Vol. VI, Laws     (Compiled from February 10, 1939 to January 13, 1971)

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Chapter 959
August 13, 1946 [H.R. 4497] |  [Public Law 726] 60 Stat. 1049

To create an Indian Claims Commission, to provide for the powers, duties, and functions thereof, and for other purposes.
Section 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26

Margin Notes
Chap. 959 Indian Claims Commission.
Sec. 2 1050
Sec. 2 Classes of claims.
Sec. 2 Deductions for payments, etc.
Sec. 2 25 U.S.C. § 461 et seq.
25 U.S.C. § 465.
Sec. 3 1051
Sec. 10 1052
Sec. 12 Presentation of claims.
Sec. 13 Investigation Division.
Sec. 14 1053
Sec. 14 Use of documents, etc., in evidence.
Sec. 15 Fees.
Sec. 15 Authority of Attorney General.
Sec. 18 1054
Sec. 18 Fees and mileage.
Sec. 20 Certification of questions of law.
Sec. 20 Notice of filing of final determination.
Sec. 20 Appeal.
Sec. 20 Remand of cause to Commission.
Sec. 20 1055
Sec. 20 Review by Supreme Court of U. S.
Sec. 22 Report.
Sec. 22 Appropriation authorized.
Sec. 22 Further claim barred.
Sec. 23 Records.
Sec. 23 Extension of jurisdiction of Court of Claims.
Sec. 23 1056
Sec. 25 Separability of provisions.

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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there is hereby created and established an Indian Claims Commission, hereafter referred to as the Commission.


SEC. 2.

The Commission shall hear and determine the following claims against the United States on behalf of any Indian tribe, band, or other identifiable group of American Indians residing within the territorial limits of the United States or Alaska: (1) claims in law or

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equity arising under the Constitution, laws, treaties of the United States, and Executive orders of the President; (2) all other claims in law or equity, including those sounding in tort, with respect to which the claimant would have been entitled to sue in a court of the United States if the United States was subject to suit; (3) claims which would result if the treaties, contracts, and agreements between the claimant and the United States were revised on the ground of fraud, duress, unconscionable consideration, mutual or unilateral mistake, whether of law or fact, or any other ground cognizable by a court of equity; (4) claims arising from the taking by the United States, whether as the result of a treaty of cession or otherwise, of lands owned or occupied by the claimant without the payment for such lands of compensation agreed to by the claimant; and (5) claims based upon fair and honorable dealings that are not recognized by any existing rule of law or equity. No claim accruing after the date of the approval of this Act shall be considered by the Commission.

All claims hereunder may be heard and determined by the Commission notwithstanding any statute of limitations or laches, but all other defenses shall be available to the United States.

In determining the quantum of relief the Commission shall make appropriate deductions for all payments made by the United States on the claim, and for all other offsets, counterclaims, and demands that would be allowable in a suit brought in the Court of Claims under section 145 of the Judicial Code (36 Stat. 1136; 28 U.S.C. sec. 250), as amended; the Commission may also inquire into and consider all money or property given to or funds expended gratuitously for the benefit of the claimant and if it finds that the nature of the claim and the entire course of dealings and accounts between the United States and the claimant in good conscience warrants such action, may set off all or part of such expenditures against any award made to the claimant, except that it is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress that monies spent for the removal of the claimant from one place to another at the request of the United States, or for agency or other administrative, educational, health or highway purposes, or for expenditures made prior to the date of the law, treaty or Executive Order under which the claim arose, or for expenditures made pursuant to the Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984), save expenditures made under section 5 of that Act, or for expenditures under any emergency appropriation or allotment made subsequent to March 4, 1933, and generally applicable throughout the United States for relief in stricken agricultural areas, relief from distress caused by unemployment and conditions resulting therefrom, the prosecution of public work and public projects for the relief of unemployment or to increase employment, and for work relief (including the Civil Works Program) shall not be a proper offset against any award.


SEC. 3.

