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The United States And The Cherokee Indians

2401 words - 10 pages

The United States and the Cherokee Indians
The debate over the legality of sovereignty and acquired lands from the native Americans, specifically the Cherokee, has long been debated. The issues involved have included treaties, land sold, and the right of the Government to physically enforce their rules on Indian land "sovereignty". This paper will examine the strategy used by the Federal Governments, the State Governments as well as those of the Cherokee Indians. The three-way relationship as well as the issues will examine how the interpretation of the Constitution changed society prior to the year of 1840.
The Cherokee Nation was the largest of Five Civilized Tribes of the southeast. They are a people of Iroquois descent. The Cherokee who were known as "Ani'-Yun'wiya" or "principal people" migrated to the southeast from the Great Lakes region. They held more than 40,000 square miles of land in the south by 1650 with a population estimated at well over 30,000. Similar to other Native Americans of the southeast, their nation was a confederacy of towns each under the rule of a supreme chief. In short, the Cherokee culture and society thrived and prospered in the Americas prior to contact with the Europeans. No society has ever made a more dramatic cultural shift then that of the Cherokee. This, a culture that had suffered pronounced side effects of Europe even prior to the introduction to European man. With the introduction of man onto the Americas also came something unknown to them, disease. Unable to counter these viruses many of the Cherokee were wiped out. Reports state that between 40 and 50% of their culture died from diseases such as: smallpox, typhus, and measles. With the sudden lose of population, there is no doubt that this population also lost leadership and knowledge through these deaths. Once the obstacle of disease had been passed came the addition of a new opponent: the European man.
In 1783 after a long fought American Revolution the Americans and the British signed the Peace of Paris to officially end the war. The United States approach to dealing with the problems of the Cherokee rested on the theories formulated in Europe. According to international law, England had owned the American colonies by "right of discovery" which also gave right to the claiming of land currently occupied by non-Christian and "uncivilized" peoples, by the "right of conquest" . What this would convey is that the British government would accept and recognize colonists and Indians the right to own and use lands, govern amongst themselves and develop their own economies but authority was always given to the sovereign authority of England. So when the British government had lost the Revolutionary war, by "right of conquest" the United States won all of England's authority, which included rule over all of the people and land in the Americas. By this reasoning, this rule extended to the...

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