In the early 1800s, the United States was growing rapidly, seeking land and resources for its expanding population. But the growth threatened Native American communities throughout the East. In the southern Appalachia region, the Cherokee Nation held millions of acres of prime farmland and forests, managed by a centuries-old tradition and a thriving government. But the state of Georgia, and a relentless President Andrew Jackson, set their sights on seizing the land.
When the Georgia statehouse declared political war, Cherokee advocates fought back. Newspaper publisher Elias Boudinot and Cherokee Chief John Ross took their challenge all the way to the Supreme Court, forcing Chief Justice John Marshall to weigh in on two monumental cases, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Worcester v. Georgia.
At stake was a decision that would test the limits of the high court’s power -- and determine the future and sovereignty of a threatened nation.
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