The Marshall Trilogy and its Implications on Indian Nations

1 January 2018

It is this shortsighted revelation hat would prevail throughout western societal perception and cement the subservient role of the Native peoples. The progression of this rhetoric developed within the United States Supreme Court, namely through the opinions of Chief Justice John Marshall. There are three cases, commonly referred to as the Marshall Trilogy that would set forth the framework for federal Indian law, of which would be used to further diminish and scatter the sovereignty of the native peoples. The first of these cases was a property dispute between Thomas Johnson and William McIntosh.The quarrel regarded who possessed proper legal title to land which both men claimed to be theirs. The case was brought before the Supreme Court in 1823 to be settled.

Mr.. Johnson had purchased the land from the Epiphanies Indians while Mr.. McIntosh had been granted patent by the United States government. The plaintiffs case was made through the accounting of 200 years of land transactions beginning with the English crown in 1 609 and ending with the holding of the land by that of the Epiphanies Indians and sale to the plaintiff.The defendant’s case was presented much ore plainly, beginning with the American Revolution were the dependence on the English Crown ceased, therefore any claims held and recognized by Europe were now invalid, making Macintosh’s claim the only valid title to the land.

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Addition claim was made aligning with the public opinion of the day, that Indians were viewed as less than civilized peoples, as such had no legal claim to the ownership of property, subsequently making any land transactions with Indian nations without credibility or legal backing.Chief Justice Marshall ruled for the defendants claim, stating that the grant o lands made forth by Indian could not be recognized in the Courts of the United States, citing that the power of the state (federal government) be the only reason necessary for this decision. (Derrick. ) Tribal nations as a result of this decision had no right Of ownership to their land; they merely had rights to occupancy upon those lands only due to inherent sovereignty which predated the United States.The decision further prescribed a doctrine of discovery would define predisposition for title over lands, which Indian nations could not be provided. Systematically crippling all Indian Nations to a sections of subservience to its “discovering” nation, only granted the rights and powers in which sought fit. The second of these cases directly involved the Cherokee Nation against the State of Georgia.

The Cherokee Nation sought review with the Supreme Court to impose an injunction on the State of Georgia prohibiting implementation of certain laws of that state on the Cherokee Nation reservation, citing their own sovereignty as an independent nation not subject to these laws. The injunction was denied and went on to say that the Cherokee nation was not a reign nation, but they were a domestic dependent nation therefore had no cause to file suit against the state government. This result would further outline tribal sovereignty as not that of a state or a foreign nation and subject to the sovereignty of the United States federal government.Thus giving the CSS government the explicit rights to displace tribes from their occupied lands in exchange for a trust relationship assuring basic protection and supplies to tribes upon whatever lands they end up on. “Inherent in the concept of a “trust” relationship is the implication that the tribes are incompetent to Andre their own affairs. This presumption has served as the justification for many actions by the federal government that have intruded on and diminished tribal sovereignty. ” (Prognosis.

The final case within the Marshall Trilogy was the case of Worcester v. Georgia, which was brought forth in 1832. This cases involvement centered on a private individual, Samuel Worcester, whom was preaching on Cherokee land, which was illegal according to Georgia law without possessing a license to do so. The state arrested Worcester who filed suit that the states laws had o authority within Cherokee lands. The Supreme Court agreed, citing that the Cherokee Nation was a distinct community, occupying its own territory, within which the states laws had no force.Although the result in this case can be argued that tribal sovereignty had been reinforced against the states govern meets, it only furthered the powers of the federal government as the guiding hand. Looking back through history it becomes clear that certain injustices have been perpetrated against native peoples at the hands of the united States.

Similar to the conquering forces of Rome and Great Britain, eastward expansion was the ideological call that justified the displacement and continued subhuman treatment of native peoples throughout North America.It is clear that upon review of these three decisions an altering view of native people is formulating, from one of complete subservience to one of quasi sovereignty but only under final approval of the federal government. It is this ward to the guardian relationship that has continued to define Indian relations into the modern day, and it is this great disservice that the United States government has left upon the people of every Tribal Nation. A Nation of people explicitly removed from the very meaning of the word used to describe them.The reality faced by Indian Nations is a far cry from the coexistence of colonists and natives that is portrayed when recounting the story of the first thanksgiving. In truth, the native Indians had never been forded the rights of an independent group or society, they were dictated to and diminished for the sake of greed. Perhaps the entirety of American history might be much different if the decisions in these three cases had gone differently, but one can never know.

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