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Respondent Ruiz and his wife, Papago Indians, left their reservation in Arizona in 1940 to live in an Indian community a few miles away and Ruiz found employment at a nearby mine. During a prolonged strike, Ruiz applied for but was denied general assistance benefits under the Snyder Act by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) because of a provision in the BIA Manual limiting eligibility to Indians living "on reservations" (and in jurisdictions under the BIA in Alaska and Oklahoma). After unsuccessful administrative appeals, respondents instituted this purported class action, claiming, inter alia, entitlement to such general assistance as a matter of statutory interpretation. The District Court's summary judgment for petitioner was reversed by the Court of Appeals on the ground that the Manual's residency limitation was inconsistent with the broad language of the Snyder Act, that Congress intended general assistance benefits to be available to all Indians, including those in respondents' position, and that Congress' subsequent actions in appropriating funds for the BIA general assistance program did not serve to ratify the imposed limitation. Held:
BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Harry R. Sachse argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Bork, Assistant Attorney General Johnson, Edmund B. Clark, and Carl Strass.
Winton D. Woods, Jr., argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief was Lindsay E. Brew. *
[ Footnote * ] Jerry C. Straus filed a brief for the Arapahoe Tribe of Wyoming et al. as amici curiae urging reversal.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed by Lee J. Sclar and Bruce R. Greene for the California Indian Legal Services, and by David H. Getches for the Native American Rights Fund.
MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case presents a narrow but important issue in the administration of the federal general assistance program for needy Indians:
The pertinent facts are agreed upon, although, as to some, the petitioner Secretary denies knowledge but does not dispute them. App. 45-48. The respondents, Ramon Ruiz and his wife, Anita, are Papago Indians and United States citizens. In 1940 they left the Papago Reservation in Arizona 1 to seek employment 15 miles away at the Phelps-Dodge copper mines at Ajo. Mr. Ruiz found work there, and they settled in a community at Ajo called the "Indian Village" and populated almost entirely by Papagos. 2 Practically all the land and most of the homes in the Village are owned or rented by Phelps-Dodge. The Ruizes have lived in Ajo continuously since 1940 and have been in their present residence since 1947. A minor daughter lives with them. They speak and understand the Papago language but only limited English. Apart from Mr. Ruiz' employment with [415 U.S. 199, 203] Phelps-Dodge, they have not been assimilated into the dominant culture, and they appear to have maintained a close tie with the nearby reservation. 3 [415 U.S. 199, 204]
In July 1967, 27 years after the Ruizes moved to Ajo, the mine where he worked was shut down by a strike. It remained closed until the following March. While the strike was in progress, Mr. Ruiz' sole income was a $15 per week striker's benefit paid by the union. 4 He sought welfare assistance from the State of Arizona but this was denied because of the State's apparent policy that striking workers are not eligible for general assistance or emergency relief. 5
On December 11, 1967, Mr. Ruiz applied for general assistance benefits from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). He was immediately notified by letter that he was ineligible for general assistance because of the provision (in effect since 1952) in 66 Indian Affairs Manual 3.1.4 (1965) that eligibility is limited to Indians living "on reservations" and in jurisdictions under the BIA in Alaska and Oklahoma. 6 An appeal to the Superintendent [415 U.S. 199, 205] of the Papago Indian Agency was unsuccessful. A further appeal to the Phoenix Area Director of the BIA led to a hearing, but this, too, proved unsuccessful. The sole ground for the denial of general assistance benefits was that the Ruizes resided outside the boundaries of the Papago Reservation.
The respondents then instituted the present purported class action against the Secretary, claiming, as a matter of statutory interpretation, entitlement to the general assistance for which they had applied, and also challenging the eligibility provision as a violation of Fifth Amendment due process and of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV, 2, of the Constitution.
The Court of Appeals' reversal of the District Court's summary judgment for the Secretary was on the ground that the Manual's residency limitation was inconsistent with the broad language of the Snyder Act, 25 U.S.C. 13, "that Congress intended general assistance benefits to be available to all Indians, including those in the position" of the Ruizes, 462 F.2d, at 821, and that subsequent actions of Congress in appropriating funds for the BIA general assistance program did not serve to ratify the imposed limitation. The dissent took the position that the Secretary's policy was within the broad discretionary authority delegated to the Secretary by Congress with respect to the allocation of limited funds.
