LONE WOLF v. HITCHCOCK—CONGRESS HAD PLENARY POWER TO ABROGATE TREATIES
Under the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867, 75% of adult males in each of the Kiowa, Apache, and Comanche tribes had to agree to any changes to the treaty’s terms. In 1892, the U.S., seeing the tribes profit by leasing their land to whites for grazing, sent the Jerome Commission to amend the treaty to obtain most of their reserves for white settlement in return for an allotment. When tribal leaders were opposed, the Commission fraudulently obtained signatures. Lobbying stalled the changes until 1900, when Congress opened 2 million acres of reserve lands. Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf sued on behalf of the tribes. After lower Federal courts ruled against the tribes, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that matters involving Indian lands were within the sole power of Congress and its actions were not a “taking” under 5th Amendment’s Due Process clause. Of the allotted lands, 90% were lost. Ultimately, the tribes’ lands were reduced from 2,900,000 acres to 3,000 acres.
Sources: Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U.S. 553 (1903), Oyez. Retrieved 2/18/2021, Blue Clark, “Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903),” Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 2/18/2021, Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903) The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (okhistory.org) Photo: DeLancey Gill (1859-1940), October 1902. Lone Wolf, the Younger. Public Domain. Source: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, BAE GN 01434D 06270800.