The Trail Of Tears
The East coast of the United States was burdened with new
settlers and becoming over populated. President Andrew
Jackson and the government had to find a way to alleviate
this over crowdedness and move people to the West. The
government passed the Indian Removal Policy in the year
1830, which called for the removal of Native Americans from
the Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia
areas. It also moved the Seminole capital, Echota, in
Tennessee to the new capital called 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 their corps accepted the responsibility for
the removal of one of the largest tribes in the Southeast.
Even though they were the earliest to adapt to European
ways, they were still considered inferior to the white man.
There was a war involving the Cherokee and the Chickasaw
before the Indian Removal Policy was passed and the
Cherokee were defeated. Chief Dragging Canoe was forced to
sign a treaty in 1777 which split up the tribe. The portion
of the tribe in Chattanooga, Tennessee became known as the
Chief Doublehead became their chief. After a short period
of time, Chief Doublehead signed a treaty and gave away the
land of his people. Since tribal law says "Death to any
Cherokee who proposed to sell or exchange tribal land",
Chief Doublehead was later executed by Major Ridge.
Shortly thereafter, 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 and more and more tribal lands were
given away. In 1838 General Winfield Scott collected the
Cherokee Indians and took them from their homes. Along with
their personal belongings, The Cherokee were placed in
holding camps so none would escape. They were going 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 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 on the trek
from the Southeast section of the Union to Indian
Territory. After they reached their new homes, they had to
adjust to a new way of life. The Cherokee, who had been
farmers, could not use their agricultural skills as the
land of their new surroundings was infertile. The land was
meant for cattle raising, which they didn't know how to do.
They built a capital city called Tahlequah and declared
themselves a nation, in September 6, 1839.
Even though the Cherokees had to adapt to a new way of
living, they still tried to maintain their own culture.
John Ross was elected by the Cherokee as the President of
the Cherokee nation in 1827. Along with the other seventy
two tribes, they established their own schools so that
their children's education would continue. The first
Cherokee school opened in 1801 where their own language was
being taught. Their written language which consists of 85
characters, was said to be created by 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
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
refused to become American Citizens until 1906, when the
Unites States government declared 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 married outside of
their group. In 1930 forty- five thousand two hundred
thirty-eight Cherokee left Oklahoma and headed East from
where they came. Many gave up their culture and even
adopted other religions.
The U.S. Census has shown that 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 and their
population continues to grow.