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Solem v. Bartlett

Supreme Court of the United States

December 7, 1983, Argued ; February 22, 1984, Decided

No. 82-1253

Opinion

 [*464]   [***446]   [**1163]  JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

 On May 29, 1908, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Interior to open 1.6 million acres of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation for homesteading. Act of May 29, 1908, ch. 218, 35 Stat. 460 et seq. (Act or Cheyenne River Act). The question presented in this case is whether that Act of Congress diminished the boundaries of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation or simply permitted non-Indians to settle within existing reservation boundaries.

 [*465]  I

 In 1979, the State of South Dakota charged respondent John Bartlett, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, with attempted rape. Respondent pleaded guilty to the charge, and was sentenced  [***447]  to a 10-year term in the state penitentiary at Sioux Falls.  After exhausting state remedies, respondent filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota. Respondent contended that the crime for which he had been convicted occurred within the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, established by [****5]  Congress in the Act of Mar. 2, 1889, ch. 405, § 4, 25 Stat. 889; that, although on May 29, 1908, Congress opened for settlement by non-Indians the portion of the reservation on which respondent committed his crime, the opened portion nonetheless remained Indian country; 2 and that the State therefore lacked criminal jurisdiction over respondent. 3

 [****6]   [*466]  Relying on previous decisions of the Eighth Circuit dealing with the Act of May 29, 1908, 4 the District Court accepted respondent's claim that the Act had not diminished the original Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, and issued a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit, sitting en banc, affirmed, two judges dissenting. 691 F.2d 420 (1982). Because the Supreme Court of South Dakota has issued  [**1164]  a pair of opinions offering a conflicting interpretation of the Act of May 29, 1908, 5 we granted certiorari. 461 U.S. 956 (1983). We now affirm.

 [****7]  II

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465 U.S. 463 *; 104 S. Ct. 1161 **; 79 L. Ed. 2d 443 ***; 1984 U.S. LEXIS 34 ****; 52 U.S.L.W. 4257

SOLEM, WARDEN, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE PENITENTIARY, ET AL. v. BARTLETT

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

Disposition:  691 F.2d 420, affirmed.

CORE TERMS

reservation, opened, diminished, Tribe, surplus land, Cheyenne River Act, non-Indian, tribal, unallotted, allotments, territories, cession, settlers, authorities

Governments, Native Americans, Authority & Jurisdiction, Real Property Law, Title Quality, Aboriginal & Recognized Titles, General Overview, Property Rights, Criminal Law & Procedure, Jurisdiction & Venue, Jurisdiction, Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Major Crimes Act, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Employees & Officials, Indian Reorganization Act, Legislation, Interpretation