In the centuries that followed the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean, Europeans and Europeans slowly but steadily took control of the land already inhabited by Native Americans. The lands of the Cherokee Indians in the 19th century were no exception. The United States used force and coercion through treaties to acquire land in the American Southeast, particularly in the state of Georgia. Eventually, the Cherokee, along with the other Native American tribes, were forced to move west in migrations known as the "Trail of Tears".
The Cherokees could have long resisted the American colonists. But two circumstances severely limited the ability to remain in place. In 1828, Andrew Jackson became President of the United States. In 1830, the same year the Indian Removal Act was passed, gold was found on Cherokee land. The wave of Georgians, Carolians, Virginians, and Alabamas looking for instant wealth was unstoppable. Georgia held lotteries to award gold and Cherokee land rights to white prospectors. The state had already overturned all laws in the Cherokee Nation after June 1, 1830, and also banned Cherokees from conducting tribal business, entering into contracts, testifying against American citizens in court, or panning for gold. Cherokee leaders successfully challenged Georgia in the United States Supreme Court, but President Jackson refused to enforce the court's decision.
The Jackson administration was hostile to Indian sovereignty. In 1830, the United States federal government passed the Indian Removal Act. This act gave the president authority to make treaties with the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, Seminole, and Chickasaw nations. His goal was to move all these companies from their land in the southeast to land west of the Mississippi. Americans and the United States could move to claim the land.
The Cherokee were the last to voluntarily move. Many Cherokee wanted to stay on their land and in council meetings they spoke openly about opposing the US government and the Americans. Other Cherokee found it pointless to fight any longer. Pressure mounted as other Native American societies moved west under the Indian Removal Act. In the early 1830s, a Cherokee man named Major Ridge decided that the American encroachment on Cherokee land was so severe that relocation was the only way to survive as a nation. He also spoke.
Major Ridge was a wealthy Cherokee chief who embraced white culture, owned slaves, and managed a plantation on Cherokee land in what is now Rome, Georgia. Major Ridge led the Cherokee in a military alliance with Andrew Jackson against the Creeks and the British during the War of 1812. Years later, he allied with Jackson again. Major Ridge believed that a new treaty would at least pay the Cherokee for their land before they forcibly lost it all. Major Ridge lived its Cherokee culture through its practices and language. He believed that culture would be preserved if they moved west and destroyed if they stayed. Major Ridge and his supporters organized themselves into a contracting party within the Cherokee community. He didn't speak English and his son John Ride translated for him. The father and son introduced a resolution to the Cherokee National Council in October 1832 to support a resettlement treaty. They were unsuccessful: he was defeated and no contract was made at the time.
The United States government presented a new treaty to the Cherokee National Council in 1835. President Jackson sent a letter outlining the terms of the treaty and asking for its approval. The letter said
My friends: I have long watched your condition with great interest. I have known your people for many years, in the most varied circumstances of peace and war. Now you are in the middle of a white population. Your particular customs which govern your dealings with one another have been suspended by the large political community in which you live; and is now subject to the same laws that apply to other citizens of Georgia and Alabama.
I have no reason, my friends, to deceive you. I sincerely strive to promote your well-being. So listen as I say you can't stay where you are. Circumstances beyond your control and beyond the reach of human law make it impossible for you to thrive in a civilized community. You only have one cure at your fingertips. And that means heading west and joining their countrymen already established there. And the sooner you do that, the sooner you'll start your career of improvement and prosperity. [Allegheny Democrat, March 16, 1835; quoted in Ehle,trail of tears, 275-278.]
John Ross, the Cherokee chief, persuaded the council not to pass the treaty. He continued to negotiate with the federal government, trying to find a better deal for the Cherokee Indians. Each side, the Major Ridge contracting party and Ross supporters, accused the other of working for his personal financial gain. However, Ross clearly won the ardent support of most of the Cherokee nation, and Cherokee resistance to removal continued.
