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Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock

United States Supreme Court
187 U.S. 553, 23 S.Ct. 216, 47 L.Ed. 299 (1903)



In 1892, three Indian tribes, the Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches, signed a treaty with the United States government. The government sought a treaty that would reduce the size of the existing Indian reservations so that some of the land could be allocated to whites and other non-Indians. As part of this new treaty, each member of the three tribes would receive 160 acres of land. The remaining land, almost 3 million acres, would be purchased by the government for $2 million and allocated to non-Indians. During the course of negotiating this treaty, the leaders of the three tribes made several recommendations and changes to the proposed treaty. Although representatives of the United States said that they would include these changes in the treaty, the representatives did not do so. After learning of this, the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache leaders objected to the ratification of the treaty. One of the leaders, Lone Wolf (plaintiff), sued the U.S. secretary of the interior (defendant) to prevent the enforcement of the bill meant to ratify the treaty. Lone Wolf argued that the new treaty constituted an unconstitutional taking of Indian land under the Fifth Amendment. The district court denied Lone Wolf’s request to stop the bill in Congress, and the court of appeals denied Lone Wolf’s appeal. Lone Wolf appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence (Harlan, J.)

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