Indian Removal Act & Nunahi-duna-dlo-hilu-i
In the 1800's, the United States was a nation still learning how to efficiently run a government, and establish credibility as a force to be reckoned with. Expansion was the first priority in which they were determined to achieve. The greatest onslaught of discrimination towards a group of non-resisting people occurred in 1830, when President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act; Jackson passed this act in order to further expand the country into lands east of the Mississippi River. For a group of people willing to assimilate, there still was a severe expulsion from their native lands when there really didn’t have to be.
“In 1830 the United States Congress passed . . . a statute authorizing use of military force to compel the relocation of all indigenous peoples east of the Mississippi River to points west (Ward, 144.).” Jackson was ruthless when it came to the enlargement of his country, and would stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Although Jackson was set on his plan of action, the previous years' presidents had not had the same fundamental opinions upon the subject as he. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Cree, and Seminole Indians were all indigenous to southeastern territory in the States; these five tribes were recognized to be the “Five Civilized Tribes” due to their acceptance of acculturation that George Washington had proposed to them (Perdue, 51). Following George Washington's acceptance of the Indians, Jefferson agreed that it was only correct to allow the tribes to remain on their homelands; he also had a policy that they would be tolerated, and supported from the American government and be allowed to remain east of the Mississippi as long as they agreed to assimilate to Americanized culture. Jackson didn’t agree with that at all. Prior to Jackson, the main objective of the presidency was to guide the United States toward a mass agriculturally based lifestyle, and develop a nation that could be self sufficient and provide for itself (Jefferson). The Jackson-Era developed a new path for the nation, with one of its biggest stains being the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Jackson's folly as a President was his discrimination against the Indians and bias toward the land in which he was raised, the south. He greatly let these key concepts of his own personal life help guide his judgment and persistence while running the country. The southerners immensely wanted the Indian's lands to themselves; they sought the rich fertile ground in which they could farm and develop their agricultural businesses. However, the Indians would not budge from their native lands. In order to appease the south, Jackson pushed congress to pass the Indian Removal Act rigorously. “In engineering removal, Jackson not only disregarded a key section of the Indian Removal Act, but also misused the powers granted to him under the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1802. Furthermore, he failed to honor promises made in his name in order to win congressional support of the removal, and he broke a number of federal treaty commitments to Indians, including some that he had personally negotiated (Cave).” Jackson chose to ignore all of the promises made by his forefathers and predecessors to the Indians. Washington, Jefferson, and the other great impactors in history had reassured the Indians that as long as they were peaceful and willing to assimilate, they would not meet harsh repercussions or maltreatment. Also, he chose to dismiss the fact that there were treaties passed acknowledging the Indian's right to their land within the states, allowing them to remain due to the fact that they settled it previously and had established their own life upon said land. Although the act did not authorize a forced relocation and explicit treatment along the way, both occurred and with little attention paid by the government and United States citizens. Instead of trying to help the Indians and...
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2. Charles Hicks, Tsalagi (Cherokee) Vice Chief on the Trail of Tears, August 4, 1838.
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9. Ward Churchill, A Little Matter of Genocide (San Francisco, 1997), 144. 1 December 2012.
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