The Trail of Tears was a harsh and inhumane event that happened in the 1830’s. Indian tribes were forced off of their land and they were involuntarily relocated to what is now Oklahoma. There was fear and resentment among the white settlers when it came to their Native American adversaries. They were a different kind of people than the whites when it came to how they lived, spoke, dressed and as well as their religious beliefs.
This unfamiliarity with them led to the settlers believing that they were better than the indians and that they should leave the land and be forced to live in an ‘indian land if they refused to conform to Christianity as well as learn to speak English. However as more and more settlers flooded into the area, the land became more and more coveted. They no longer cared how civilized the indians became; they wanted them gone (Brief History of the Trail of Tears). “The land they occupied before they were forced to leave was the territory east of the Mississippi river, which was Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.
This added up to be about twenty-five million acres of land. All of this was done for the benefit of the white settlers, so they could grow cotton and other crops on the land. This land belonged to the Indians and their ancestors that started their cultures there. These Indian tribes-also known as the Five Civilized Tribes- were the Choctaw, Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, and Chickasaw. In order of removal, the Choctaw were forced to leave first, then the Seminoles, Muscogee, Chickasaw, and lastly the Cherokee.
A few Indian tribes went civilly, while others would not go without fighting for heir land. (Cherokee Trail of Tears). On May 28th, 1830, the Indian Removal Policy was enacted by President Andrew Jackson. Indian titles to their territory were terminated when this bill was made into a law. This allowed for the territory to be used, claimed, or obtained by the white settlers. Even though they were forced to leave, the policy stated that if they wanted it, then Indians had the option of their transportation to be paid for(Trail of Tears). President Jackson called for federal troops to cleanse the indians from the land that they had lived on for generations.
This order went against the actual law that was passed by the government stating that the indians were allowed to trade their land for land in the west. This same law also stated that they could not be put out of their land by the government if they didn’t choose to give up their land. However, President Jackson frequently ignored the laws and made his own decisions (A Brief History of the Trail of Tears). The two main ways the Indians traveled to get to Oklahoma were by the land routes and the water route.
The water route was when the Indians boarded a steamship and traveled through the Mississippi river to the land in Oklahoma. The land route was much more difficult and resulted in an estimated total of four-thousand deaths in the Cherokee indians alone. The estimated distance that they traveled was around twelve hundred miles (Cherokee Removal). The Trail of Tears actually contracted its name from the high death tolls among the indians. Diseases such as typhus, dysentery, cholera, and whooping cough were the main problem for them along with starvation(New world encyclopedia).
The troops that President Jackson assigned to escort the indians were harsh. They would not allow them to stop and take breaks and if they were injured or fell behind they were left. Many indians suffered from these extremities. Family members had to watch their loved ones die or be abused both physically and verbally by the American soldiers. Sometimes the soldiers even killed them out of hate and anger. They traveled both day and night to get to the promised indian land, never knowing for sure if they would even make it there alive. They were fueled by hope and each other.
Many articles state that they would try to uplift each other by repeatedly singing Amazing Grace. This traditional Christian song was translated from English to Cherokee. To this day it is a sort of anthem for the Cherokee people (Cherokee Trail of Tears). Those few indians lucky enough to complete their journey settled around modern day Oklahoma. The tribes were very resilient. They tried to go back to life as they knew it before their whole world was destroyed. The cherokee came up with their own name for their journey. They called it Nu na da ul tsun yi which translates to ‘the place where they cried.
Though they may have moved on with their lives afterwards, they will never forget what they were put through. Those that lived felt guilty for living when there were so many who didn’t make it. Still today, many indians still resent and do not trust the white government or it’s people(History. com/ New World Encyclopedia). Of all the indians, the Cherokee thrived the most after the Trail of Tears. They have the most population among indians. In North Carolina, there is a place called Cherokee and it is located in the western region of North Carolina. The indian way of living is still preserved there.
Today, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians stretches over one hundred miles and is the home of many who preserve and honor their ancestors customs. Throughout history, one of the most disgraceful episodes of American history was the Trail of Tears. As a way of commemorating the event, in 1987 the U. S. Congress designated the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. It stretches twenty two hundred miles and across nine states as a reminder of what happened. Though it is in the past, it will never be forgotten and will continue to be a representation of corruption and discrimination for years to come (New World Encyclopedia).