(a) The Commission shall consist of a Chief Commissioner and two Associate Commissioners, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and each of whom shall receive a salary of $10,000 per year. At all times at least two members of the Commission shall be members of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in good standing: Provided further, That not more than two of the members shall be of the same political party. Each of them shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and to discharge faithfully the duties of his office.


(b) The Commissioners shall hold office during their good behavior

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until the dissolution of the Commission as hereinafter provided. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments. Members of the Commission may be removed by the President for cause after notice and opportunity to be heard.


(c) No Commissioner shall engage in any other business, vocation, or employment during his term of office nor shall he, during his term of office or for a period of two years thereafter, represent any Indian tribe, band, or group in any matter whatsoever, or have any financial interest in the outcome of any tribal claim. Any person violating the provisions of this subdivision shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.


(d) Two members shall constitute a quorum, and the agreement of two members shall be necessary to any and all determinations for the transaction of the business of the Commission, and, if there be a quorum, no vacancy shall impair or affect the business of the Commission, or its determinations.


SEC. 4.

The Commission shall appoint a clerk and such other employees as shall be requisite to conduct the business of the Commission. All such employees shall take oath for the faithful discharge of their duties and shall be under the direction of the Comission in the performance thereof.


SEC. 5.

The principal office of the Commission shall be in the District of Columbia.


SEC. 6.

All necessary expenses of the Commission shall be paid on the presentation of itemized vouchers therefor approved by the Chief Commissioner or other member or officer designated by the Commission.


SEC. 7.

The time of the meetings of the Commission shall be prescribed by the Commission.


SEC. 8.

A full written record shall be kept of all hearings and proceedings of the Commission and shall be open to public inspection.


SEC. 9.

The Commission shall have power to establish its own rules of procedure.


SEC. 10.

Any claim within the provisions of this Act may be presented to the Commission by any member of an Indian tribe, band, or other identifiable group of Indians as the representative of all its members; but wherever any tribal organization exists, recognized by the Secretary of the Interior as having authority to represent such tribe, band, or group, such organization shall be accorded the exclusive privilege of representing such Indians, unless fraud, collusion, or laches on the part of such organization be shown to the satisfaction of the Commission.

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SEC. 11.

Any suit pending in the Court of Claims or the Supreme Court of the United States or which shall be filed in the Court of Claims under existing legislation, shall not be transferred to the Commission: Provided, That the provisions of section 2 of this Act, with respect to the deduction of payments, offsets, counterclaims and demands, shall supersede the provisions of the particular jurisdictional Act under which any pending or authorized suit in the Court of Claims has been or will be authorized: Provided further, That the Court of Claims in any suit pending before it at the time of the approval of this Act shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any claim based upon fair and honorable dealings arising out of the subject matter of any such suit.


SEC. 12.

The Commission shall receive claims for a period of five years after the date of the approval of this Act and no claim existing before such date but not presented within such period may thereafter be submitted to any court or administrative agency for consideration, nor will such claim thereafter be entertained by the Congress.


SEC. 13.

(a) As soon as practicable the Commission shall send a written explanation of the provisions of this Act to the recognized head of each Indian tribe and band, and to any other identifiable groups of American Indians existing as distinct entities, residing within the territorial limits of the United States and Alaska, and to the superintendents of all Indian agencies, who shall promulgate the same, and shall request that a detailed statement of all claims be sent to the Commission, together with the names of aged or invalid Indians from whom depositions should be taken immediately and a summary of their proposed testimonies.

(b) The Commission shall establish an Investigation Division to investigate all claims referred to it by the Commission for the purpose of discovering the facts relating thereto. The Division shall make a complete and thorough search for all evidence affecting each claim, utilizing all documents and records in the possession of the Court of Claims and the several Government departments, and shall submit such evidence to the Commission. The Division shall make available to the Indians concerned and to any interested Federal agency any data in its possession relating to the rights and claims of any Indian.


SEC. 14.

The Commission shall have the power to call upon any of the departments of the Government for any information it may deem necessary, and shall have the use of all records, hearings, and reports made by the committees of each House of Congress, when deemed necessary in the prosecution of its business.

