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The Court of Claims Ruling in California Indians K-344 – ICTMN.com

On October 5, 1942, the U.S. Court of Claims issued its opinion in the case California Indians K-344, which involved “Various Tribes of Indians located in California.” The case was the result of a jurisdictional act of May 18, 1928, whereby Congress permitted the State of California to sue the United States on behalf of the Indians of California. As the Court of Claims stated: “In 1928, Congress passed a private act, 45 Stat. 602…which provided that the claims of these Indians should be adjudicated by the Court of Claims.”

The Court of Claims was referring to claims premised on the refusal of the U.S. Senate, in 1852, to ratify eighteen treaties that U.S. treaty representatives made with the Indians of California. As the Court of Claims said: “There was a promise made to these tribes and bands of Indians and accepted by them but the treaties were never ratified so the promise was never fulfilled. From 1852 this matter lay dormant for almost eighty years.” In making its ruling, the Court of Claims also specified:

This case does not involve the payment for land of which the Indians has a cession [sic], or use and occupancy. No legal claim under any treaty or act of Congress setting aside land for the use of the Indians of California can be sustained. The decree can only be for a fixed amount of compensation. There has been no taking [of land] which under the Constitution would require just compensation to be paid and therefore would involve interest.

In other words, the claims case K-344 was not an acknowledgment by the United States that the Indians of California had any legal right to their traditional lands in California. The case was only intended to compensate the Indians of California for the U.S.’s failure to ratify 18 Indian treaties.

At the opening of its ruling, the Court of Claims used racist and demeaning language to characterize the nature of the Indians’ relationship with their traditional lands and territories: “The Indians of California consist of wandering bands, tribes, and small groups who had been roving over the same territory during the period under the Spanish and Mexican ownership, before the [1848] treaty between Mexico and the United States whereby California was acquired by the United States.” Notice that the Court used the present tense “consist of wandering bands,” etc., thereby asserting that the Indian nations of California were “wandering bands, tribes, and small groups” in 1942!

The Court of Claims further said of the Indians of California: “They had no separate reservations and occupied and owned no permanent sections of land. They and their forebearers had roved over this country for centuries. They possessed no title to any particular real property existing under the Mexican law in California.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE: The Court of Claims Ruling in California Indians K-344 – ICTMN.com.

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