American Society of Civil Engineers

History and Method of Indian Allotment Surveys

by Leroy K. Latta, Jr., (Assoc., Law Offices of Gordon F. Schadt, 3201 C St., Suite 202, Anchorage, AK 99503)

Journal of Surveying Engineering, Vol. 115, No. 4, November 1989, pp. 362-372, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Discussion: by William T. Wambach, Jr.    (See full record)
Closure:(See full record)
Abstract: Federal land surveys were mandated by Indian treaties, executive orders, and acts of Congress to expedite the allotment of Indian reservation. Congressional funding for these surveys seldom equaled the costs of the task. Various federal agencies were responsible for establishing allotment boundaries. The three-mile method was the technique developed to subdivide a section, with monuments established at equidistant points on a line instead of at intersections with perpendicular lines, as public-land surveys require. This reduced survey mileage and costs. Also, Indian allotment corners were set by the federal surveyor, rather than protracting the section subdivision on the plat and leaving monumentation to private surveyors hired by the land claimant. Only on exterior section boundaries are the allotment corners in the same position as their counterpart aliquot-part corners. Problems arise when modern resurveys ignore, or do not discover, existing three-mile method surveys, and sections are resubdivided by aliquot-part public land methods. The result is mislocated boundaries, which may place allotment land and resources outside the erroneous resurvey lines.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Federal government
Geomatic surveys
Indian reservations
Land use
Public land