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The Cherokee Supreme Court


The Cherokee Supreme Court

1823–1835

by J. Matthew Martin

Forthcoming September 2020 paper

ISBN978-1-5310-1841-2
e-ISBN978-1-5310-1842-9

Tags: Indian and Indigenous Peoples Law, Legal History, Regional Interest


The first legal history of the first tribal court upends long-held misconceptions about the origins of Westernized tribal jurisprudence. This book demonstrates how the Cherokee people—prior to their removal on the Trail of Tears—used their judicial system as an external exemplar of American legal values, while simultaneously deploying it as a bulwark for tribal culture and tradition in the face of massive societal pressure and change.

Extensive case studies document the Cherokee Nation's exercise of both criminal and civil jurisdiction over American citizens, the roles of women and language in the Supreme Court, and how the courts were used to regulate the slave trade among the Cherokees. Although long-known for its historical value, the legal significance of the Cherokee Supreme Court has not been explored until now


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