INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND TREATIES

Vol. IV, Laws     (Compiled to March 4, 1927)

Compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler. Washington : Government Printing Office, 1929.


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PUBLIC ACTS OF THE SIXTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION, 1924.
Chap. 2 | Chap. 54 | Chap. 70 | Chap. 81 | Chap. 88 | Chap. 89 | Chap. 90 | Chap. 91 | Chap. 92 | Chap. 93 | Chap. 94 | Chap. 95 | Chap. 101 | Chap. 134 | Chap. 135 | Chap. 151 | Chap. 158 | Chap. 160 | Chap. 161 | Chap. 162 | Chap. 176 | Chap. 177 | Chap. 178 | Chap. 179 | Chap. 180 | Chap. 181 | Chap. 200 | Chap. 210 | Chap. 215 | Chap. 216 | Chap. 217 | Chap. 220 | Chap. 231 | Chap. 232 | Chap. 233 | Chap. 239 | Chap. 240 | Chap. 249 | Chap. 253 | Chap. 264 | Chap. 288 | Chap. 289 | Chap. 292 | Chap. 293 | Chap. 298 | Chap. 300 | Chap. 309 | Chap. 310 | Chap. 311 | Chap. 313 | Chap. 318 | Chap. 328 | Chap. 331 | Chap. 335 | Chap. 371 | Chap. 372

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Chapter 331
June 7, 1924. | [S. 2932.] 43 Stat., 636.

An Act To quiet the title to lands within Pueblo Indian land grants, and for other purposes.2
Section 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19

Margin Notes
Chap. 331 Pueblo Indian land grants, N. Mex. Suit on behalf of Pueblo Indians to be filed in district court to quiet titles to lands within.
Sec. 2 Pueblo Lands Board, established. Composition.
Sec. 2 Quarters, powers, personnel, etc.
Sec. 2 Pay, etc., of appointive members.
Sec. 2 To investigate, determine, etc., the lands of which the Indian title has not been extinguished.
Sec. 2 Claims by adverse possession of non-Indians, excluded.
Sec. 2 Proviso. Decisions as to extinguishment of Indian title.
Sec. 2 Report on each pueblo to be filed with court, etc.
Sec. 3 Suit to quiet title on filing of report.
Sec. 4 Pleas of limitation by adverse claimants.
Sec. 4 Actual adverse possession under color of title, since January 6, 1902.
Sec. 4 Taxes paid, etc.
Sec. 4 Actual adverse possession without color of title, since March 16, 1889.
Sec. 4 Taxes paid, etc.
Sec. 4 Right of Indians to assert right to title etc., by original court proceedings prior to filing of field notes, etc., not impaired.
Sec. 4 43 Stat., 640, post, 458.
Jurisdiction of court.
Sec. 4 Proviso. Condition on contracts with attorneys.
Sec. 5 Effect if plea of limitations maintained.
Sec. 5 Authority of United States to plead.
Sec. 6 Further reports.
Sec. 6 On area, etc., of land and water rights in possession of non-Indian claimants, etc.
Sec. 6 Whether land or water rights recoverable by seasonable prosecution thereof.
Sec. 6 Meaning of seasonable prosecution.
Sec. 6 Fair market value of water rights and land, if recoverable by seasonable prosecution, etc.
Sec. 6 Liability of United States, and award to pueblo.
Sec. 6 Judicial effect of award, etc.
Sec. 6 Reports to be filed simultaneously with the other.
43 Stat., 636; ante, 455.
Sec. 6 Review by court on petition.
Sec. 6 Jurisdiction of court.
Sec. 6 Procedure.
Sec. 6 Review by circuit court of appeals on petition of aggrieved party.
Sec. 6 Finality of decision.
Sec. 6 Review of specific finding not to affect other findings, etc.
Sec. 6 No awarding of costs.
Sec. 7 Investigation, recommendation, etc., directed on value of lands, etc., of non-Indians for purchase and entry under deed from pueblo authority, whose claims are not sustained.
Sec. 7 Recognition of claims within Nambe pueblo grant.
Sec. 7 Disposal of
Sec. 7 Proviso. Right of Indians to impeach validity of deed.
Sec. 8 Investigation, report, etc., on value of lands and improvements of non-Indian claimants with valid title, etc.
Sec. 9 Survey, etc., of lands the title to which is determined.
Sec. 9 Subject to approval of judge, etc.
Sec. 10 Costs.
Sec. 11 Meaning of "purchase" as used herein.
Sec. 12 Intervening allowed of any party claiming an interest.
Sec. 13 Field notes and plats of all lands granted to Pueblo Indians, not claimed therefor in pending proceedings, etc., to be filed with surveyor general, two years after reports made by board.
Sec. 13 Acceptance conclusive as to title extinguished, etc.
Sec. 13 Publication, after expiration of right of Indians to bring independent suits, giving names of non-Indian claims for land holdings, etc.; not claimed by Indians.
Sec. 13 Adverse claimants required to file notice of contest in proper land office.
Sec. 13 Patent to claimant if no contest instituted.
Sec. 13 Hearings of contests.
Sec. 13 Benefits allowed.
Sec. 13 Procedure if two or more adverse claimants.
Sec. 13 Patents to be issued without cost.
Sec. 14 Action if Spanish or Mexican grant asserted by non-Indian party.
Sec. 14 Ascertainment of value of land by court.
Sec. 14 Proviso. Review or appeal allowed.
Sec. 14 Report, etc., to Congress if final finding against Indian claim.
Sec. 15 Improvements by nonsuccessful claimant to be reported to Congress with recommendations.
Sec. 16 Sale of lands adjacent to non-Indian claimants, and apart from Indian lands.
Sec. 16 Use of proceeds.
Sec. 17 No right, etc., to be acquired to unextinguished Pueblo Indian lands, except as provided by Congress, etc.
Sec. 18 Federal court procedure, etc., applicable.
Sec. 19 Sums appropriated for Indians, etc., to be paid to Bureau of Indian Affairs for disbursement, etc.

