In 1854, a United States government treaty established a reservation for the Omaha Indian Tribe. The reservation included a peninsula on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River. As surveyed in 1867, the peninsula consisted of 3,000 acres and constituted only a small percentage of the total land reserved for the tribe north of Decatur, Nebraska. Today, there is no peninsula. The Missouri has pushed west, shortening its long meander line. In 1975, the United States government and the Omaha Indian Tribe filed separate suits against the record title holders of 11,000 acres of land in Monona County, Iowa, which lie partially under the "same piece of sky" as the land reserved in 1854, and claimed that the Iowa land belongs to the Omaha Indian Tribe. Thus, the "Battle of Blackbird Bend" began. This comment focuses on various legal principles related to river movement, particularly those which have found acceptance in Nebraska and Iowa. It uses the Blackbird Bend geographical and historical situation to illustrate these principles and analyzes the United States District Court's resolution of the case in the Northern District of Iowa. Finally, this comment explores the policies underlying the rules of accretion and avulsion and proposes the recognition of an effective form of adverse possession against the government.
Laurie Smith Camp,
Land Accretion and Avulsion: The Battle of Blackbird Bend,
56 Neb. L. Rev. 814
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol56/iss4/3