Hagen v. Utah, 510 U.S. 399, 24 (1994)

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Blackmun, J., dissenting

over him. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Utah Supreme Court.

So ordered.

Justice Blackmun, with whom Justice Souter joins, dissenting.

"Great nations, like great men, should keep their word," FPC v. Tuscarora Indian Nation, 362 U. S. 99, 142 (1960) (Black, J., dissenting), and we do not lightly find that Congress has broken its solemn promises to Indian tribes. The Court relies on a single, ambiguous phrase in an Act that never became effective, and which was deleted from the controlling statute, to conclude that Congress must have intended to diminish the Uintah Valley Reservation. I am unable to find a clear expression of such intent in either the operative statute or the surrounding circumstances and am compelled to conclude that the original Uintah Valley Reservation boundaries remain intact.



Two rules of construction govern our interpretation of Indian surplus-land statutes: we must find clear and unequivocal evidence of congressional intent to reduce reservation boundaries, and ambiguities must be construed broadly in favor of the Indians.1 Congress alone has authority to di-1 "The canons of construction applicable in Indian law are rooted in the unique trust relationship between the United States and the Indians," County of Oneida v. Oneida Indian Nation of N. Y., 470 U. S. 226, 247 (1985), and the Indians' unequal bargaining power when agreements were negotiated, see, e. g., Choctaw Nation v. United States, 119 U. S. 1, 28 (1886); Jones v. Meehan, 175 U. S. 1, 11 (1899). "[T]reaties were imposed upon [the Indians] and they had no choice but to consent. As a consequence, this Court often has held that treaties with the Indians must be interpreted as they would have understood them, . . . and any doubtful expressions in them should be resolved in the Indians' favor." Choctaw Nation v. Oklahoma, 397 U. S. 620, 631 (1970). Because Congress' au-

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