The Snyder Act, 7 42 Stat. 208, 25 U.S.C. 13, approved November 2, 1921, provides the underlying congressional [415 U.S. 199, 206] authority for most BIA activities including, in particular and importantly, the general assistance program. Prior to the Act, there was no such general authorization. As a result, appropriation requests made by the House Committee on Indian Affairs were frequently stricken on the House floor by point-of-order objections. See H. R. Rep. No. 275, 67th Cong., 1st Sess. (1921); S. Rep. No. 294, 67th Cong., 1st Sess. (1921); 61 Cong. Rec. 4659-4672 (1921). The Snyder Act was designed to remedy this situation. It is comprehensively worded for the apparent purpose of avoiding these point-of-order motions to strike. Since the passage of the Act, the BIA has presented its budget requests without further interruption of that kind and Congress has enacted appropriation bills annually in response to the requests.
The appropriation legislation at issue here, Department [415 U.S. 199, 207] of Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 1968, Pub. L. 90-28, 81 Stat. 59, 60 (1967), recited:
The general assistance program is designed by the BIA to provide direct financial aid to needy Indians where other channels of relief, federal, state, and tribal, are not available. Benefits generally are paid on a scale equivalent to the State's welfare payments. Any Indian, whether living on a reservation or elsewhere, may be eligible for benefits under the various social security programs in which his State participates and no limitation may be placed on social security benefits because of an Indian claimant's residence on a reservation. 11
In the formal budget request submitted to Congress [415 U.S. 199, 209] by the BIA for fiscal 1968, the program was described as follows:
We are confronted, therefore, with the issues whether the geographical limitation placed on general assistance eligibility by the BIA is consistent with congressional intent and the meaning of the applicable statutes, or, to phrase it somewhat differently, whether the congressional appropriations are properly limited by the BIA's restrictions, [415 U.S. 199, 210] and, if so, whether the limitation withstands constitutional analysis.
On the initial question, the Secretary argues, first, that the Snyder Act is merely an enabling act with no definition of the scope of the general assistance program, that the Appropriation Act did not provide for off-reservation Indian welfare (other than in Oklahoma and Alaska), and that Congress did not intend to expand the program beyond that presented to it by the BIA request. Secondly, he points to the "on reservations" limitation in the Manual and suggests that Congress was well acquainted with that limitation, 13 and that, by legislating in the light of the Manual's limiting provision, its appropriation amounted to a ratification of the BIA's definitive practice. He notes that, in recent years, Congress has twice rejected proposals that clearly would have provided off-reservation general assistance for Indians. 14 [415 U.S. 199, 211] Thus, it is said, Congress has appropriated no funds for general assistance for off-reservation Indians and, as a practical matter, the Secretary is unable to provide such a program.
The Court of Appeals placed primary reliance on the Snyder Act's provision for assistance to "the Indians throughout" the United States. It concluded that the Act envisioned no geographical limitations on Indian programs and that, absent a clear congressional ratification of such a policy, the Secretary was powerless to shrink the coverage down to some lesser group of Indian beneficiaries.
Although we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals and its reversal of the judgment of the District Court, we reach its result on a narrower ground. We need not approach the issue in terms of whether Congress intended for all Indians, regardless of residence and of the degree of assimilation, to be covered by the general assistance program. We need only ascertain the intent of Congress with respect to those Indian claimants in the case before us. The question, so limited, is whether Congress intended to exclude from the general assistance program these respondents and their class, who are full-blooded, unassimilated Indians living in an Indian community near their native reservation, and who maintain close economic and social ties with that reservation. Except for formal residence outside the physical [415 U.S. 199, 212] boundaries of the Papago Reservation, the respondents, as has been conceded, meet all other requirements for the general assistance program.
There is, of course, some force in the Secretary's argument and in the facts that the BIA's budget requests consistently contained "on reservations" general assistance language and that there was testimony before successive appropriations subcommittees to the effect that assistance of this kind was customarily so restricted. Nonetheless, our examination of this and other material leads us to a conclusion contrary to that urged by the Secretary.
