These discussion questions challenge students to talk aloud with other members of the class to broaden their ideas, challenge arguments, formulate positions on issues, hypothesize the influence of the past on current issues, and differentiate between fact and interpretation.

  1. Why did John Ross identify himself as Cherokee?
  2. How did the concept of land ownership differ on Cherokee land from white settlers’ lands?
  3. Why do you think Major Ridge sent “optimistic” reports to U.S. government agents? What were his motives?
  4. New Englanders were willing to educate Native Americans and quick to condemn the South for Slavery. Why, then, were they so upset by the marriage between John Ridge and Sarah Bird Northrup, while John Ross was able to marry a Cherokee woman without causing controversy?
  5. From 1830 to 1838, John Ross made repeated trips to Washington, D.C. to try to forestall Indian removal. He met many times with members of Congress and even with President Jackson, with whom he had served in the Creek War. Why was this task so difficult?
  6. What actions taken by the Georgia legislature following the Indian Removal Bill caused dissension and division among the Cherokee?
  7. Were there alternatives to the removal policy?
  8. Why was it more difficult for Native Americans to move from their traditional homelands than for many other Americans who regularly moved west looking for opportunity? Did the Cherokees have any particular or special ties with their homelands that discouraged their removal? What were these ties?
  9. Why didn’t the Cherokee people leave when they were told they had to?
  10. The conflict between Chief Justice Marshall and Andrew Jackson over Worcester v Georgia and its enforcement illustrates one of the unique characteristics (separation of powers) about the structure of the federal government in the U.S. What is that characteristic and how does this court case exemplify it?
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