The Trail of Tears, Indian Removal Act of 1830

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Sarah Nawotny
11/24/2012
ENG 101-I

NATIVE AMERICANS: the trail of tears, the indian removal act of 1830, reservation opression

I have decided to dive into the depths of the American Indians and the reasoning behind all of the poverty and the oppression of the “white man.” In doing so I came across a couple of questions that I would like to answer. A). How did the Indian Removal Act of 1830 affect Native American culture, financial status, health, and B). Identity and how is life on the reservation oppressive for the Native Americans?

In the 1830’s, Native Americans still lived in their native lands for the most part, however, white men considered them to be a threat to their peace. So in 1838, the Federal government had what they called the “Five Civilized Tribes” removed. These tribes were the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. They were force to march, under cruel conditions, through the cold winter weather, up to 800 miles from their homelands to the “Indian Territory”, which happens to now be Oklahoma. During this move known as the “Trail of Tears,” over 4,000 Cherokees alone died, because of disease, exposure, and starvation, out of the 15,000 moved. U.S. government officials concluded that unspecified tracts of “Indian Territory” needed to be more sharply defined into resevations. Those opposing Westward expansion were rounded up and forcibly confined to the reservations. This was the cause of the Great Plains Wars of the 1860’s-1880’s (History and Culture: Indian Removal Act-1830).

The same year the Indian Removal Act was passed, gold was found on the Cherokee lands. There was no way of stopping the rush of Georgians, Carolinians, Virginians, and Alabamians looking for instant wealth. Georgia held lotteries to give Cherokee land and gold rights to the whites. The state had already declared all laws of the Cherokee Nation null and void. After June 1, 1830, the Cherokee had no rights or say in anything (the Trail of Tears).

In the 1860’s-1870’s ferocious fighting from both the whites and the natives were seen at battles such as the Fetterman Massacre, the Wagon Box Fight, the Sand Creek Massacre, Beecher’s Island, the Battle of the Rosebud, and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Late 1875 Sioux and Chyenne Indians left their reservations defiant and outraged over the continued intrusions of the whites into their sacred land in the Black Hills. They gathered together in Montana with the great warrior Sitting Bull to fight for their lands. They began to fight in the summer of 1876. This battle known as the Battle of Little Bighorn. However, within a year, the Sioux nation was defeated and broken (Plains Indian Wars).

To explain the poverty of the reservations, People usually turn to alcoholism, corruption not to mention the long distances to jobs and the dusty underdeveloped land that seems no good for growing much. These are just symptoms. It’s all about property rights, and American Indians don’t have that. The Native American population of the United States faces serious cultural and social dilemmas that threaten their society. Among all of these issues are their poverty problems, alienation and a high rate of alcoholism. Also they fear the loss of their culture identity due to interracial marriages and the enormous amount of young Native Americans who are leaving the territories of the Indian Nations and becoming fully integrated into American culture (USATODAY.com). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie says it best: “But I can’t blame my parents for our poverty because my mother and father are the twin suns around which I orbit and my world would EXPLODE without them. And it’s not like my mother and father were born into wealth. It’s not like they gambled away their family fortunes. My parents came from poor people who came from poor people who came from poor people who came from poor people, all the way back to the very first poor people (SA. Absolutely...
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