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Board of Com'rs of Pawnee County v. United States

November 26, 1943

BOARD OF COM'RS OF PAWNEE COUNTY, OKL., ET AL.
v.
UNITED STATES; UNITED STATES V. BOARD OF COM'RS OF PAWNEE COUNTY, OKL., ET AL.



Appeal and Cross-Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Oklahoma; Franklin E. Kennamer, Judge.

Murrah

Before PHILLIPS, HUXMAN, and MURRAH, Circuit Judges.

MURRAH, Circuit Judge.

The ultimate question presented by this appeal is whether certain lands held by the United States in trust for certain full-blood Pawnee Indians were exempt from Oklahoma ad valorem taxes by force of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of June 26, 1936, 49 Stat. 1967, 25 U.S.C.A. ยง 501 et seq.

Colonel Moore, a full-blood restricted Pawnee Indian, was the owner of several tracts of restricted, but taxable, lands located in Pawnee County, Oklahoma, against which there were delinquent ad valorem taxes for the years 1937, 1938, and 1939. On October 19, 1939, Moore and his wife (also a full-blood Pawnee Indian), acting on the advice and with the consent of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of the Department of Interior, by separate deeds, conveyed to the United States in trust for their three minor children, four separate tracts of lands located in Pawnee County, Oklahoma, and the deeds were thereafter approved by the Department of the Interior on August 7, 1940. No consideration passed for the conveyances, but the deeds were executed and delivered in pursuance of authority granted to the Secretary of the Interior by Section 1 of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act, which provides in part as follows: "That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to acquire by purchase, relinquishment, gift, exchange, or assignment, any interest in lands, * * * including trust or otherwise restricted lands now in Indian ownership: Provided, That such lands shall be agricultural and grazing lands of good character and quality in proportion to the respective needs of the particular Indian or Indians for whom such purchases are made. Title to all lands so acquired shall be taken in the name of the United States, in trust for the tribe, band, group, or individual Indian for whose benefit such land is so acquired, and while the title thereto is held by the United States said lands shall be free from any and all taxes * * * ."

Notwithstanding the conveyances to the government in the manner aforesaid, Pawnee County continued to assert the power to tax the lands in question, and did assess ad valorem taxes thereon for the taxable years 1940 and 1941, whereupon the United States brought this suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to declare the lands nontaxable; to cancel the ad valorem taxes already assessed for the taxable years 1940 and 1941, and to permanently enjoin the assessment and collection of ad valorem taxes, on the grounds that the ...


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