The Background: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
The case of the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia was filed by the Cherokee Nation—one of America’s most well-known Native American tribes. The Cherokee Nation was seeking a federal injunction against laws that were passed by the state of Georgia.
These laws were very hateful; they deprived the Cherokee Nation of receiving basic human rights within their own tribal boundaries. Although the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia case was filed, the United States Supreme Court did not evaluate the matter on its own merits. The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation did not maintain original jurisdiction in the legal matter. The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was a dependent nation with the United States.
The basis for the Cherokee Nation V. Georgia stems from a series of laws passed by the Georgia state legislature on December 20th of 1828. These laws basically stripped the entire Cherokee Nation of their rights.
The Trial: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
During June of 1830, a delegation of Cherokee Nation leaders selected former attorney general, William Wirt, to defend the right of their tribe before the United States Supreme Court. The Cherokee Nation in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia wanted the laws to be thrown away. The Cherokee Nation wanted these laws to be terminated because the tribe felt that the state of Georgia wanted to destroy the Native American tribe for political reasons.
In Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, Attorney General Wirt argued that the Cherokee Nation was a separate foreign nation according to the United States Constitution. According to this belief, Wirt felt that the Cherokee nation should not be subject to the state’s jurisdiction. Using this argument in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, Attorney General Wirt asked the Supreme Court to rule Georgia law null and void because the state violated the United States’ Constitution.
The United States Supreme Court refused to hear the suit. The court said that the Cherokee Nation did not possess original jurisdiction because the tribe was not a state. Despite their claim in Cherokee Nation V. Georgia, the United States Supreme Court labeled the Cherokee Nation tribe as a “denominated domestic dependent nation.”
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia: The Verdict
The United States Supreme Court in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia ruled that the tribe did not possess original jurisdiction. This stance was based on Article III of the United States Constitution which viewed Native American tribes as domestic dependent nations and not sovereign nations.