B-7434, DECEMBER 27, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 608

B-7434: Dec 27, 1939

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH LINES - RELOCATING - GOVERNMENT LIABILITY - "PUBLIC LANDS" AND LANDS BELONGING TO INDIAN PUEBLOS DISTINGUISHED THE TERM "PUBLIC LANDS" GENERALLY MEANS SUCH LANDS BELONGING TO THE GOVERNMENT AS ARE SUBJECT TO SALE OR OTHER DISPOSAL UNDER GENERAL LAND LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES. APPROPRIATED MONEYS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR REMOVING AND RESETTING PRIVATELY MAINTAINED TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE POLES. ARE ON LANDS BELONGING TO INDIAN PUEBLOS UNDER A COMMUNAL TITLE. " THE RIGHT OF THE INVOLVED TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY TO MAINTAIN ITS LINES WAS PARAMOUNT TO THE RIGHT OF THE GOVERNMENT TO DEMAND THEIR REMOVAL. AS FOLLOWS: IN 1936 AGREEMENTS WERE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN THE STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION OF NEW MEXICO AND THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW MEXICO FEDERAL LANDS HIGHWAY PROJECTS NOS. 2-C AND 2-D.

B-7434, DECEMBER 27, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 608

TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH LINES - RELOCATING - GOVERNMENT LIABILITY - "PUBLIC LANDS" AND LANDS BELONGING TO INDIAN PUEBLOS DISTINGUISHED THE TERM "PUBLIC LANDS" GENERALLY MEANS SUCH LANDS BELONGING TO THE GOVERNMENT AS ARE SUBJECT TO SALE OR OTHER DISPOSAL UNDER GENERAL LAND LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES. WHILE, IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY, APPROPRIATED MONEYS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR REMOVING AND RESETTING PRIVATELY MAINTAINED TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE POLES, WIRES, ETC., LOCATED UPON PUBLIC LANDS OR RESERVATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, WHERE SUCH POLES, ETC., ARE ON LANDS BELONGING TO INDIAN PUEBLOS UNDER A COMMUNAL TITLE--- AS DISTINGUISHED FROM RESERVATIONS AND INDIAN LANDS GENERALLY--- AND, HENCE, NOT ON "PUBLIC LANDS," THE RIGHT OF THE INVOLVED TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY TO MAINTAIN ITS LINES WAS PARAMOUNT TO THE RIGHT OF THE GOVERNMENT TO DEMAND THEIR REMOVAL, AND THE COST OF REMOVING AND RESETTING THE POLES, ETC., IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROSECUTION OF CERTAIN HIGHWAY PROJECTS, MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATIONS OTHERWISE AVAILABLE FOR THE PROSECUTION OF SUCH PROJECTS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE FEDERAL WORKS ADMINISTRATOR, DECEMBER 27, 1939:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 30, 1939, WITH ENCLOSURES, AS FOLLOWS:

IN 1936 AGREEMENTS WERE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN THE STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION OF NEW MEXICO AND THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW MEXICO FEDERAL LANDS HIGHWAY PROJECTS NOS. 2-C AND 2-D. THE AGREEMENT FOR PROJECT NO. 2-C WAS NUMBERED A-4-PR 28452 AND THE AGREEMENT FOR PROJECT NO. 2-D WAS NUMBERED A-4-PR 29824, AND THE ORIGINAL OF EACH IS FILED IN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

THESE PROJECTS WERE UNDERTAKEN PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ACT OF NOVEMBER 9, 1921 (42 STAT. 212), AND THE AMENDMENT APPROVED JUNE 24, 1930 (46 STAT. 805).

PROJECT NO. 2-C IS LOCATED WITHIN THE LAGUNA INDIAN PUEBLO AND PROJECT NO. 2-D IS LOCATED ACROSS LANDS WITHIN THE ACOMA INDIAN PUEBLO. IN ORDER TO SECURE A PROPER LOCATION FOR THE NEW ALIGNMENT OF THE HIGHWAY AS IT WAS IMPROVED UNDER THESE TWO PROJECTS IT BECAME NECESSARY FOR THE MOUNTAIN STATES TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY TO REMOVE SOME OF ITS POLES FROM THEIR EXISTING LOCATION. THERE APPEARS TO BE NO QUESTION CONCERNING THE VALIDITY OF THE RIGHT-OF-WAY GRANT PURSUANT TO WHICH THE COMPANY ESTABLISHED ITS POLE LINES ON LANDS OF THESE INDIAN PUEBLOS. THE COST INCIDENT TO THE REMOVAL OF THESE POLES WAS DISALLOWED BY THE PUBLIC ROADS ADMINISTRATION (THEN THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS) WHEN VOUCHERS WERE SUBMITTED BY THE STATE CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH EXPENDITURES. THIS ACTION WAS TAKEN BECAUSE OF CERTAIN DECISIONS RENDERED BY YOUR OFFICE CONCERNING THE INELIGIBILITY FOR PAYMENT OF SIMILAR ITEMS OF EXPENSE INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE LOCATION AND CONSTRUCTION OF NATIONAL FOREST HIGHWAYS AND HIGHWAYS ON PUBLIC LANDS.

