In the great case of Worcester v. Georgia,18 decided in 1S32, the question of the political status of the Indians again came before the Supreme Court for discussion and the doctrine then laid down has remained unquestioned to the present day. This case, like Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, grew out of the attempt of Georgia to exercise jurisdiction over Indian territories situated within the State's limits.

After an historical review of the dealings of England and her American colonies, and the dealings of the United States under the Constitution with the Indians, Marshall says: "The treaties and laws of the United States contemplate the Indian territory as completely separated from that of the States; and provide that all intercourse with them shall be .carried on exclusively by the government of the Union, Is this the rightful exercise of power, or is it usurpation? . . . The Indian nations had always been considered .as distinct, independent political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the soil from time immemorial, with the single exception of that imposed by irresistible power, which excluded them from intercourse with any other European potentate than the first discoverer of the coast of the particular region claimed; and this was a restriction which those European potentates imposed on themselves, as well as on the Indians. The very term ' nation ' so generally applied to them, means, ' a-people distinct from others.' The Constitution, by declaring treaties already made, as well as those to be made, to be the supreme law of the land, has adopted and sanctioned the previous treaties with the Indian Nations, and consequently admits their rank among those powers who are capable of making treaties. The words ' treaty ' and 'nation' are words of our own language, selected in our diplomatic and legislative proceedings, by ourselves, having each a definite and well understood meaning. We have applied them to Indians, as we have applied them to the other nations of the earth. They are applied to all in the same manner.

18 6 Pet. 515; 8 L. ed. 483.

"Georgia, herself, has furnished conclusive evidence that her former opinions on this subject concurred with those entertained by her sister States, and by the government of the United States. Various acts of her legislature have been cited in the argument, including the contract of cession made in the year 1802, all tending to prove her acquiescence in the universal conviction that the Indian nations possess a full right to the lands they occupied until that right should be extinguished by the United States, with their consent; that their territory was separated from that of any State within whose chartered limits they might reside, by a boundary line, established by treaties: that within their boundary, they possessed rights with which no State could interfere, and that the whole power of regulating the intercourse with them was vested in the United States. . . . The Cherokee Nation, then, is a distinct community, occupying its own territory, with boundaries accurately described, in which the laws of Georgia can have no force, and which the citizens of Georgia have no right to enter but with the assent of the Cherokees themselves or in conformity with treaties and with die acts of Congress. The whole intercourse between the United States and this nation is, by our Constitution and laws, vested in the government of the United States. The act of the State of Georgia under which the plaintiff in error was prosecuted is consequently void, and the judgment a nullity." 19

19 In the Drod Scott case, Taney describes the political status of the Indians as follows: "It is true," he says. " that they formed no part of the local communities and never amalgamated with them in social connections or in government. But although they were uncivilized, they wore jet a free and independent people, associated together in nations or tribes, and governed by divided authority." The doctrine in this case was affirmed by the court at the same term in the case of the New York Indians.21

The absolute power of the Federal Government over the tribal Indians, derived not only from the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but from the obvious necessities of the case, has carried with it, as we have seen in the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, and Worcester v. Georgia cases, an implied prohibition upon the State to exercise authority over them.

In the Kansas Indians,20 decided in 1867, the court, denying to a State the constitutional power to tax the property of Indians not incorporated into its citizen body, say: "If the tribal organization of the Shawnees [the Indians in question] is preserved intact, and recognized by the political department of the Government as existing they are a people distinct from the others, capable of making treaties, separated from the jurisdiction of Kansas, and to be governed exclusively by the Government of the Union. If under the control of Congress from necessity there can be no their own laws. Many of these political communities were situated in territory to which the white race claimed the ultimate right of dominion. But that claim was acknowledged to be subject to the right of the Indians to occupy it as long as they thought proper, and neither the English nor colonial governments claimed or exercised any dominion over the tribe or nation by whom it was occupied, nor claimed the right to the possession of the territory, until the tribe or nation consented to cede it. These Indian governments were regarded and treated as foreign governments, as much so as if an ocean had separated the red man from the white; and their freedom has constantly been acknowledged, from the time of the first emigration to the English colonies to the present day, by the different governments which succeeded each other. Treaties have been negotiated with them, and their alliance sought for in war; and the people who compose these Indian political communities have always been treated as foreigners not living under our government. It is true that the course of events has brought the Indian tribes within the limits of the United States under subjection to the white race; and it has been found necessary, for their sake as well as our own, to regard them as in a state of pupilage, and to legislate to a certain extent over them and the territory they occupy. But they may, without doubt, like the subjects of any other foreign government, be naturalized by the authority of Congress, and become citizens of a State, and of the United States; and if an individual should leave his nation or tribe, and take up his abode among the white population, he would be entitled to all the rights and privileges which would belong to an emigrant from any other foreign people."

205 Wall. 737; 18 L. ed. 667.

It has been held, however, that the state courts have jurisdiction over offenses committed by Indians off the reservation and within the State's territorial limits.22

Because of the peculiar quasi-independent status ascribed to the Indian tribes, and the exclusion of their individual members from the general citizen body of the United States, the political departments of the General Government in the control of them have not been held bound by the constitutional limitations which apply to the citizens of the United States.23