United States v. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

PETITIONER:United States
RESPONDENT:Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
LOCATION:Oglala Sioux Tribe

DOCKET NO.: 85-1940
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 480 US 700 (1987)
ARGUED: Feb 23, 1987
DECIDED: Mar 31, 1987

ADVOCATES:
Jeffrey P. Minear – on behalf of the petitioner
James Wilcoxen – on behalf of the respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – February 23, 1987 in United States v. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 31, 1987 in United States v. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce the No. 85-1940, United States against Cherokee Nation, a case that is here on a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

In 1970, this Court found the treaties between the United States and certain Indian tribes including the respondent here, granted to the tribes, fee simple interest in portions of the bed of the Arkansas River.

These interests were damaged by navigational improvement made by the United States to the Arkansas River as a part of the McClellan-Kerr Project and the tribe sought compensation for this damage under the Fifth Amendment.

The United States claimed that it acted pursuant to its navigational servitude in making improvements to the Arkansas River but the Court of Appeals decided that the government must compensate that Tribe for the damage.

In a unanimous opinion filed with the Clerk today, we reverse the Court of Appeals.

Our cases established that the exercise of the navigational servitude is not an invasion of private property rights but rather an exercise of a power to which river bed interests have always been subject and accordingly no compensation is due.