THE STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT OF NEW MEXICO HAS TAKEN EXCEPTION TO THE DISALLOWANCE OF THE ITEMS FOR THE REMOVAL OF THE POLE LINES OF THE MOUNTAIN STATES TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY WHERE SUCH REMOVAL WAS NECESSARY TO ACCOMMODATE THESE PROJECTS. THE AMOUNTS INVOLVED IN THE STATE'S CLAIMS ARE $129 ON PROJECT FLH 2-C AND $643.31 ON PROJECT FLH 2- D.THE STATE'S VIEWS CONCERNING THIS MATTER ARE EMBODIED IN A LETTER OF JUNE 24, 1937, FROM THE STATE HIGHWAY ENGINEER OF NEW MEXICO TO THE DISTRICT ENGINEER, BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS, DENVER, COLORADO, COPY OF WHICH IS ATTACHED HERETO.

IN ADDITION TO THE EXCEPTION TAKEN BY THE STATE, THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE MOUNTAIN STATES TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY AT DENVER, COLORADO, SUBMITTED A LETTER TO THE DISTRICT ENGINEER, BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS, AT DENVER UNDER DATE OF MAY 18, 1938, QUESTIONING THE DISALLOWANCE OF THE ABOVE-MENTIONED ITEMS AND UNDERTAKING, IN A MANNER SIMILAR TO THE STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT, TO ESTABLISH THAT LANDS WITHIN AN INDIAN PUEBLO HAVE A STATUS DIFFERENT FROM THOSE IN AN INDIAN RESERVATION AND SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED AS COMING WITHIN THE RULINGS HERETOFORE MADE BY YOUR OFFICE AGAINST THE PAYMENT OF CLAIMS FOR THE REMOVAL OF POLE LINES WHERE THEY ARE LOCATED ON NATIONAL FOREST LANDS OR PUBLIC LANDS OF THE UNITED STATES. COPY OF THE LETTER FROM THE GENERAL PLANT MANAGER OF THE MOUNTAIN STATES TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY IS ENCLOSED HEREWITH.

IT SEEMS TO BE WELL SETTLED THAT APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS CANNOT BE USED FOR REMOVING UTILITY POLES AND LINES LOCATED UPON PUBLIC LANDS OR RESERVATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY. SEE YOUR DECISION OF DECEMBER 1, 1932, TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, A-44362, AND DECISIONS THEREIN CITED. THE QUESTION HERE PRESENTED IS WHETHER THE SAME RULE WOULD APPLY TO THE REMOVAL OF POLES AND LINES FROM PUEBLO INDIAN LANDS IN NEW MEXICO WHICH LANDS WERE OWNED BY THE PUEBLO INDIANS UNDER A COMMUNAL TITLE BEFORE THEY WERE INCLUDED WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THE UNITED STATES AND ARE STILL SO OWNED ( U.S. V. SANDOVAL, 231 U.S. 28), ALTHOUGH THESE PUEBLO INDIANS, LIKE OTHER INDIANS, ARE THE WARDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THEIR LANDS ARE UNDER THE JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OF THE CONGRESS. BY ACT APPROVED APRIL 21, 1928, CONGRESS EXTENDED THE LAWS GOVERNING RIGHTS-OF-WAY THROUGH INDIAN LANDS SO AS TO COVER PUEBLO LANDS (25 U.S.C. 322), AND THE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR CONCERNING RIGHTS-OF-WAY OVER INDIAN LANDS WERE MADE APPLICABLE TO PUEBLOS.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, YOUR OPINION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE ITEMS FOR THE REMOVAL OF POLES ON THE TWO PROJECTS NAMED MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR HIGHWAYS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ACT, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 24, 1930, CITED ABOVE.

