Decision Rendered Wiley Adams

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Office Of The Secretary
Washington, D. C., May 21, 1903

The Commission To The Five Civilized Tribes
Muscogee, Ind. T.

GENTLEMEN: I have considered the proceedings of your Commission upon the application of Wiley Adams for enrollment as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation. The facts as found by your Commission are that Adams appeared before the Commission in the year 1899, under the act of June 10, 1890 (29 Stat., 821); that he is a white man, and about 1877 married a Creek, the widow of a Chickasaw citizen, and was by special act of the Choctaw council, approved November 0, 1884, admitted to citizenship of the Choctaw Nation, and has ever since been recognized as a citizen of that nation and permitted to vote at their elections. His application was denied by the Commission and no appeal was taken to the courts.

He was borne upon the Choctaw census roll of 1890 as an intermarried citizen. The act of June 10, 1890 (29 Stat, 321, 339), provided:

That in determining all such applications said Commission shall respect all laws of the several nations or tribes, not inconsistent with the laws of the United States, and all treaties with either of said nations or tribes, and shall give due force and effect to the rolls, usages, and customs of each of said nations or tribes : And provided further, That the rolls of citizenship of the several tribes as now existing are hereby confirmed, and any person who shall claim to be entitled to be added to said rolls as a citizen of either of said tribes and whose right thereto has either been denied or not acted upon, or any citizen who may within three months from and after the passage of this act desire such citizenship, may apply to the legally constituted court or committee designated by the several tribes for such citizenship, and such court or committee shall determine such application within thirty days from the date thereof.

Your Commission was of the opinion that:

Under this act the rolls of citizenship of the several tribes as then existing were confirmed, and the Commission under said act had the power only to admit to citizen-ship and to add to said rolls the names of those persons who applied to them for citizen ship, and no authority existed giving the Commission at that time power to eliminate from the tribal rolls the name of anyone thereon.

His (the applicant s) name appears upon the Choctaw census roll of 1896, page 380, No. 14255, which is the latest roll in the possession of this Commission. The act of Congress of June 28, 1898 (30 Stat., 495), provides:

“Said Commission is authorized and directed to make correct rolls of the citizens by blood of all the other tribes (except Cherokee), eliminating from the tribal rolls such names as may have been placed thereon by fraud or without authority of law, enrolling such only as may have lawful right thereto, and their descendants born since such rolls were made, with such intermarried white persons as may be entitled to Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship under the treaties and the laws of said tribes.”

Not until this act became a law did the Commission have any authority to deal with the applicant s name, and under this act the only power the Commission has is to strike his name from the rolls, provided it is made to appear that it was placed thereon by fraud or without authority of law. No charge of fraud is suggested in the record, and it is conceded that the national council of the Choctaw Nation in 1884 had the authority to admit this applicant to citizenship in said nation.

It is therefore the opinion of the Commission that its action upon the petition of the applicant for citizenship, under the act of Congress of June 10, 1890, was without authority of law, and of no force and effect upon the status of this applicant as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, and also that Wiley Adams is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, and also that Wiley Adams is a citizen of the Choctaw tribe of Indians in the Indian Territory, and that his application therefor should be granted, and it is so ordered.

A special act of the nation s council is no less a law of the tribe than is a general one. It has been one of the well-known usages and customs of the several Indian tribe* to adopt persons of other races. Naturalization by one nation of persons of other races or nations is so general as to be almost a universal practice. The act of June 10, 180(5, supra, conferred upon the Com mission no power to strike from the rolls persons borne thereon by the act and with the full consent of the tribe. The action of your Commission is therefore approved.

Very respectfully,
Thos. Ryan, Acting Secretary

Office Of Indian Affairs

Washington, D. C., May 11, 1903

The honorable the Secretary Of The Interior

SIR: This Office is in receipt of departmental letter of the 8th instant (I. T. D. 4268), calling attention to telegram of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes of the 7th instant asking early action in the case of Wiley Adams for enrollment as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, as there are pending a number of analogous cases requiring early action, and I now have the honor to transmit the record in that case.

The record in this case shows that by an act of the citizenship committee of the Choctaw Nation, which was approved November 6, 1884, by the principal chief of the Choctaw Nation, Wiley Adams was duly admitted to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation; that subsequent to the passage of the act of Congress approved June 10, 1890, Wiley Adams appeared before the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes and applied for enrollment by the Commission as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation at South Canadian, Ind. T., the examination being con ducted by Commissioner McKennion, and as a result of that examination was rejected by the Commission.

The Commission at this time was acting under the provisions of the act of Congress approved June 10, 1896 (29 Stat, 321), which provision, relative to the enrollment of citizens in the Five Civilized Tribes, reads as follows:

That said Commission is further authorized and directed to proceed at once to hear and determine the application of all persons who may apply to them for citizenship in any of said nations, and after such hearing they shall determine the right of such applicant to be so admitted and enrolled: Provided, however, That such application shall be made to such Commissioners within three months after the passage of this act. The ssid Commission shall decide all such applications within ninety days after the same shall be made. That in determining all such applications said Commission shall respect all laws of the several nations or tribes, not inconsistent with the laws of the United States, and all treaties with either of said nations or tribes, and shall give due force and effect to the rolls, usages, and customs of each of said nations or tribes: And provided further, That the rolls of citizenship of the several tribes as now existing are hereby confirmed, and any person who shall claim to be entitled to he added to said rolls as a citizen of either of said tribes, and whose right thereto has either been denied or not acted upon, or any citizen who may within three months from and after the passage of this act desire such citizenship may apply to the legally constituted court or committee designated by the several tribes for such citizenship, and such court or committee shall deter mine such application within thirty days from the date thereof.

