DeCoteau v. District County Court for the Tenth Judicial District

PETITIONER: DeCoteau
RESPONDENT: District County Court for the Tenth Judicial District
LOCATION: Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

DOCKET NO.: 73-1148
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: South Dakota Supreme Court

CITATION: 420 US 425 (1975)
ARGUED: Dec 16, 1974
DECIDED: Mar 03, 1975

ADVOCATES:
Bertram E. Hirsch - for petitioner Cheryl Spider DeCoteau
Harry R. Sachse - for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Larry R. Gustafson -
William F. Day, Jr. -

Facts of the case

Question

Media for DeCoteau v. District County Court for the Tenth Judicial District

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 16, 1974 in DeCoteau v. District County Court for the Tenth Judicial District

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 03, 1975 in DeCoteau v. District County Court for the Tenth Judicial District

Potter Stewart:

In No. 73-1148 -- I should have said in the previous three cases that Mr. Justice Douglas took no part in the consideration or decision of those cases.

In No. 73-1148, Cheryl Spider DeCoteau, Natural Mother and Next Friend of Robert Lee Feather and Herbert John Spider versus the The District County Court for the Tenth Judicial District of South Dakota.

And in 73-1500, Don R. Erickson, Warden, Petitioner, against John Lee Feather and others, Respondent.

The first case being here on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of South Dakota and the second being before us on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

That in these two cases, consolidated for a decision, the only question that is raised is the question of whether or not the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation in South Dakota, created by an 1867 treaty between the United States and the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Sioux Indians, was terminated and returned to the public domain, by the Act of March 3, 1891.

In each of these two cases, the South Dakota courts asserted jurisdiction over members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Tribe for acts done on lands which, though within the 1867 reservation borders, have been owned and settled by non-Indians since the 1891 Act.

The parties agree that the state courts did not have jurisdiction if these lands are "Indian country," as statutorily defined, and that this question depends upon whether the lands retained reservation status after 1891 Act of Congress.

We hold, for the reasons discussed at some length in the Court's written opinion filed this morning with the clerk that the 1891 Act terminated the Lake Traverse Reservation, and that consequently the state courts have jurisdiction over conduct on non-Indian lands within the 1867 reservation borders.

Accordingly, the judgment in No. 73-1148 is affirmed and the judgment in 73-1150 is reversed.

Mr. Justice Douglas has filed a dissenting opinion to which Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall have subscribed.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stewart.