1. A right of occupancy that the federal government grants to an American Indian tribe based on the tribe’s immemorial possession of the area. * Congress does not recognize tribal ownership of the land, only possession. A tribe or nation must actually, exclusively, and continuously use the property to establish that it is the ancestral home. An individual may claim Indian title by showing that the individual or his or her lineal ancestors continuously occupied a parcel of land, as individuals, before the land was closed to settlers. — aka aboriginal title; right of occupancy. 
1. By virtue of prior occupancy of the continent of North America, at best, nothing more than a right of occupancy. Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians v United States, 324 US 335, 89 L Ed 985, 65 S Ct 690; nothing more than permissive occupancy; not a title which could be conveyed so as to transfer to the grantee a title which the United States was bound to recognize. Johnson and Graham’s Lessee v M’Intosh (US) 8 Wheat 543, 574, 5 L Ed 681, 688.
2. A right not beyond that of permissive occupancy, except as Congress might recognize a right of permanent occupancy not to be disturbed. Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v United States, 348 US 272, 99 L Ed 314, 75 S Ct 313.
3. The right of Indians to occupy lands in the United States over which they had sovereignty prior to conquest by the white man is not a property right but amounts to a right of occupancy which the sovereign grants and, although protecting against intrusion by third parties, may terminate; such lands may be fully disposed of by the sovereign itself without any legally enforceable obligation to compensate the Indians. Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v United States, 348 US 272, 99 L Ed 314, 75 S Ct 313.
4. Exclusive title to American lands passed to the white discoverers subject to the Indian title, with power in the white sovereign alone to extinguish that right by purchase or conquest. Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians v United States, 324 US 335, 89 L Ed 985, 65 S Ct 690. 
1. Land ownership, or a claim of land ownership, by an indigenous people in a place that has been colonized. — aka native title. 
Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.
: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6
: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949). Edited by William S. Anderson. © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931
Back to Indian Country Law
Like this website?
or donate via PayPal:
This website is being broadcast for First Amendment purposes courtesy of
Questions? Suggestion(s) for improvement? Want to offer financial support? Email Distance@WildWillpower.org. We look forward to hearing from you!