A. In actual practice, general assistance clearly has not been limited to reservation Indians. Indeed, the Manual's provision, see n. 6, supra, so heavily relied upon by the Secretary, itself provides that general assistance is available to nonreservation Indians in Alaska and Oklahoma. The rationale proffered for this is:
B. There was testimony in several of the hearings that the BIA, in fact, was not limiting general assistance to those within reservation boundaries and, on more than one occasion, Congress was notified that exceptions were being made where they were deemed appropriate. Notwithstanding the Manual, at least three categories of off-reservation Indians outside Alaska and Oklahoma have been treated as eligible for general assistance. The first is the Indian who relocates in the city through the BIA relocation program and who then is eligible for general assistance for the period of time required for him, under state law, to establish residence in the new location. 15 The second evidently is the Indian from the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota who lives on trust land near but apart from that reservation. 16 The third appears to be the Indian residing in Rapid City, South Dakota. 17 [415 U.S. 199, 214]
In addition, although not controlling, it is not irrelevant that the "on reservations" limitation in the budget requests has never appeared in the final appropriation bills.
C. Even more important is the fact that, for many years, to and including the appropriation year at issue, the BIA itself made continual representations to the appropriations subcommittees that nonurban Indians living "near" a reservation were eligible for BIA services. Although, to be sure, several passages in the legislative history and the formal budget requests have defined eligibility in terms of Indians living "on reservations," the BIA, not infrequently, has indicated that living "on or near" a reservation equates with living "on" it.
An early example of this appears at the fiscal 1948 Senate Hearing. The following colloquy between Senator McCarran and Assistant Commissioner Zimmerman is one of the stronger statements made to Congress concerning the BIA's policy of limiting general assistance to reservation Indians and yet, within this very dialogue, relied on explicitly by the Secretary, is an indication that "on reservations" is not given a rigid interpretation:
At the fiscal 1962 hearing, Congressman Fenton inquired of Assistant Commissioner Gifford as to the Indian population in the United States. She replied:
The "on or near" representations continued to be made to Congress. At the fiscal 1963 House hearing, Congressmen questioned Commissioner Nash, Associate Commissioner Officer, and Assistant Commissioner Gifford as to the Indian population served by the BIA:
A nearly identical dialogue occurred in 1964 at the Senate Subcommittee:
During the fiscal 1950 Senate hearing, when the question arose as to the status of Indians who had left the reservation, Assistant Commissioner Zimmerman stated:
It apparently was not until 1971, four years after the appropriation for fiscal 1968, that anyone in Congress seriously questioned the BIA as to its precise policy concerning [415 U.S. 199, 225] the "off-on" dichotomy. The following dialogue between Senator Bible, long a member of the Senate Subcommittee, and Commissioner Bruce is instructive:
Thus, the usual practice of the BIA has been to represent to Congress that "on or near" is the equivalent of "on" for purposes of welfare service eligibility, and that the successive budget request were for a universe of Indians living "on or near" and not just for those living directly "on." In addition, the BIA has continually treated persons "off" the reservations as not "on or near." In the light of this rather consistent legislative history, it is understandable that the Secretary now argues that general assistance has not been available to those "off" the reservation. We do not accept the argument, however, that the history indicates that general assistance was thereby restricted to those within the physical boundaries. To the contrary, that history clearly shows that Congress was led to believe that the programs were being made available to those unassimilated needy Indians living near the reservations as well as to those living "on." Certainly, a fair reading of the congressional proceedings up to and including the fiscal 1968 hearing can lead only to the conclusion that Indians situated near the reservation, such as the Ruizes, were covered by the authorization. 24 [415 U.S. 199, 230]
D. Wholly aside from this appropriation subcommittee legislative history, the Secretary suggests that Congress, each year since 1952, appropriated only in accord with the "on reservations" limitation contained in the BIA Manual. By legislating annually "in the light of [this] clear provision," the Secretary argues, Congress implicitly ratified the BIA policy. This argument, also, is not convincing. The limitation has not been published in the Federal Register or in the Code of Federal Regulations, and there is nothing in the legislative history to show that the Manual's provision was brought to the subcommittees' attention, let alone to the entire Congress. To assume that Congress was aware of this provision, contained only in an internally circulated BIA document, would be most strained. But, even assuming that Congress was fully cognizant of the Manual's limitation when the 1958 appropriation was made, the language of geographic restriction in the Manual must be considered in conjunction with the representations consistently made. There is no reason to assume that Congress did not equate the "on reservations" language with the "on or near" category that continuously was described as the service area. In the light of the Manual's particular inclusion of Oklahoma and Alaska off-reservation Indians, it would seem that this interpretation of the provision would have been the logical one for anyone in Congress, who in fact was aware of it, to accept.
