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ENGLISH v. RICHARDSON , 224 U.S. 680 (1912)

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United States Supreme Court


No. 559

Argued: February 23, 1912Decided: May 13, 1912

Messrs. W. L. Sturdevant and Grant Foreman for plaintiff in error.

Mr. M. L. Mott for the Creek Nation.

Mr. Charles West, Attorney General of Oklahoma, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Lamar delivered the opinion of the court:

The plaintiff holds a patent dated December 12, 1902. It was issued to her as a member of the Creek Nation when the tribal lands were divided in pursuance of the same general policy as that discussed in Choate v. Trapp, just decided. [ 224 U.S. 665 , 56 L. ed. --, 32 Sup. Ct. Rep. 565.] There were, however, a few differences. The tax exemption covered only the homestead of 40 acres, [224 U.S. 680, 681]   and there was a restriction on alienability for twenty-one years. The patent, instead of being 'framed in conformity with the agreement,' as in the case of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, bore on its face a provision that the land should be nontaxable; the language of the agreement incorporated in the act of Congress being that 'each citizen shall select from his allotment 40 acres of land . . . as a homestead, which shall be and remain nontaxable, inalienable, and free from any encumbrance whatever for twenty- one years from the date of the deed therefor, and a separate deed shall be issued to each allottee for his homestead, in which this condition shall appear.' [32 Stat. at L. 503, chap. 1323, 16.]

These differences are not material. The right of plaintiff to the exemption granted by Congress is protected by the Constitution on principles stated and applied in Choate v. Trapp. The judgment dismissing her complaint is therefore reversed, and the case remanded for proceedings not inconsistent with that opinion.


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