council and other officers for said city. That the defendant, Charles Wilkins, held the office of and acted as registrar in the Fifth ward of said city, and that as such registrar it was the duty of such defendant to register the names of all persons entitled to exercise the elective franchise in said ward of said city at said general election. That this plaintiff was a citizen of and had been a bona fide resident of the state of Nebraska for more than six months prior to said sixth day of April, 1880, and had been a Bona fide resident of Douglas county, wherein the city of Omaha is situate, for more than forty days, and in the Fifth ward of said city more than ten days prior to the said sixth day of April, and was such citizen and resident at the time of said election, and at the time of his attempted registration, as hereinafter set forth, and was in every way qualified, under the laws of the state of Nebraska and of the city of Omaha, to be registered as a voter, and to cast a vote at said election, and complied with the laws of the city and state in that behalf. That on or about the fifth day of April, 1880, and prior to said election, this plaintiff presented himself to said Charles Wilkins, as such registrar, at his office, for the purpose of having his name registered as a qualified voter, as provided by law, and complied with all the provisions of the statutes in that regard, and claimed that, under the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the constitution of the United States, he was a citizen of the United States, and was entitled to exercise the elective franchise, regardless of his race and color; and that said Wilkins, designedly, corruptly, willfully, and maliciously, did then and there refuse to register this plaintiff, for the sole reason that the plaintiff was an Indian, and therefore not a citizen of the United States, and not, therefore, entitled to vote, and on account of his race and color, and with the willful, malicious, corrupt, and unlawful design to deprive this plaintiff of his right to vote at said election, and of his rights, and all other Indians of their rights, under said fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the constition of the United States, on account of his and their race and color. That on the sixth day of April this plaintiff presented himself at the place of voting in said ward, and presented a ballot, and requested the right to vote, where said Wilkins, who was then acting as one of the judges of said election in said ward, in further carrying out his willful and malicious designs as aforesaid, declared to the plaintiff and to the other election officers that the plaintiff was an Indian, and not a citizen, and not entitled to vote, and said judges and clerks of election refused to receive the vote of the plaintiff, for that he was not registered as required by law. Plaintiff avers the fact to be that by reason of said willful, unlawful, corrupt, and mailcious refusal of said defendant to register this plaintiff, as provided by law, he was deprived of his right to vote at said election, to his damage in the sum of $6,000. Wherefore, plaintiff prays judgment against defendant for $6,000, his damages, with costs of suit.'

The defendant filed a general demurrer for the following causes: (1) That the petition did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action; (2) that the court had no jurisdiction of the person of the defendant; (3) that the court had no jurisdiction of the subject of the action. The demurrer was argued before Judge McCRARY and Judge DUNDY, and sustained; and, the plaintiff electing to stand by his petition, judgment was rendered for the defendant, dismissing the petition, with costs. The plaintiff sued out this writ of error.

By the constitution of the state of Nebraska, art. 7, § 1, 'every male person of the age of twenty-one years or upwards, belonging to either of the following classes, who shall have resided in the state six months, and in the county, precinct, or ward for the term provided by law, shall be an elector: First, citizens of the United States; second, persons of foreign birth who shall have declared their intention to become citizens, conformably to the laws of the United States on the subject of naturalization, at least thirty days prior to an election.' By the statutes of Nebraska, every male person of the age of 21 years or upward, belonging to either of the two classes so defined in the constitution of the state, who shall have resided in the state 6 months, in the county 40 days, and in the precinct, township, or ward 10 days, shall be an elector; the qualifications of electors in the several wards of cities of the first class (of which Omaha is one) shall be the same as in precincts; it is the duty of the registrar to enter in the register of qualified voters the name of every person who applies to him to be registered, and satisfies him that he is qualified to vote under the provisions of the election laws of the state; and at all municipal, as well as county or state elections, the judges of election are required to check the name, and receive and deposit the ballot, of any person whose name appears on the register. Comp. St. Neb. 1881, c. 26, § 3; c. 13, § 14; c. 76, §§ 6, 13, 19.

