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Laws of the Delaware Nation of Indians

 Native American Nations | A Century of Dishonor                     

 

Adopted July 21st, A.D. 1866

The chiefs and councilors of the Delaware tribe of Indians convened at their council-house, on the reservation of said tribe, adopted July 21st, 1866, the following laws, to be amended as they think proper:

Article I

  • Section 1. A national jail shall be built on the public grounds, upon which the council-house is now situated.
  • Section 2. Any person who shall steal any horse, mule, ass, or cattle of any kind, shall be punished as follows: For the first offence the property of the offender shall be sold by the sheriff, to pay the owner of the animal stolen the price of said animal, and all costs he may sustain in consequence of such theft. But if the offender has no property, or if his property be insufficient to pay for the animal stolen, so much of his annuity shall be retained as may be necessary to pay the owner of said animal, as above directed, and no relative of said offender shall be permitted to assist Mm in paying the penalties of said theft. For the second offence the thief shall be sent to jail for thirty-five days, and shall pay all costs and damages the owner may sustain on account of said theft. For the third offence the thief shall be confined in jail three months, and shall pay all costs and damages, as above provided.
  • Section 3. If any person shall steal a horse beyond the limits of the reserve, and bring it within the limits thereof, it shall be lawful for the owner to pursue and reclaim the same upon presenting satisfactory proof of ownership, and, if necessary, receive the assistance of the officers of the Delaware nation. And it is further provided, that such officials as may from time to time be clothed with power by the United States agent may pursue such offender either within or without the limits of the reserve.
  • Section 4. Whoever shall ride any horse without the consent of the owner thereof shall, for the first offence, pay the sum of ten dollars for each day and night that he may keep the said animal; and for the second offence shall be confined in jail for the term of twenty-one days, besides paying a fine of ten dollars.
  • Section 5. Whoever shall reclaim and return any such animal to the rightful owner, other than the wrongdoer, as in the last section mentioned, shall receive there for the sum of two and fifty-hundredths dollars.
  • Section 6. In all cases of theft, the person or persons convicted of such theft shall be adjudged to pay all costs and damages resulting there from; and in case of the final loss of any animal stolen, then the offender shall pay the price thereof in addition to the costs and damages, as provided in a previous section.
  • Section 7. Whoever shall steal any swine or sheep shall, for the first offence, be fined the sum of fifteen dollars; ten of which shall be paid to the owner of the sheep or swine taken, and five dollars to the witness of the theft; for the second offence the thief shall, in addition to the above penalty, be confined in jail for twenty-eight days; and for the third offense the thief shall he confined four weeks in jail, and then receive a trial, and bear such punishment as may be adjudged upon such trial.
  • Section 8. Whoever shall steal a fowl of any descriptions shall, for the first offence, pay to the owner of such animal the sum of five dollars; for the second offence, in addition to the above penalty, the thief shall be confined in jail for twenty-one days. The witness by whom such theft shall be proven shall be entitled to receive such reasonable compensation as may be allowed to him, to be paid by the offender.
  • Section 9. A lawful fence shall be eight rails high, well staked and ridered. If any animal shall break through or over a lawful fence, as above defined, and do any damage, the owner of the enclosure shall give notice thereof to the owner of such animal, without injury to the animal. The owner of such animal shall therefore take care of the same, and prevent his doing damage; but should he neglect or refuse so to do, the animal itself shall be sold to pay for the damage it may have done. But if the premises be not enclosed by a lawful fence, as above defined, the owner of the enclosure shall receive no damages; but should lie injure any animal getting into such enclosure, shall pay for any damage he may do such animal.
  • Section 10. Every owner of stock shall have his or her brand or mark put on such stock, and a description of the brand or mark of every person in the tribe shall be recorded by the national clerk.

Article II.

  • Section 1. Whoever shall maliciously set fire to a house shall, for the first offence, pay to the owner of such house all damages which lie may sustain in consequence of such fire; and, in addition thereto, for the second offence shall be confined in jail for the term of twenty-one days.
  • Section 2. Should human life be sacrificed in consequence of any such fire, the person setting fire as aforesaid shall suffer death by hanging.
  • Section 3. It shall be unlawful for any person to set on fire any woods or prairie, except for the purpose of protecting property, and then only at such times as shall permit the person so setting the fire to extinguish the same.
  • Section 4. Whoever shall violate the provisions of the last preceding section shall, for the first offence, be fined the sum of five dollars, and pay the full value of all property thereby destroyed; for the second offence, in addition to the penalty above desorbed, the offender shall be confined in jail for the term of thirty-five days; and for the third offence the same punishment, except that the confinement in jail shall be for the period of three months.
  • Section 5. Any person living outside of the reserve cutting hay upon the land of one living on the reserve, shall pay to the owner of such land the sum of one dollar per acre, or one-half of the hay so cut.
  • Section 6. No person shall sell any wood on the reserve, except said wood be first out and corded.

