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Indian Claims Insight will provide Indian claims researchers with content and workflow solution tools that will allow users to research the history of U.S. Indian claims from 1789-present.
"The Indian Claims Commission was created on August 13, 1946 (25 U.S.C. §70,et seq). Its purpose is to serve as a tribunal for the hearing and determination of claims against the United States arising prior to August 13, 1946 by any Indian tribe, band or other identifiable group of Indians living in the United States. In this it exercises jurisdiction formerly resting with the United States Court of Claims under the previous system of passing special jurisdictional acts by Congress for individual tribes. Under 28 U.S.C.A. ^1505 the Court of Claims has jurisdiction over claims arising after August 13,1946.
"Under the terms of the original Indian Claims Commission Act there were three Commissioners and a period of ten years in which to complete the work. It became obvious however, from the size and complexity of the cases, that ten years was insufficient. The Commission was extended for five-year periods in 1957 and 1962, and in 1967 it was extended a third time and enlarged to five members. Subsequently the staff was increased in size to accommodate the increased workload. The Commission has now been extended to April 10, 1977, and on that date the remaining cases, if any, will be transferred to the United States Court of Claims.
"In creating the Indian Claims Commission, Congress broadened the jurisdictional grounds upon which Indian tribes might sue the United States. This wider jurisdiction reflected an awareness of the problems arising from the relations between the United States and the Indians who occupied the lands sought by an expanding nation. Two hundred years of westward expansion produced much conflict and created some of the harsher episodes in the history of America as the United States acquired the Indians' lands.
"By treaties - and after 1871 - by agreements the Indians' lands were ceded to the United States and the Indians were moved onto reservations. These cessions are the primary source of the 370 original petitions filed with the Commission prior to the cutoff date of August 13, 1951. (Under the terms of the original Act the Commission could no longer accept new claims after this date.)
These 370 original petitions were separated into 611 different claims, each of which was given its own docket number. The claims consisted largely of unconscionable consideration claims arising from the cession of aboriginal title lands (A determination of unconscionable consideration is a finding that the compensation originally paid by the Government for Indian lands ceded by treaty or agreement was so low when compared to the market value at the time as to shock the conscience and entitle the tribe, to recover, subject to gratuitous offsets, if any.) The Commission also received claims of uncompensated taking of land, as well as of other wrongs cognizable under the Act. The first four clauses under section 2 of the Act cover every actionable wrong under law and equity. Clause 5 permits suit on claims based upon fair and honorable dealings that are not recognized by any existing rule of law or equity."