Idaho v. United States, 533 U.S. 262, 5 (2001)

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Opinion of the Court

apparently unaware of this action until at least 1871, when it petitioned the Government to set aside a reservation, id., at 1102-1103. The Tribe found the 1867 boundaries unsatisfactory, due in part to their failure to make adequate provision for fishing and other uses of important waterways. When the Tribe petitioned the Commissioner of Indian Affairs a second time, it insisted on a reservation that included key river valleys because "we are not as yet quite up to living on farming" and "for a while yet we need have some hunting and fishing." App. 27.

Following further negotiations, the Tribe in 1873 agreed to relinquish (for compensation) all claims to its aboriginal lands outside the bounds of a more substantial reservation that negotiators for the United States agreed to "set apart and secure" "for the exclusive use of the Coeur d'Alene Indians, and to protect . . . from settlement or occupancy by other persons." Id., at 33. The reservation boundaries described in the agreement covered part of the St. Joe River (then called the St. Joseph), and all of Lake Coeur d'Alene except a sliver cut off by the northern boundary. Id., at 33-34; 95 F. Supp. 2d, at 1095-1096.

Although by its own terms the agreement was not binding without congressional approval, App. 36-37, later in 1873 President Grant issued an Executive Order directing that the reservation specified in the agreement be "with-drawn from sale and set apart as a reservation for the Cur d'Alène Indians." Exec. Order of Nov. 8, 1873, reprinted in 1 C. Kapler, Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties 837 (1904). The 1873 Executive Order set the northern boundary of the reservation directly across Lake Coeur d'Alene, which, the District Court found, was contrary "to the usual practice of meandering a survey line along the mean high water mark." 95 F. Supp. 2d, at 1108; App. 14, 20 (expert trial testimony).2

2 Although the State did not challenge the District Court's factual findings below, it claims in its reply brief to us that it was "commonplace" for reservation boundaries to cross navigable waters. Reply Brief for

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