In December 1835, the US reintroduced the treaty to a meeting of 300 to 500 Cherokee at New Echota, Georgia. Major Ridge turned to the Cherokee to explain why he supported the Treaty of New Echota:
I know that the Indians have a title older than her. We received the earth from the living God above. They received the title from the British. But they are strong and we are weak. We are few, they are many. We cannot stay here safely and comfortably. I know we love our fathers' graves. We can never forget these houses, but an indomitable need for iron tells us we must leave them. I would gladly die to save them, but any violent effort to save them will cost our land, our lives, and the lives of our children. There is only one way to safety, one way to future existence as a nation. This path is open to you. enter into a transfer agreement. Leave these lands and go beyond the great father of waters. [Thurman Wilkins,Cherokee Tragedy: The Story of the Ridge Family and the Destruction of a Town(New York: Macmillan, 1970), 276-77; quoted in Ehle,trail of tears, 294.]
The United States Senate passed the controversial Treaty of New Echota on December 29, 1835. It passed with a single vote. Twenty Cherokee men, none of whom were elected tribal officials, signed the treaty. He gave the US all of Cherokee territory east of the Mississippi River in exchange for $5 million and new land in Indian Territory.
The Treaty of New Echota was widely protested by Cherokee and whites alike. Trial participants who opposed the resettlement viewed Major Ridge and the other signatories to the settlement as traitors. The Ridge family voluntarily moved west along with other supporters in 1837. In 1839, Major Ridge, his son, and his nephew were killed in Indian territory. Major Ridge feared this would happen and it is believed they were killed for supporting the treaty. While John Ross worked to negotiate a better treaty, the Cherokee tried to maintain a normal life, even as white settlers divided up their land and drove them from their homes.
In the spring of 1838, Federal troops forced thousands of Cherokee to gather in camps and organize for travel. The Cherokee groups were escorted west by soldiers on rails, boats and wagons. Christian missionaries and American doctors accompanied some of the groups to provide assistance, but conditions on the march were harsh. Many were. Food, medicine, clothing and even coffins for the dead were scarce. Water was scarce and often polluted. The disease devastated the camps. The following year, groups of Cherokee traveled west, the last reaching their destination in March 1839.
Nobody knows exactly how many died during the journey. A roadside doctor estimated that nearly a fifth of the Cherokee population had died. The journey was especially difficult for babies, children and the elderly. The United States government never paid the $5 million promised to the Cherokee in the Treaty of New Echota. The Cherokee coined the term "Trail of Tears" at this time, but other indigenous societies have used it to describe their own forced resettlement marches.
Today, Americans recognize and are rediscovering that history through public and private organizations, including the National Park Service. The Park Service manages the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which documents historic sites such as Major Ridge House in Rome, Georgiga. The Major Ridge House is a private museum where people can learn about this important American history and heritage. Descendants of the historic Cherokee Nation belong to contemporary tribes, including three federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma and North Carolina.
