Page images

partment and 9 for the Synthetic Liquid Fuels Division; 35 Solicitor's opinions have been written concerning the rights of inventors, and 15 patents have been secured through the services of the Department of Justice, 10 of these are assigned outright to the Government. There are pending in the Patent Office approximately 120 patent applications. An amendment to the departmental patent regulations and a new set of regulations governing the granting of licenses under patent rights, if adopted, will centralize the licensing system, protect the Department's interests in inventions and make possible control over information concerning the state of the Department's title to patents.

The Division advised in the establishment of the synthetic liquid fuels program; 31 contracts were processed, 9 inventions studied and applications are going forward to the Patent Office. It is anticipated that this work will assume greater importance as the synthetic liquid fuels program develops. The work of explosives control increased materially; 35 license revocation proceedings were prosecuted. A bill to continue the safety features of wartime explosives control has been drafted and submitted to the industry for discussion.

During the year approximately 200 contracts were reviewed, drafted, redrafted or approved, including approximately 60 for exploratory drilling, 33 for supplies, 25 for cooperative ventures, 35 for architects, engineers, and construction, 10 for mining operations, and other miscellaneous matters including helium.

The Division directed a cooperative in-service training program for attorneys of the Interior Department and 14 cooperating agencies.

PROPERTY ACQUISITION DIVISION The Property Acquisition Division participated in the preparation of contracts for the purchase of properties and performed the legal work in connection with land acquisitions required for the helium program, synthetic liquid fuels program, and mineral exploration programs of the Bureau of Mines for war and postwar use. It reviewed abstracts of title to more than 237 separate parcels involving over 211,650 acres of land acquired by the Government under the Forest Exchange and the Taylor Grazing Act, and also approved title to thousands of acres of donated land accepted by the Government for national parks. The consolidation of Indian land holdings into usable economic units and the acquisition of homes for Indians also involved considerable detailed legal work.

· INDIAN DIVISION The work of the attorneys of the Indian Division of the Solicitor's Office in cooperation with Bureau lawyers has been directed in great measure toward the fulfillment of long standing treaty and other obligations of the Government to the Indians. A final settlement with the State of Wisconsin brings to a close a 91 years' controversy over the title to certain lands located within the boundaries of the Menominee Indian Reservation and effectually restores them to the Indian reservation. Hearings were held in Alaska to determine native fishing and other occupancy rights which have been matters of controversy for many years. Assistance was rendered to the House Committee on Indian Affairs in preparing an Indian claims bill which would attempt to settle, once and for all, any and all claims of Indians against the United States. The Department's position in the protection of Indian land titles was sustained in the case of United States v. Drummond, 324 U. S. 316, involving the interpretation of highly complicated laws pertaining to Osage Indians in Oklahoma; the court also ruled the United States to be a necessary party to actions in State courts in order that it be bound in Indian cases. The Division also participated in the preparation and presentation of other important cases including Anglin & Stevenson, 145 F. (2d) 622, holding that the Federal court could determine an award of attorney fees out of the restricted estate of a deceased member of the Five Civilized Tribes in a suit involving the quieting of title and determination of heirs; United States v. Board of Commissioners of Fremont County, 145 F. (2d) 329, holding that lands purchased with funds of an Indian tribe, conveyed to United States in trust for the tribe, are not subject to State taxation; House v. United States, 144 F. (2d) 555, 65 Sup. Ct. 270, upholding the right of the United States to maintain a suit for accounting of funds of a full-blood Indian of the Five Civilized Tribes released by the Superintendent without authority of law; Board of Commissioners of Osage County v. United States, 145 F. (20) 1022, affirming the decision of the lower court that the act of June 20, 1936 (49 Stat. 1542), as amended, exempting certain Indianowned lands from taxation, applied to Osage Indians, and that designation of the homestead as provided in the act is not a condition precedent to the tax exemption granted by the act where the Indian owns more than 160 acres of purchased land; and County of Thurston Nebraska v. United States, 149 F. (20) 485, upholding the constitutionality of the tax exemption acts of June 20, 1936 (49 Stat. 1542), May 19, 1937 (50 Stat. 188), as applied to lands purchased by Indians in the State of Nebraska.

Legislation affecting the restricted lands of Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes was introduced in the present Congress looking to the quieting of titles affected by the decisions of the Federal courts in the cases of United States v. Hellard, 322 U. S. 363; Murray v. Ned, 135 F. (2d) 407, and Williams v. United States, 139 F. (20) 83. The departmental reports to the congressional committees were prepared in this Division and several amendments suggested therein were adopted by the Congress. Act of July 2, 1945 (Public Law 116, 79th

Cong., 1st sess.). A bill (H. R. 2294) was introduced during the year which if enacted would provide a uniform code of descent of restricted Indian lands. Legislation establishing a new technique in securing repayment of construction charges on Indian irrigation projects was favored by the Division. Act of July 14, 1945 (Public Law 149, 79th Cong., 1st sess.).

The work of the Indian Division during the year relating to war activities involved the giving of legal advice and the review of correspondence, leases, permits and other agreements looking to the discovery and development of strategtic minerals and the utilization of Indian and public lands for military purposes and increased food production. Several hundred thousand acres of virgin land in Wyoming, Montana and other States were placed under geological and geophysical prospecting permits during the year.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

DURING most of the 1945 fiscal year the Division of Information

was still occupied largely with keeping the public acquainted with the Department's single-minded efforts to supply the essentials of war unstintingly from the Nation's natural resources. Before the year's end, however, with the collapse of the Nazi regime and with unmistakable signs of a similar denouement in the Pacific, the Division began to prepare for a shift of emphasis from the profligate expenditure of nature's treasures to the Department's traditional policy of conservation.

Just as foresight had prepared the Department for an immediate shift to a var basis before nightfall on Pearl Harbor Day, plans had been in the making for more than a year against the possibility of an immediate peace.

Thus, while still conforming to Office of War Information and other wartime security regulations in the handling of such informational programs as the Solid Fuels Administration for War, in exercising judicious restraint in disseminating information regarding the important war-related work of the Bureau of Mines, the Geological Survey and other agencies, the Division was getting ready to resume its peacetime activities that so long had lain dormant.

For example, the Division originated and prepared a comprehensive series of articles dealing with the Department's plan to proceed with postwar construction and conservation programs designed to give employment to veterans equivalent to 1,500,000 man-years of work over the first 10 postwar years. This material was published, with appropriate illustrations, in whole or in part by at least a score of nationally circulated magazines.

Before the end of the year the Division also was responsible for writing and publishing a pamphlet entitled “Our Last Land Frontiers," designed as a guide to veterans in their desires to settle on public lands both in continental United States and Alaska. This booklet proved to be one of the most popular ever issued by the Department with 20,000 copies being distributed by the Department

« PreviousContinue »