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Opinion of the Court.
may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior, into the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the tribe to which they belong: Provided, That where any citizen shall be in possession of only such amount of agricultural or grazing lands as would be his just and reasonable share of the lands of his nation or tribe and that to which his wife and minor children are entitled, he may continue to use the same or receive the rents thereon until allotment has been made to him: Provided, further, That nothing herein contained shall impair the rights of any member of a tribe to dispose of any timber contained on his, her or their allotment."
A particular consideration of section 18 of the act, referred to in the answer of the Coal Company, is not required, as the section merely provided for the punishment of any person convicted for violating any of the provisions of sections 16 and 17 of the act.
On the part of the appellants it is contended that the section in question is retrospective in its operation and inhibits the collection of royalties due and owing at the time of the approval of the Curtis Act, even though such royalties, had the statute in question not been passed, might lawfully have been collected by the lessors to whom it had been agreed the same should be paid. The Circuit Court of Appeals, however, sustained the contention that the provisions of the section in question had only a prospective operation, and in so doing we think no error was committed. We adopt the reasoning of the court below on the subject. The court said (104 Fed. Rep. 473):
“ The function of the legislature is to prescribe rules to operate upon the actions and rights of citizens in the future. While, in the absence of a constitutional inhibition, the legislature may give to some of its acts a retrospective operation, the intention to do so must be clearly expressed, or necessarily implied from what is expressed; and, assuming the legislature to possess the power, its act will not be construed to impair or destroy a vested right under a valid contract unless it is so framed as to preclude any other interpretation. If Congress had intended to deprive lessors of the royalties due and owing to them at the date of the act it would have used appropriate
Opinion of the Court.
language to express that intention, and would necessarily have made some provision for the disposition of such royalties. But it is clear from the language of the act that it does not deal with royalties already paid, or already due and owing to lessors under leases for coal already mined.
Congress, by the Curtis Act, neither attempted nor intended to interfere with the rights of lessors to royalties due them under their leases at the date of the passage of the act.”
It is asserted in the brief of counsel for the appellants that the contract under wbich the royalties in question became due was made under authority of a tribal law of the Choctaw Nation, and we are asked to assume that the authority to make the lease in question was not either directly or indirectly conferred by Congress, and that in consequence the contract was of no validity by reason of section 2116 of the Revised Statutes, wherein, among other things, it is declared that “no purchase, grant, lease, or other conveyance of lands, or of any title or claim thereto, from any Indian nation or tribe of Indians, shall be of any validity in law or equity, unless the same be made by treaty or convention entered into pursuant to the Constitution." We do not decide this contention, in view of the fact that it does not appear to have been raised or considered in the courts below, and it is besides entirely inconsistent with the answer of the Coal Company, wherein it is substantially conceded that the lease in question was valid in its inception, and that the unpaid royalties would have been due and owing to the lessor or his assigns, but for the effect of the alleged nullifying provisions of section 16 of the Curtis Act.
Statement of the Caso.
MOFADDIN v. EVANS-SNIDER-BUEL COMPANY.
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH OIR
No. 217. Argued April 10, 11, 1902.-Decided May 19, 1902.
The judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals, sustaining the act of
February 3, 1897, which provided that “section 4742 of Mansfield's Digest of the Laws of Arkansas, heretofore put in force in the Indian Territory, is hereby amended by adding to said section the following: Provided that if the mortgagor is a non-resident of the Indian Territory, the mortgage shall be recorded in the judicial district in which the property is situated at the tine the mortgage is executed. All mort. gages of personal property in the Indian Territory heretofore executed and recorded in the judicial district thereof in which the property was situated at the time they were executed are hereby validated," is sound
as applicable to this case. The plain purpose of Congress was to give effect to mortgages of non
residents, which had been, before the passage of the act, recorded in the judicial district in which the property was situated at the time the mort
gages were executed. The act as so construed and applied was a valid exercise of Congressional
power, and in circumstances like those of the present case, cannot be justly impugned as depriving the attaching creditor of property within
the meaning of the Constitution. The power of a legislature to pass laws giving validity which was before
inoffoctual, is well settled.
