The Trail of Tears


In 1828, someone discovered gold in Cherokee territory.

On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed The Indian Removal Act. This act basically informed Native Americans that the United States purchased the land east of the Mississippi River and the Native Americans were “free to move” to somewhere across the river.

Some tribes followed government orders, some did not. For the tribes that refused to give up their land and relocate their entire culture, the United States government stepped in to force compliance. One of those tribes was the Cherokee tribe, spanning the area around east Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. They were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma, and an estimated 4,000 Cherokee people died on the journey.

The Cherokee called this journey the Trail of Tears, and they were not the only tribe to be forcibly removed from their homes and land. The Choctaw were also moved, and they lost an estimated 2,000 people along the brutal journey through floods, harsh winter, and diseases. The Muscogee Creeks, Seminoles, and Chickasaws were also forcibly removed and lost thousands of their people. The Trail of Tears is now a National Historic Trail, spanning 5,043 miles through nine states.

See also: Indigenous History