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MONTOYA V. UNITED STATES, 180 U. S. 261 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Montoya v. United States, 180 U.S. 261 (1901)

Montoya v. United States

No. 43

Argued December 14, 17, 1901

Decided February 11, 1901

180 U.S. 261


The object of the Indian Depredation Act is to enable citizens whose property has been taken or destroyed by Indians belonging to any band, tribe or nation in amity with the United States to recover a judgment for their value both against the United States and the tribe to which the Indians belong, and which by the act is made responsible for the acts of marauders whom it has failed to hold in check. If the depredations have been committed by the tribe or band itself, acting in hostility to the United States, it is an act of war for which there can be no recovery under the act.

Where a company of Apache Indians who were dissatisfied with their surroundings left their reservation under the leadership of Victoria, to the number of two or three hundred, became hostile, and roamed about in Old and New Mexico for about two years, committing depredations and killing citizens, it was held that they constituted a "band" within the meaning of the act, that they were not in amity with the United States, and that neither the government nor the tribe to which they originally belonged were responsible for their depredations.

This was a petition by the surviving partner of the firm of E. Montoya & Sons against the United States and the Mescalero Apache Indians for the value of certain livestock taken in March, 1880, by certain of these Indians, known as Victoria's Band.

The Court of Claims made the finding of facts set forth in the margin. * chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 180 U. S. 262

Upon these findings of fact, the court decided as a conclusion of law that the petition be dismissed. 32 Ct.Cl. 349. Claimant appealed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 180 U. S. 263

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