At any hearing held hereunder, any official letter, paper, document, map, or record in the possession of any officer or department, or court of the United States or committee of Congress (or a certified copy thereof), may be used in evidence insofar as relevant and material, including any deposition or other testimony of record in any suit or proceeding in any court of the United States to which an Indian or Indian tribe or group was a party, and the appropriate department of the Government of the United States shall give to the attorneys for all tribes or groups full and free access to such letters, papers, documents, maps, or records as may be useful to said attorneys in the preparation of any claim instituted hereunder, and shall afford facilities for the

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examination of the same and, upon written request by said attorneys, shall furnish certified copies thereof.


SEC. 15.

Each such tribe, band, or other identifiable group of Indians may retain to represent its interests in the presentation of claims before the Commission an attorney or attorneys at law, of its own selection, whose practice before the Commission shall be regulated by its adopted procedure. The fees of such attorney or attorneys for all services rendered in prosecuting the claim in question, whether before the Commission or otherwise, shall, unless the amount of such fees is stipulated in the approved contract between the attorney or attorneys and the claimant, be fixed by the Commission at such amount as the Commission, in accordance with standards obtaining for prosecuting similar contingent claims in courts of law, finds to be adequate compensation for services rendered and results obtained, considering the contingent nature of the case, plus all reasonable expenses incurred in the prosecution of the claim; but the amount so fixed by the Commission, exclusive of reimbursements for actual expenses, shall not exceed 10 per centum of the amount recovered in any case. The attorney or attorneys for any such tribe, band, or group as shall have been organized pursuant to section 16 of the Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 987; 25 U.S.C., sec. 476), shall be selected pursuant to the constitution and bylaws of such tribe, band, or group. The employment of attorneys for all other claimants shall be subject to the provisions of sections 2103 to 2106, inclusive, of the Revised Statutes (25 U.S.C., secs. 81, 82-84).

The Attorney General or his assistants shall represent the United States in all claims presented to the Commission, and shall have authority, with the approval of the Commission, to compromise any claim presented to the Commission. Any such compromise shall be submitted by the Commission to the Congress as a part of its report as provided in section 21 hereof in the same manner as final determinations of the Commission, and shall be subject to the provisions of section 22 hereof.


SEC. 16.

No Senator or Member of or Delegate to Congress shall, during his continuance in office, practice before the Commission.


SEC. 17.

The Commission shall give reasonable notice to the interested parties and an opportunity for them to be heard and to present evidence before making any final determination upon any claim. Hearings may be held in any part of the United States or in the Territory of Alaska.


SEC. 18.

Any member of the Commission or any employee of the Commission, designated in writing for the purpose by the Chief Commissioner, may administer oaths and examine witnesses. Any member of the Commission may require by subpena (1) the attendance and testimony of witnesses, and the production of all necessary books, papers, documents, correspondence, and other evidence, from any place in the United States or Alaska at any designated place of hearing; or (2) the taking of depositions before any designated individual competent to administer oaths under the laws of the United States or of any State or Territory. In the case of a deposition, the testimony shall be reduced to writing by the individual taking the deposition or under his direction and shall be subscribed by the deponent. In taking

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testimony, opportunity shall be given for cross-examination, under such regulations as the Commission may prescribe. Witnesses subpenaed to testify or whose depositions are taken pursuant to this Act, and the officers or persons taking the same, shall severally be entitled to the same fees and mileage as are paid for like services in the courts of the United States.


SEC. 19.

The final determination of the Commission shall be in writing, shall be filed with its clerk, and shall include (1) its findings of the facts upon which its conclusions are based; (2) a statement (a) whether there are any just grounds for relief of the claimant and, if so, the amount thereof; (b) whether there are any allowable offsets, counterclaims, or other deductions, and, if so, the amount thereof; and (3) a statement of its reasons for its findings and conclusions.


SEC. 20.