What was the main reason for the Cherokee removal in the 1830s? ›
The removal of the Cherokees was a product of the demand for arable land during the rampant growth of cotton agriculture in the Southeast, the discovery of gold on Cherokee land, and the racial prejudice that many white southerners harbored toward American Indians.What happened to the Cherokees in the late 1830s? ›
During the fall and winter of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokees were forcibly moved west by the United States government. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died on this forced march, which became known as the "Trail of Tears."How did the Cherokee Nation attempt to resist the Indian Removal Act of 1830? ›
As a rebuttal to the illegal signing of the Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokee Nation created an official protest petition in 1836. It was signed by Principal Chief John Ross, Cherokee Nation council members, and 2,174 citizens of the Cherokee Nation.How did the Cherokee tribe resist being moved? ›
From 1817 to 1827, the Cherokees effectively resisted ceding their full territory by creating a new form of tribal government based on the United States government. Rather than being governed by a traditional tribal council, the Cherokees wrote a constitution and created a two-house legislature.What was the purpose of the Indian Removal Act 1830 which moved thousands of Cherokees to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi? ›
Signed into law in 1830 by President Andrew Jackson, the Indian Removal Act provided for the general resettlement of Native Americans from east of the Mississippi River to lands west (Indian Territory).Which statement best describes the Indian Removal Act of 1830? ›
Which of the following best describes the Indian Removal Act of 1830? it gave the federal government the power to remove Indians to designated territory west of the Mississippi river.What was the main purpose of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 quizlet? ›
The Indian Removal Act was a federal law that President Andrew Jackson promoted. Congress passed the law in 1830. Because Congress wanted to make more land in the Southeast available to white settlers, the law required Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River to move west of it.How did Native Americans respond to the Indian Removal Act of 1830 quizlet? ›
What did the Cherokee Nation do in response to the Indian Removal Act? While most Native Americans felt compelled to take the money and move west, the Cherokee refused. The state of Georgia refused to accept the Cherokee as a separate nation.How did the Cherokee respond to the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and what was the view of the Supreme Court? ›
The leaders of this group were not the recognized leaders of the Cherokee nation, and over 15,000 Cherokees -- led by Chief John Ross -- signed a petition in protest. The Supreme Court ignored their demands and ratified the treaty in 1836.Why didn t the Cherokee want to move? ›
Many Cherokee wanted to stay on their land and spoke openly at their Council meetings about resisting the U.S. government and the Americans. Other Cherokee felt that it was futile to fight any longer. Pressure grew as other American Indian societies moved west under the Indian Removal Act.
Who kicked the Cherokee out of their land? ›
President Martin Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott and 7,000 soldiers to expedite the removal process. Scott and his troops forced the Cherokee into stockades at bayonet point while his men looted their homes and belongings. Then, they marched the Indians more than 1,200 miles to Indian Territory.What helped the Cherokee fight removal? ›
Answer and Explanation: The Supreme Court of the United States helped the Cherokee to fight removal in 1838. The Cherokee decided that the best way to remain on their ancestral land in modern-day Georgia was to set up a legal rather than physical fight.What happened to the Cherokee and other native tribes during the 1830s quizlet? ›
What happened to the Cherokee and other native tribes during the 1830s? They were forced to leave their lands and move west—many to Oklahoma.Why did Congress pass the Indian Removal Act in 1830? ›
Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 because southern states wanted the land that the Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Wyandot, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and others had settled on.What was found in the Cherokee lands in 1830? ›
In 1828 Andrew Jackson became president of the United States. In 1830--the same year the Indian Removal Act was passed--gold was found on Cherokee lands.What was the main argument the Cherokees made against removal? ›
John Ross, the principal chief of the Cherokees, led the tribal government and majority of Cherokees opposed to removal. The “Ross Party” argued that the Cherokees should defend their legal rights as a sovereign nation under treaties going back to George Washington.How did the Cherokee react to the Indian Removal Act quizlet? ›
The Indian Removal Act was an act passed by Congress that forcefully removed and relocated all Native Americans East of the Mississippi River. How did the Cherokee react to the Indian Removal Act? The Cherokee Nation did not want to be relocated so they took their case to the Supreme Court.Who was responsible for the forced removal of the Cherokees Why? ›
President Martin Van Buren assigned General Winfield Scott to head the forcible removal of Cherokee citizens. General Scott arrived in Athens, Tennessee, and issued his first orders from there on May 10, 1838, to an army of about 2,200 federal soldiers. They began forcing Cherokee from their homes at bayonet i point.What was the main result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830? ›
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy.What was one effect of the Indian Removal Act of 1830? ›
Intrusions of land-hungry settlers, treaties with the U.S., and the Indian Removal Act (1830) resulted in the forced removal and migration of many eastern Indian nations to lands west of the Mississippi.
