- § 371. Descent of land
- § 372. Ascertainment of heirs of deceased allottees; settlement of estates; sale of lands; deposit of Indian moneys
- § 372-1. Repealed.
- § 372-2. Indian probate judges
- § 372a. Heirs by adoption
- § 373. Disposal by will of allotments held under trust
- § 373a. Disposition of trust or restricted estate of intestate without heirs; successor tribe; sale of land
- § 373b. Restricted estate or homestead on the public domain
- § 373c. Sections 373a and 373b as inapplicable to certain Indians
- § 374. Attendance of witnesses
- § 375. Determination of heirship of deceased members of Five Civilized Tribes
- § 375a. Jurisdiction of Secretary of the Interior over probate and distribution of estates not exceeding $2,500
- § 375b. Repealed.
- § 375c. Disbursement of sums not exceeding $500 to heirs or legatees
- § 375d. Disposition of estates of intestate members of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole Nations of Oklahoma dying without heirs
- § 376. Oaths in investigations
- § 377. Repealed.
- § 378. Partition of allotment among heirs; patents
- § 379. Sale of allotted lands by heirs
- § 380. Lease of inherited allotments by superintendent
For the purpose of determining the descent of land to the heirs of any deceased Indian under the provisions of section 348 of this title, whenever any male and female Indian shall have cohabited together as husband and wife according to the custom and manner of Indian life the issue of such cohabitation shall be, for the purpose aforesaid, taken and deemed to be the legitimate issue of the Indians so living together, and every Indian child, otherwise illegitimate, shall for such purpose be taken and deemed to be the legitimate issue of the father of such child: Provided, That the provisions of this Act shall not be held or construed as to apply to the lands commonly called and known as the “Cherokee Outlet.”
When any Indian to whom an allotment of land has been made, or may hereafter be made, dies before the expiration of the trust period and before the issuance of a fee simple patent, without having made a will disposing of said allotment as hereinafter provided, the Secretary of the Interior, upon notice and hearing, under the Indian Land Consolidation Act [25 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.] or a tribal probate code approved under such Act and pursuant to such rules as he may prescribe, shall ascertain the legal heirs of such decedent, and his decisions shall be subject to judicial review to the same extent as determinations rendered under section 373 of this title. If the Secretary of the Interior decides the heir or heirs of such decedent competent to manage their own affairs, he shall issue to such heir or heirs a patent in fee for the allotment of such decedent; if he shall decide one or more of the heirs to be incompetent, he may, in his discretion, cause such lands to be sold: Provided, That if the Secretary of the Interior shall find that the lands of the decedent are capable of partition to the advantage of the heirs, he may cause the shares of such as are competent, upon their petition, to be set aside and patents in fee to be issued to them therefor. All sales of lands allotted to Indians authorized by this or any other Act shall be made under such rules and regulations and upon such terms as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe, and he shall require a deposit of 10 per centum of the purchase price at the time of the sale. Should the purchaser fail to comply with the terms of sale prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior, the amount so paid shall be forfeited; in case the balance of the purchase price is to be paid on such deferred payments, all payments made, together with all interest paid on such deferred installments, shall be so forfeited for failure to comply with the terms of the sale. All forfeitures shall inure to the benefit of the allottee or his heirs. Upon payment of the purchase price in full, the Secretary of the Interior shall cause to be issued to the purchaser patent in fee for such land: Provided, That the proceeds of the sale of inherited lands shall be paid to such heir or heirs as may be competent and held in trust subject to use and expenditure during the trust period for such heir or heirs as may be incompetent as their respective interests shall appear: Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior is authorized, in his discretion, to issue a certificate of competency, upon application therefor, to any Indian, or in case of his death to his heirs, to whom a patent in fee containing restrictions on alienation has been or may hereafter be issued, and such certificate shall have the effect of removing the restrictions on alienation contained in such patent: Provided further, That any United States Indian agent, superintendent, or other disbursing agent of the Indian Service may deposit Indian moneys, individual or tribal, coming into his hands as custodian, in such bank or banks as he may select: Provided, That the bank or banks so selected by him shall first execute to the said disbursing agent a bond, with approved surety, in such amount as will properly safeguard the funds to be deposited. Such bonds shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, for fiscal year 2006 and each fiscal year thereafter, for the purpose of adjudicating Indian probate cases in the Department of the Interior, the hearing requirements of chapter 10 of this title are deemed satisfied by a proceeding conducted by an Indian probate judge, appointed by the Secretary without regard to the provisions of title 5 governing the appointments in the competitive service, for such period of time as the Secretary determines necessary: Provided, That the basic pay of an Indian probate judge so appointed may be fixed by the Secretary without regard to the provisions of chapter 51, and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, governing the classification and pay of General Schedule employees, except that no such Indian probate judge may be paid at a level which exceeds the maximum rate payable for the highest grade of the General Schedule, including locality pay.
