Law School Case Brief
United States v. Kagama - 118 U.S. 375, 6 S. Ct. 1109 (1886)
All Indians committing against the person or property of another Indian or other person any of the crimes of murder, manslaughter, rape, assault with intent to kill, arson, burglary and larceny, within any territory, and either within or without the Indian reservation, are subject therefor to the laws of said territory relating to said crimes, and shall be tried therefor in the same courts and in the same manner, and shall be subject to the same penalties, as are all other persons charged with the commission of the said crimes. The said courts are hereby given jurisdiction. All such Indians committing any of the above crimes against the person or property of another Indian or other person, within the boundaries of any state, and within the limits of any Indian reservation, shall be subject to the same laws, tried in the same courts, in the same manner, and subject to the same penalties, as are all other persons committing any of the above crimes within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. 23 Stat. ch. 341, 362; § 9, 385.
Two Indians were indicted for murder committed on an Indian reservation. The Indians were charged with murdering another Indian.
Were Indians subject to the jurisdiction of the district court for their crimes of murder of another Indian, while on a reservation located within a state?
The United States Supreme Court identified two situations under which Indians could be punished by the court for the same crimes as defined by the common law. The first clause of 23 Stat. ch. 341, 362; § 9, 385 subjected all Indians to the laws of the territory. The second clause applied only to offenses committed within the limits of a state and reservation and subjected the offenders to the laws of the United States. The court found that, although the offense at issue was committed within a state and not within a territory, the district court had jurisdiction of the offenses charged in the indictment.
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