(a) In considering any claim the Commission at any time may certify to the Court of Claims any definite and distinct questions of law concerning which instructions are desired for the proper disposition of the claim; and thereupon the Court of Claims may give appropriate instructions on the questions certified and transmit the same to the Commission for its guidance in the further consideration of the claim.

(b) When the final determination of the Commission has been filed with the clerk of said Commission the clerk shall give notice of the filing of such determination to the parties to the proceeding in manner and form as directed by the Commission. At any time within three months from the date of the filing of the determination of the Commission with the clerk either party may appeal from the determination of the Commission to the Court of Claims, which Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to affirm, modify, or set aside such final determination. On said appeal the Court shall determine whether the findings of fact of the Commission are supported by substantial evidence, in which event they shall be conclusive, and also whether the conclusions of law, including any conclusions respecting "fair and honorable dealings", where applicable, stated by the Commission as a basis for its final determination, are valid and supported by the Commission's findings of fact. In making the foregoing determinations, the Court shall review the whole record or such portions thereof as may be cited by any party, and due account shall be taken of the rule of prejudicial error. The Court may at any time remand the cause to the Commission for such further proceedings as it may direct, not inconsistent with the foregoing provisions of this section. The Court shall promulgate such rules of practice as it may find necessary to carry out the foregoing provisions of this section.

(c) Determinations of questions of law by the Court of Claims under this section shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court of the United States in the manner prescribed by section 3 of the Act of February 13, 1925 (43 Stat. 939; 28 U.S.C., sec. 288), as amended.


SEC. 21.

In each claim, after the proceedings have been finally concluded, the Commission shall promptly submit its report to Congress.

The report to Congress shall contain (1) the final determination of the Commission; (2) a transcript of the proceedings or judgment upon review, if any, with the instructions of the Court of Claims; and (3) a statement of how each Commission voted upon the final determination of the claim.

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SEC. 22.

(a) When the report of the Commission determining any claimant to be entitled to recover has been filed with Congress, such report shall have the effect of a final judgment of the Court of Claims, and there is hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to pay the final determination of the Commission.

The payment of any claim, after its determination in accordance with this Act, shall be a full discharge of the United States of all claims and demands touching any of the matters involved in the controversy.

(b) A final determination against a claimant made and reported in accordance with this Act shall forever bar any further claim or demand against the United States arising out of the matter involved in the controversy.


SEC. 23.

The existence of the Commission shall terminate at the end of ten years after the first meeting of the Commission or at such earlier time after the expiration of the five-year period of limitation set forth in section 12 hereof as the Commission shall have made its final report to Congress on all claims filed with it. Upon its dissolution the records of the Commission shall be delivered to the Archivist of the United States.


SEC. 24.

The jurisdiction of the Court of Claims is hereby extended to any claim against the United States accruing after the date of the approval of this Act in favor of any Indian tribe, band, or other identifiable group of American Indians residing within the territorial limits of the United States or Alaska whenever such claim is one arising under the Constitution, laws, treaties of the United States, or Executive orders of the President, or is one which otherwise would be cognizable in the Court of Claims if the claimant were not an Indian tribe, band, or group. In any suit brought under the jurisdiction conferred by this section the claimant shall be entitled to recover in the same manner, to the same extent, and subject to the same conditions and limitations, and the United States shall be entitled to the same defenses, both at law and in equity, and to the same offsets, counterclaims, and demands, as in cases brought in the Court of Claims under section 145 of the Judicial Code (36 Stat. 1136; 28 U.S.C., sec. 250), as amended: Provided, however, That nothing contained in this section shall be construed as altering the fiduciary or other relations between the United States and the several Indian tribes, bands, or groups.


SEC. 25.

All provisions of law inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency, except that existing provisions of law authorizing suits in the Court of Claims by particular tribes, bands, or groups of Indians and governing the conduct or determination of such suits shall continue to apply to any case heretofore or hereafter instituted thereunder save as provided by section 11 hereof as to the deduction of payments, offsets, counter-claims, and demands.

SEC. 26.

If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof, is held invalid, the remainder of the Act, or other applications of such provisions, shall not be affected.

Approved, August 13, 1946.

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