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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in order to quiet title to various lots, parcels, and tracts of land in the State of New Mexico for which claim shall be made by or on behalf of the Pueblo Indians of said State as hereinafter provided, the United States of America, in its sovereign capacity as guardian of said Pueblo Indians shall, by its Attorney General, file in the District Court of the United States for the District of New Mexico, its bill or bills of complaint with a prayer for discovery of the nature of any


2See following cases, U. S. District Court, New Mexico; U. S. as Guardian of Pueblo of Tseuque vs. Woodford, et al.;
U. S. as Guardian of Pueblo of Jemez vs. Santa Fe, N. W. Ry. Co.; U. S. as Guardian of Pueblo of Nambe vs. Herrera, et al.;
U. S. as Guardian of Pueblo of Taos vs. Garcia et al.; U. S. as Guardian of Pueblo of Taos vs. Wooten;
U. S. as Guardian of Pueblo of Santa Ana vs. Brown, et al.; U. S. as Guardian of Pueblo of Santa Domingo vs. Montoya, et al.

Page 455

claim or claims of any kind whatsoever adverse to the claim of said Pueblo Indians, as hereinafter determined.

SEC. 2.

That there shall be, and hereby is, established a board to be known as "Pueblo Lands Board" to consist of the Secretary of the Interior, the Attorney General, each of whom may act through an assistant in all hearings, investigations, and deliberations in New Mexico, and a third member to be appointed by the President of the United States. The board shall be provided with suitable quarters in the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and shall have power to require the presence of witnesses and the production of documents by subpoena, to employ a clerk who shall be empowered to administer oaths and take acknowlegdments, shall employ such clerical assistance, interpreters, and stenographers with such compensation as the Attorney General shall deem adequate, and it shall be provided with such necessary supplies and equipment as it may require on requisitions to the Department of Justice. The compensation and allowance for travel and expenses of the member appointed by the President shall be fixed by the Attorney General.

