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William T. Stephens, Choctaw

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Dawes Commission, No. —. United States court (Central district). No. 280. Citizenship court No. —.

The record in this case shows:

Claimant applied to Dawes Commission in 1896 for enrollment as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation by intermarriage, basing his claim upon a decision of the United States Indian agent, Robert L. Owen, rendered August 16, 1887, holding him to be a citizen by intermarriage of the Choctaw Nation, copy of which decision is hereto attached and marked Exhibit I.

The decision of the United States agent was affirmed by Secretary of the Interior Lamar and thereby became final.

Dawes Commission enrolled claimant under act of June 10, 1896, as a member of the tribe.

Choctaw Nation appealed from decision of commission to United States court for the central district of Indian Territory, which, court, on July 13, 1897, rendered judgment affirming the decision of the commission enrolling claimant.

Case thereafter was transmitted to the citizenship court, which under the law had no jurisdiction thereof, as that court only had appellate jurisdiction of cases passed on by the United States courts where there had been no previous tribal enrollment. The citizenship court, by decision rendered October 20, 1904, entered judgment denying applicant citizenship in the nation. As the citizenship court was without jurisdiction of this case, as held by the Assistant Attorney General in the case of Lula West, the judgment entered by that court did not and could not deprive applicant of his right to enrollment.

Applicant died in January, 1903. and his heirs are under the law entitled to receive his share of the estate. His name should be included on the final rolls of the tribe.

Respectfully submitted.
Ballinger & Lee.


Department of the Interior,
United States Indian Service,

Muscogee, Union Agency, Ind. T.,
November 25, 1896.

Mr. W. T. Stephens,
McAlester, Ind. T.

Sir: Below you will find a true copy of Agent Owen’s decision in your claim to Choctaw citizenship. This decision was made August 16, 1887.
Very respectfully,
D. M. Windom, United States Indian Agent.
W. F. W.


Choctaw Nation v. William T. Stephens.

On the 17th of November, 1884, William T. Stephens applied to this office against the decision of the Choctaw council in the matter of his citizenship.

It appears that he married Catherine Wall, a Choctaw woman, March 2, 1858, and lived with her until 1868, when he obtained a divorce on the plea of her desertion. Two children were born to them as the Issue of this marriage. On October 2, 1869, he married a white woman. It appears further that he was uniformly recognized as a citizen until perhaps 1882. The burden of proof is therefore upon the Choctaw Nation.

Upon the facts averred, William T. Stephens is entitled to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation and has not forfeited the same by his marriage with the white woman in 1869, said marriage being prior to the law of November 9, 1875, relative to intermarried white men. His children by the first marriage are citizens of the Choctaw Nation by blood: his children by the second wife are United States citizens without the rights of Choctaw Indians, in my opinion, for while Mr. Stephens himself has acquired certain privileges by his intermarriage with Catherine Wall, his white descendants and other relations of pure white blood have not acquired thereby any right whatever. The law of 1875 does not apply to Stephens, because such operation of the law would be ex post facto, and in violation of the Choctaw constitution and of the Constitution of the United States. I am of opinion that the temporary residence of the petitioner in Arkansas for the brief period named was not such as to deprive him of the right of residence and of adopted citizenship in the Choctaw country, as he soon returned and has continuously lived there since.


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