Print #3. United States v. Berrigan, 1905

Print #3. United States v. Berrigan, 1905. 32×16″, 18 oz. scrim weatherproof vinyl.

Text & Citations for Print #3: United States v. Berrigan, 1905

“The complaint then discloses that these Indians have long occupied the tract with their cabins, and have supported themselves in the hunter state; that on March 23, 1905, the Indians caused a tract embracing their village and improvements to be marked off by stakes, and posted notices on the land, describing the tract claimed by them; that about March 28, 1905, the defendants came and trespassed upon this tract; respectively claimed portions and separate parcels thereof, cut and removed the trees, and will, unless restrained, cause the Indians to be ejected therefrom, and deprived of their homes …”United States v. Berrigan, 2 Alaska 442 (D. Alaska 1905

“Congress alone has the right to dispose of the lands thus specially reserved for his occupancy, and any attempt to procure him to abandon them is void.”
United States v. Berrigan, 2 Alaska 442, 451 (D. Alaska 1905)
“The evidence in this case discloses that Jarvis and Henry and their people were in the actual occupation of the tract in question when first known to the witnesses, and for at least eight years prior thereto, and long prior to any entry by the defendants. This being admitted, it follows that the defendants can acquire no rights in the lands by virtue of the United States land laws, which forbid a sale thereof, or any entry thereon. The law, however, is even much broader in its scope, for the act of June 6, 1900, expressly declares that “the Indians shall not be disturbed in the possession of any lands now actually in their use or occupation.” This is not only a direct and mandatory congressional prohibition against an entry under the land laws, but it forbids as well any other act which shall disturb their possession, and renders void all attempts to dispossess them by deed or contract.”
United States v. Berrigan, 2 Alaska 442, 449–50 (D. Alaska 1905)

“As they descended the Yukon, the stampeders vandalized caches and cabins and stole dogs.” Mitchell, Donald Craig. Sold American: The Story of Alaska Natives and Their Land, 1867-1959: The Army to Statehood. Hanover: U Press of New England, 1997. p. 130.

Image Sources:

  • E.W. Merrill Photograph Courtesy of National Park Service, Sitka National Historic Park.
  • Map: Millroy, J. J. Millroy’s map of Alaska and the Klondyke gold fields. [S.l, 1897] Library of Congress,

“WordWrap 2017: Historical Reflections on the Law of the Land.” Created by Lisa Link for the Alaska Sesquicentennial Commemorative Exhibit, “Voices of Change: Perspectives on the Transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States” at Sitka National Historical Park.