The Trail of Tears: The Cherokee

The Cherokee is a large native american thriving tribe that was located in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. This tribe was forced out of its land and into another region, because of greedy people, who wanted more money, land for themselves and land for their gardens. The government, is Andrew Jackson, tried to get the land because it was land that he needed. He needed this land because he felt it would affect on increasing of white population and give him more money and power.

He enforced a removal of the Cherokee nation and all natives in the south. This removal would later be called as The Trail of Tears.

The authors of both articles are admire the Cherokees, because they were civilized, more civilized than most native tribes. They were considered civilized because a lot of them were educated and they had their own language. Their main way of surviving was agriculture. The women in the Cherokee tribes did the majority of the farming and the men hunted and cleared the land for farming.

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But as more civilized people came into contact with the Cherokee tribe, the more and more they started to lose their customs and traditions. They were picking up habits and customs of the white settlers in order to contact with them. Henry Knox, Secretary of War, believed that by developing an Indian policy accepted by the Indians, would achieved the goal of the States. He thought that by making the Natives more civilized he could bring them a sense of “Enlightenment.

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” H. Knox wanted them to stop killing wild animals and be usual farmers as all white settlers were. Also, he wanted them to read and write in the English language, wear European style clothes, and most of all become Christians.

In my view and as authors shows that the Cherokees were brave and listened to the government, but they would find themselves in a nightmare. They lost their homeland and received useful land on the west coast of Mississippi river. The white settlers were already emigrating to America and the East coast was burdened with new settlers and becoming vastly populated. President Andrew Jackson and the government had to find a way to move people to the West to make room. President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal act in the year of 1830. Elias Boudinot, Major Ridge, and John Ridge and there corps accepted the responsibility for the removal of one of the largest tribes in the Southeast that were the earliest to adapt to European ways. There was a war involving the Cherokee and the Chickasaw before the Indian Removal Policy was passed. The Cherokee were defeated by them which caused Chief Dragging Canoe to sign a treaty in 1777 to split up their tribe and have the portion of the tribe in
Chattanooga, Tennessee called the Chickamauga.

Chief Doublehead of the  Chickamauga, a branch of the Cherokee, signed a treaty to give away their lands. Tribal law says "Death to any Cherokee who proposed to sell or exchange tribal land." Chief Doublehead was later executed by Major Ridge. Again there was another treaty signed in December 29, 1835 which is called The Treaty of New Echota. It was signed by a party of 500 Cherokee out of about 17,000. Between 1785 and 1902 twenty-five treaties were signed with white men to give up their tribal lands. The Indian Removal Policy which called for the removal of not only native americans from the Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia area, but also their capital Echota in Tennessee to the new capital call New Echota to the Indian Territory. The Indian Territory was declared in the Act of Congress in 1830 with the Indian Removal Policy. In 1838 this removal happened, which later on would known as The Trial of Tears.

The Trail of Tears, was it unjust and inhumane? What happened to the Cherokee during that long and treacherous journey? In 1838 General Winfield Scott got tired of delaying this longer than the 2 years he waited already so he took charge in collecting the Cherokee. The Cherokee were taken from their homes and their belongings. Then were placed in holding camps so none would escape. The Cherokee were to be moved in the fall of 1838. The journey did not occur in October, 1838 because of bad weather. They were now supposed to move 13,000 Cherokee in the spring of 1839 a distance of eighthundred miles. The Cherokee were fed on meager rations and suffered malnutrition. They were badly clothed for the spring and many caught diseases and died. Many Cherokee tried to escape and some succeeded. The Cherokee knew these woodlands and knew where to go. The white men couldn't find them without the help of other Cherokee or bribes. Most of the Cherokee hid in the mountains and could not be found. During the eight-hundred mile trek many children and spouses were separated from their families when the Government would split up the Cherokee into groups of 1,000 for ease of removal. About one-third of the original Cherokee they collected died in the holding camps and between the trip from the Southeast section of the Union to Indian Territory.

In the article 1 the author gives the stories of what shows his exact attitude towards this removal. John G. Burnett, a soldier who participated in the removal, describes other incidents, “Men working in the fields were arrested and driven to the stockades. Women were dragged from their homes by soldiers whose language they could not understand. Children were often separated from their parents and driven into the stockades with the sky for a blanket and the earth for a pillow. And often the old and infirm were prodded with bayonets to hasten them to the stockades. In one home death had come during the night, a little sad faced child had died and was lying on a bear skin couch and some women were preparing the little body for burial. All were arrested and driven out leaving the child in the cabin. I don't know who buried the body.

