Indian title


Indian title
By virtue of prior occupancy of the continent of North America, at best, nothing more than a right of occupancy. Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians v United States, 324 US 335, 89 L Ed 985, 65 S Ct 690; nothing more than permissive occupancy; not a title which could be conveyed so as to transfer to the grantee a title which the United States was bound to recognize. Johnson and Graham's Lessee v M'Intosh (US) 8 Wheat 543, 574, 5 L Ed 681, 688. A right not beyond that of permissive occupancy, except as Congress might recognize a right of permanent occupancy not to be disturbed. Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v United States, 348 US 272, 99 L Ed 314, 75 S Ct 313. The right of Indians to occupy lands in the United States over which they had sovereignty prior to conquest by the white man is not a property right but amounts to a right of occupancy which the sovereign grants and, although protecting against intrusion by third parties, may terminate; such lands may be fully disposed of by the sovereign itself without any legally enforceable obligation to compensate the Indians. Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v United States, 348 US 272, 99 L Ed 314, 75 S Ct 313. Exclusive title to American lands passed to the white discoverers subject to the Indian title, with power in the white sovereign alone to extinguish that right by purchase or conquest. Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians v United States, 324 US 335, 89 L Ed 985, 65 S Ct 690.

Ballentine's law dictionary. . 1998.

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