Article III

  • Section 1. Whoever shall find any lost article shall forthwith return the same to the owner, if he can be found, under the penalty imposed for stealing such article, for a neglect of such duty.
  • Section 2. Whoever shall take any article of property without permission of its owner shall pay the price of the article so taken, and receive such punishment as the judge in his discretion may impose.

Article. IV

  • Section 1. Whoever shall take up any animal on the reserve, as a stray shall, within one week, have the description of such animal recorded in the stray-book kept by the council.
  • Section 2. If the owner of said stray shall claim the same within one year from the day on which the description was recorded, he shall be entitled to take it, after duly proving his property, and paying at the rate of five dollars per month for the keeping of such animal.
  • Section 3. The title to any stray, duly recorded, and not claimed within one-year front the date of such record, shall rest absolutely in the person taking up and recording the same.
  • Section 4. Whoever shall take up a stray, and refuse or neglect to record a description of the same, as provided in Section 1 of this Article, shall be deemed to have stolen such animal, if the same be found in his possession, and shall suffer the penalties inflicted for stealing like animals. The stray shall be taken from him, and remain at the disposal of the council, and a description of the same shall be recorded in the stray-book.

Article V

  • Section 1. If a person commits murder in the first degree, he shall, upon conviction, suffer the penalty of death; but if the evidence against him be insufficient, or if the killing be done in self-defense, the person doing the killing shall be released.
  • Section 2. Whoever shall, by violence, do bodily harm to the person of another shall be arrested, and suffer such punishment as may on trial be adjudged against him; and should death result from such bodily harm done to the person of another, the offender shall be arrested, and suffer such punishment as may be adjudged against him.
  • Section 3. Whoever shall willfully slander an innocent party shall be punished for such slander at the discretion of the judge.
  • Section 4. Whoever, being intoxicated or under the influence of liquor, shall display at the house of another, in a dangerous or threatening manner, any deadly weapons, and refuse to desist there from, being commanded so to do, and put up such weapons, either by the owner of the house or by any other person, shall for the first offence be fined the sum of five dollars, and pay all damages which may accrue; for the second offence shall be confined in jail twenty-one days, and pay a fine of ten dollars, and pay all damages which may accrue; and for the third offence shall be imprisoned in the jail for thirty-five days, be fined twenty dollars, and pay all damages as aforesaid.
  • Section 5. Officers shall be appointed to appraise all damages accruing under the last preceding section, who shall hear all the evidence, and render judgment according to the law and the evidence.
  • Section 6. Whoever shall, being under the influence of liquor, attend public worship or any other public meeting, shall first be commanded peaceably to depart; and if he refuses, it shall be the duty of the sheriff to arrest and confine such person until he becomes sober; and the offender shall pay a fine of five dollars.
  • Section 7. It shall be the duty of the sheriff to attend all meetings for public worship.
  • Section 8. No member of the Delaware nation shall be held liable for any debts contracted in the purchase of intoxicating liquors.
  • Section 9. The United States Agent and the chiefs shall have power to grant license to bring merchandise to the national payment ground for sale to so many traders as they may think proper for the interest of the nation.
  • Section 10. It shall be unlawful for any one person to bring any kind of drinks, except coffee, on the payment ground; and any person who shall offend against this section shall forfeit his drinkables and his right to remain on the payment ground.
  • Section 11. It shall be unlawful for any one person to bring within the reserve more than one pint of spirituous liquors at any one time. For the first offence against this section the offender shall forfeit his liquors, and pay a fine of five dollars; for the second offence he shall forfeit his liquors, and pay a fine of ten dollars; and for the third offence he shall forfeit his liquors, and be fined the sum of twenty-five dollars.
  • Section 12. Any person who shall find another in possession of more than one pint of liquor at one time upon the reserve may lawfully spill and destroy the same, and shall use such force as may be necessary for such purpose. Should the owner resist, and endeavor to commit bodily harm upon the person engaged in spilling or destroying said liquor, he shall be taken into custody by the sheriff, and be punished as an offender against the law.
  • Section 13. The sheriff may lawfully compel any man or any number of men, ministers of the Gospel excepted, to assist in capturing any person who shall violate these laws.
  • Section 14. Whoever shall offer resistance to any capture or arrest for violating any of the provisions of these laws shall be punished, not only for the original offence for which he was arrested, but also for resisting an officer.

