Idaho v. United States, 533 U.S. 262, 16 (2001)

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

Opinion of the Court

scene had warned the Surveyor General that "[s]hould the fisheries be excluded there will in my opinion be trouble with these Indians." App. 30.

Hence, although the goal of extinguishing aboriginal title could have been achieved by congressional fiat, see Tee-HitTon Indians v. United States, 348 U. S. 272, 279-282 (1955), and Congress was free to define the reservation boundaries however it saw fit, the goal of avoiding hostility seemingly could not have been attained without the agreement of the Tribe. Congress in any event made it expressly plain that its object was to obtain tribal interests only by tribal consent. When in 1886 Congress took steps toward extinguishing aboriginal title to all lands outside the 1873 boundaries, it did so by authorizing negotiation of agreements ceding title for compensation. Soon after that, when Congress decided to seek a reduction in the size of the 1873 reservation itself, the Secretary of the Interior advised the Senate against fiddling with the scope of the reservation without the Tribe's agreement. The report of February 1888 likewise urged that any move to diminish the reservation "should be done, if done at all, with the full and free consent of the Indians, and they should, of course, receive proper compensation for any land so taken." App. 129. Accordingly, after receiving the Secretary's report, Congress undertook in the 1889 Act to authorize negotiation with the Tribe for the consensual, compensated cession of such portions of the Tribe's reservation "as such tribe shall consent to sell," Act of Mar. 2, 1889, ch. 412, 4, 25 Stat. 1002. In the meantime it honored the reservation's recently clarified boundaries by requiring that the Tribe be compensated for the Washington and Idaho Railroad Company right-of-way, Act of May 30, 1888, ch. 336, 1, 25 Stat. 160.

The facts, including the provisions of Acts of Congress in 1886, 1888, and 1889, thus demonstrate that Congress understood its objective as turning on the Tribe's agreement to the abrogation of any land claim it might have and to any

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