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Winters v. United States

Significance, Water For The Pursuit Of "civilization", A Special Right, Impact, Reservation Populations


Henry Winters, John W. Acker, Chris Cruse, Agnes Downs and the Empire Cattle Company


United States

Appellants' Claim

That appropriated water rights to the Milk River of Montana were valid and had priority over those of the Fort Belknap Native Americans and the United States.

Chief Lawyer for Appellants

Edward C. Day

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Sanford, Assistant Attorney General

Justices for the Court

William Rufus Day, Melville Weston Fuller, John Marshall Harlan I, Joseph McKenna (writing for the Court), Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Henry Moody, Rufus Wheeler Peckham, Edward Douglass White

Justices Dissenting

David Josiah Brewer


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

6 January 1908


Found in favor of the United States affirming two lower court decisions that the tribes held implied water rights through their agreement with the United States that took priority over latter nearby settlers.

Related Cases

  • United States v. Winans, 198 U.S. 371 (1905).
  • Arizona v. California, 373 U.S. 546 (1963).
  • Cappaert v. United States, 426 U.S. 128 (1976).


Statistical Abstract of the United States 1997. Washington, DC: U.S. Government, 1997.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917