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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
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Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, Choctaw, Andrew Jackson, Seminole tribe, Five Civilized Tribes, Trail of Tears, Cherokee, Indian removal, Indian Removal Act, Muscogee, Cherokee removal
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