A-96684, JUNE 5, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 903

A-96684: Jun 5, 1939

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INDIAN AFFAIRS - MURDER OF INDIAN - EXPENSES OF INVESTIGATION THE DUTY OF INVESTIGATING THE MURDER OF AN INDIAN VOLUNTARILY AWAY FROM AN INDIAN RESERVATION IN A JURISDICTION SUBJECT TO THE AUTHORITY OF A STATE IS PRIMARILY A MATTER FOR THE STATE AUTHORITIES. 1939: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 3. IS REQUESTED. THIS DECISION HELD THAT NO APPROPRIATION UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS IS APPLICABLE FOR THE EXPENSES OF AN INVESTIGATION ON THE PART OF A FIELD OFFICER INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH. MANY OF THIS GROUP WERE ORIGINALLY RESIDENT ON THE SISSETON RESERVATION AND ARE ENROLLED THERE. IS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE PIPESTONE SCHOOL IN MINNESOTA.

A-96684, JUNE 5, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 903

INDIAN AFFAIRS - MURDER OF INDIAN - EXPENSES OF INVESTIGATION THE DUTY OF INVESTIGATING THE MURDER OF AN INDIAN VOLUNTARILY AWAY FROM AN INDIAN RESERVATION IN A JURISDICTION SUBJECT TO THE AUTHORITY OF A STATE IS PRIMARILY A MATTER FOR THE STATE AUTHORITIES, BUT AS THE TRAVEL INVOLVED IN THE PARTICULAR CASE HAD FOR ITS PURPOSE THE PROTECTION AND WELFARE OF LIVING INDIANS UNDER THE GOVERNMENT'S GENERAL CARE AND SUPERVISION, IN ADDITION TO THE INVESTIGATION OF THE DEATH OF AN INDIAN, THE EXPENSE INCIDENT THERETO MAY BE CONSIDERED A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE GENERAL SUPPORT AND ADMINISTRATION OF INDIAN PROPERTY, 1938, 50 STAT. 586. 16 COMP. GEN. 32, DISTINGUISHED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, JUNE 5, 1939:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF MAY 3, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

REVIEW OF YOUR DECISION OF FEBRUARY 13, 1939 (A-96684), IS REQUESTED. THIS DECISION HELD THAT NO APPROPRIATION UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS IS APPLICABLE FOR THE EXPENSES OF AN INVESTIGATION ON THE PART OF A FIELD OFFICER INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH, AWAY FROM THE RESERVATION OF AN INDIAN WARD, AND DISALLOWED TRAVEL EXPENSES INCURRED BY WILLIAM C. SMITH, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE SISSETON AGENCY, INCIDENT TO SUCH AN INVESTIGATION.

FRED RENVILLE, A RESTRICTED INDIAN OF THE SISSETON RESERVATION IN SOUTH DAKOTA, RECEIVED ON DECEMBER 24, 1937, AT THE HANDS OF ONE ART BARBER, AT GRANITE FALLS, MINNESOTA, AN INJURY WHICH RESULTED IN HIS DEATH ON THE FOLLOWING DAY. RENVILLE HAD BEEN VISITING OTHER INDIANS, MEMBERS OF A GROUP RESIDING IN THE VICINITY OF GRANITE FALLS. MANY OF THIS GROUP WERE ORIGINALLY RESIDENT ON THE SISSETON RESERVATION AND ARE ENROLLED THERE. FOR PURPOSES OF ADMINISTRATION, HOWEVER, THIS GROUP, LARGELY FOR GEOGRAPHICAL REASONS, IS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE PIPESTONE SCHOOL IN MINNESOTA.

WHILE VISITING AT GRANITE FALLS, RENVILLE HAD SECURED EMPLOYMENT AT A POULTRY STATION FOR A FEW DAYS DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. A NUMBER OF THE INDIANS AT SISSETON URGED THE SUPERINTENDENT TO INVESTIGATE THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING RENVILLE'S DEATH, CLAIMING THAT THREE INDIANS HAD BEEN KILLED AT GRANITE FALLS AND NO ARRESTS HAD EVER BEEN MADE. LARGELY AS A RESULT OF SUPERINTENDENT SMITH'S ENTRY INTO THE CASE, RENVILLE'S ASSAILANT, ART BARBER, WAS FINALLY ADJUDGED GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO SERVE FROM ONE TO FIFTEEN YEARS IN THE PENITENTIARY. THE NIGHT CLUB, OUTSIDE THE CITY LIMITS, WHERE RENVILLE WAS KILLED, WAS CLOSED AND ITS LICENSE CANCELLED. THIS ESTABLISHMENT HAD BEEN SELLING BEER AND LIQUOR TO INDIANS.

WHILE THE ACT OF NOVEMBER 2, 1921 (42 STAT. 208) CITED BY YOU, MAKES NO SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR EXPENSES OF THE TYPE UNDER DISCUSSION, IT DOES PROVIDE FOR "GENERAL AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE ADMINISTRATION OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.' IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PURPOSE OF THIS GENERAL LANGUAGE FOLLOWING VARIOUS ITEMS OF EXPENSE SPECIFICALLY ENUMERATED WAS TO ESTABLISH LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR GENERAL AND INCIDENTAL EXPENSES NOT SUBJECT TO READY CLASSIFICATION IN THE DRAFTING OF THE LEGISLATION.

THIS LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY IS BROADER IN SCOPE THAN THE ACT DEALT WITH IN 16 COMP. GEN. 32. FURTHER, THE ADMINISTRATION OF INDIAN AFFAIRS NECESSARILY IMPOSES OBLIGATIONS ON ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND PROTECTION OF INDIAN WARDS NOT IMPOSED ON OFFICIALS OF OTHER GOVERNMENT BRANCHES.

BELIEVING, THEREFORE, THAT THE EXPENSES INCURRED BY SUPERINTENDENT SMITH IN THIS CASE WERE PROPER AND ESSENTIAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO HIS ADMINISTRATION OF THE AFFAIRS AND FURTHERANCE OF THE WELL-BEING OF THE INDIANS UNDER HIS JURISDICTION, AND THAT AMPLE LEGAL AUTHORITY EXISTS FOR HAVING INCURRED SUCH EXPENSES, I REQUEST RECONSIDERATION OF YOUR DECISION A-96684.

AS STATED IN THE DECISION OF FEBRUARY 13, 1939, THE DUTY OF INVESTIGATING THE MURDER OF AN INDIAN VOLUNTARILY AWAY FROM AN INDIAN RESERVATION IN A JURISDICTION SUBJECT TO THE AUTHORITY OF A STATE IS PRIMARILY A MATTER FOR THE STATE AUTHORITIES. 16 COMP. GEN. 32. HOWEVER, IT APPEARS FROM YOUR PRESENT SUBMISSION THAT THE TRAVEL IN THE PRESENT CASE HAD FOR ITS PURPOSE SOMETHING MORE THAN THE INVESTIGATION OF THE DEATH OF ONE INDIAN, THAT IS, THE PROTECTION AND WELFARE OF LIVING INDIANS UNDER THE GENERAL CARE AND SUPERVISION OF THE SUPERINTENDENT. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES THE EXPENSES MAY BE CONSIDERED IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE AS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE GENERAL SUPPORT AND ADMINISTRATION OF INDIAN PROPERTY, 1938, ACT OF AUGUST 9, 1937, 50 STAT. 586, AND CREDIT WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE DISBURSING OFFICER ACCORDINGLY.