The plaintiff, in support of his action, relies on the first clause of the first section of the fourteenth article of amendment of the constitution of the United States, by which 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside;' and on the fifteenth article of amendment, which provides that 'the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.' This being a suit at common law in which the matter in dispute exceeds $500, arising under the constitution of the United States, the circuit court had jurisdiction of it under the act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, § 1, even if the parties were citizens of the same state. 18 St. 470; Ames v. Kansas, 111 U.S. 449; S.C.. 4 SUP. CT. REP. 437. The judgment of that court, dismissing the action with costs, must have proceeded upon the merits, for if the dismissal had been for want of jurisdiction, no costs could have been awarded. Mayor v. Cooper, 6 Wall. 247; Mansfield, C. & L. M. Ry. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379; S.C.. 4 SUP. CT. REP. 510. And the only point argued by the defendant in this court is whether the petition sets forth facts enough to constitute a cause of action. The decision of this point, as both parties assume in their briefs, depends upon the question whether the legal conclusion, that under and by virtue of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution the plaintiff is a citizen of the United States, is supported by the facts alleged in the petition and admitted by the demurrer, to-wit: The plaintiff is an Indian, and was born in the United States, and has severed his tribal relation to the Indian tribes, and fully and completely surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the United States, and still continues to be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and is a bona fide resident of the state of Nebraska and city of Omaha. The petition, while it does not show of what Indian tribe the plaintiff was a member, yet, by the allegations that he 'is an Indian, and was born within the United States,' and that 'he had severed his tribal relations to the Indian tribes,' clearly implies that he was born a member of one of the Indian tribes within the limits of the United States which still exists and is recognized as a tribe by the government of the United States. Though the plaintiff alleges that he 'had fully and completely surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the United States,' he does not allege that the United States accepted his surrender, or that he has ever been naturalized, or taxed, or in any way recognized or treated as a citizen by the state or by the United States. Nor is it contended by his counsel that there is any statute or treaty that makes him a citizen.

The question then is, whether an Indian, born a member of one of the Indian tribes within the United States, is, merely by reason of his birth within the United States, and of his afterwards voluntarily separating himself from his tribe and taking up his residence among white citizens, a citizen of the United States, within the meaning of the first section of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution. Under the constitution of the United States, as originally established, 'Indians not taxed' were excluded from the persons according to whose numbers representatives and direct taxes were apportioned among the several states; and congress had and exercised the power to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes, and the members thereof, whether within or without the boundaries of one of the states of the Union. The Indian tribes, being within the territorial limits of the United States, were not, strictly speaking, foreign states; but they were alien nations, distinct political communities, with whom the United States might and habitually did deal, as they thought fit, either through treaties made by the president and senate, or through acts of congress in the ordinary forms of legislation. The members of those tribes owed immediate allegiance to their several tribes, and were not part of the people of the United States. They were in a dependent condition, a state of pupilage, resembling that of a ward to his guardian. Indians and their property, exempt from taxation by treaty or statute of the United States, could not be taxed by any state. General acts of congress did not apply to Indians, unless so expressed as to clearly manifest an intention to include them. Const. art. 1, §§ 2, 8; art. 2, § 2; Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 5 Pet. 1; Worcester v. Georgia, 6 Pet. 515; U.S. v. Rogers, 4 How. 567; U.S. v. Holliday, 3 Wall. 407; Case of the Kansas Indians, 5 Wall. 737; Case of the New York Indians, Id. 761; Case of the Cherokee Tobacco, 11 Wall. 616; U.S. v. Whisky, 93 U.S. 188; Pennock v. Commissioners, 103 U.S. 44; Crow Dog's Case, 109 U.S. 556; S.C.. 3 SUP. CT. REP. 396; Goodell v. Jackson, 20 Johns. 693; Hastings v. Farmer, 4 N. Y. 293.