In another home was a frail Mother, apparently a widow and three small children, one just a baby. When told that she must go the Mother gathered the children at her feet, prayed an humble prayer in her native tongue, patted the old family dog on the head, told the faithful creature goodbye, with a baby strapped on her back and leading a child with each hand started on her exile. But the task was too great for that frail Mother. A stroke of heart failure relieved her sufferings. She sunk and died with her baby on her back, and her other two children clinging to her hands. (Burnett 1978, 183)” (a1)

An aged Cherokee woman who made the journey when she was three years old remembers, “My father had a wagon pulled by two spans of oxen to haul us in. Eight of my brothers and sisters and two or three widow women and children rode with us. My brother Dick, who was a good deal older than I was, walked along with a long whip which he popped over the back of the oxen and drove them all the way. My father and mother walked all the way also. The people got so tired of eating salt pork on the journey...most of them died.” (a1)

“More than 10,000 additional Cherokees would have been alive during the period 1835 to 1840 had Cherokee removal not occurred. Not all of this population loss represents deaths, to be sure, a number of non-births were involved, as were some number of lost emigrants. Nevertheless, the five year mortality estimate of 10,362 suggests that Cherokee deaths directly due to removal far exceeded the 4,000 generally acknowledged by contemporary scholars. A total mortality figure of 8,000, twice the supposed 4,000, may be not at all unreasonable.” (a2)

The Cherokee Crisis is often characterized as an unavoidable tragedy,but that assertion is belied by the close vote on the Removal Act.Although the bill won by a significant margin in the Senate, things were much tighter in the House of Representatives.In fact, it was so close that the President held back his first great veto on internal improvements until after the House vote on Removal out of fear that the veto would cost him vital support.'"When a last-minute substitute was introduced that sought to delay action and turn the Cherokee problem over to an independent commission, that motion was defeated by just one vote.'" Like a Roman Emperor at the gladiatorial games, one congressman's thumbs-down would deprive an entire nation of its homeland.

By taking a fresh look at the primary sources, this Article restores the forgotten link between the Cherokee Removal and the Fourteenth Amendment. The Reconstruction Framers recalled Worcester from a deliberate exile. We must recall it from the doldrums of neglect. In so doing, courts and scholars will finally be able to keep faith with our constitutional past. Yet there is more to this project than historical integrity. Adding the
Cherokee Paradigm to the toolbox of Fourteenth Amendment analysis provides valuable insights that only a holistic approach can bring. And by focusing attention on the first abused minority in our history, the law will memorialize a set of injustices that have been ignored to the continuing detriment of too many Americans.That is the only way we can overcome the legacy of The Trail of Tears and ensure that the path forward leads to greater liberty for all.


Articles 1-2
Allen, Virginia R.
1970 Medical Practices and Health in the Choctaw Nation, 1831-1885. Chronicles of

Oklahoma 48. Baker, Jack D., transcriber
1977 Cherokee Emigration Rolls 1817-1835. Oklahoma City: Baker Publishing Co.

Blue, Brantly
1974 Foreword. The Indian Removals l:iii-v. New York: AMS Press.

Burnett, John G.
1978 The Cherokee Removal Through the Eyes of a Private Soldier. Journal of Cherokee Studies 3 (special issue):180-85. Doran, Michael F.
1975 Population Statistics of Nineteenth Century Indian Territory. Chronicles of Oklahoma 53:492-515.

Foreman, Grant
1932 Indian Removal. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

Howard, R. Palmer, and Virginia E. Allen
1975 Stress and Death in the Settlement of Indian Territory. Chronicles of Oklahoma 53:352-59.

King, Duane H., and E. Raymond Evans, eds.
1978 The Trail of Tears: Primary Documents of the Cherokee Removal. Journal of Cherokee Studies 3 (special issue).

Knight, Oliver
1954 Cherokee Society Under the Stress of Removal. Chronicles of Oklahoma 32:414-28.

McLoughlin, William G., and Walter H. Conser, Jr.
1977 The Cherokee In Transition: A Statistical Analysis of the Federal Cherokee Census of 1835. Journal of American History 54: 678-703.

Mooney, James
1975 Historical Sketch of the Cherokee. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co. (1900) Neugin, Rebecca
1978 Memories of the Trail. Journal of Cherokee Studies 3 (special issue):176.

Prucha, Francis Paul
1975 Documents of United States Indian Policy. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

Royce, Charles C.
(1887) The Cherokee Nation of Indians. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co.

Siler, David W.
1972 The Eastern Cherokee: A Census of the Cherokee Nation in North Carolina,

Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia in 1851. Cottonport, La.: Polyanthos, Inc. Swanton, John
1946 The Indians of the Southeastern United States. Washington, D.C.: GPO. Tyner, James W., ed.
1974 Those Who Cried: The 1600. A Record of the Individual Cherokees Listed in the

United States Official Census of the Cherokee Nation Conducted in 1835. Chi-ga-u, Inc.  U.S. Bureau of the Census
1894 Extra Census Bulletin. The Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory: The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Nations.

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Printing Office.
1915 Indian Population in the United States and Alaska, 1910. Washington, D.C.:

GPO. Wilkins, Thurman
1970 Cherokee Tragedy. New York: Macmillan.

Updated: May 21, 2021
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The Trail of Tears: The Cherokee essay
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