A. Having found that the congressional appropriation was intended to cover welfare services at least to those Indians residing "on or near" the reservation, it does not necessarily follow that the Secretary is without power to create reasonable classifications and eligibility requirements in order to allocate the limited funds available to him for this purpose. See Dandridge v. Williams, [415 U.S. 199, 231] 397 U.S. 471 (1970); Jefferson v. Hackney, 406 U.S. 535 (1972). Thus, if there were only enough funds appropriated to provide meaningfully for 10,000 needy Indian beneficiaries and the entire class of eligible beneficiaries numbered 20,000, it would be incumbent upon the BIA to develop an eligibility standard to deal with this problem, and the standard, if rational and proper, might leave some of the class otherwise encompassed by the appropriation without benefits. But in such a case the agency must, at a minimum, let the standard be generally known so as to assure that it is being applied consistently and so as to avoid both the reality and the appearance of arbitrary denial of benefits to potential beneficiaries.
Assuming, arguendo, that the Secretary rationally could limit the "on or near" appropriation to include only the smaller class of Indians who lived directly "on" the reservation plus those in Alaska and Oklahoma, the question that remains is whether this has been validly accomplished. The power of an administrative agency to administer a congressionally created and funded program necessarily requires the formulation of policy and the making of rules to fill any gap left, implicitly or explicitly, by Congress. In the area of Indian affairs, the Executive has long been empowered to promulgate rules and policies, 25 and the power has been given explicitly to the Secretary and his delegates at the BIA. 26 [415 U.S. 199, 232] This agency power to make rules that affect substantial individual rights and obligations carries with it the responsibility not only to remain consistent with the governing legislation. FMC v. Seatrain Lines, Inc., 411 U.S. 726 (1973); Dixon v. United States, 381 U.S. 68, 74 (1965); Brannan v. Stark, 342 U.S. 451 (1952), but also to employ procedures that conform to the law. See NLRB v. Wyman-Gordon Co., 394 U.S. 759, 764 (1969) (plurality opinion). No matter how rational or consistent with congressional intent a particular decision might be, the determination of eligibility cannot be made on an ad hoc basis by the dispenser of the funds.
The Administrative Procedure Act was adopted to provide, inter alia, that administrative policies affecting individual rights and obligations be promulgated pursuant to certain stated procedures so as to avoid the inherently arbitrary nature of unpublished ad hoc determinations. See generally S. Rep. No. 752, 79th Cong., 1st Sess., 12-13 (1945); H. R. Rep. No. 1980, 79th Cong., 2d Sess., 21-23 (1946). That Act states in pertinent part:
Where the rights of individuals are affected, it is incumbent upon agencies to follow their own procedures. This is so even where the internal procedures are possibly more rigorous than otherwise would be required. Service v. Dulles, 354 U.S. 363, 388 (1957); Vitarelli v. Seaton, 359 U.S. 535, 539 -540 (1959). The BIA, by its Manual, has declared that all directives that "inform the public of privileges and benefits available" and of "eligibility requirements" are among those to be published. The requirement that, in order to receive general assistance, an Indian must reside directly "on" a reservation is clearly an important substantive policy that fits within this class of directives. Before the BIA may extinguish the entitlement of these otherwise eligible beneficiaries, it must comply, at a minimum, with its own internal procedures.
The Secretary has presented no reason why the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act could not or should not have been met. Cf. SEC v. Chenery Corp., 332 U.S. 194, 202 (1947). The BIA itself has not attempted to defend its rule as a valid exercise of its "legislative power," but rather depends on the argument that Congress itself has not appropriated funds for [415 U.S. 199, 236] Indians not directly on the reservations. The conscious choice of the Secretary not to treat this extremely significant eligibility requirement, affecting rights of needy Indians, as a legislative-type rule, renders it ineffective so far as extinguishing rights of those otherwise within the class of beneficiaries contemplated by Congress is concerned.
