In despite of the undoubted national right which the Indians have to the land of their forefathers, and in the face of solemn treaties, pledging the faith of the nation for their secure possession of those lands, it is intended, we are told, to force them from their native soil, to compel them to seek new homes in a distant and dreary wilderness. To you, then, as the constitutional protectors of the Indians within our territory, and as the peculiar guardians of our national character, and our counter’s welfare, we solemnly and honestly appeal, to save this remnant of a much injured people from annihilation, to shield our country from the curses denounced on the cruel and ungrateful, and to shelter the American character from lasting dishonor.
Five assimilated tribes, the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminoles, known as the “Five Civilized Tribes” negotiated approximately thirty treaties with the United States between 1789 and 1825.
Monroe was pressured by the state of Georgia to make his statement because gold had been discovered on Cherokee land in Northwest Georgia and the state of Georgia wanted to claim it. The Cherokee’s resisted and sought to maintain their land. They had adopted a formal constitution, declared an independent Cherokee nation, and elected John Ross as their Chief in 1828. As expected, the Georgia legislature annulled the Cherokee constitution and ordered seizure of their lands. The Cherokees again resisted and took their claim of sovereignty to the United States Supreme Court. In their second case, Worcester v. Georgia, (1832) Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Cherokee Nation was entitled to federal protection over those of the state laws of Georgia. The Court ruled “the Indian nation was a “distinct community in which the laws of Georgia can have no force” and into which Georgians could not enter without the permission of the Cherokees themselves or in conformity with treaties.
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