The alien and dependent condition of the members of the Indian tribes could not be put off at their own will without the action or assent of the United States. They were never deemed citizens of the United States, except under explicit provisions of treaty or statute to that effect, either declaring a certain tribe, or such members of it as chose to remain behind on the removal of the tribe westward, to be citizens, or authorizing individuals of particular tribes to become citizens on application to a court of the United States for naturalization and satisfactory proof of fitness for civilized life; for examples of which see treaties in 1817 and 1835 with the Cherokees, and in 1820, 1825, and 1830 with the Choctaws, (7 St. 159, 211, 236, 335, 483, 488; Wilson v. Wall, 6 Wall. 83; Opinion of Atty. Gen. TANEY, 2 OP. Attys. Gen. 462;) in 1855 with the Wyandotts, (10 St. 1159; Karrahoo v. Adams, 1 Dill. 344, 346; Gray v. Coffman, 3 Dill. 393; Hicks v. Butrick, Id. 413;) in 1861 and in March, 1866, with the Pottawatomies, (12 st. 1192; 14 st. 763;) in 1862 with the Ottawas, (12 St. 1237;) and the Kickapoos, (13 St. 624;) and acts of congress of March 3, 1839, c. 83, § 7, concerning the Brothertown Indians; and of March 3, 1843, c. 101, § 7, August 6, 1846, c. 88, and March 3, 1865, c. 127, § 4, concerning the Stockbridge Indians, (5 St. 351, 647; 9 St. 55; 13 St. 562.) See, also, treaties with the Stockbridge Indians in 1848 and 1856, (9 St. 955; 11 St. 667; 7 Op. Attys. Gen. 746.)

Chief Justice TANEY, in the passage cited for the plaintiff from his opinion in Scott v. Sandford, 19 How. 393, 404, did not affirm or imply that either the Indian tribes, or individual members of those tribes, had the right, beyond other foreigners, to become citizens of their own will, without being naturalized by the United States. His words were: 'They' (the Indian tribes) 'may without doubt, like the subjects of any foreign government, be naturalized by the authority of congress, and become citizens of a state, and of the United States; and if an individual should leave his nation or tribe, and take up his abode among the white population, he would be entitled to all the rights and privileges which would belong to an emigrant from any other foreign people.' But an emigrant from any foreign state cannot become a citizen of the United States without a formal renunciation of his old allegiance, and an acceptance by the United States of that renunciation through such form of naturalization as may be required law.

The distinction between citizenship by birth and citizenship by naturalization is clearly marked in the provisions of the constitution, by which 'no person, except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president;' and 'the congress shall have power to establish an uniform rule of naturalization.' Const. art. 2, § 1; art. 1, § 8. By the thirteenth amendment of the constitution slavery was prohibited. The main object of the opening sentence of the fourteenth amendment was to settle the question, upon which there had been a difference of opinion throughout the country and in this court, as to the citizenship of free negroes, (Scott v. Sandford, 19 How. 393;) and to put it beyond doubt that all persons, white or black, and whether formerly slaves or not, born or naturalized in the United States, and owing no allegiance to any alien power, should be citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside. Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 73; Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, 306.

This section contemplates two sources of citizenship, and two sources only: birth and naturalization. The persons declared to be citizens are 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.' The evident meaning of these last words is, not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction, and owing them direct and immediate allegiance. And the words relate to the time of birth in the one case, as they do to the time of naturalization in the other. Persons not thus subject to the jurisdiction of the United States at the time of birth cannot become so afterwards, except by being naturalized, either individually, as by proceedings under the naturalization acts; or collectively, as by the force of a treaty by which foreign territory is acquired. Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States, members of, and owing immediate allegiance to, one of the Indiana tribes, (an alien though dependent power,) although in a geographical sense born in the United States, are no more 'born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,' within the meaning of the first section of the fourteenth amendment, than the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children born within the United States, of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign nations. This view is confirmed by the second section of the fourteenth amendment, which provides that 'representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.' Slavery having been abolished, and the persons formerly held as slaves made citizens, this clauses fixing the apportionment of representatives has abrogated so much of the corresponding clause of the original constitution as counted only three-fifths of such persons. But Indians not taxed are still excluded from the count, for the reason that they are not citizens. Their absolute exclusion from the basis of representation, in which all other persons are now included, is wholly inconsistent with their being considered citizens. So the further provision of the second section for a proportionate reduction of the basis of the representation of any state in which the right to vote for presidential electors, representatives in congress, or executive or judicial officers or members of the legislature of a state, is denied, except for participation in rebellion or other crime, to 'any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age and citizens of the United States,' cannot apply to a denial of the elective franchise to Indians not taxed, who form no part of the people entitled to representation.

