The Trail of Tears

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The Five Civilized Tribes and the “Trail of Tears”
The Indian Removal Act and the “Trail of Tears” was one of the worst tragedies in American history. It shows that the US government was forcing Native Americans to move from their homelands and endure great hardships of famine, cold and harsh weather, long treks on foot, and unfamiliar places with no regards to their safety, culture, history and wellbeing. Since the settling of North America by European colonists, relations between Native Americans and their increasing neighbors had been a bone of contention. While various groups were able to maintain peaceful relationships for a short time, the most general and often remembered state is one of hostility and disagreement. Both before and after its forming, the United States would encroach upon lands owned by Native Americans, ignoring treaties and guarantees made prior. In the more pleasant cases, settlers simply moved in and claimed land. In some less pleasant situations, whole tribes were killed or forced to move. The Native Americans had to leave their homelands, were forced on a dangerous, deadly journey, and shoved in a new land with which they were not comfortable.

One such removal was that of the Cherokee and other tribes in the southeastern portion of the United States. The removal was a direct result of the Removal Act signed by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The Act stated that “no state could achieve proper culture, civilization, and progress, as long as Indians remained within its boundaries.” It authorized the United States government to negotiate with the five civilized tribes for their move to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their homelands in the southeast. The Act then forced five Indian tribes, the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, (Muskogee)-Creek and Seminole tribes, to move to the Indian Territories, in Oklahoma. 1

The Cherokee’s removal is the one most famous and most often remembered. The...
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