What happened to the Cherokee and other native tribes during the 1830s? ›
The Trail of Tears was the forced relocation during the 1830s of Indigenous peoples of the Southeast region of the United States (including the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole, among others) to the so-called Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.What did the Indian Removal Act of 1830 allow in one sentence quizlet? ›
What was the Indian Removal Act of 1830? It gave the president the power to negotiate removal treaties with Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi River. Under these treaties, the Indians were to give up their land east of the Mississippi in exchange for lands to be west.What was the impact of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 quizlet? ›
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the cause of many conflicts and compromises. The act caused tension between white settlers and native americans, sometimes resulting in war such as the 2nd Seminole war. Other major conflicts caused were the forced Cherokee Removal which became known as the Trail of Tears.What are some facts about the Indian Removal Act of 1830? ›
Between 1830 and 1850, the U.S. government used treaties, gun- and bayonet-toting soldiers, and private contractors to remove about 100,000 Native Americans from their eastern homelands to territories west of the Mississippi River.What did the Indian Removal Act of 1830 call for the relocation of quizlet? ›
U.S. federal government act that called for the mandatory relocation of all Native American tribes living in the eastern U.S. onto reserved lands west of the Mississippi River.How did the Cherokee people resist removal to Indian Territory quizlet? ›
What steps did the cherokee take to try to resist removal and what was the result? they tried to adopt white culture until gold was found on their land till the Georgia militia started attacking so they decided to sue the state and won yet the state ignore the law and moved them anyways.How is rebuilding the Cherokee Nation a way to show resistance to removal? ›
Today the Cherokee Nation provides support for its citizens through education, economic development, and governance. The Cherokee continue to find opportunities to celebrate and sustain important cultural values and practices. evidence for each action, that best demonstrate Cherokee resistance to removal.How did the Cherokee Nation argue against US Indian removal policies? ›
The Cherokee Nation argued that U.S. Indian removal policies were illegal because they violated previous treaties and were not made with the official consent of the Cherokee Nation. In addition, the policies violated American ideals, such as respect for other people's rights.Did the Indian Removal Act lead to the Trail of Tears? ›
The Indian Removal Act of 1830, the impetus for the Trail of Tears, targeted particularly the Five Civilized Tribes in the Southeast. As authorized by the Indian Removal Act, the Federal Government negotiated treaties aimed at clearing Indian-occupied land for white settlers.What was the main cause of the Cherokee War of 1839? ›
It resulted from the Córdova Rebellion and Texas President Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar's determination to remove the Cherokee people from Texas. Many Cherokee had migrated there from the American Southeast to avoid being forced to Indian Territory.
When were the Cherokee removed from their land? ›
Despite many efforts to defeat the New Echota Treaty, measures to remove Cherokees from their homes and farms got underway in 1838.Who forced the Cherokee out of their land? ›
President Martin Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott and 7,000 soldiers to expedite the removal process. Scott and his troops forced the Cherokee into stockades at bayonet point while his men looted their homes and belongings. Then, they marched the Indians more than 1,200 miles to Indian Territory.What president ordered the Cherokee Removal? ›
The first major step to relocate American Indians came when Congress passed, and President Andrew Jackson signed, the Indian Removal Act of May 28, 1830.What is the Cherokee word for dog? ›
🐶 The Cherokee word for Dog is gi-tli.
Many Cherokee wanted to stay on their land and spoke openly at their Council meetings about resisting the U.S. government and the Americans. Other Cherokee felt that it was futile to fight any longer. Pressure grew as other American Indian societies moved west under the Indian Removal Act.Did the Indian Removal Act violate the Constitution? ›
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was unconstitutional for several reasons. The Act did not permit Jackson to remove natives from their lands without a treaty. Jackson removed them forcibly with the military in what became known as the Trail of Tears.What was one of the main issues facing the Cherokee after the Civil War? ›
After the Civil War, Cherokees were destitute, and their nation's economy had been shattered. Fearing reprisal from their neighbors who had fought on the other side in the war, many members of the tribe were afraid to return home.What forced migration of the Cherokee in 1838? ›
The Trail of Tears. In 1838 and 1839, as part of Andrew Jackson's Indian removal policy, the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee people called this journey the "Trail of Tears," because of its devastating effects.