The Literary and Legal Genealogy of Native American Dispossession: The Marshall Trilogy Cases, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Literary and Legal Genealogy of Native American Dispossession

The Marshall Trilogy Cases, 1st Edition

By George D Pappas


242 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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The Literary and Legal Genealogy of Native American Dispossession offers a unique interpretation of how literary and public discourses influenced three U.S. Supreme Court Rulings written by Chief Justice John Marshall with respect to Native Americans. These cases, Johnson v. M’Intosh (1823), Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832), collectively known as the Marshall Trilogy, have formed the legal basis for the dispossession of indigenous populations throughout the Commonwealth. The Trilogy cases are usually approached as ‘pure’ legal judgments. This book maintains, however, that it was the literary and public discourses from the early sixteenth through to the early nineteenth centuries that established a discursive tradition which, in part, transformed the American Indians from owners to ‘mere occupants’ of their land. Exploring the literary genesis of Marshall’s judgments, George Pappas draws on the work of Michel Foucault, Edward Said and Homi Bhabha, to analyse how these formative U.S. Supreme Court rulings blurred the distinction between literature and law.

Table of Contents

Part I Theoretical Foundations & The Marshall Trilogy Cases Chapter 1. Theoretical Foundations Chapter 2. The Marshall Trilogy Cases: An Overview Chapter 3. Colonial Knowledge: A Unity of Discourses Part II Refining the Native American Chapter 4 Theory of Discourse in a Colonial Context: Edward Said and the American Eighteenth Century Literary Archive Chapter 5 The Discourse of the Vanishing Indian in Literature Chapter 6 Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans Chapter 7The Wilderness in American Art and Literature Part III Resistance to Colonial Discourse Chapter 8. Law and Literature Chapter 9. Cherokee Resistance: Mimicry as Deception

About the Author

Dr. George D. Pappas is currently a practising lawyer in North Carolina, USA.

About the Series

Indigenous Peoples and the Law

The colonial modalities which resulted in the pillaging of the ‘New World’ involved wholesale dispossession, genocidal violence and exploitation of their original inhabitants. It was not, however, until the latter part of the twentieth century that Indigenous peoples attained some degree of legal recognition. This book series focuses upon the manner in which Indigenous peoples’ experiences of law have been transformed from an oppressive system of denying rights to a site of contestation and the articulation of various forms of self-governance. Encouraging a range of theoretical, political and ethical perspectives on Indigenous peoples and the law, this book series aims to provide a comprehensive survey of the experience of Indigenous peoples and their changing relationship with national and international juridical frameworks.  

The series will include both monographs and edited collections pursuing variety a of perspectives – including, but not limited to, a concern with:

  • Law as a mechanism of power/knowledge: that is, the discursive and biopolitical strategies of Conquest, Settlement, and Empire – with a  particular interest in how the juridical was deployed to validate land appropriation in the ‘New World’ and European colonies. This might include consideration of the influence of the writings of Vattel, Blackstone, Sepulveda, Vittoria, las Casas and others in framing Indigenous populations and their lands as supposedly amenable to colonization.
  • The role of law in authorising oppression, dispossession and genocide in the colonial period, and how such juridical moments continue to shape relations between Indigenous peoples and the State. This might include consideration of: specific governmental policies and legislation that allowed for forced removal of Indigenous children; appropriation of Indigenous lands; the imposition of regimes of control through government reserves and missions; and/or the role of treaties in providing legal justification for the dispossession of Indigenous peoples.
  • Contemporary issues that confront Indigenous peoples in their dealings with law in the global present. This might include consideration of: disputes relating to resource extraction; access to justice and over-representation in the criminal justice system; cultural heritage and intellectual property claims; the recognition of Indigenous laws; land rights; the belated recognition of Indigenous rights in both ‘new’ constitutions and in international law; and/or sovereignty.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the series, please contact:

Mark Harris

The University of British Columbia

[email protected]


Colin Perrin


2 Park Square

Milton Park



OX14 4RN

[email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Native American
HISTORY / United States / 19th Century
HISTORY / Civilization
LAW / General
LAW / Jurisprudence
LAW / Discrimination
LAW / Indigenous Peoples
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Politics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Native American Studies