On December 10, 1900, supplemental proceedings were had in the matter of the application of Wiley Adams, the testimony of S. E. Lewis, a Choctaw Indian by blood having been taken, showing that Wiley Adams had been duly admitted to citizenship by the citizenship committee of the Choctaw Nation, as is also shown by copy of the general and special laws of the Choctaw Nation passed at regular session of the general council convened at Tuskahoma October 5 and adjourned November 7, 1884.

In its statement of the case the Commission says: “It appears from the evidence that the applicant is a white man, and was married about the year 1877 to a Creek woman, who was the widow of a Chickasaw citizen, but it does not appear that he was married under the provisions of the Choctaw law; nor does it appear that he was married to a Choctaw by blood. And the evidence shows that this applicant has been recognized as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, and permitted to vote at their election ever since the said date,” November 6, 1884.

The Commission further states that the name of Wiley Adams is on the Choctaw census roll of 1890 as an intermarried citizen, which roll is the latest roll in the possession of the Commission. From the records of the office of the Commission it appears that the applicant filed his original petition with the Commission in due time to be properly considered under the act of June 10, 1896; that while the application was denied by the Commission no appeal was taken to the United States court in Indian Territory.

Quoting from the act of June 10, 1890, the Commission states that under it the rolls of citizenship of the several tribes as then existing were confirmed, and the Commission, under said act, had the power only to admit to citizenship and to add to said rolls the names of those persons who applied to them for citizenship, and no authority existed giving the Commission at that time power to eliminate from the tribal rolls the name of any one thereon.

The Commission says it appears from the decision in the case of Jennie Johnson et al., Creek case No. 72, approved by the Department January 29, 1902 (I. T. D., 599-02), that where an application is made under the act of Congress of June 10, 1896, to the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, which application was denied, the decision became final; but that it appears from the records of the Commission that the case of Wiley Adams is distinguishable from the Jennie Johnson case, as in that case the names of the applicants had been stricken from the tribal rolls by the tribal authorities, while in the case of this applicant he was recognized by the tribal authorities of the Choctaw Nation, and his name appears upon the Choctaw census roll of 1896, page 380, No. 14255.

Quoting the provision of the act of Congress approved June 28, 1898 (30 Stat, 495), as follows:

Said Commission is authorized and directed to make correct rolls of the citizens by blood of all the other tribes (except Cherokee), eliminating from the tribal rolls such names as may have been placed thereon by fraud or without authority of law, enrolling such only as may have lawful right thereto, and their descendents born since such rolls were made, with such intermarried white persons as may be entitled to Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship under the treaties and the laws of said tribes.

The Commission says not until this act became a law did the Commission have any authority to deal with the applicant s name, and under this act the only power the Commission has is to strike his name from the rolls, provided it is made to appear that it was placed thereon by fraud or without authority of law.

No charge of fraud is suggested in the record, and the Commission says it is conceded that the national council in 1884 had the authority to admit this applicant to citizenship in said nation.

It is therefore the opinion of the Commission that its action upon the petition of the applicant for citizenship under the act of Congress of June 10, 1896, was without authority of law and of no force and effect upon the status of the applicant as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation; and also that Wiley Adams is a citizen of the Choctaw tribe of Indians in Indian Territory, and that his application therefore should be granted, and it was so ordered.

I can see no conflict or lack of harmony between the decision of the Commission herein and of the Department in the case of Jennie Johnson et al. Jennie Johnson’s name did not appear upon a roll of the citizens of the Choctaw Nation at the time of the hearing in her case, because it had been stricken from the rolls by the action of the Choctaw national council. It was proper that she should have appeared before the Commission in 1896, if she saw fit, for the purpose of having the Commission reinstate her under the law in force at that time, but the Commission deciding against her interests the Department sustained its action.

In the case of Wiley Adams, he was already on a roll of the Choctaw Nation, which, by the law of June 10, 1896, was confirmed, and there was no authority conferred on the Commission by that law to reject him, so that in the case of Jennie Johnson et al. the Commission was acting within the scope of its authority in rejecting them; but in the case of Wiley Adams it had no authority of law to take the action it did.

As is suggested by the Commission, it had no authority under that law to remove his name from the Choctaw tribal rolls, and its action in that instance was a nullity.

Under the act of June 28, 1898, the Curtis Act, additional powers were vested in the Commission in that it was authorized to remove names from the rolls which had been placed there improperly, but the investigation in this case did not disclose any improper circumstances in connection with the enrollment of Wiley Adams by the Choctaw tribal authorities.

No charge had been made that the name was there improperly, and it is my judgment that the action of the Commission in this case is proper and should be approved, and I recommend accordingly.

Very respectfully,
A. C. Tonner, Acting Commissioner

 




MLA Source Citation:

United States. Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. Laws, Decisions and Regulations Affecting the work of the Commissioners to Five Civilized Tribes, 1893-1906. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1906. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 31 March 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/decision-rendered-wiley-adams.htm - Last updated on Mar 28th, 2013


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