Hagen v. Utah, 510 U.S. 399, 16 (1994)

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Opinion of the Court

In Seymour v. Superintendent of Wash. State Penitentiary, 368 U. S. 351 (1962), for example, the question was whether the Colville Reservation, in the State of Washington, had been diminished. The Court noted that an 1892 Act which " 'vacated and restored to the public domain' " about one-half of the reservation lands had diminished the reservation as to that half. Id., at 354. As to the other half, Congress in 1906 had provided for allotments to the Indians, followed by the sale of mineral lands and entry onto the surplus lands under the homestead laws. This Court held that the 1906 Act did not result in diminishment: "Nowhere in the 1906 Act is there to be found any language similar to that in the 1892 Act expressly vacating the South Half of the reservation and restoring that land to the public domain." Id., at 355. This Court subsequently characterized the 1892 Act at issue in Seymour as an example of Congress' using "clear language of express termination when that result is desired." Mattz, 412 U. S., at 504, n. 22. And in Rosebud, all nine Justices agreed that a statute which " 'restored to the public domain' " portions of a reservation would result in diminishment. 430 U. S., at 589, and n. 5; id., at 618 (Marshall, J., dissenting).

In light of our precedents, we hold that the restoration of unallotted reservation lands to the public domain evidences a congressional intent with respect to those lands inconsistent with the continuation of reservation status. Thus, the existence of such language in the operative section of a surplus land Act indicates that the Act diminished the reservation. Indeed, we have found only one case in which a Federal Court of Appeals decided that statutory restoration language did not terminate a reservation, Ute Indian Tribe, 773 F. 2d, at 1092, a conclusion the Tenth Circuit has since disavowed as "unexamined and unsupported." Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Co. v. Yazzie, 909 F. 2d 1387, 1400, cert. denied, 498 U. S. 1012 (1990).

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