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WELLSVILLE OIL CO. V. MILLER, 243 U. S. 6 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wellsville Oil Co. v. Miller, 243 U.S. 6 (1917)

Wellsville Oil Company v. Miller

No. 541

Argued December 6, 1916

Decided March 6, 1917

243 U.S. 6


A controversy in a state court involving the power of the United States Court of the Indian Territory to authorize and approve a lease of an Indian allotment, subject, however, to the condition that it be approved also by the Secretary of the Interior before becoming operative, and involving also the validity and effect of such a lease so judicially authorized and approved but disapproved by the Secretary, and the power of the Secretary to disapprove it, held, reviewable in this Court as concerning matters inherently federal.

The United States Court for the Indian Territory, in authorizing the guardian of a Cherokee minor to lease her allotment, conditioned the authority upon the approval of the lease by the Secretary of the Interior and ordered the guardian to report the lease when executed chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 243 U. S. 7

to the court and furnish a new bond to secure moneys contemplated to be collected under it. So authorized, the guardian and ward executed a form of lease containing provisions which conferred upon the Secretary broad power to control its performance, with a discretion to cancel it without legal proceedings, and stipulating that, after approval by him, the lease should be void if an additional bond subject to his approval were not furnished. This instrument was reported to and approved by the court, but, some months later, was expressly disapproved by the Secretary.


(1) That the approval by the court was not absolute, but was merely a prerequisite and preliminary to the submission of the lease to the Secretary, as required by the original order.

(2) That this conclusion was corroborated by the terms of the lease itself and by an allegation made by the plaintiff in error (the lessee) in its petition in this case to the effect that the court, in granting authority to make the lease, acquiesced in the Secretary's claim that approval by him was prerequisite.

(3) That failure to give effect to the lease did not deny full faith and credit to the order of the court authorizing the guardian to make it.

(4) That, if the Secretary had no power of approval, no authority to lease was conferred by the order.

44 Okl. 493, affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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