Any persons of the age of eighteen years or older having any right, title, or interest in any allotment held under trust or other patent containing restrictions on alienation or individual Indian moneys or other property held in trust by the United States shall have the right prior to the expiration of the trust or restrictive period, and before the issuance of a fee simple patent or the removal of restrictions, to dispose of such property by will, in accordance with the Indian Land Consolidation Act [25 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.] or a tribal probate code approved under such Act and regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior: Provided, however, That no will so executed shall be valid or have any force or effect unless and until it shall have been approved by the Secretary of the Interior: Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior may approve or disapprove the will either before or after the death of the testator, and in case where a will has been approved and it is subsequently discovered that there has been fraud in connection with the execution or procurement of the will the Secretary of the Interior is authorized within one year after the death of the testator to cancel the approval of the will, and the property of the testator shall thereupon descend or be distributed in accordance with the laws of the State wherein the property is located: Provided further, That the approval of the will and the death of the testator shall not operate to terminate the trust or restrictive period, but the Secretary of the Interior may, in his discretion, cause the lands to be sold and the money derived therefrom, or so much thereof as may be necessary, used for the benefit of the heir or heirs entitled thereto, remove the restrictions, or cause patent in fee to be issued to the devisee or devisees, and pay the moneys to the legatee or legatees either in whole or in part from time to time as he may deem advisable, or use it for their benefit: Provided also, That this section and section 372 of this title shall not apply to the Five Civilized Tribes or the Osage Indians.
Upon final determination by the Secretary of the Interior that the Indian holder of a trust or restricted allotment of lands or an interest therein has died intestate without heirs, the lands or interest so owned, together with all accumulated rents, issues, and profits therefrom held in trust for the decedent, shall escheat to the tribe owning the land at the time of allotment subject to the payment of such creditors’ claims as the Secretary of the Interior may find proper to be paid from the cash on hand or income accruing to said estate and subject to all valid existing agricultural, surface, and mineral leases and the rights of any person thereunder.
If the tribe which owned the land at the time of allotment has been reorganized or reconstituted by reason of amalgamation with another tribe or group of Indians or of subdivision within the tribe or otherwise, the land shall escheat to the tribe or group which has succeeded to the jurisdiction of the original tribe over the area in question. If neither the tribe which owned the land at the time of allotment nor a successor tribe or group exists, the land or interest therein shall be held in trust for such Indians as the Secretary may designate within the State or States wherein the land is situated or, if the Secretary determines that the land cannot appropriately be used by or for such Indians, it shall be sold, subject to all valid existing agricultural, surface, and mineral leases and the rights of any person thereunder, and the proceeds of such sale shall be held in trust for such Indians as the Secretary may designate, within the State or States wherein the land is situated.
If an Indian found to have died intestate without heirs was the holder of a restricted allotment or homestead or interest therein on the public domain, the land or interest therein and all accumulated rents, issues, and profits therefrom shall escheat to the United States, subject to all valid existing agricultural, surface, and mineral leases and the rights of any person thereunder, and the land shall become part of the public domain subject to the payment of such creditors’ claims as the Secretary of the Interior may find proper to be paid from the cash on hand or income accruing to said estate: Provided, That if the Secretary determines that the land involved lies within or adjacent to an Indian community and may be advantageously used for Indian purposes, the land or interest therein shall escheat to the United States to be held in trust for such needy Indians as the Secretary of the Interior may designate, where the value of the estate does not exceed $50,000, and in case of estates exceeding said sum, such estates shall be held in trust by the United States for such Indians as the Congress may on and after November 24, 1942 designate, subject to all valid existing agricultural, surface, and mineral leases and the rights of any person thereunder 1
The provisions of sections 373a and 373b of this title shall not apply to the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes or the Osage Reservation, in Oklahoma.
The authority delegated to judges of the United States courts by section 24 of title 35 is conferred upon the Secretary of the Interior to require the attendance of witnesses at hearings, upon proper showing by any of the parties to determine the heirs of decedents, held in accordance with sections 372 and 373 of this title, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe.