THE LETTER OF JUNE 24, 1937, FROM THE STATE HIGHWAY ENGINEER OF NEW MEXICO, REFERRED TO IN THE LETTER, SUPRA, IS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

WE NOTE THAT YOU QUOTE A RECENT DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL ON A SIMILAR CLAIM, WHICH YOU STATE APPEARS TO BE EQUALLY APPLICABLE ON FEDERAL LANDS PROJECTS, SO THAT, IN YOUR OPINION, THE ITEM FOR REMOVING AND REPLACING THIS TELEPHONE LINE IS INELIGIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT.

WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE DECISION BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL WOULD BE APPLICABLE IN THIS CASE. SECTION 3 OF THE ACT OF CONGRESS, APPROVED MARCH 3RD, 1901, ENTITLED," AN ACT MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE CURRENT YEAR AND CONTINGENT EXPENSES OF THE INDIAN DEPARTMENT, AND FOR FULFILLING TREATY STIPULATIONS WITH VARIOUS INDIAN TRIBES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30TH, 1902, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," WHICH IS THE ACT AUTHORIZING THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO APPROVE RIGHTS-OF WAY FOR TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH LINES ACROSS INDIAN LANDS, PROVIDES THAT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR IS AUTHORIZED AND EMPOWERED TO GRANT A RIGHT-OF-WAY, IN THE NATURE OF AN EASEMENT, FOR THE CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, AND MAINTENANCE OF TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH LINES, AND OFFICES FOR GENERAL TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH BUSINESS, THROUGH ANY INDIAN RESERVATION, THROUGH ANY LANDS HELD BY AN INDIAN TRIBE OR NATION IN THE INDIAN TERRITORY, THROUGH ANY LANDS RESERVED FOR INDIAN AGENCY OR INDIAN SCHOOL, OR FOR OTHER PURPOSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE INDIAN SERVICE, OR THROUGH ANY LANDS WHICH HAVE BEEN ALLOTTED IN SEVERALTY TO ANY INDIVIDUAL INDIAN THROUGH ANY LAW OR TREATY, ETC.

AS YOU WILL NOTE, IT IS STATED THAT SUCH RIGHTS-OF-WAY SHALL BE GRANTED IN THE NATURE OF AN EASEMENT. THE ONLY WAY, AS WE UNDERSTAND IT, IN WHICH THE PARAMOUNT RIGHTS OF THE TELEPHONE COMPANY TO LOCATE AND OPERATE THEIR POLE LINE UPON THE RIGHT-OF-WAY GRANTED, COULD BE TERMINATED, WOULD BE BY REASON OF NON-USE OF SUCH LANDS.

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR APPROVED THE APPLICATION OF THE TELEPHONE COMPANY FOR SUCH RIGHT-OF-WAY, WE BELIEVE THAT THE TELEPHONE COMPANY'S RIGHTS WOULD BE THE SAME AS IF THEY HAD SECURED AN EASEMENT FROM A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL, SO THAT IN CONSTRUCTING THE HIGHWAY, WHICH WOULD INTERFERE IN ANY WAY WITH THE TELEPHONE COMPANY'S POLE LINE, IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO MAKE SATISFACTORY SETTLEMENT WITH THE TELEPHONE COMPANY PROVIDING FOR THE REMOVAL AND REPLACEMENT OF THE TELEPHONE LINE, BEFORE CONSTRUCTING THE HIGHWAY PROJECT.

THE MOUNTAIN STATES TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY IN LETTER OF MAY 18, 1938, ALSO REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER, EXPRESSES ITS VIEWS IN THE MATTER AS FOLLOWS:

AS I UNDERSTAND IT, THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL HAS RULED THAT WHERE FEDERAL HIGHWAY PROJECTS REQUIRE THE RELOCATION OF TELEPHONE LINES LOCATED UPON PRIVATE LANDS, THE TELEPHONE COMPANY IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR ALL NECESSARY EXPENSE INVOLVED, BUT THAT WHERE THE TELEPHONE LINES ARE LOCATED UPON UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT LANDS, REIMBURSEMENT SHOULD NOT BE MADE.

