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Stories of the Trail of Tears


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Stories of the Trail of Tears

Cherokee Chief John Ross 

Cherokee Chief John Ross, Library of Congress

In the 1830s the United States government forcibly removed the southeastern Native Americans from their homelands and relocated them on lands in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). This tragic event is referred to as the Trail of Tears. Over 10,000 Native Americans died during removal or soon upon arrival in Indian Territory.

Since its inception, the United States government struggled with a problem: greedy citizens and politicians in the southeast were bent on acquiring the valuable lands occupied by the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, Seminole, and other Native American nations. After the Louisiana Purchase (an enormous acquisition of territory west of the Mississippi in 1803), President Jefferson presumed that the Native Americans could be persuaded to give up their homes in exchange for land further west.

Following Jefferson’s lead, President Andrew Jackson pushed for the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The act provided funds for the United States government to negotiate removal treaties with tribes. The federal government coerced tribal leaders to sign these treaties. Factions arose within the tribes, as many opposed giving up their land. Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross even traveled to Washington to negotiate alternatives to removal and pleaded for the government to redress the injustices of these treaties. The United States government listened, but did not deviate from its policy. https://www.nps.gov/fosm/learn/historyculture/storiestrailoftears.htm  :snip:

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