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American Indian Removal: The Trail of Tears

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Carly Travis

on 27 March 2014

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Transcript of American Indian Removal: The Trail of Tears

American Indian Removal: The Trail of Tears
Solidifying Cherokee Removal
On June 30, 1830, gold was discovered in present-day Lumpkin county, deep into Cherokee Indian land.
Cherokees soon became the major target for removal.
Georgians enacted a series of laws designed to make life miserable and compel them to leave on their own.
The Cherokee Indians
Cherokee Nation located in Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky.
Perhaps one of the most "civilized" Southeast tribes.
Unlike others, the Cherokees took legal and politcal action to save their lands.
Leaders attempted to keep the Cherokee nation unified, independent, and alive in the US by adopting an American governmental structure, forming a written language, owning slaves, etc.
Key leaders include John Ridge, Major Ridge, and John Ross.
Andrew Jackson's Agenda
Andrew Jackson acquired the presidency in 1829.
In his first message to congress he told the Southeast Indians either to move West and continue their tribal ways or to assimilate into the state.
In 1830 the Indian Removal Act was passed, which was meant to a promote peaceful, voluntary move of Indians to the West.
The government instead coerced and forced Native Americans out of their territories.
The Chocktaws of Mississippi were the first to cede their lands under the pressure of an army invasion in 1831.
One Chocktaw told an Alabama newspaper it was a “trail of tears and death.”
The Creeks followed in 1836, with 3,500 of the 15,000 Creeks not surviving the trip.
"John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"
Unlike their ancestors, the Cherokees of the Jacksonian Era used legal action to try to save themselves.
In 1828 John Ross, the mixed-blood Principle Chief of the Cherokee, brought the state of Georgia's injustices against his people to the Supreme Court in
The Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.
However, the Supreme Court ruled they had no authorization to hear the case.
In the 1830 case of
Worcester v. Georgia,
Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in favor of the Cherokee.
President Jackson refused to support it, stating
"John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"
The Treaty of New Echota
On December 29, 1835, a few Cherokees, realizing that even a Supreme Court decison would not help their situation, began to formulate an agreement named the Treaty of New Echota.
This group of people, who were not legal tribal officials, became known as the "Treaty Party" and lacked popular support from their people.
The party's leaders, including John Ridge, Major Ridge, and Elias Boudinot, signed the treaty, exchanging Cherokee land in the East for five million dollars and tract of land in the West in present-day Oklahoma.
The Southeastern Indian Experience
Jeffersonian Removal
Through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Jefferson inadvertently created lands to relocate Eastern tribes.
The Louisiana Territorial Act allowed Jefferson to exchange lands in the West for Indian land in the East.
Several exchanges occured for land in the south, but many Native Americans felt attachment towards their homeland, and would not leave. Not until 1829 were Indians forcibly removed.
Since the advent of North American colonization, the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws experienced trouble holding onto their fertile southern lands.
Following the American Revolution, the US government turned to civilization programs and the utilization of discord between tribes as a means to acquire more Indian land.
Tribes began adopting Anglo-American politcal institutions to avoid their tactics, they became known as the "Five Civilized Tribes."
Many whites believed "civilization" only futher corrupted them, and soon Indian removal seemed to be the better option.
Nunna dual Tsunyi, "the trail where we cried"
Final Retaliation
Most Indians were angered by the Treaty of New Echota because it lacked signatures from the Cherokee National Council and Principle Chief John Ross.
John Ross is quoted as saying,
"We are not aware that the Senate could make valid that which was void."
It could not be changed, and Jackson gave Cherokee two years to leave; May 23, 1838.
In 1838, a petition signed by 16,000 Cherokee against the forced removal was "laid on the table" by the Senate.
John Ross encouraged the Cherokee to continue life as normal, and went to Washington to convice newly elected president Martin Van Buren to allow the Cherokee to remain for two more years.
He consented, but later changed his mind, telling General Winfield Scott,
"Get the Indians out of Georgia Sir!"
In Foreign Land
Was It Worth It?
From the white perspective, removal was successful.
"Preserved" tribal culture.
Opened Indian land for settlement.
Temporarily Avoided conflict between whites and Indians.
From the Indian perspective, removal
Killed thousands while many others gained mental illness.
Created vast cultural transformation.
Was pushed against the will of the Indians.
Stripped the Indian's ability to determine their own future.

The economic gain of the white people of the mid 1800s was in no way worth the loss of thousands of human lives.
"Perhaps the greatest tragedy of removal is that white Americans used their power over the Indians to inflict death and great suffering, after which they congratulated themselves on their humanitarianism" (Weeks 83).
In the summer of 1838, General Scott and his men, armed with guns, rounded up the Cherokee people from their homes and forced them into cattle pins.
John Ross begged the general to wait until winter, because the old and feeble could not survive the sweltering heat.
Around 2,745 left on three different trips during the summer, and around 900 died.
On October 1, 1838 the 800-mile official march had officially begun.
There were 13 separate units of around 1,000 each, 645 wagons, and 5,000 horses.
Illness set in immediately, with the group burying around 12 dead at every stop.
Cold weather and harsh rains made the journey miserable.
Altogether, about
4,000 of the 16,000 Cherokees died.
http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/History/TrailofTears/ABriefHistoryoftheTrailofTears.aspx" A Brief History of the Trail of Tears." A Brief History of the Trail of Tears. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
http:///blog.teachingamericanhistory.org/files/2013/09 Frank_bond_1912_louisiana_and_the_louisiana_purchase.jpg
"The Trail of Tears — The Indian Removals." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
Weeks, Philip. "They Made Us Many Promises": The American Indian Experience, 1524 to the Present. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2002. Print.
Ehle, John. Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Print.
Remini, Robert V. The Jacksonian Era. Arlington Heights, IL: H. Davidson, 1989. Print.
Fremon, David K. The Trail of Tears. New York: New Discovery, 1994. Print.
"Trail of Tears." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
"CHEROKEE." CHEROKEE. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

Once arrived in Oklahoma, intertribal warfare between the native Osages and the Cherokee raged.
Disputes also arose between the Southeastern Indians themselves.
Civil war erupted among the Cherokee between Ridge supporters and Ross supporters, resulting in the murder of John Ridge, Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot, and other signers of the Treaty of New Echota.
Separation of the tribe between the traditionalists and conservatives insued.
Today, the Cherokee Nation is the largest of three federally recognized tribes, and helps in various community projects in addition to being a very positive politcal and economic influence in Oklahoma.
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