In 1838 and 1839, as part of Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy, the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee people called this journey the “Trail of Tears,” because of its devastating effects.
The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the removal of the Cherokee and the paths that 17 Cherokee detachments followed westward.
Beginning in the summer of 1838 and continuing on into the winter, approximately 15,000 Cherokee were relocated, and more than 4,000 died from disease, exhaustion, or exposure. In the Cherokee language, this event is referred to as “the trail where they cried,” giving rise to the English term Trail of Tears.
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Cherokee Tribe History. Traditional, linguistic, and archeological evidence shows that the Cherokee originated in the north, but they were found in possession of the south Allegheny region when first encountered by De Soto in 1540. Their relations with the Carolina colonies began 150 years later.
The Trail of Tears was part of a larger pattern of behavior, called Indian removal, beginning in 1830 with the Indian Removal Act and continuing all the way through the 20th Century with the American Indian boarding schools program.
The term “Trail of Tears” refers to the difficult journeys that the Five Tribes took during their forced removal from the southeast during the 1830s and 1840s. The Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole were all marched out of their ancestral lands to Indian Territory, or present Oklahoma.
The Trail of Tears has become the symbol in American history that signifies the callousness of American policy makers toward American Indians. Indian lands were held hostage by the states and the federal government, and Indians had to agree to removal to preserve their identity as tribes.
According to estimates based on tribal and military records, approximately 100,000 Indigenous people were forced from their homes during the Trail of Tears, and some 15,000 died during their relocation.
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy.
Red Indian is an offensive term for a native North American. The use of the term Indian for the natives of the Americas originated with Christopher Columbus, who mistakenly believed that the Antilles were the islands of the Indian Ocean, known to Europeans as the Indies.
A Trail of 4,000 Tears.
In 2015, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe gained recognition from the U.S. federal government. Native Peoples of Virginia