The overriding duty of our Federal Government to deal fairly with Indians wherever located has been recognized by this Court on many occasions. See, e. g., Seminole Nation v. United States, 316 U.S. 286, 296 (1942); Board of County Comm'rs v. Seber, 318 U.S. 705 (1943). Particularly here, where the BIA has continually represented to Congress, when seeking funds, that Indians living near reservations are within the service area, it is essential that the legitimate expectation of these needy Indians not be extinguished by what amounts to an unpublished ad hoc determination of the agency that was not promulgated in accordance with its own procedures, to say nothing of those of the Administrative Procedure Act. The denial of benefits to these respondents under such circumstances is inconsistent with "the distinctive obligation of trust incumbent upon the Government in its dealings with these dependent and sometimes exploited people." Seminole Nation v. United States, 316 U.S., at 296 ; see Squire v. Capoeman, 351 U.S. 1 (1956). Before benefits may be denied to these otherwise entitled Indians, the BIA must first promulgate eligibility requirements according to established procedures.
B. Even assuming the lack of binding effect of the BIA policy, the Secretary argues that the residential restriction in the Manual is a longstanding interpretation of the Snyder Act by the agency best suited to do this, and that deference is due its interpretation. See Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 433 -434 (1971). [415 U.S. 199, 237] The thrust of this argument is not that the regulation itself has created the "on" and "near" distinction, but that Congress has intended to provide general assistance only to those directly on reservations, and that the Manual's provision is simply an interpretation of congressional intent. As we have already noted, however, the BIA, through its own practices and representations, has led Congress to believe that these appropriations covered Indians "on or near" the reservations, and it is too late now to argue that the words "on reservations" in the Manual mean something different from "on or near" when, in fact, the two have been continuously equated by the BIA to Congress.
We have recognized previously that the weight of an administrative interpretation will depend, among other things, upon "its consistency with earlier and later pronouncements" of an agency. Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134, 140 (1944). See generally 1 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise 5.03-5.06 (1958 ed. and Supp. 1970). In this instance the BIA's somewhat inconsistent posture belies its present assertion. In order for an agency interpretation to be granted deference, it must be consistent with the congressional purpose. Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co., 414 U.S. 86 (1973); Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367, 381 (1969). It is evident to us that Congress did not itself intend to limit its authorization to only those Indians directly on, in contrast to those "near," the reservation, and that, therefore, the BIA's interpretation must fail.
We emphasize that our holding does not, as was suggested at oral argument, Tr. of Oral Arg. 3, 5, and in the Brief for Petitioner 2, make general assistance available to all Indians "throughout the country." Even respondents do not claim this much. Brief for Respondents 23; [415 U.S. 199, 238] Tr. of Oral Arg. 28. The appropriation, as we see it, was for Indians "on or near" the reservation. This is broad enough, we hold, to include the Ruizes who live where they found employment in an Indian community only a few miles from their reservation, who maintain their close economic and social ties with that reservation, and who are unassimilated. The parameter of their class will be determined, to the extent necessary, by the District Court on remand of the case. Whether other persons qualify for general assistance will be left to cases that arise in the future.
In view of our disposition of the statutory issue, we do not reach the respondents' constitutional arguments. We intimate no views as to them.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
[ Footnote 2 ] Ajo is located within the borders of the Papago aboriginal tribal land. The Indian Claims Commission has found that this land was taken from the Papagos by the United States. Id., at 422-423, 426.
[ Footnote 3 ] The following material in the record indicates the close ties retained by the Ajo Indians with the Papago Reservation:
[ Footnote 4 ] Mr. Ruiz so stated at the hearing referred to, infra, before the BIA Area Director. App. 11, 16. Mrs. Ruiz at the same hearing stated that she worked about eight hours a week for $1 an hour. App. 19.
[ Footnote 5 ] See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 46-233.A.4 (Supp. 1971-1972) reflecting the amendment by Laws 1962, c. 117, 23. See also Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365 (1971).
