Amerindians 4 – The Trail of Tears

  • referred to the march of the Cherokee Indians in 1838, when they were forced to leave their homelands in Georgia and move westwards to Oklahoma;trailoftears04-route
  • due to harsh circumstances on the way (cold weather, no shelter and not enough water and food), more than 4,000 (one fourth of the Cherokee nation) died – mostly of pneumonia, freezing to death or drinking polluted water

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  • several painting showing people walking in harsh conditions and horses / mules pulling their wagons
  • Amazing Grace (the anthem of Cherokee Indians)

CherokeeindiansThe Cherokee

By the early 19th century, from a simple farming nation the Cherokee became a really civilized community as they had their own:

  • written language (invented by Sequoia),
  • schools,
  • newspaper,
  • constitution (laws),
  • they built houses of brick,
  • had towns with stores, mills etc.

Fighting for new lands

As the number of settlers was growing rapidly by the end of the 18th century, territories of the 13 original colonies were not enough for the white people. They began to move north (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan), south (Georgia. Louisiana) and west (Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky). These lands were settled by Amerindians who attacked the settlers’ farms – in reply the settlers destroyed the belongings of the Natives.

Trying to make peace

  • 1787, Northwest Ordinance: a law; “lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent (= saying yes) and their property, rights and liberty shall never be disturbed”

Changes in the way of thinking

1820s: President James Monroe said that Native Americans either become civilized or adopt the lifestyles of the American society, or they move west to unsettled land where they can live free.

Gold was found in Georgia ⇒ the Americans needed the land.

AndrewJacksonIn 1830, the idea become law by President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act: “all Indians living east of the Mississippi River will be moved to west to a place called Indian Territory so that they can live undisturbed according to their own laws in reservations”.

⇒ some Indian tribes agreed, some not ⇒ those who didn’t agree (Cherokees) wanted the Congress to help ⇒ the vote was close to tie, but finally Jackson’s idea won and the Cherokee were forced to leave their lands in Georgia

⇒ in 1838, General Scott and his men rounded up the Cherokee in stockades (prisons) and drove them from their homelands



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