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The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Cherokees - Essay Example

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The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was an act of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States on May 26, 1830 in order to empower President Andrew Jackson to direct the transfer of the five largest Indian tribes or the “Five Civilized Tribes”…
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The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Cherokees
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"The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Cherokees"

Download file to see previous pages Although considered cruel and unfair by the American Indians, the Indian Removal Act promised security and monetary compensation to the Indians that would be removed, as well as protection from invaders (“The Removal Act,” 2010). The Cherokees, who were the largest group among the five tribes, were asked to transfer from Georgia to Oklahoma. However, despite the large population of the Cherokees compared to the other Indian Tribes, they were given only the second largest tract of land at 4,420,068 acres, compared to the 4,707,903 acres given to the Chickasaws. However, for the Cherokees, the largest amount at $2,716,979 was given as compensation (Jennings, 1995). In the early 1800’s, particularly in 1828, the Cherokees were not anymore the nomadic savages that they used to be and in fact, had adopted the economic and political lifestyle of the white settlers at that time. The Cherokees owned large plantations and many of them even owned slaves. Moreover, they have already adopted some “European-style” customs, a representational government, an alphabet known as “Talking Leaves,” and some were already ranch owners (“The Trail of Tears,” 1996). It was also around the early 1800’s that Cherokees started owning rights to lands, and this caused several white settlers in Georgia to protest and to propose to the government that “the Cherokee Nation be moved west of the Mississippi to make room for white settlers” (Jennnings, 1995). Despite various protests of the Cherokees under their Principal Chief John Ross against the Indian Removal Act, some leaders of the Indian tribe secretly signed the Treaty of the New Echota in 1835. The Treaty of Echota “ceded all rights [of the Cherokees] to their traditional lands to the United States” in exchange for land in the Indian territory west of the Mississippi River (“Indian Remove,” n.d.). The result was favorable to Jackson and the national government. He then ordered that the Cherokees be given until 1838 to relocate themselves to Oklahoma. Among the disadvantages of the Indian Removal Act towards the Cherokees included the acts of taking their property, the burning of their houses, the mistreatment of their women, and the selling of their liquor in their churches “to render them even more helpless” (Zinn). Another disadvantage of the Indian Removal Act to the Cherokees was the deaths of many of them on the Trail of Tears. What followed the Treaty of Echota was the forced removal of around 17,000 Cherokees from their homes in Georgia through a trail leading to Oklahoma. On May 17, 1838, General Winfield Scott of the United States Army arrived at the Cherokee territory with 7,000 soldiers. The Indians were forced to walk through the so-called “Trail of Tears,” an approximately 800-mile long path that took them ten months or until March1839. This was the place where around 4,000 or 5,000 Cherokees died while walking (“The Trail of Tears,” 1996). They died “of sickness, of drought, of the heat [and] of exposure” (Zinn). Moreover, they buried around 14 or 15 bodies wherever they stopped (“Trail of Tears,” 2010). Nevertheless, around 1,000 Cherokees escaped from the Trail of Tears to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, and were called the Eastern Band of Cherokee (Jennings, 1995).With 5,000 horses, 600 wagons and an estimated 100 oxen, the Cherokees ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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