Espm 50 - the federal trust doctrine - tribal sovereignty and wardship. In all fairness to president bush, tribal sovereignty is a complicated issue. * for nearly two centuries, political and legal struggles have characterized the discourse on tribal sovereignty and wardship under the trust doctrine. In the johnson decision, chief justice of the supreme. Court john marshall implied that tribal sovereignty was inferior to that of the federal government, which had the right to original title and sale of land by virtue of the doctrine of discovery. However tribes were recognized as having impaired" sovereignty, by which they. Retained" certain rights most significantly the right to occupancy. " in cherokee nation, Marshall coined the term domestic dependant nations" to describe the relationship between the tribes and the federal government. Tribes were domestic in the sense that they existed within the sovereign territory of the united states.