Indian Removal


On May 26, 1830, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was passed by the Twenty-First Congress of the United states of

America. After four months of strong debate, Andrew Jackson signed the bill into law. Land greed was a big reason for

the federal government's position on Indian removal. This desire for Indian lands was also abetted by the Indian hating

mentallity that was peculiar to some American frontiersman.

This period of forcible removal first started with the Cherokee Indians in the state of Georgia. In 1802, the Georgia

legislature signed a compact giving the federal government all of her claims to western lands in exchange for the

government's pledge to extigiush all Indian titles to land within the state. But by the mid-1820's Georgians began to

doubt that the government would withhold its part of the bargain. The Cherokee Indian tribes had a substantial part of

land in Georgia that they had had for many generations though. They were worried about losing their land so they forced

the issue by adopting a written constitution. This document proclaimed that the Cherokee nation had complete

jurisdiction over its own territory.

But by now Indian removal had become entwined with the state of Georgia's rights and the Cherokee tribes had to make

their claims in court. When the Cherokee nation sought aid from newly elected president Andrew Jackson, he informed

them that he would not interfere with the lawful prerogatives of the state of Georgia. Jackson saw the solution of the

problem with the removal of the Cherokee tribes to lands west. This would keep contact between Indians and colonists

rare. He suggested that laws be past so that the Indians would have to move west of the Mississippi river.

Similar incidents happened between the other "civilized" tribes and white men. The Seminole tribe had land disputes with

the state of Florida. The Creek Indians fought many battles against the federal army so they could keep their land in the

states of Alabama and Georgia. The Chickisaw and Choctaw had disputes with the state of Mississippi. To ensure peace

the government forced these five tribes called the Five Civilized Tribes to move out of their lands that they had lived on

for generations and to move to land given to them in parts of Oklahoma. Andrew Jackson was quoted as saying that this

was a way of protecting them and allowing them time to adjust to the white culture. This land in Oklahome was thinly

settled and was thought to have little value. Within 10 years of the Indian Removal Act, more than 70,000 Indians had

moved across the Mississippi. Many Indians died on this journey.

"The Trails of Tears"

The term "Trails of Tears" was given to the period of ten years in which over 70,000 Indians had to give up their homes

and move to certain areas assigned to tribes in Oklahoma. The tribes were given a right to all of Oklahoma except the

Panhandle. The government promised this land to them "as long as grass shall grow and rivers run." Unfortunately, the

land that they were given only lasted till about 1906 and then they were forced to move to other reservations.

The Trails of Tears were several trails that the Five civilized Tribes traveled on their way to their new lands. Many

Indians died because of famine or disease. Sometimes a person would die because of the harsh living conditions.

The tribes had to walk all day long and get very little rest. All this was in order to free more land for white settlers.

The period of forcible removal started when Andrew Jackson became Presidentin 1829. At that time there was

reported to be sightings of gold in the Cherokee territory in Georgia which caused prospectors to rush in, tearing

down fences and destroying crops. In Mississippi, the state laws were extended over Choctaw and Chickisaw

lands, and in 1930 the Indians were made citizens which made it illegal to hold any tribal office. Also in Georgia,

the Cherokee tribes were forbade to hold any type of tribal legislature except to

ratify land cessions, and the citzens of Georgia were invited to rob and plunder the tribes in their are by making it illegal

for an Indian to bring suit against a white man.

When President Jackson began to negotiate with the Indians, he gave them a guarantee of perpetual autonomy in the

West as the strongest incentive to emigration.

The Five tribes gave all of their Eastern lands to the United States and agreed to migrate beyond