It shall be the duty of said board to investigate, determine, and report and set forth by metes and bounds, illustrated where necessary by field notes and plats, the lands within the exterior boundaries of any land granted or confirmed to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico by any authority of the United States of America, or any prior sovereignty, or acquired by said Indians as a community by purchase or otherwise, title to which the said board shall find not to have been extinguished in accordance with the provisions of this Act, and the board shall not include in their report any claims of non-Indian claimants who, in the opinion of said board after investigation, hold and occupy such claims of which they have had adverse possession, in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of this Act: Provided, however, That the board shall be unanimous in all decisions whereby it shall be determined that the Indian title has been extinguished.

The board shall report upon each pueblo as a separate unit and upon the completion of each report one copy shall be filed with the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, one with the Attorney General of the United States, one with the Secretary of the Interior, and one with the Board of Indian Commissioners.

SEC. 3.

That upon the filing of each report by the said board, the Attorney General shall forthwith cause to be filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, as provided in section 1 of this Act, a suit to quiet title to the lands described in said report as Indian lands the Indian title to which is determined by said report not to have been extinguished.

SEC. 4.

That all persons claiming title to, or ownership of any lands involved in any such suit, or suits, may in addition to any other legal or equitable defenses which they may have or have had under the laws of the Territory and State of New Mexico, plead limitation of action, as follows, to wit: (a) That in themselves, their ancestors, grantors, privies, or predecessors in interest or claim of interest, they have had open, notorious, actual, exclusive, continuous, adverse possession of the premises claimed, under color of title from the 6th day of January, 1902, to the date of the passage of this Act, and have paid the taxes lawfully assessed and levied thereon to the extent required by the statutes of limitation, or adverse possession of the Territory or of the State of New Mexico, since the 6th of January, 1902, to the date of the passage of this Act, except where the claimant was exempted or entitled to be exempted from such tax payment. (b) That in themselves, their ancestors, grantors, privies, or predecessors in interest or claim of interest, they have had open, notorious, actual, exclusive, continuous, adverse possession of the

Page 456

premises claimed with claim of ownership, but without color of title from the 16th day of March, 1889, to the date of the passage of this Act, and have paid the taxes lawfully assessed and levied thereon to the extent required by the statutes of limitation or adverse possession of the Territory or of the State of New Mexico, from the 16th day of March, 1899, to the date of the passage of this Act, except where the claimant was exempted or entitled to be exempted from such tax payment.

Nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to impair or destroy any existing right of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico to assert and maintain unaffected by the provisions of this Act their title and right to any land by original proceedings, either in law or equity, in any court of competent jurisdiction and any such right may be asserted at any time prior to the filing of the field notes and plats as provided in section 13 hereof, and jurisdiction with respect to any such original proceedings is hereby conferred upon the United States District Court of the District of New Mexico with right of review as in other cases: Provided, however, That any contract entered into with any attorney of attorneys by the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, to carry on such litigation shall be subject to and in accordance with existing laws of the United States.

SEC. 5.

The plea of such limitations, sucessfully maintained, shall entitle the claimants so pleading to a decree in favor of them, their heirs, executors, successors, and assigns for the premises so claimed by them, respectively, or so much thereof as may be established, which shall have the effect of a deed of quitclaim as against the United States and said Indians, and a decree in favor of claimants upon any other ground shall have a like effect.

The United States may plead in favor of the pueblo, or any individual Indian thereof, as the case might be, the said limitations hereinbefore defined.

SEC. 6.

It shall be the further duty of the board to separately report in respect of each such pueblo—
(a) The area and character of any tract or tracts of land within the exterior boundaries of any land granted or confirmed to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and the extent, source, and character of any water right appurtenant thereto in possession of non-Indian claimants at the time of filing such report, which are not claimed for said Indians by any report of the board.
(b) Whether or not such tract or tracts of land or such water rights could be or could have been at any time recovered for said Indians by the United States by seasonable prosecution of any right of the United States or of said Indians. Seasonable prosecution is defined to mean prosecution by the United States within the same period of time as that within which suits to recover real property could have been brought under the limitation statutes of the Territory and State of New Mexico.
(c) The fair market value of said water rights and of said tract or tracts of land (exclusive of any improvements made therein or placed thereon by non-Indian claimants) whenever the board shall determine that such tract or tracts of land or such water rights could be or could have been at any time recovered for said Indians by the United States by seasonable prosecution of any right of the United States or of said Indians, and the amount of loss, if any, suffered by said Indians through failure of the United States seasonably to prosecute any such right.

