The Lula West case and cases coming under the ruling in that case. F. K. West Et Al.
Dawes Commission No. 955. United States Court No. 226. Citizenship court No. 42.
September 9, 1896. Original application submitted to the commission for the enrollment of Frank K. West as an intermarried citizen of the Choctaw Tribe, and 29 others, all claiming citizenship in the Choctaw Nation by adoption, blood, or intermarriage. Accompanying the application is the affidavit of Charles L. Shockley, son of John Shockley. through whom all of said applicants claim, setting out the blood, relationship, residence, and tribal recognition of the claimants. There is attached to the application and made a part thereof a decision of United States Indian Agent Leo E. Bennett, rendered July 15, 1889. approved by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs January 29. 1890, and by the Secretary of the Interior on the same day, admitting to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation, John Shockley and his family, to wit, Mary L. Shockley, his wife, and there seven children, as follows: William Shockley, Elzora Shockley, Charles L. Shockley, Ephraim Shockley, Lula Shockley, Albert or Robert Shockley and Clayton Shockley. The Indian agent states in his opinion that B. F. Smallwood. principal chief of the Choctaw Nation, requested him to give careful consideration to the case, as he “believed the same to be a bona fide citizen of our nation.”
October 7, 1890. The Choctaw Nation, by its attorneys. Stuart, Gordon & Hailey, made answer to said petition, stating:
There is no evidence to show that this claim has never been disputed by the Choctaw Nation.
Other documentary evidence is filed with the petition, showing the rights of each of the claimants, their names appearing on the 1893 roll, and that they drew leased-district money.
December 5, 1896. The commission rendered its decision admitting Frank K. West, Ava Shockley, Gallic Shockley, and Elzora Shockley as citizens of the Choctaw Nation by intermarriage, and Mattie L. Shockley, Charles L. Shockley, Ephraim Shockley, Eddie Shockley, Lula West, Albert Shockley, Roy West, Marie West, Mattie Shockley, Leverett Shockley, Albert Shockley, jr., and Ethel, Norah, and Frank Shockley as citizens by blood, and rejected all other applicants.
February 2, 1897. Appeal was filed by claimants in the United States Court for the Central District of Indian Territory, and the record before the Dawes Commission transmitted to that court. Additional evidence was taken, consisting of the depositions of Ephraim Shockley, Frank K. West, Charles L. Shockley, A. Telle, formerly national secretary of the Choctaw Nation, and others, which fully establish the blood, residence, and tribal recognition of 18 of the claimants, all of whom had been admitted by the commission.
August 30, 1897. A decree was entered admitting Ava Shockley, Callie Shockley, Adzara Shockley, or Elora Shockley, and Mattie L. Shockley “as members of the Choctaw Tribe of Indians and citizens of the Choctaw Nation by intermarriage, and Charles L. Shockley, Ephraim E. Shockley, Eddie Shockley or Ephraim Shockley, Lulu West, Albert Shockley, Roy West, Marie West, Mattie Shockley, Leverett Shockley, Albert P. Shockley, Ethel Shockley, Norah Shockley, and Albert R. Shockley as members of said tribe and citizens of said nation by blood.” and denying all other applicants.
December 17. 1902. The decision of the Dawes Commission and decree of the United States court admitting claimants were vacated by decree of the Choctaw-Chickasaw citizenship court.
March 9, 1003. Case transferred to citizenship court for trial de novo.
June 20, 1003. Counsel for claimants filed in the citizenship court a motion reading as follows:
Now come the plaintiffs heroin and move the court to dismiss this cause from the (locket of this court without prejudice.
January 25, 1904. The following order was entered:
Order of court: On this January 25, 1904, this cause coming on to be heard upon the motion to dismiss, filed by the plaintiffs, the same having heretofore been submitted upon argument of counsel, and the court being well and sufficiently advised in the premises. Is of the opinion that the same should be overruled, and it is so ordered.
March term, 1904, Walter L. Weaver handed down the opinion of the court in this case, the salient portion of which is as follows:
After the decision by this court of the suit of the Choctaw and Chiekasaw Nations v. L. T. Riddle et al.. commonly known as the Test case, the plaintiffs filed their petition in this court praying for an adjudication of their said cause by this court in accordance with the statute therefor made and provided. Such further proceedings were had in this court that said cause was regularly assigned for hearing therein, and A. Eddleman, a practicing attorney living at Ardmore, in the Indian Territory, and the attorney of record for the said plaintiffs in this court, was duly notified of the day the said cause was assigned for hearing, but neither the plaintiffs nor their attorney of record appeared at the day set for the trial of said cause, nor at any other time, to present their cause for hearing by this court, and failed to produce or offer any evidence whatsoever in support of their claim. Nevertheless I have examined the record of this proceeding, both before the Dawes Commission (the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes) and before the United States District Court for the Central District of the Indian Territory, with a view to ascertaining whether or not there is competent evidence contained therein to authorize a finding and judgment of this court sustaining the claims of the plaintiffs herein, but fail to find sufficient evidence competent for that purpose.
