31 On the other hand, as years go by there has been conscious effort to assimilate the Indians into the communities in which they live and to extend to them the same equal protection of the laws as all other citizens enjoy. This view is well exemplified in the Senate Report which preceded the passage of the civil jurisdiction bill in 1950 in which it was said that:

32 'Your committee believes that all citizens of a State should be parts of one social order; that anything which conflicts with this principle should be brought into confromity therewith at the earliest time consistent with justice; that the civil relationship and responsibility of all citizens within a State should be equal as well as just and under the jurisdiction of a common code of laws that govern all and protect all alike.' Sen.Rep. No. 1836, June 15, 1950.

33 If the Indians are to enjoy equal protection of the laws and all the other benefits extended to each citizen it may well be that they should bear some of the burdens including that of being subjected to having their lands condemned for public purposes, beneficial to the State in which they live.

34 The sovereign power of the United States is exercised by Congress and it would be anomalous indeed if this very power which could make its own land subject to condemnation (16 U.S.C.A. 797) could not be extended to the land of those over whom it exercises its guardianship. This power has been asserted from time to time as, for example, in the Reclamation Acts, the appropriation of vast areas in the mid-west for irrigation and other public projects. In Henkel v. United States, 237 U.S. 43, 49, 50, 35 S.Ct. 536, 539, 59 L.Ed. 831, the Supreme Court said:

35 'The authority of the Congress of the United States to devote these lands to irrigation purposes is unquestioned. As a matter of fact, it might, if it saw fit, remove the Indians therefrom and devote the land to such uses. Recognizing the injustice of arbitrary appropriations to other uses, no effort has been made to take these lands without compensation to the Indians for the improvements which they have made, and they have been given the right to select other lands in place of those released. The reclamation projects undertaken by the government are very extensive and cover many states; and they must involve in their construction, the flooding of lands in connection with dams designed to hold water for such purposes; and must necessarily include much territory which is included in Indian reservations. This situation was of course well known to Congress when it passed the Reclamation Act, and we cannot doubt, in view of the broad authority conferred by sections 7 and 10, above quoted, that it was the purpose of Congress to give the Secretary of the Interior the right to acquire such rights as are here involved, when necessary for reclamation purposes. In carrying out the purposes of the act, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to acquire any rights or property necessary for that purpose, and to acquire the same either by purchase or by condemnation. He is specifically authorized to perform any and all acts necessary and proper for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of the act. Authority could hardly have been conferred in more comprehensive terms, and we do not believe it was the intention of Congress, because of the Indians' right of selection of lands under the circumstances here shown, to reserve such lands from the operation of the act. To do so might defeat the reclamation projects which it was evidently the purpose of Congress to authorize and promote. * * *'

36 The power of condemnation was also recognized in the passage of section 409a Title 25 U.S.C.A. which provides that 'Whenever any nontaxable land of a restricted Indian of the Five Civilized Tribes or of any other Indian tribe is sold to any State, county, or municipality for public-improvement purposes, or is acquired, under existing law, by any State, county, or municipality by condemnation or other proceedings for such public purposes, * * *' the proceeds therefrom may with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior be reinvested in other lands selected by the Indians and shall become restricted as to alienation and taxability as the lands condemned.

37 The court below came to the conclusion that 'There is no constitutional requirement that the appropriation now involved be specifically authorized by an act of Congress' and that neither sections 177 nor 233 of Title 25 U.S.C.A. presented any bar to the exercise of eminent domain. The wording of these two statutes does not, in our opinion, lead to such a conclusion. However, the same result is reached because the right of eminent domain of the United States is superior to, and could not have been extinguished by, the statutes in question. Of necessity, however, the exercise of this power must be by the United States through Congress.

38 This power may be found in the direction given to the Federal Power Commission to issue a license to the Power Authority (71 Stat. 401) and the right granted to a licensee to use the right of eminent domain. Appellant challenges this approach by arguing (1) that the Federal Power Commission cannot thus usurp the authority of Congress and (2) that any taking of Tuscarora property must be by special enactment directed to Tuscarora land. General acts, the Tuscarora say, will not suffice.

39 There is no question that Congress has the constitutional authority to take Indian Reservation or tribal lands by eminent domain. Cherokee Nation v. Southern Kansas Ry. Co., 135 U.S. 641, 10 S.Ct. 965, 34 L.Ed. 295. There remain to be determined whether in delegating its power of condemnation to the Power Authority, Congress expressly or impliedly intended to authorize the taking of Indian Reservation or tribal lands (as distinct from lands allotted to Indians in severalty, 25 U.S.C.A. 357); and whether in the course of its condemnation procedure the Power Authority complied with the pertinent provisions of the Federal Power Act.

40 Congress did not expressly authorize the taking of the appellant's land for the Niagara Power Project. Can it be inferred from the nature of the project and its proximity to the Reservation or from the impracticability of constructing it without taking a portion of the Tuscarora Reservation that Congress intended to authorize such a taking? Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co., 195 U.S. 540, 25 S.Ct. 133, 49 L.Ed. 312; Spalding v. Chandler, 1895, 160 U.S. 394, 16 S.Ct. 360, 40 L.Ed. 469; Seneca Nation of Indians v. Brucker, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, Civil No. 2202-57, dated March 24, 1958 (unreported), and cases cited therein. Such an inference may properly be drawn when consideration is give to the size and extent of the Niagara Power Project.

Note: Tuscaroras.com is not affiliated with or approved or endorsed by the Tuscarora Nation of New York. While there are official websites for various organizations, Tuscaroras.com is not the official website of the Tuscarora Nation of New York. Views expressed on the individual websites hosted here are those of the administrator of each individual website. Tuscaroras.com does not have access to tribal records or genealogical information of any kind.

©1996 - 2017 Tuscarora and Six Nations Websites

All Rights Reserved