The United States shall be liable, and the board shall award compensation, to the pueblo within the exterior boundaries of whose lands such tract or tracts of land shall be situated or to which such water rights shall have been appurtenant to the extent of any loss suffered

Page 457

by said Indians through failure of the United States seasonably to prosecute any right of the United States or of said Indians, subject to review as herein provided. Such report and award shall have the force and effect of a judicial finding and final judgment upon the question and amount of compensation due to the Pueblo Indians from the United States for such losses. Such report shall be filed simultaneously with and in like manner as the reports hereinbefore provided to be made and filed in section 2 of this Act.

At any time within sixty days after the filing of said report with the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico as herein provided the United States or any pueblo or Indians concerned therein or affected thereby may, in respect of any report upon liability or of any finding of amount or award of compensation set forth in such report, petition said court for judicial review of said report, specifying the portions thereof in which review is desired. Said court shall thereupon have jurisdiction to review, and shall review, such report, finding, or award in like manner as in the case of proceedings in equity. In any such proceeding the report of the board shall be prima facie evidence of the facts, the values, and the liability therein set forth, subject, however, to be rebutted by competent evidence. Any party in interest may offer evidence in support or in opposition to the findings in said report in any respect. Said court shall after hearing render its decision so soon as practicable, confirming, modifying, or rejecting said report or any part thereof. At any time within thirty days after such decision is rendered said court shall, upon petition of any party aggrieved, certify the portions of such report, review of which has been sought, together with the record in connection therewith, to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which shall have jurisdiction to consider, review, and decide all questions arising upon such report and record in like manner as in the case of appeals in equity, and its decision thereon shall be final.

Petition for review of any specific finding or award of compensation in any report shall not affect the finality of any findings nor delay the payment of any award set forth in such report, review of which shall not have been so sought, nor in any proceeding for review in any court under the provisions of this section shall costs be awarded against any party.

SEC. 7.

It shall be the further duty of the board to investigate, ascertain, and report to the Secretary of the Interior who shall report to the Congress of the United States, together with his recommendation, the fair market value of lands, improvements appurtenant thereto, and water rights of non-Indian claimants who, in person or through their predecessars in title prior to January 6, 1912, in good faith and for a valuable consideration purchased and entered upon Indian lands under a claim of right based upon a deed or document purporting to convey title to the land claimed or upon a grant, or license from the governing body of a pueblo to said land, but fail to sustain such claim under the provisions of this Act, together with a statement of the loss in money value thereby suffered by such non-Indian claimants. Any lands lying within the exterior boundaries of the pueblo of Nambe land grant, which were conveyed to any holder or occupant thereof or his predecessor or predecessors in interest by the governing authorities of said pueblo, in writing, prior to January 6, 1912, shall unless found by said board to have been obtained through fraud or deception, be recognized as constituting valid claims by said board and by said courts, and disposed of in such manner as lands the Indian title to which has been determined

Page 458

to have been extinguished pursuant to the provisions of this Act: Provided, That nothing in this section contained with reference to the said Nambe Pueblo Indians shall be construed as depriving the said Indians of the right to impeach any such deed or conveyance for fraud or to have mistakes therein corrected through a suit in behalf of said pueblo or of an individual Indian under the provisions of this Act.

SEC. 8.

It shall be the further duty of the board to investigate, ascertain, and report to the Secretary of the Interior the area and the value of the lands and improvements appurtenant thereto of non-Indian claimants within or adjacent to Pueblo Indian settlements or towns in New Mexico, title to which in such non-Indian claimants is valid and indefeasible, said report to include a finding as to the benefit to the Indians in anywise of the removal of such non-Indian claimants by purchase of their lands and improvements and the transfer of the same to the Indians, and the Secretary of the Interior shall report to Congress the facts with his recommendations in the premises.