I am therefore of the opinion that the plaintiffs have failed to show by any competent evidence produced in this court that they or any of them are entitled to citizenship or enrollment as members of the Choctaw Nation.
Judgment will be rendered accordingly.
March 521. 1904. A decree was entered decreeing each of the claimants not entitled to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation, or to enrollment as such, or to any rights whatever flowing there from.
As showing the procedure of the court in this case, counsel for claimants attach hereto the affidavits of A. C. Cruce, A. Eddleman, W. A. Ledbetter. and F. K. West.
December 24, 1904. A petition was forwarded to the President of the United States requesting an investigation of the decision of Choctaw-Chickasaw citizenship court in the case of Lula West et al. From the opinion of the Assistant Attorney General, dated February 10, 1905. it appears that in said petition all the facts presented to the Dawes Commission and the United States court when said case was before said tribunals were reviewed, together with the action of the citizenship court. She stated that the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes admitted the justice of her claim to Choctaw citizenship, but deemed themselves precluded from considering it by the judgment of the citizenship court, and she prayed an investigation of the case by the department and an order to the Secretary of the Interior that she be placed on the rolls if the allegations set forth in the petition were found to be true.
The petition was referred to the Department of the Interior for the opinion of the Assistant Attorney General.
February 10, 1905. the Assistant Attorney General rendered an opinion, concluding as follows:
The act of June 10, 1890, confirmed the tribal rolls, and under it the commission had no jurisdiction or power to eliminate, persons there from. In respect to such persons already recognized as citizens on the tribal rolls they had no power other than investigation and entry upon the roll by them to he prepared. Such action was not a decision or admission of such applicant to citizenship, as that status already existed. In her case, as the facts are stated, it existed by virtue of her recognition and enrollment as a Choctaw by the Secretary of the Interior January 9, 1890. That the commission had no power to deny enrollment of such an applicant was decided by the department May 21, 1903. in the Choctaw case of Wiley Adams.
The United States court, under the act of 1890, supra, had in citizenship cases no other jurisdiction than an appellate one. and from the very nature of such jurisdiction obtained no Jurisdiction by an attempted appeal of a matter wherein the original tribunal had no jurisdiction. My opinion was so expressed in the recent Creek case of Mary C. Keifer (I. T. D., 5060, 1902; 6230. 1903). It follows that the attempted appeal by the Choctaw Nation in the case here under consideration, if the facts are as stated, vested no jurisdiction in the court to which the appeal was attempted to be taken, and its judgment, being essentially and necessarily a nullity, the citizenship court itself obtained no jurisdiction in the case by going through the form of annulling a judgment that for total want of original jurisdiction had never any validity or operation.
I am therefore of the opinion that the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes have jurisdiction, upon the facts stated, to examine into the claimant’s case, and should adjudicate it upon its merits, regardless of any judgment of the citizenship court.
April 21, 1905. Secretary Hitchcock directed commission by wire to suspend action on this case under the decision of the Assistant Attorney General of February 10, 1905. until motion for review of said decision was acted upon. The order also ran to all other cases of a similar nature.
By order of the President, on May 20, 1906, the Secretary of the Interior transmitted to the Attorney General, for an opinion, the case of Myrtie Randolph and her .brother. W. J. Thompson, which presented a similar question to the one presented in the Lula West case.
The commission considered the case of Lula West, and on March 19, 1906, rendered a decision holding the following persons entitled to enrollment: John E. Shockley, Lula West, Roy West, Marie West, Corine West, Ephraim E. Shockley, Mattie Shockley, Leverett Shockley, Elva May Shockley, Charles L. Shockley, Albert Shockley, Herman Shockley, Marie Shockley, Albert R. Shockley, and John P. Shockley, as citizens by blood, and Mattie Osborne, Ava Shockley, Callie Shockley and Pauline Shockley, as citizens by intermarriage. The names of the above claimants were placed on a schedule and transmitted with the decision to the Secretary for his approval.
February 19, 1907. The Attorney General rendered an opinion in the case of Myrtie Randolph and W. J. Thompson, referred to him on May 29, 1906. which was construed by the Department as holding that the decision of the citizenship court was a finality.
February 26, 1907. The Secretary disapproved the schedule containing the names of claimants.
March 4, 1907. The Attorney General rendered another opinion, which reached the Department of the Interior March 6, and two days after the roll had been closed by operation of law, modifying his opinion of February 19, 1907, under which latter opinion claimants would have been entitled to enrollment. Those entitled to enrollment in this case are: John E. Shockley, Lula West, Roy West, Marie West, Corine West, Ephraim E. Shockley, Mattie Shockley, Leverett Shockley, Elva May Shockley, Charles L. Shockley, Albert Shockley, Herman Shockley, Mamie Shockley, Albert R. Shockley, Albert P Shockley, Mattie Osborn, Ava Shockley, Gallic Shockley, Pauline Shockley19 in all.
Ballinger & Lee