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American Indian treaties in the Courts of Claims: A guide to treaty citations from opinions of the United States Courts of Claims

Charles D. Bernholz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Robert Weiner, Syracuse University College of Law

Document Type Article

Published in Government Information Quarterly (2007); doi:10.1016/j.giq.2006.07.015 Copyright © 2006 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Since 1855, the federal Courts of Claims have provided relief for citizens in cases against the United States. President Abraham Lincoln, in his first annual message in 1861, declared his support for such a process: “It is as much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals” [Message of the President. (1862). Appendix to The Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, 2d session, 3 December 1861, p. 2]. Among the Courts’ cases, 240 of 375 recognized American Indian treaties have been cited 992 times in 342 opinions between the years 1884 and 2004. The reliance upon so many of these instruments—more than the number referenced before the United States Supreme Court—demonstrates their importance within the federal courts.