Idaho v. United States, 533 U.S. 262, 4 (2001)

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Cite as: 533 U. S. 262 (2001)

Opinion of the Court

Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court.

The United States brought this quiet title action against the State of Idaho. The question is whether the National Government holds title, in trust for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, to lands underlying portions of Lake Coeur d'Alene and the St. Joe River. We hold that it does.


The Coeur d'Alene Tribe once inhabited more than 3.5 million acres in what is now northern Idaho and northeastern Washington, including the area of Lake Coeur d'Alene and the St. Joe River. 95 F. Supp. 2d 1094, 1095-1096, 1099-1100 (Idaho 1998).1 Tribal members traditionally used the lake and its related waterways for food, fiber, transportation, recreation, and cultural activities. Id., at 1099-1102. The Tribe depended on submerged lands for everything from water potatoes harvested from the lake to fish weirs and traps anchored in riverbeds and banks. Id., at 1100.

Under an 1846 treaty with Great Britain, the United States acquired title to the region of Lake Coeur d'Alene, see Treaty in Regard to Limits Westward of the Rocky Mountains, 9 Stat. 869, subject to the aboriginal right of possession held by resident tribes, see generally Oneida Indian Nation of N. Y. v. County of Oneida, 414 U. S. 661, 667 (1974); F. Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law 486- 493 (1982 ed.). In 1867, in the face of immigration into the Tribe's aboriginal territory, 95 F. Supp. 2d, at 1102, President Johnson issued an Executive Order setting aside a reservation of comparatively modest size, although the Tribe was

respective States as follows: Bill Pryor of Alabama, Bruce M. Botelho of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, Hardy Myers of Oregon, Mark W. Barnett of South Dakota, Mark L. Shurtleff of Utah, William H. Sorrell of Vermont, Christine O. Gregoire of Washington, and Gay Woodhouse of Wyoming.

1 Petitioner, the State of Idaho, did not challenge the District Court's factual findings on appeal. See 210 F. 3d 1067, 1070 (CA9 2000).


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