MAY 10, 1886

U.S. V. KAGAMA, 118 U.S. 375 (1886)-U.S. SUPREME COURT GIVES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JURISDICTION ON RESERVATIONS

In a unanimous decision, Kagama upheld the constitutionality of a federal criminal statute specifically applicable to Indians.  In Ex parte Crow Dog (1883), the Court had held that tribal, not federal, law applied to criminal acts committed by an Indian in Indian country.  In response, Congress enacted the “Major Crimes Act” (part of the Indian Appropriations Act of 1885), which extended the jurisdiction of federal courts to specified crimes, including murder and manslaughter committed by one Indian against another in Indian country.  Relying on Justice John Marshall’s analogy in Worcester v. Georgia (1832) to the common-law guardian-ward relationship as a figure explaining federal authority over Indian affairs, the Court determined that protection of Indians constituted a national obligation and sustained the power of Congress to legislate for Indians on reservations.

Source:  Rennard J. Strickland, “Kagama, United States v.,” The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions.  Retrieved 6/29/2019,  http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100028324
Image:  The Official Seal of the U. S. Supreme Court.  Public Domain.  Created by the Federal Government.

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