Article VI

  • Section 1. All business affecting the general interest of the nation shall be transacted by the council in regular sessions.
  • Section 2. All personal acts of chiefs, councilors, or private individuals, in such matters as affect the general interest of the nation, shall be considered null and void.
  • Section 3. Whoever shall violate the last preceding section by undertaking, in a private capacity and manner, to transact public and national business, shall be imprisoned in the national jail for a period not less than six months nor more than one year, and shall forfeit his place of office or position in the nation; which place or position shall be filled by the appointment of other suitable persons.
  • Section 4. Councilors shall be appointed who shall take an oath faithfully to perform their duties to the nation, and for neglect of such duties others shall be appointed to fill their places.
  • Section 5. Should a councilor go on a journey, so that it is impossible for him to attend the meetings of the council regularly, he may appoint a substitute who shall act for him in his absence.
  • Section 6. Certain days shall be set apart for council and court days.
  • Section 7. The chiefs and councilors shall appoint three sheriffs, at a salary of one hundred and fifty dollars per annum each; one clerk, at one hundred dollars per annum; and one jailer, at a salary of one hundred dollars per annum, whose salary shall be due and payable half-yearly; and in case either of the above officers shall neglect or refuse to perform any of the duties of his office, he shall forfeit his salary, and his office shall be declared vacant, and another shall be appointed to fill the office.
  • Section 8. The chiefs and councilors shall semi-annually, in April and October, make an appropriation for national expenses, which appropriation shall be taken from the trust fund, or any other due the Delaware, and paid to the treasury.
  • Section 9. There shall be a treasurer appointed annually, on the first day of April, whose duty it shall be to receive and disburse all moneys to be used for national purposes; but the treasurer shall pay out money only on order of chiefs and councilors, and for his services shall be paid five per cent. on the amount disbursed.

Article VII

  • Section 1. It shall be lawful for any person, before his or her death, to make a will, and thereby dispose of his or her property, as he or she may desire.
  • Section 2. If a man dies, leaving no will to show the disposal of his property, and leaves a widow and children, one-fourth of his property shall be set aside for the payment of his debts. Should the property so set aside be insufficient to pay all his debts in full, it shall be divided among his creditors pro rata, which pro rata payment shall be received by his creditors in full satisfaction of all claims and demands whatever.
  • Section 3. If the property so set apart for the payment of debts is more than sufficient to pay all debts, the remainder shall be equally divided among the children.
  • Section 4. The widow shall be entitled to one-third of the property not set aside for the payment of debts.
  • Section 5. If a man dies, leaving no widow or children, his debts shall first be paid out of the proceeds of his personal property, and the remainder, if any, with the real estate, shall be given to the nearest relative.
  • Section 6. Whoever shall take or receive any portion of the property belonging to the widow and orphans, shall be punished as if he had stolen the property.
  • Section 7. The council shall appoint guardians for orphan children when they deem it expedient so to do.

Article VIII

  • Section 1. If a white man marry a member of the nation, and accumulate property by such marriage, said property shall belong to his wife and children; nor shall he be allowed to remove any portion of such property beyond the limits of the reserve.
  • Section 2. Should such white man lose his wife, all the property shall belong to the children, and no subsequent wife shall claim any portion of such property.
  • Section 3. Should such white man die in the nation, leaving no children, all his property shall belong to his wife, after paying his debts.
  • Section 4. Should such white man lose his wife, and have no children, one-half of the personal property shall belong to him, and the other half shall belong to his wife's nearest relatives.
  • Section 5. Should such white man. be expelled from the reserve, and the wife choose to follow her husband, she shall forfeit all her right and interest in the reserve.

Article IX

  • Section 1. No member of the nation shall lease any grounds to persons not members of the nation.
  • Section 2 Should a white man seek employment of any member of the nation, he shall first give his name to the United States Agent, and furnish him with a certificate of good moral character, and also a statement of the time for which he is employed, and the name of his employer.
  • Section 3. The employed shall pay all hired help according to agreement.
  • Section 4. Any person or persons violating any of the provisions of these laws on the reserve shall be punished as therein provided.
  • Section 5. Ail white men on the reserve disregarding these laws shall also be expelled from the reserve.

Article X

  • Section 1. Whoever shall forcibly compel any woman to commit adultery, or who shall commit a rape upon a woman, shall, for the first offence, be fined the sum of fifty dollars, and be imprisoned in jail for thirty-five days; for the second offence he shall be fined one hundred dollars, and be confined three months in the national jail; and for the third offence he shall be punished as the court shall see proper.

 


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A Century of Dishonor, By Helen Hunt Jackson, New York, Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, 1885

A Century of Dishonor

 

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