A determination of the question of fact as to who are the heirs of any deceased citizen allottee of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians who may die or may have heretofore died, leaving restricted heirs, by the probate court of the State of Oklahoma having jurisdiction to settle the estate of said deceased, conducted in the manner provided by the laws of said State for the determination of heirship in closing up the estates of deceased persons, shall be conclusive of said question: Provided, That an appeal may be taken in the manner and to the court provided by law, in cases of appeal in probate matters generally: Provided further, That where the time limited by the laws of said State for the institution of administration proceedings has elapsed without their institution, as well as in cases where there exists no lawful ground for the institution of administration proceedings in said courts, a petition may be filed therein having for its object a determination of such heirship and the case shall proceed in all respects as if administration proceedings upon other proper grounds had been regularly begun, but this proviso shall not be construed to reopen the question of the determination of an heirship already ascertained by competent legal authority under existing laws: Provided further, That said petition shall be verified, and in all cases arising hereunder service by publication may be had on all unknown heirs, the service to be in accordance with the method of serving nonresident defendants in civil suits in the district courts of said State; and if any person so served by publication does not appear and move to be heard within six months from the date of the final order, he shall be concluded equally with parties personally served or voluntarily appearing.
Exclusive jurisdiction is hereby conferred on the Secretary of the Interior to determine the heirs after notice and hearing under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, and to probate the estate of any deceased restricted Indian, enrolled or unenrolled, of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma, whenever the restricted estate consists only of funds or securities under the control of the Department of the Interior of an aggregate value not exceeding $2,500: Provided, That where such decedent died prior to December 24, 1942, the distribution of such funds and securities, including the decedent’s share of any tribal funds, shall be made in accordance with the statute of descent and distribution applicable at the date of death: And provided further, That where the decedent dies subsequently to December 24, 1942 distribution of all such funds and securities, including tribal funds aforesaid, shall be effected in accordance with the statute of descent and distribution of the State of Oklahoma.
The Secretary of the Interior is granted authority to disburse to the heirs or legatees of deceased members of the Five Civilized Tribes any sum of money on deposit to the credit of such deceased Indian or Indians, not exceeding $500, where said decedent died seized of no lands or the lands have since been lawfully alienated. Said funds shall be disbursed on proof of death and heirship or bequest satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior and his finding thereon shall be final and conclusive: Provided, That such transfer of funds so disbursed shall not be taxable.
Upon the final determination of a court having jurisdiction or by decision of the Secretary of the Interior after a period of five years from the death of the decedent, it is determined that a member of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, or Seminole Nations or Tribes of Oklahoma or a person of the blood of said tribes has died intestate without heirs, owning trust or restricted Indian lands in Oklahoma or an interest therein or rents or profits therefrom, such lands, interests, or profits shall escheat to the Nation or tribe from which title to the trust or restricted Indian lands or interest therein was derived and shall be held thereafter in trust by the United States for said nation or tribe.
After August 1, 1914, any officer or employee appointed or designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Commissioner of Indian Affairs as special examiner in heirship cases shall be authorized to administer oaths in investigations committed to him: Provided further, That the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to the Osage Indians nor to the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians in Oklahoma.
If the Secretary of the Interior shall find that any inherited trust allotment or allotments are capable of partition to the advantage of the heirs, he may cause such lands to be partitioned among them, regardless of their competency, patents in fee to be issued to the competent heirs for their shares and trust patents to be issued to the incompetent heirs for the lands respectively or jointly set apart to them, the trust period to terminate in accordance with the terms of the original patent or order of extension of the trust period set out in said patent.
The adult heirs of any deceased Indian to whom a trust or other patent containing restrictions upon alienation has been or shall be issued for lands allotted to him may sell and convey the lands inherited from such decedent, but in case of minor heirs their interests shall be sold only by a guardian duly appointed by the proper court upon the order of such court, made upon petition filed by the guardian, but all such conveyances shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, and when so approved shall convey a full title to the purchaser, the same as if a final patent without restriction upon the alienation had been issued to the allottee. All allotted land so alienated by the heirs of an Indian allottee and all land so patented to a white allottee shall thereupon be subject to taxation under the laws of the State or Territory where the same is situate: Provided, That the sale herein provided for shall not apply to the homestead during the life of the father, mother or the minority of any child or children.
Restricted allotments of deceased Indians may be leased, except for oil and gas mining purposes, by the superintendents of the reservation within which the lands are located (1) when the heirs or devisees of such decedents have not been determined and (2) when the heirs or devisees of the decedents have been determined, and such lands are not in use by any of the heirs and the heirs have not been able during a three-months’ period to agree upon a lease by reason of the number of the heirs, their absence from the reservation, or for other cause, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe. The proceeds derived from such leases shall be credited to the estates or other accounts of the individuals entitled thereto in accordance with their respective interests.