Striking workers, however, are eligible for the State's Surplus Commodities Distribution Program. Mr. Ruiz was certified under this program for two successive 90-day periods. App. 49-50.
[ Footnote 6 ] The Manual provides in pertinent part:
[ Footnote 7 ] The Snyder Act reads in full as follows:
[ Footnote 8 ] See, for example, the Appropriations Act for fiscal 1967, Pub. L. 89-435, 80 Stat. 170, 171 (1966); the Act for fiscal 1966, Pub. L. 89-52, 79 Stat. 174, 175 (1965); and the Act for fiscal 1965, Pub. L. 88-356, 78 Stat. 273, 274 (1964).
[ Footnote 9 ] See the Appropriations Act for fiscal 1969, Pub. L. 90-425, 82 Stat. 425, 427 (1968); the Act for fiscal 1970, Pub. L. 91-98, 83 Stat. 147, 148 (1969); the Act for fiscal 1971, Pub. L. 91-361, 84 Stat. 669, 670 (1970); the Act for fiscal 1972, Pub. L. 92-76, 85 Stat. 229, 230 (1971); the Act for fiscal 1973, Pub. L. 92-369, 86 Stat. 508, 509 (1972); and the Act for fiscal 1974, Pub. L. 93-120, 87 Stat. 429, 430-431 (1973).
[ Footnote 10 ] A critic of the Act (who also represented the Ruizes in the administrative proceedings) describes it as follows: "The Synder Act is a familiar and somewhat distressing occurrence in the history of Indian affairs. As in other instances, Congress enacted a very general measure and left the rest up to the Secretary of the Interior and the BIA. The result is that the structure of the welfare system is the BIA's own creation. The regulatory scheme is contained in the departmental manual which remains inaccessible except to a few social workers and persistent attorneys." Wolf, Needed: A System of Income Maintenance for Indians, 10 Ariz. L. Rev. 597, 607-608 (1968) (footnote omitted).
[ Footnote 11 ] See, for example, 42 U.S.C. 1352 (b) (2). An Indian thus is entitled to social security and state welfare benefits equally with other citizens of the State. State ex rel. Williams v. Kamp, 106 Mont. 444, 449, 78 P.2d 585, 587 (1938); U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Federal Indian Law 287, 516 (1958); Wolf, n. 10, supra, at 599.
[ Footnote 12 ] Hearings on the Department of the Interior and/or related agencies appropriations before subcommittees of the Senate or House Committee on Appropriations will be hereinafter merely identified as to branch of Congress, fiscal year, and number and session of Congress.
[ Footnote 12a ] [415 U.S. 199, 209] The hearings for the preceding four years disclose identically worded requests. House Hearings, Fiscal Year 1967, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 255 (1966), and Senate Hearings, Fiscal Year 1967, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 267 (1966); House Hearings, Fiscal Year 1966, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., 747-748 (1965), and Senate Hearings, Fiscal Year 1966, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., 653 (1965); House Hearings, Fiscal Year 1965, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., 775 (1964); Senate Hearings, Fiscal Year 1965, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., 148 (1964); House Hearings, Fiscal Year 1964, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 844 (1963), and Senate Hearings, Fiscal Year 1964, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 70 (1963).
[ Footnote 13 ] The BIA's limitation in practice surfaced at many hearings. See, for example, the testimony of Assistant Commissioner Gifford in 1959:
[ Footnote 14 ] The bills referred to were H. R. 9621, 87th Cong., 2d Sess. (1962), and H. R. 6279, 88th Cong., 1st Sess. (1963). Each provided that benefits would be available to all Indians in certain [415 U.S. 199, 211] named States, and that the Government would reimburse the State for a percentage of the latter's contribution under the several categorical assistance programs. The failure of these bills can be ascribed just as easily, of course, to the rather arbitrary selection of States, to the specific percentage designated, or to a reluctance to provide for all Indians (rural or urban, assimilated or nonassimilated), as to the increase over the lesser group then being serviced. See United States v. Wise, 370 U.S. 405, 411 (1962); Order of Railway Conductors v. Swan, 329 U.S. 520, 529 (1947).