It is also worthy of remark that the language used, about the same time, by the very congress which framed the fourteenth amendment, in the first section of the civil rights act of April 9, 1866, declaring who shall be citizens of the United States, is 'all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed.' 14 St. 27; Rev. St. § 1992. Such Indians, then, not being citizens by birth, can only become citizens in the second way mentioned in the fourteenth amendment, by being 'naturalized in the United States,' by or under some treaty or statute. The action of the political departments of the government, not only after the proposal of the amendment by congress to the states in June, 1866, but since the proclamation in July, 1868, of its ratification by the requisite number of states, accords with this construction. While the amendment was pending before the legislatures of the several states, treaties containing provisions for the naturalization of members of Indian tribes as citizens of the United States were made on July 4, 1866, with the Delawares, in 1867 with various tribes in Kansas, and with the Pottawatomies, and in April, 1868, with the Sioux. 14 St. 794, 796; 15 St. 513, 532, 533, 637.

The treaty of 1867 with the Kansas Indians strikingly illustrates the principle that no one can become a citizen of a nation without its consent, and directly contradicts the supposition that a member of an Indian tribe can at will be alternately a citizen of the United States and a member of the tribe. That treaty not only provided for the naturalization of members of the Ottawa, Miami, Peoria, and other tribes, and their families, upon their making declaration, before the district court of the United States, of their intention to become citizens, (15 St. 517, 520, 521;) but, after reciting that some of the Wyandotts, who had become citizens under the treaty of 1855, were 'unfitted for the responsibilities of citizenship,' and enacting that a register of the whole people of this tribe, resident in Kansas or elsewhere, should be taken, under the direction of the secretary of the interior, showing the names of 'all who declare their desire to be and remain Indians and in a tribal condition,' and of incompetents and orphans as described in the treaty of 1855, and that such persons, and those only, should thereafter constitute the tribe, it provided that 'no one who has heretofore consented to become a citizen, nor the wife or children of any such person, shall be allowed to become members of the tribe, except by the free consent of the tribe after its new organization, and unless the agent shall certify that such party is, through poverty or incapacity, unfit to continue in the exercise of the responsibilities of citizenship of the United States, and likely to become a public charge.' 15 St. 514, 516.

Since the ratification of the fourteenth amendment, congress has passed several acts for naturalizing Indians of certain tribes, which would have been superfluous if they were, or might become without any action of the government, citizens of the United States. By the act of July 15, 1870, c. 296, § 10, for instance, it was provided that if at any time thereafter any of the Winnebago Indians in the state of Minnesota should desire to become citizens of the United States, they should make application to the district court of the United States for the district of Minnesota, and in open court make the same proof, and take the same oath of allegiance as is provided by law for the naturalization of aliens, and should also make proof, to the satisfaction of the court, that they were sufficiently intelligent and prudent to control their affairs and interests, that they had adopted the habits of civilized life, and had for at least five years before been able to support themselves and their families; and thereupon they should be declared by the court to be citizens of the United States, the declaration entered of record, and a certificate thereof given to the applicant; and the secretary of the interior, upon presentation of that certificate, might issue to them patents in fee-simple, with power of alienation, of the lands already held by them in severalty, and might cause to be paid to them their proportion of the money and effects of the tribe held in trust under any treaty or law of the United States; and thereupon such persons should cease to be members of the tribe; and the lands so patented to them should be subject to levy, taxation, and sale in like manner with the property of other citizens. 16 St. 361. By the act of March 3, 1873, c. 332, § 3, similar provision was made for the naturalization of any adult members of the Miami tribe in Kansas, and of their minor children. 17 St. 632. And the act of March 3, 1865, c. 127, before referred to, making corresponding provision for the naturalization of any of the chiefs, warriors, or heads of families of the Stockbridge Indians, is re-enacted in section 2312 of the Revised Statutes.

