ANSLEY V. AINSWORTH, 180 U. S. 253 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ansley v. Ainsworth, 180 U.S. 253 (1901)

Ansley v. Ainsworth

No. 136

Submitted December 20, 1900

Decided February

180 U.S. 253


The legislation in respect of the United States court in the Indian Territory considered, it is held that an appeal does not lie directly to this Court from a decree of the trial court in the Indian Territory, although the suit in which the decree is rendered may have involved the constitutionality of an act of Congress. Whether an appeal lies to this Court from the Court of Appeals of the Indian Territory in such cases is a question which does not arise on this record.

This was a bill filed in the United States Court in and for the Central District of the Indian Territory by W. H. Ansley, M. H. Gleason, and R. O. Edmonds against N. B. Ainsworth, chanrobles.com-red

Page 180 U. S. 254

L. C. Burriss, O. E. Woods, James Elliott, and the Ola Coal & Mining Company, alleging; that Ansley was by blood a member and citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Indians; that Gleason and Edmonds were citizens of the United States by birth, who by intermarriage with members of the Choctaw Nation had become citizens of that nation; that Ainsworth was a citizen of the Choctaw Nation and Burriss a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation; that Woods and Elliott were citizens of the United States, and that the mining company was a corporation organized under the laws of Kansas, engaged in operating a mine in the Choctaw Nation, Elliott being president and Woods general manager thereof.

The bill averred that in November, 1890, Gleason and Edmonds and one Riddle, a citizen by blood of the Choctaw Nation, discovered coal, and acquired an exclusive and perpetual right to a coal claim to themselves and their assigns under section 18 of art. 7 of the Choctaw Constitution; the laws, usages, and customs of that nation, and acts of the Choctaw Council, and that in February, 1898, Riddle conveyed his undivided one-third interest in the coal claim to Ansley.

That Gleason, Edmonds, and Riddle, in 1896, contracted with Woods to work the mine, and that Woods contracted with the mining company for the working of the same, and that, under the agreements, Gleason, Edmonds, and Riddle were to receive a royalty.

That Ainsworth and Burriss were coal trustees designated by the governors of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, respectively, and appointed by the President under the Act of Congress of June 28, 1898, 30 Stat. 510, c. 517, which act ratified an agreement with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations known as the "Atoka Agreement," also afterwards ratified by the people of said nations, and operated to annul all individual leases and to prohibit the payment to or receipt by individuals of any royalty on coal, and provided that all royalties should be paid into the Treasury of the United States for the benefit of the tribes, to be drawn therefrom under such rules and regulations as should be prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior, and that all leases for the working of coal lands entered into by and chanrobles.com-red

Page 180 U. S. 255

between persons or corporations desiring to mine coal and the mining trustees of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations should be approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

The bill was filed to enjoin Woods, Elliott, and the mining company from entering into a lease with Ainsworth and Burriss, mining trustees of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and denied on various grounds the constitutionality and validity of the provisions of the act of Congress.

The United States Court for the Central District of the Indian Territory, Clayton, J., presiding, held that there was no equity in the bill, and sustained a demurrer thereto, and, complainants declining to plead further, dismissed the bill with costs, whereupon an appeal was allowed to this Court.