[ Footnote 15 ] See, for example, Senate Hearings, Fiscal Year 1967, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 302 (1966) (statement of Commissioner Nash); Senate Hearings, Fiscal Year 1959, 85th Cong., 2d Sess., 293 (1958) (statement of Deputy Commissioner Greenwood).
[ Footnote 16 ] House Hearings, Fiscal Year 1961, 86th Cong., 2d Sess., 508-510 (1960) (statement of Commissioner Emmons); Tr. of Oral Arg. 15.
[ Footnote 17 ] Senate Hearings, Fiscal Year 1967, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 298-301 (1966).
[ Footnote 18 ] Identical language, apart from the population figures, appeared in later BIA budget requests. See, for example, House Hearings, Fiscal Year 1962, 87th Cong., 1st Sess., 116 (1961).
[ Footnote 19 ] The next year the Commissioner made the following statement as to the scope of the BIA service area:
[ Footnote 20 ] In the formal budget presented for fiscal 1966 the Commissioner introduced his statement with the following representation:
[ Footnote 21 ] The following year the Commissioner introduced his budget request with this statement:
[ Footnote 22 ] The following additional information was supplied: "Population data
[ Footnote 23 ] Beginning with the fiscal 1973 hearings, there appeared a wide outpouring for BIA assistance for urban Indians. In the Appropriations Committee Report to the Senate for fiscal 1973, submitted by Senator Bible, the following language appears, indicating the Senate's earlier understanding that although the BIA program did not cover urban Indians, it did cover those "on or near" the reservations:
[ Footnote 24 ] This conception as to the BIA's jurisdiction seems not to have been limited to Congress. Curiously enough, in the application, filed with this Court, for an extension of time within which to file the petition for certiorari in this case, the Solicitor General thus described the litigation:
[ Footnote 25 ] "The President may prescribe such regulations as he may think fit for carrying into effect the various provisions of any act relating to Indian affairs, and for the settlement of the accounts of Indian affairs." 25 U.S.C. 9. This provision relates back to the Act of June 30, 1834, 17, 4 Stat. 738.
[ Footnote 26 ] "The Commissioner of Indian Affairs shall, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, and agreeably to such regulations as the President may prescribe, have the management of all Indian affairs and of all matters arising out of Indian relations." 25 U.S.C. 2. [415 U.S. 199, 232] This relates back to the Act of July 9, 1832, 1, 4 Stat. 564.
The Snyder Act provides:
[ Footnote 27 ] The House report accompanying this provision stated:
[ Footnote 28 ] Title 25 CFR (1973), on the subject of "Indians," contains regulations and sets forth eligibility requirements for law-and-order programs (pt. 11); care of Indian children in contract schools (pt. 22); federal schools for Indians (pt. 31); administration of educational loans, grants and other assistance for higher education (pt. 32); enrollment of Indians in public schools (pt. 33); administration of a program of vocational training for adult Indians (pt. 34); and general credit to Indians (pt. 91). The only reference to welfare activities is Subchapter D, entitled "Social Welfare" and comprising pts. 21 and 22. Part 21 relates to the program under which the Commissioner "may negotiate with State, territory, county or other Federal welfare agencies for such agencies to provide welfare services as contemplated" by 25 U.S.C. 452. The regulations state that the program applies to "Indians residing within a particular State within the exterior boundaries of Indian reservations under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs or on trust or restricted lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs." 25 CFR 21.1 (1973). But see 25 U.S.C. 309 and 25 CFR 34.3, where vocational training for adult Indians is also made available "to additional Indians who reside near reservations in the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior when the failure to provide the services would have a direct effect upon Bureau programs within the reservation boundaries" (emphasis supplied). See also 25 CFR 31.1.
The phrase "within the exterior boundaries of Indian reservations under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs," when read in conjunction with the BIA's declared jurisdiction before Congress, would seem to include Indians living "near" the reservations. In any event, the cited regulations do not deal with the general [415 U.S. 199, 235] assistance program. There is nothing in the Code indicating that a general assistance program exists, to say nothing of the absence of eligibility criteria. [415 U.S. 199, 239]
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Citation: 415 U.S. 199
Docket No: No. 72-1052
Decided: February 20, 1974
Court: United States Supreme Court
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