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Johnson v. M’Intosh

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 21 U.S. 543, 5 L. Ed. 681, 1823 .S. 8 Wheat. 543

Brief Fact Summary. Action for ejectment for lands in the State of Illinois, in which plaintiff claims superior title under purchase and conveyance from the certain Indian nations over defendant under a later grant from the United States.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Discovery of land gives the exclusive right to settle, possess, and govern the new land, and the absolute title to the soil, subject to certain rights of occupancy only in the natives.

Facts. Johnson (P) claimed title to property conveyed under two grants, one in 1773 and the other in 1775, by the chiefs of the Illinois and Piankeshaw nations. P contends superior title because his title came directly from the Indian nations who owned the land. D claims superior title due to a direct conveyance from the United States government. District Court held for D. P appeals.

Issue. Whether a title conveyed by the Native Americans can be recognized by the Federal Courts?

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