In the United States Court for the Northern District of the Indian Territory, in April, 1897, an issue was tried between the Evans-Snider-Buel Company, a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, and William McFaddin & Son. One J. R. Blocker was the owner and in possession of 6775 head of cattle pasturing in the Indian Territory. McFaddin & Son were judgment creditors of Blocker, and, as such, levied an attachment on said cattle. The Evans-Snider-Buel Company filed a proceeding by way of interpleader in the attachment suit, claiming to have a prior lien on said cattle by means of certain mortgages given by said Blocker, who, as shown by the mortgages themselves, as well as the testimony in the case, was a
Statement of the Case.
resident of Bexar County, Texas, in which county some of the mortgages relied on had been duly executed and recorded. The cattle in question were grazing in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, and the mortgages were again recorded in the Northern District of the Indian Territory, at Muskogee and in the Creek Nation. The cattle at the time of the levy were in the possession of Blocker, the mortgagor.
After the filing of the interpleader, and on January 29, 1897, a judgment was entered against the defendant Blocker, in the sum of $55,875.71, and sustaining the attachment. There were several trials in the case, but at the last trial in the Northern District, where the plaintiffs, McFaddin & Son, for the second time lost their suit, it was agreed that in case the judgment should be reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Indian Territory, judgment should be rendered against the Evans-Snider-Buel Company, the interpleader. The judgment was reversed by that court, and, pursuant to said agreement, on the 4th day of January, 1900, judgment was entered against the interpleader and its bondsmen for the sum of $72,250.35. From that judgment the interpleader prosecuted its writ of error to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
At the time the attachment was levied upon the cattle in controversy the following laws in relation to the registration of chattel mortgages were in force in the Indian Territory, being sections 4742 and 4743 of Mansfield's Digest :
“SEC. 4742. All mortgages, whether for real or personal estate, shall be proved or acknowledged in the same manner that deeds for the conveyance of real estate are now required by law to be proved or acknowledged; and when so proved or acknowledged shall be recorded--if for lands, in the county or counties in which the lands lie, and if for personal property, in the county in which the mortgagor resides.
“Sec. 4743. Every mortgage, whether for real or personal property, shall be a lien on the mortgaged property, from the time the same is filed in the recorder's office for record, and not before; which filing shall be notice to all persons of the existence of such mortgage.”
Opinion of the Court.
As before stated, the attachment in this case was sustained on the 29th day of January, 1897. On February 3, 1897, Congress amended the law above quoted by an enactinent which reads as follows:
“ Section 4742 of Mansfield's Digest of the Laws of Arkansas, heretofore put in force in the Indian Territory, is hereby amended by adding to said section the following: Provided, that if the mortgagor is a non-resident of the Indian Territory the mortgage shall be recorded in the judicial district in which the property is situated at the time the mortgage is executed. All mortgages of personal property in the Indian Territory heretofore executed and recorded in the judicial district thereof in which the property was situated at the time they were executed are hereby validated.” Stat. 1896–7, p. 510.
On November 19, 1900, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit filed an opinion and judgment, Sanborn, J., dissenting, reversing the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals in the Indian Territory, and affirming the judgment of the United States Court for the Northern District of the Indian Territory. Whereupon a writ of error was allowed and the cause brought to this court.
Mr. William T. Hutchings for plaintiffs in error. Mr. J. P. Clayton and Mr. Napoleon B. Macey were on his brief.
Mr. H. M. Pollard and Mr. U. M. Rose for defendant in error. Mr. W. E. Hemingway was on their brief.
MR. JUSTICE SHIRAS, after making the above statement, delivered the opinion of the court.
The controversy in this case is between mortgagee creditors and judgment creditors of John R. Blocker. The mortgages were given to secure the payment of notes executed by Blocker to the amount of about $130,000, which were held by the EvansSnider-Buel Company, and represented money that had been advanced by that company to Blocker to enable him to purchase the cattle embraced in the mortgage. The mortgages were