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    The Trail of Tears, A Series of Native American Forced Relocations

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    The Trail of Tears, forced the Cherokee in 1838 and 1839 from their southeastern homeland to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. About 4000 died from starvation, disease, and exposure while on the journey westward or in stockades awaiting removal. The Trail of Tears refers to the route followed by fifteen thousand Cherokee during their 1838 removal and forced to march from Georgia to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

    In 1791, an U.S. treaty had recognized Cherokee territory in Georgia as independent and the Cherokee people had created a thriving republic with a written constitution. For decades, the state of Georgia sought to enforce its authority over the Cherokee Nation, but its efforts had little effect until the election of President Andrew Jackson, a longtime supporter of Indian removal. Although the Supreme Court declared Congress s 1830 Indian removal bill unconstitutional in Worcester vs.. Georgia.

    The idea of moving Native Americans to a different part of the country was not new. After the Lousiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson had suggested that tracts of land in this vast new territory could be given to native peoples if they agreed to cede their lands in the eastern part of the country. Transfers occurred in a piecemeal way, but no consistent removal program developed until after the War of 1812.

    A policy began to take shape in 1824. At this time, Secretary of War John Caldwell Calhoun created an administrative office within the Department of War called the Bureau of Indian Affairs, more frequently referred to as the Office of Indian Affairs. Calhoun appointed an experienced administrator, Thomas L. McKenney, to supervise the work of the new agency.

    McKenney is usually considered the first commissioner of Indian affairs, although this positon was not formalized by Congress until 1832. His primary responsibilities were to oversee existing treaty relations and to conduct negotiations for the removal of native groups. Initially, the responsibilities were to oversee existing treaty relations and to conduct negotiations for the removal of native groups. Initially, the bureau focused on indigenous people living in the Great Lakes region, then called the Northwest Territory, and also in the Southeast.

    The main Native American peoples in the Southwest were the Cherokee, Creeks, Choctaw, Seminole, and Chickasaw. These groups were known collectively as the Five Civilized Tribes because they had rapidly adopted many elements of European life. They occupied rich agricultrual land hat was very attractive to poltental settlers. When gold was discovered in Cherokee territory, whites demanded that the United States acquire huge tracts of land from Native Americans in the region. Angry over the Cherokees independence, the state of Georgia threatened to secede over the issue.

    In 1830, Congress accommodated the settlers wishes by passing the Indian Removal Act. The situation had now become a crisis. New president Andrew Jackson, a Tennessee plantation owner and a famous fighter of Native Americans, refused to exercise federal jurisdiction over Native American affairs, allowing southern states to find their own solutions. The Indian Removal of 1830, Congress-with Jackson s blessing- offered Native American peoples east of the Mississippi federal land to the west where the United States government had the quthority to protect them. Many of them accepted.

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    The Trail of Tears, A Series of Native American Forced Relocations. (2022, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-trail-of-tears-a-series-of-native-american-forced-relocations/

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