AS DISCUSSED AT THE CONFERENCE WITH MR. TURNQUIST AND MR. HATTRICK, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT A DISTINCTION HAS BEEN NOTED BETWEEN INDIAN PUEBLO LANDS, WHICH ARE OWNED BY THE INDIANS THEMSELVES, AND THEREFORE, PARTAKE OF THE CHARACTER OF PRIVATE PROPERTY, AND INDIAN RESERVATIONS WHICH ARE OWNED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. IN UNITED STATES V. MARES, ET AL., 88 PAC. 1128, THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW MEXICO SAID, WITH RESPECT TO PUEBLO INDIANS:

"WHILE CONGRESS HAS AS A MERE GRATUITY FROM TIME TO TIME PROVIDED AGENTS AND SPECIAL ATTORNEYS FOR THEM, IT HAS NEVER ATTEMPTED THEREBY TO REDUCE THEM TO A STATE OF TUTELAGE OR TO PUT EITHER THEM OR THEIR PROPERTY UNDER THE CHARGE OR CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT OR ITS AGENTS. ON THE CONTRARY, THEY HOLD THEIR LANDS AND PROPERTY BY COMPLETE AND PERFECT TITLE ANTEDATING THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE UNITED STATES AND RECOGNIZED BY ITS UNCONDITIONAL PATENT ISSUED TO THEM DECADES AGO. THEY HAVE FULL POWER TO ALIENATE THEIR LANDS, AND THESE, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY ACT OF CONGRESS TO THE CONTRARY, ARE SUBJECT LIKE OTHER PROPERTY TO TAXATION BY THE TERRITORY.'

WHILE I BELIEVE THAT THE SITUATION WITH RESPECT TO GOVERNMENT SUPERVISION HAS BEEN CHANGED IN THE CASE OF CERTAIN PUEBLOS, IT WOULD APPEAR FROM THE DECISIONS AND STATUTES THAT THE GOVERNMENT MERELY EXERCISES A GUARDIANSHIP OVER THE PUEBLO INDIANS AND THE INDIANS STILL RETAIN TITLE TO THE PUEBLO LANDS. IN SECURING A RIGHT-OF-WAY OVER THE PUEBLO LANDS, WE FOLLOW A DIFFERENT PROCEDURE THAN THAT IN SECURING RIGHTS-OF-WAY OVER INDIAN RESERVATIONS. IN SECURING A RIGHT-OF-WAY OVER INDIAN PUEBLOS, WE SECURE A GRANT FROM THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES OF THE PUEBLO, WHICH GRANT IS THEN SUBMITTED TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR FOR APPROVAL, AND OFTENTIMES A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT IS PAID TO THE INDIANS FOR THE RIGHT-OF-WAY AS A CONSIDERATION FOR THE GRANT. THE AMOUNT OF THE CONSIDERATION PAID FOR THE GRANT VARIES ACCORDING TO THE VALUE OF THE LAND CROSSED. IN SECURING A RIGHT-OF-WAY OVER INDIAN RESERVATIONS, WE APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR OUR RIGHT-OF-WAY GRANT IN THE SAME MANNER AS WE DO WHEN WE APPLY FOR RIGHTS-OF-WAY ACROSS NATIONAL FORESTS, NATIONAL PARKS, AND OTHER PUBLIC LANDS.

WE RESPECTFULLY SUBMIT, THEREFORE, THAT THE INDIAN PUEBLOS FALL WITHIN THE CATEGORY OF PRIVATE PROPERTY AND THAT, UNDER THE RULE OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, THIS COMPANY IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES INCURRED IN RELOCATING ITS PLANT.

AS STATED IN YOUR LETTER, IT HAS BEEN HELD BY THIS OFFICE THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY APPROPRIATED MONEYS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR USE IN PAYMENT OF THE COST OF REMOVING AND RESETTING TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE POLES, WIRES, ETC., LOCATED UPON PUBLIC LANDS OR RESERVATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES. SEE DECISIONS A-36464, DATED JULY 22, 1931; A 38299, DATED SEPTEMBER 8, 1931; A-44362, DATED DECEMBER 1, 1932. CONCEDING THAT THE REMOVING AND RESETTING OF THE TELEPHONE LINES IN THE INSTANT CASE WERE NECESSARY TO THE SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTION OF THE PROJECTS, THE SOLE QUESTION FOR CONSIDERATION IS WHETHER THE RIGHT OF THE MOUNTAIN STATES TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY TO MAINTAIN THE LINES WAS PARAMOUNT TO THE RIGHT OF THE UNITED STATES TO DEMAND THEIR REMOVAL. THE STATUS OF THE LANDS--- LAGUNA AND ACOMA INDIAN PUEBLO LANDS--- UPON WHICH SUCH LINES WERE LOCATED IS DETERMINATIVE OF THAT QUESTION, I.E., WHETHER SUCH LANDS ARE "PUBLIC LANDS" OR "RESERVATIONS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE CITED DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE. WHILE THE INDIANS IN THESE AND OTHER PUEBLOS LOCATED IN THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO HAVE BEEN HELD TO BE WARDS OF THE UNITED STATES ( UNITED STATES V. JOSEPH, 94 U.S. 614; UNITED STATES V. SANDOVAL, 231 U.S. 28), THE LANDS BELONGING TO THE VARIOUS PUEBLOS ARE HELD UNDER A COMMUNAL FEE SIMPLE TITLE ( LANE V. PUEBLO OF SANTA ROSA, 249 U.S. 110; UNITED STATES V. MARES ET AL., 88 PAC. 1128; 20 OP. ATTY. GEN. 215). THE TERM "PUBLIC LANDS" HAS BEEN HELD GENERALLY TO MEAN SUCH LANDS BELONGING TO THE GOVERNMENT AS ARE SUBJECT TO SALE OR OTHER DISPOSAL UNDER GENERAL LAND LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES. IN A SUIT TO ENJOIN THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND THE COMMISSIONER OF THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE FROM OFFERING, LISTING, OR DISPOSING OF CERTAIN LANDS WHICH WERE PART OF THE TERRITORY OF NEW MEXICO AND WHICH WERE SUBSEQUENTLY INCLUDED IN THE TERRITORY OF ARIZONA AS PUBLIC LANDS OF THE UNITED STATES, THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES IN LANE V. PUEBLO OF SANTA ROSA, 249 U.S. 110, 113, STATED IN PERTINENT PART:

