The United States (defendant) established a trust fund for the Seminole Nation (plaintiff), with $25,000 to be paid to the members annually. Between 1870 and 1874, at the request of the Seminole General Council (council), the United States paid the funds to the tribal treasurer and creditors. The United States received reports indicating that tribal officers were misappropriating the funds and not distributing them to the tribal members. The Seminole Nation sued in the court of claims, contending that the payments did not satisfy the treaty requirement, because they were not received by the individual members of the tribe. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.