The act of January 25, 1871, c. 38, for the relief of the Stockbridge and Munsee Indians in the state of Wisconsin, provided that 'for the purpose of determining the persons who are members of said tribes, and the future relation of each to the government of the United States,' two rolls should be prepared under the direction of the commissioner of Indian affairs, signed by the sachem and councilors of the tribe, certified by the person selected by the commissioner to superintend the same, and returned to the commissioner; the one, to be denominated the citizen roll, of the names of all such persons of full age, and their families, 'as signify their desire to separate their relations with said tribe and to become citizens of the United States,' and the other to be denominated the Indian roll, of the names of all such 'as desire to retain their tribal character and continue under the care and guardianship of the United States;' and that those rolls, so made and returned, should be held as a full surrender and relinquishment, on the part of all those of the first class, of all claims to be known or considered as members of the tribe, or to be interested in any provision made or to be made by the United States for its benefit, 'and they and their descendants shall thenceforth be admitted to all the rights and privileges of citizens of the United States.' 16 St. 406.

The pension act exempts Indian claimants of pensions for service in the army or navy from the obligation to take the oath to support the constitution of the United States. Act of March 3, 1873, c. 234, § 28, (17 St. 574; Rev. St. § 4721.) The recent statutes concerning homesteads are quite inconsistent with the theory that Indians do or can make themselves independent citizens by living apart from their tribe. The act of March 3, 1875, c. 131, § 15, allowed to 'any Indian born in the United States, who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and who has abandoned, or may hereafter abandon, his tribal relations,' the benefit of the homestead acts, but only upon condition of his 'making satisfactory proof of such abandonment, under rules to be prescribed by the secretary of the interior;' and further provided that his title in the homestead should be absolutely inalienable for five years from the date of the patent, and that he should be entitled to share in all annuities, tribal funds, lands, and other property, as if he had maintained his tribal relations. 18 St. 420. And the act of March 3, 1884, c. 180, § 1, while it allows Indians 'located on public lands' to 'avail themselves of the homestead laws as fully, and to the same extent, as may now be done by citizens of the United States,' provides that the form and the legal effect of the patent shall be that the United States does and will hold the land for twenty-five years in trust for the Indian making the entry, and his widow and heirs, and will then convey it in fee to him or them. 23 St. 96. The national legislation has tended more and more towards the education and civilization of the Indians, and fitting them to be citizens. But the question whether any Indian tribes, or any members thereof, have become so far advanced in civilization that they should be let out of the state of pupilage, and admitted to the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship, is a question to be decided by the nation whose wards they are and whose citizens they seek to become, and not by each Indian for himself. There is nothing in the statutes or decisions, referred to by counsel, to control the conclusion to which we have been brought by a consideration of the language of the fourteenth amendment, and of the condition of the Indians at the time of its proposal and ratification.

The act of July 27, 1868, c. 249, declaring the right of expatriation to be a natural and inherent right of all people, and reciting that 'in the recognition of this principle this government has freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with the rights of citizenship,' while it affirms the right of every man to expatriate himself from one country, contains nothing to enable him to become a citizen of another without being naturalized under its authority. 15 St. 223; Rev. St. § 1999. The provision of the act of congress of March 3, 1871, c. 120, that 'hereafter no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty,' is coupled with a provision that the obligation of any treaty already lawfully made is not to be thereby invalidated or impaired; and its utmost possible effect is to require the Indian tribes to be dealt with for the future through the legislative and not through the treaty-making power. 16 St. 566; Rev. St. § 2079.

