Indian Removal was designed to push Native Americans off their tribal lands. Indian Removal catered to the demands of white settlers who wanted to take over desirable tribal lands such as the fertile farmlands controlled by Native American nations in the American southeast. And while the act was theoretically voluntary, many Native Americans were coerced, forced, and manipulated into giving up their land.
The primary target of the Indian Removal Act were the so-called “five civilized tribes,” the Cherokee, Muscogee, Choctaw, Seminole, and Chicasaw, who controlled huge swaths of land in areas like Florida and Georgia. These tribes had tried a variety of tactics to hold on to their land, including assimilating and adopting European habits, which is why they were known as “civilized.”
Some tribes did voluntary give up their lands under the Indian Removal Act, only to find that when they relocated to the west, the land they received in exchange was of poor quality, and was not comparable to the rich, fertile land they had been living on for centuries. Other tribes were subjected to coercion and manipulation by government officials who forced them to give up their land. Tens of thousands of Native Americans, most notably members of the Cherokee Nation, were forcibly removed and marched to regions like Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, and many died along the way.
Under the Indian...