Standing Bear, Omaha Herald, May 15, 1879

[This is the immediate reaction to the decision as reported in the Omaha Herald on May 15, 1879. Mr. "Hayt" is E. A. Hayt, Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1879. To see a representation of the actual newspaper columns, click here.]


Hayt Will Use the Whole Power
of the Government to Hold Him.

He Orders An Appeal to be Taken
From Judge Dundy's Decision

WASHINGTON, May 14. -- The decision of Judge Dundy at Omaha in the Standing Bear habeas corpus case in which he virtually declares Indians citizens with the right to go where they please, regardless of treaty stipulations is regarded by the government as a heavy blow to the present Indian system, that if sustained will prove extremely dangerous alike to whites and Indians. If the power of the government to hold Indians upon their reservations and to return them when they escape is denied, the Indians will become a body of tramps moving without restraint wherever they please and exposed to attacks of frontiermen without redress from the government. The district attorney at Omaha has been instructed to take the necessary steps to carry the question to higher courts.

Secretary McCrary, in conformity with habeas corpus case, has directed that those Indians be released.

[Shortly after the decision, District Attorney G. M. Lambertson did file an appeal, but the appeal was never heard by a higher court. There is some speculation on the reasons. The Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz -- who was Commissioner Hayt's boss -- claimed that he could not agree with the legal points argued by Lambertson, so he advised the Attorney General to drop the case. But in other parts of the court record, there are indications that the case was reviewed by a judge of the U. S. Circuit Court. Justice Miller decided the case was "moot," -- that is, it lacked legal meaning -- because Standing Bear wasn't present for the appeal. Whether because high officials had doubts or because of a legal technicality, the appeal was never argued.]

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