SEC. 9.

That all lands, the title to which is determined in said suit or suits, shall, where necessary, be surveyed and mapped under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, at the expense of the United States, but such survey shall be subject to the approval of the judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, and if approved by said judge shall be filed in said court and become a part of the decree or decrees entered in said district court.

SEC. 10.

That necessary costs in all original proceedings under this Act to be determined by the court, shall be taxed against the United States and any party aggrieved by any final judgment or decree shall have the right to a review thereof by appeal or writ of error or other process, as in other cases, but upon such appeal being taken each party shall pay his own costs.

SEC. 11.

That in the sense in which used in this Act the word "purchase" shall be taken to mean the acquisition of community lands by the Indians other than by grant or donation from a sovereign.

SEC. 12.

That any person claiming any interest in the premises involved but not impleaded in any such action may be made a party defendant thereto or may intervene in such action, setting up his claim in usual form.

SEC. 13.

That as to all lands within the exterior boundaries of any lands granted or confirmed to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, by any authority of the United States of America or any prior sovereignty, or acquired by said Indians as a community by purchase or otherwise and which have not been claimed for said Indians by court proceedings then pending or the findings and report of the board as herein provided, the Secretary of the Interior at any time after two years after the filing of said reports of the board shall file field notes and plat for each pueblo in the office of the surveyor general of New Mexico at Santa Fe, New Mexico, showing the lands to which the Indian title has been extinguished as in said report set out, but excluding therefrom lands claimed by or for the Indians in court proceedings then pending, and copies of said plat and field notes certified by the surveyor general of New Mexico as true and correct copies shall be accepted in any court as competent and conclusive evidence of the extinguishment of all the right, title, and interest of the Indians in and to the lands so described in said plat and field notes and of any claim of the United States in or to the same. And the Secretary of the Interior within thirty days after the Indians' right to bring independent suits under this Act shall have expired, shall cause notice to be published in some newspaper or newspapers of general circulation issued, if any there be, in the county wherein

Page 459

lie such lands claimed by non-Indian claimants, respectively, or wherein some part of such lands are situated, otherwise in some newspaper or newspapers of general circulation published nearest to such lands, once a week for five consecutive weeks, setting forth as nearly as may be the names of such non-Indian claimants of land holdings not claimed by or for the Indians as herein provided, with a description of such several holdings, as shown by a survey of Pueblo Indian lands heretofore made under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior and commonly known as the "Joy Survey," or as may be otherwise shown or defined by authority of the Secretary of the Interior, and requiring that any person or persons claiming such described parcel or parcels of land or any part thereof, adversely to the apparent claimant or claimants so named as aforesaid, or their heirs or assigns, shall, on or before the thirtieth day after the last publication of such notice, file his or their adverse claim in the United States Land Office in the land district wherein such parcel or parcels of land are situate, in the nature of a contest, stating the character and basis of such adverse claim, and notice of such contest shall be served upon the claimant of claimants named in the said notice, in the same manner as in cases of contest of homestead entries. If no such contest is instituted as aforesaid, the Secretary of the Interior shall issue to the claimant or claimants, or their heirs or assigns, a patent or other certificate of title for the parcel or parcels of land so described in said notice; but if a contest be filed it shall proceed and be heard and decided as contests of homestead entries are heard and decided under the rules and regulations of the General Land Office pertinent thereto. Upon such contest either party may claim the benefit of the provisions of section 4 of this Act to the same extent as if he were a party to suit to quiet title brought under the provisions of this Act, and the successful party shall receive a patent or certificate of title for the land as to which he is successful in such proceeding. Any patent or certificate of title issued under the provisions of this Act shall have the effect only of a relinquishment by the United States of America and the said Indians.