THE DEFENDANTS ASSERT WITH MUCH EARNESTNESS THAT THE INDIANS OF THIS PUEBLO ARE WARDS OF THE UNITED STATES--- RECOGNIZED AS SUCH BY THE LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS--- AND THAT IN CONSEQUENCE THE DISPOSAL OF THEIR LANDS IS NOT WITHIN THEIR OWN CONTROL, BUT SUBJECT TO SUCH REGULATIONS AS CONGRESS MAY PRESCRIBE FOR THEIR BENEFIT AND PROTECTION. ASSUMING, WITHOUT SO DECIDING, THAT THIS IS ALL TRUE, WE THINK IT HAS NO REAL BEARING ON THE POINT WE ARE CONSIDERING. CERTAINLY IT WOULD NOT JUSTIFY THE DEFENDANTS IN TREATING THE LANDS OF THESE INDIANS --- TO WHICH, ACCORDING TO THE BILL, THEY HAVE A COMPLETE AND PERFECT TITLE--- AS PUBLIC LANDS OF THE UNITED STATES AND DISPOSING OF THE SAME UNDER THE PUBLIC LAND LAWS. THAT WOULD NOT BE AN EXERCISE OF GUARDIANSHIP, BUT AN ACT OF CONFISCATION * * *. ALSO, WHILE THE PUEBLO INDIANS HAVE BEEN HELD WARDS OF THE GOVERNMENT THE OWNERSHIP OF THE LANDS IN FEE BY THE INDIAN PUEBLOS HAS BEEN HELD CONSISTENT WITH WARDSHIP. SEE UNITED STATES V. JOSEPH, 94 U.S. 614, 618, IN WHICH THE FOLLOWING WAS STATED BY THE COURT:

THE PUEBLO INDIANS, ON THE CONTRARY, HOLD THEIR LANDS BY A RIGHT SUPERIOR TO THAT OF THE UNITED STATES. THEIR TITLE DATES BACK TO GRANTS MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SPAIN BEFORE THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION--- A TITLE WHICH WAS FULLY RECOGNIZED BY THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT, AND PROTECTED BY IT IN THE TREATY OF GUADALOUPE HIDALGO, BY WHICH THIS COUNTRY AND THE ALLEGIANCE OF ITS INHABITANTS WAS TRANSFERRED TO THE UNITED STATES.

IT THUS APPEARS FROM THE FOREGOING THAT THE LANDS BELONGING TO THE PUEBLO INDIANS UPON WHICH THE INVOLVED ROAD PROJECTS ARE TO BE PROSECUTED ARE NOT "PUBLIC LANDS" AS THOSE WORDS WERE CONSTRUED AND APPLIED IN THE CITED DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE, AND THAT THE RIGHT OF THE NAMED TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY TO MAINTAIN THE LINES IN QUESTION WAS PARAMOUNT TO THE RIGHT OF THE GOVERNMENT TO DEMAND THEIR REMOVAL. ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE NECESSARY COST OF REMOVING AND RESETTING THE POLES, LINES, ETC., IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROSECUTION OF THE REFERRED-TO HIGHWAY PROJECTS WITHIN THE LAGUNA AND ACOMA INDIAN PUEBLOS MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATIONS OTHERWISE AVAILABLE FOR THE PROSECUTION OF SUCH PROJECTS.