In the case of U.S. v. Elm, 23 Int. Rev. Rec. 419, decided by Judge WALLACE in the district court of the United States for the Northern district of New York, the Indian who was held to have a right to vote in 1876 was born in the state of New York, one of the remnants of a tribe which had ceased to exist as a tribe in that state; and by a statute of the state it had been enacted that any native Indian might purchase, take, hold, and convey lands, and, whenever he should have become a freeholder to the value of $100, should be liable to taxation, and to the civil jurisdiction of the courts, in the same manner and to the same extent as a citizen. N. Y. St. 1843, c. 87. The condition of the tribe from which he derived his origin, so far as any fragments of it remained within the state of New York, resembled the condition of those Indian nations of which Mr. Justice JOHNSON said in Fletcher v. Peck, 6 Cranch, 87, 146, that they 'have totally extinguished their national fire, and submitted themselves to the laws of the states;' and which Mr. Justice MCLEAN had in view when he observed in Worcester v. Georgia, 6 Pet. 515, 580, that in some of the old states 'where small remnants of tribes remain, surrounded by white population, and who, by their reduced numbers, had lost the power of self-government, the laws of the state have been extended over them, for the protection of their persons and property.' See, also, as to the condition of Indians in Massachusetts, remnants of tribes never recognized by the treaties or legislative or executive acts of the United States as distinct political communities, Danzell v. Webquish, 108 Mass. 133; Pells v. Webquish, 129 Mass. 469; Mass. St. 1862, c. 184; 1869, c. 463.

The passages cited as favorable to the plaintiff, from the opinions delivered in Ex parte Kenyon, 5 Dill. 385, 390, in Ex parte Reynolds, 5 Dill. 394, 397, and in U.S. v. Crook, 5 Dill. 453, 464, were obiter dicta. The Case of Reynolds was an indictment, in the circuit court of the United States for the Western district of Arkansas, for a murder in the Indian country, of which that court had jurisdiction if either the accused or the dead man was not an Indian, and was decided by Judge PARKER in favor of the jurisdiction, upon the ground that both were white men, and that, conceding the one to be an Indian by marriage, the other never was an Indian in any sense. 5 Dill. 397, 404. Each of the other two cases was a writ of habeas corpus; and any person, whether a citizen or not, unlawfully restrained of his liberty, is entitled to that writ. Case of the Hottentot Venus, 13 East, 195; Case of Dos Santos, 2 Brock. 493; In re Kaine, 14 How. 103. In Kenyon's Case, judge PARKER held that the court in which the prisoner had been convicted had no jurisdiction of the subject-matter, because the place of the commission of the act was beyond the territorial limits of its jurisdiction, and, as was truly said, 'this alone would be conclusive of this case.' 5 Dill. 390. In U.S. v. Crook, the Ponca Indians were discharged by Judge DUNDY because the military officers who held them were taking them to the Indian Territory by force and without any lawful authority, (5 Dill. 468;) and in the case at bar, as the record before us shows, that learned judge concurred in the judgment below for the defendant.

The law upon the question before us has been well stated by Judge DEADY in the district court of the United States for the district of Oregon. In giving judgment against the plaintiff in a case resembling the case at bar, he said: 'Being born a member of 'an independent political community'-the Chinook-he was not born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States-not born in its allegiance.' McKay v. Campbell, 2 Sawy. 118, 134. And in a later case he said: 'But an Indian cannot make himself a citizen of the United States without the consent and co-operation of the government. The fact that he has abandoned his nomadic life or tribal relations, and adopted the habits and manners of civilized people, may be a good reason why he should be made a citizen of the United States, but does not of itself make him one. To be a citizen of the United States is a political privilege which no one, not born to, can assume without its consent in some form. The Indians in Oregon, not being born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, were not born citizens thereof, and I am not aware of any law or treaty by which any of them have been made so since.' U.S. v. Osborne, 6 Sawy. 406, 409. Upon the question whether any action of a state can confer rights of citizenship on Indians of a tribe still recognized by the United States as retaining its tribal existence, we need not, and do not, express an opinion, because the state of Nebraska is not shown to have taken any action affecting the condition of this plaintiff. See Chirac v. Chirac, 2 Wheat. 259; Fellows v. Blacksmith, 19 How. 366; U.S. v. Holliday, 3 Wall. 407, 420; U.S. v. Joseph, 94 U.S. 614, 618. The plaintiff, not being a citizen of the United States under the fourteenth amendment of the constitution, has been deprived of no right secured by the fifteenth amendment, and cannot maintain this action. Judgment affirmed.


NotesEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).