If after such notice more than one person or group of persons united in interest makes claim in such land office adverse to the claimant or claimants named in the said notice, or to any other person or group of persons who may have filed such contest, each contestant shall be required to set forth the basis and nature of his respective claim, and thereupon the said claims shall be heard and decided as upon an original contest or intervention.

And in all cases any person or persons whose right to a given parcel or parcels of land has become fixed either by the action of the said board or the said court or in such contest may apply to the Commissioner of the General Land Office for a patent or certificate of title and receive the same without cost or charge.

SEC. 14.

That if any non-Indian party to any such suit shall assert against the Indian title a claim based upon a Spanish or Mexican grant, and if the court should finally find that such claim by the non-Indian is superior to that of the Indian claim, no final decree or judgment of ouster of the said Indians shall be entered or writ of possession or assistance shall be allowed against said Indians, or any of them, or against the United States of America acting in their behalf. In such case the court shall ascertain the area and value of the land thus held by any non-Indian claimant under such superior title, excluding therefrom the area and value of lots or parcels of land the title to which has been found to be in other persons under the provisions of this Act: Provided, however, That any findings by the court under the provisions of this section may be reviewed on

Page 460

appeal or writ of error at the instance of any party aggrieved thereby, in the same manner, to the same extent, and with like effect as if such findings were a final judgment or decree. When such finding adverse to the Indian claim has become final, the Secretary of the Interior shall report to Congress the facts, including the area and value of the land so adjudged against the Indian claim, with his recommendations in the premises.

SEC. 15.

That when any claimant, other than the United States for said Indians not covered by the report provided for in section 7 of this Act, fails to sustain his claim to any parcel of land within any Pueblo Indian grant, purchase, or donation under the provisions of this Act, but has held and occupied any such parcel in good faith, claiming the same as his own, and the same has been improved, the value of the improvements upon the said parcel of land shall be found by the court and reported by the Secretary of the Interior to Congress, with his recommendations in the premises.

SEC. 16.

That if any land adjudged by the court or said lands board against any claimant be situate among lands adjudicated or otherwise determined in favor of non-Indian claimants and apart from the main body of the Indian land, and the Secretary of the Interior deems it to be for the best interest of the Indians that such parcels so adjudged against the non- Indian claimant be sold, he may, with the consent of the governing authorities of the pueblo, order the sale thereof, under such regulations as he may make, to the highest bidder for cash, and if the buyer thereof be other than the losing claimant, the purchase price shall be used in paying to such losing claimant the adjudicated value of the improvements aforesaid, if found under the provisions of section 15 hereof, and the balance thereof, if any, shall be paid over to the proper officer, or officers, of the Indian community, but if the buyer be the losing claimant, and the value of his improvements has been adjudicated as aforesaid, such buyer shall be entitled to have credit upon his bid for the value of such improvements so adjudicated.

SEC. 17.

No right, title, or interest in or to the lands of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico to which their title has not been extinguished as hereinbefore determined shall hereafter be acquired or initiated by virtue of the laws of the State of New Mexico, or in any other manner except as may hereafter be provided by Congress, and no sale, grant, lease of any character, or other conveyance of lands, or any title or claim thereto, made by any pueblo as a community, or any Pueblo Indian living in a community of Pueblo Indians, in the State of New Mexico, shall be of any validity in law or in equity unless the same be first approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

SEC. 18.

That the pleading, practice, procedure, and rules of evidence shall be the same in all causes arising under this Act as in other civil causes in the Federal courts, except as otherwise herein provided.

SEC. 19.

That all sums of money which may hereafter be appropriated by the Congress of the United States for the purpose of paying in whole or in part any liability found or decreed under this Act from the United States to any pueblo or to any of the Indians of any pueblo, shall be paid over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which Bureau, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, shall use such moneys at such times and in such amounts as may seem wise and proper for the purpose of the purchase of lands and water rights to replace those which have been lost to said pueblo or to said Indians, or for purchase or construction of reservoirs, irrigation works, or the making of other permanent improvements upon, or for the benefit of lands held by said pueblo or said Indians.

Approved, June 7, 1924.


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