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In re Can-ah-couqua

29 Fed. 687 (1887)

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In re Can-ah-couqua

United States District Court for the District of Alaska

29 Fed. 687 (1887)

Facts

In May 1883, an Indian mother, Can-ah-couqua (plaintiff), voluntarily surrendered custody of her five-year-old son, Can-ca-dach, to a Presbyterian mission school in Alaska. Can-ah-couqua gave the school custody of her child for a period of five years so that he might receive an education. Can-ah-couqua went along with the agreement for three years. During this time, the school provided Can-ca-dach with food, clothing, and shelter. Can-ah-couqua did not have to pay for anything. Can-ah-couqua recognized her son’s progress and expressed satisfaction with her son’s treatment. However, after three years, when Can-ca-dach was eight years old, Can-ah-couqua wanted her son returned to her custody. The superintendent of the mission school, William A. Kelly (defendant), refused to return Can-ca-dach to his mother’s custody. Can-ah-couqua petitioned for habeas corpus, alleging that her son was unlawfully restrained against her wishes by Superintendent Kelly and Chaplain A. E. Austin (defendant). Kelly and Austin acknowledged they had custody of Can-ca-dach pursuant to the terms of their agreement with Can-ah-couqua to keep the child for five years, and they denied that Can-ca-dach’s detention was unlawful.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dawson, J.)

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