The Trail Of Tears


The Trail Of Tears Essay, Research Paper

The Trail of Tears, was it unjust and inhumane? What

happened to the Cherokee during that long and treacherous

journey? They were brave and listened to the government,

but they recieved unproductive land and lost their tribal land.

The white settlers were already emigrating to the Union, or

America. The East coast was burdened with new settlers

and becoming vastly populated. President Andrew Jackson

and the government had to find a way to move people to the

West to make room. President Andrew Jackson passed the

Indian Removal Policy in the year 1830. The Indian

Removal Policy which called for the removal of Native

Americans from the Tennessee, North Carolina, South

Carolina, and Georgia area, also moved their capital Echota

in Tennessee to the new capital call New Echota, Georgia

and then eventually to the Indian Territory. The Indian

Territory was declared in the Act of Congress in 1830 with

the Indian Removal Policy. Elias Boudinot, Major Ridge,

and John Ridge and there corps accepted the responsibility

for the removal of one of the largest tribes in the Southeast

that were the earliest to adapt to European ways. There was

a war involving the Cherokee and the Chickasaw before the

Indian Removal Policy was passed. The Cherokee were

defeated by them which caused Chief Dragging Canoe to

sign a treaty in 1777 to split up their tribe and have the

portion of the tribe in Chattanooga, Tennessee called the

Chickamauga. Chief Doublehead of the Chickamauga, a

branch of the Cherokee, signed a treaty to give away their

lands. Tribal law says "Death to any Cherokee who

proposed to sell or exchange tribal land." Chief Doublehead

was later executed by Major Ridge. Again there was

another treaty signed in December 29, 1835 which is called

The Treaty of New Echota. It was signed by a party of 500

Cherokee out of about 17,000. Between 1785 and 1902

twenty-five treaties were signed with white men to give up

their tribal lands. The Cherokee would find themselves in a

nightmare for the next year. In 1838 General Winfield Scott

got tired of delaying this longer than the 2 years he waited

already so he took charge in collecting the Cherokee. The

Cherokee were taken from their homes and their belongings.

The were placed in holding camps so none would escape.

The Cherokee were to be moved in the fall of 1838. The

journey did not occur in October, 1838 because of bad

weather. They were now supposed to move 13,000

Cherokee in the spring of 1839 a distance of eight-hundred

miles. The Cherokee were fed on meager rations and

suffered malnutrition. They were badly clothed for the spring

and many caught diseases and died. Many Cherokee tried to

escape and some succeeded. The Cherokee knew these

woodlands and knew where to go. The white men couldn’t

find them without the help of other Cherokee and bribes.

Most of the Cherokee hid in the mountains and could not be

found. During the eight-hundred mile trek many children and

spouses were separated from their families when the

Government would split up the Cherokee into groups of

1,000 for ease of removal. About one-third of the original

Cherokee they collected died in the holding camps and

between the trek from the Southeast section of the Union to

Indian Territory. They would have to learn a new way of life

and adjust. They lost their negro slaves, and their

possessions. The Cherokee were farmers, and the land was

infertile. The land was meant for cattle raising, which they

didn’t know ho to do. They built a capital city called

Tahlequah, and their nation was declared in September 6,

1839. Their culture was bred here along their new way of

life. John Ross who was elected by the Cherokee as the

President of the Cherokee nation in 1827 continues his roll in

the land, shared with another seventy tribes. They had

opened up schools in the Indian Territory to continue their

education for their children. The first Cherokee school

opened in 1801 when the people were learning their

language. Their written language which consists of 85

characters, was said to be created by a Sequoia

(1760-1843) , a Cherokee leader. Sequoia translated the

Bible, wrote many books, and helped publish the

newspaper,"The Cherokee Phoenix." This was contradicted

in Dialogue-Everyman’s Encyclopedia Story #1989130. It

said the man who created the 85 character written language

was George Guess. The Cherokee Phoenix was published in

both languages-English and the Cherokees’. The Cherokee

had mixed blood from the early British settlers and traders.

Therefore, the Cherokee were educated in both languages.

For over half a century the Cherokee have abstained from

becoming American Citizens until 1906 when the Unites

States made all tribal members U.S. Citizens. A year later

the Indian Territory was admitted into the Union as the state

of Oklahoma. During this period many Cherokee started

breaking away and mixing their blood. In 1930 forty- five

thousand two hundred thirty-eight Cherokee left Oklahoma

and headed East from where they came. The Cherokee

started slowly changing their religion. There are many who

are Jewish, Episcopalian, and Hindu. The 10,000 Cherokee

that survived the Trail of Tears and the other Cherokee that

were not taken for the removal slowly gained back in

population in a century. The Tahlequah Agency in Oklahoma

has said there were 42,992 Cherokee living in Tahlequah in

1982. The U.S. Census has shown 293,074 Cherokee are

living in more than 30 states in the United States. Now the

Cherokee Nation is under control of the first woman chief.

In November 1983 Wilma Mankiller was elected to the

office of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee survived the

hardships of the Trail of Tears and the loss of their loved

ones and all that belonged to them. Their population

continues to grow inspite of the immense number of tribal

members that were lost during this era.

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