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Statement of the Case.
favor of the defendant in error was predicated, was justified. Such being the case, it results that the doubt engendered must be resolved against him. The claim advanced is that an exceptional privilege or exemption from the general operation of a law exists in favor of the defendant in error. Such a claim is within the general principle that exemptions must be strictly construed, and that doubt must be resolved against the one asserting the exemption. Schurtz v. Cook, 148 U. S. 397; Keokuk & Western Railroad v. Missouri, 152 U. S. 301, 306.
It results from these considerations that the judgments of both the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of California and the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit were erroneous. Both the judgments must, therefore, be
Reversed, and the cause be remanded to the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Cali fornia, with directions to enter judgment in favor of the United States, with costs.
MR. JUSTICE PEOKHAM dissents.
WARD v. RACE HORSE.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF WYOMING.
No. 841. Argued March 11, 12, 1896. -Decided May 25, 1896.
The provision in the treaty of February 24, 1869, with the Bannock Indians, whose reservation was within the limits of what is now the State of Wyoming, that "they shall have the right to hunt upon the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon,” etc., does not give them the right to exercise this privilege within the limits of that State in violation of its laws.
THIS appeal was taken from an order of the court below, rendered in a habeas corpus proceeding, discharging the ap
Statement of the Case.
pellee from custody. 70 Fed. Rep. 598. The petition for the writ based the right to the relief, which it prayed for and which the court below granted, on the ground that the detention complained of was in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, and in disregard of a right arising from and guaranteed by a treaty made by the United States with the Bannock Indians. Because of these grounds the jurisdiction below existed, and the right to review here obtains. Rev. Stat. § 753; act of March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 826. The record shows the following material facts: The appellee, the plaintiff below, was a member of the Bannock tribe of Indians, retaining his tribal relation and residing with it in the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. This reservation was created by the United States in compliance with a treaty entered into between the United States and the Eastern band of Shoshonees and the Bannock tribe of Indians, which took effect February 24, 1869. 15 Stat. 673. Article 2 of this treaty, besides setting apart a reservation for the use of the Shoshonees, provided:
"It is agreed that whenever the Bannocks desire a reservation to be set apart for their use, or whenever the President of the United States shall deem it advisable for them to be put upon a reservation, he shall cause a suitable one to be selected for them in their present country, which shall embrace reasonable portions of the 'Port Neuf' and 'Kansas Prairie' countries."
In pursuance of the foregoing stipulation the Fort Hall Indian Reservation was set apart for the use of the Bannock tribe.
Article 4 of the treaty provided as follows:
"The Indians herein named agree, when the agency house and other buildings shall be constructed on their reservations named, they will make said reservations their permanent home, and they will make no permanent settlement elsewhere; but they shall have the right to hunt upon the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and so long as peace subsists among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts."
In July, 1868, an act had been passed erecting a temporary
Statement of the Case.
government for the Territory of Wyoming, 15 Stat. 178, c. 235, and in this act it was provided as follows:
"That nothing in this act shall be construed to impair the rights of person or property now pertaining to the Indians in said Territory, so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians."
Wyoming was admitted into the Union on July 10, 1890. 26 Stat. 222, c. 664. Section 1 of that act provides as follows: "That the State of Wyoming is hereby declared to be a State of the United States of America, and is hereby declared admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever; and that the constitution which the people of Wyoming have formed for themselves be, and the same is hereby, accepted, ratified and confirmed." The act contains no exception or reservation in favor of or for the benefit of Indians.
The legislature of Wyoming on July 20, 1895, (Laws of Wyoming, 1895, c. 98, p. 225,) passed an act regulating the killing of game within the State. In October, 1895, the district attorney of Uinta County, State of Wyoming, filed an information against the appellee (Race Horse) for having killed in that county seven elk in violation of the law of the State. He was taken into custody by the sheriff, and it was to obtain a release from imprisonment authorized by a commitment issued under these proceedings that the writ of habeas corpus was sued out. The following facts are unquestioned: 1st. That the elk were killed in Uinta County, Wyoming, at a point about one hundred miles from the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, which is situated in the State of Idaho; 2d, that the killing was in violation of the laws of the State of Wyoming; 3d, that the place where the killing took place was unoccupied public land of the United States, in the sense that the United States was the owner of the fee of the land; 4th, that the place where the elk were killed was in a mountainous region some distance removed from settlements, but was used by the settlers as a range for cattle, and was within election and school districts of the State of Wyoming.
Opinion of the Court.
Mr. Benjamin F. Fowler and Mr. Willis Van Devanter for appellant.
Mr. Attorney General for appellee.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
It is wholly immaterial, for the purpose of the legal issue here presented, to consider whether the place where the elk were killed is in the vicinage of white settlements. It is also equally irrelevant to ascertain how far the land was used for a cattle range, since the sole question which the case presents is whether the treaty made by the United States with the Bannock Indians gave them the right to exercise the hunting privilege, therein referred to, within the limits of the State of Wyoming in violation of its laws. If it gave such right, the mere fact that the State had created school districts or election districts, and had provided for pasturage on the lands, could no more efficaciously operate to destroy the right of the Indian to hunt on the lands than could the passage of the game law. If, on the other hand, the terms of the treaty did not refer to lands within a State, which were subject to the legislative power of the State, then it is equally clear that, although the lands were not in school and election districts and were not near settlements, the right conferred on the Indians by the treaty would be of no avail to justify a violation of the state law.
The power of a State to control and regulate the taking of game cannot be questioned. Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U. S. 519. The text of article 4 of the treaty, relied on as giving the right to kill game within the State of Wyoming, in violation of its laws, is as follows:
"But they shall have the right to hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States, so long as game may be found thereon, and so long as peace subsists among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts."
It may at once be conceded that the words "unoccupied
Opinion of the Court.
lands of the United States" if they stood alone, and were detached from the other provisions of the treaty on the same subject, would convey the meaning of lands owned by the United States, and the title to or occupancy of which had not been disposed of. But in interpreting these words in the treaty, they cannot be considered alone, but must be construed with reference to the context in which they are found. Adopting this elementary method, it becomes at once clear that the unoccupied lands contemplated were not all such lands of the United States wherever situated, but were only lands of that character embraced within what the treaty denominates as hunting districts. This view follows as a necessary result from the provision which says that the right to hunt on the unoccupied lands shall only be availed of as long as peace subsists on the borders of the hunting districts. Unless the districts thus referred to be taken as controlling the words "unoccupied lands," then the reference to the hunting districts would become wholly meaningless, and the cardinal rule of interpretation would be violated, which ordains that such construction be adopted as gives effect to all the language of the statute. Nor can this consequence be avoided by saying that the words "hunting districts" simply signified places where game was to be found, for this would read out of the treaty the provision as "to peace on the borders" of such districts, which clearly pointed to the fact that the territory referred to was one beyond the borders of the white settlements. The unoccupied lands referred to, being therefore contained within the hunting districts, by the ascertainment of the latter the former will be necessarily determined, as the less is contained in the greater. The elucidation of this issue will be made plain by an appreciation of the situation existing at the time of the adoption of the treaty, of the necessities which brought it into being and of the purposes intended to be by it accomplished.
When in 1868 the treaty was framed the progress of the white settlements westward had hardly, except in a very scattered way, reached the confines of the place selected for the Indian reservation. Whilst this was true, the march of advancing civilization foreshadowed the fact that the wilder