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The creation of the Walapai Indian Reservation established by executive order at the request of the Walapais and its acceptance by them amounts to a relinquishment of any tribal claims to lands which they might have outside that reservation and that relinquishment is tantamount to an extinguishment by "voluntary cession" within the meaning of § 2 of the Act of July 27, 1866.
The United States filed the instant suit in its own right and as guardian of the Indians of the Walapai (Hualpai) Tribe in Arizona (28 U. S. C. § 41 (1), § 24 Judicial Code) to enjoin respondent Santa Fe Pacific Railroad Co. (“SFPRC”) from interfering with the possession and occupancy by the Indians of certain land in northwestern Arizona. SFPRC claims full title to the lands in question under the grant to its predecessor, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Co., provided for in the Act of July 27, 1866, 14 Stat. 292. The bill sought to establish that SFPRC’s rights under the grant of 1866 are subject to the Indians' right of occupancy both inside and outside their present reservation which was established by the Executive Order of President Arthur, January 4, 1883. The bill consists of two causes of action -- the first relating to lands inside, and the second, to lands outside, that reservation. The bill prayed, inter alia, that title be quieted and that respondent "account for all rents, issues and profits derived from the leasing, renting or use of the lands subject to said right of occupancy" by the Indians. SFPRC moved to dismiss on the ground that the facts alleged were "insufficient to constitute a valid cause of action in equity." The District Court granted that motion. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
Did the creation of the Walapai Indian Reservation in Arizona by Executive Order, at the request of the Walapais, and its acceptance by them amount to a relinquishment of any tribal claims in relation to lands outside the reservation?
Pursuant to a recommendation of an officer of the US Army, acting on the request of the tribe’s majority, the military reservation was constituted on July 8, 1881, subject to the approval of the President. The Executive Order creating the Walapai Indian Reservation was signed by President Arthur on January 4, 1883. There was an indication that the Indians were satisfied with the proposed reservation. A few of them thereafter lived on the reservation; many of them did not. While suggestions recurred for the creation of a new and different reservation, this one was not abandoned. For a long time it remained unsurveyed. Cattlemen used it for grazing, and for some years the Walapais received little benefit from it. But in view of all of the circumstances, its creation at the request of the Walapais and its acceptance by them amounted to a relinquishment of any tribal claims to lands which they might have had outside that reservation and that that relinquishment was tantamount to an extinguishment by "voluntary cession" within the meaning of § 2 of the Act of July 27, 1866. The lands were fast being populated. The Walapais saw their old domain being preempted. They wanted a reservation while there was still time to get one. That solution had long seemed desirable in view of recurring tensions between the settlers and the Walapais. In view of the long standing attempt to settle the Walapais' problem by placing them on a reservation, their acceptance of this reservation must be regarded in law as the equivalent of a release of any tribal rights which they may have had in lands outside the reservation. They were in substance acquiescing in the penetration of white settlers on condition that permanent provision was made for them too. In view of this historical setting, it cannot now be fairly implied that tribal rights of the Walapais in lands outside the reservation were preserved. That would make the creation of the 1883 reservation, as an attempted solution of the violent problems created when two civilizations met in this area, illusory indeed. The court must give it the definitiveness which the exigencies of that situation seem to demand. Hence, acquiescence in that arrangement must be deemed to have been a relinquishment of tribal rights in lands outside the reservation and notoriously claimed by others.