The story of Native Americans forced removal from their tribal land.
On the 30th of May 1830 American President, Andrew Jackson signs ‘the Indian Removal Act’ after which the Native Americans from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole tribes were forced from their ancestral homes in Georgia and surrounding states.
The act was not meant to force the Indians to leave, but to encourage them if they wanted to with offers of help to go to planned Indian territory.
Some Indians took up the offer, but many did not. They did not want to leave their homes where they had lived and cultivated for generations.
The white Americans were keen to get this land, they saw it as valuable and believed they had a right to it, that they deserved it. They did not really understand the Indians, they were like an alien nation to them.
There were large numbers of white settlers arriving who wanted to grow cotton, they wanted to make their fortune and did not care how this affected to people were still living there. They wanted the land and would go to almost any length to get it. They would steal livestock, burn, and loot property, commit mass murder and squat on other people’s land.
Many state governments joined in to remove the native Americans, bringing in new laws restricting their sovereignty and rights and encroaching on their land. In Worcester v Georgia (1832) the US Supreme Court objected to these practices and stated that native nations were sovereign nations “in which the laws of Georgia [and other states] can have no force” Despite this, it was ignored, and the terrible treatment continued.
President Jackson was meant to have said “if no one intended to enforce the Supreme Court’s rulings (which he certainly did not), then the decisions would “[fall]…still born.”
The first Indian nation to be expelled were the Choctaw tribe who in 1831 were forced to leave on foot by threat of the US army. They did not have any food, supplies or any help from the government, some were even bound in chains and had to walk in rows of two. Thousands died on the way. This became known as “trail of tears and death”.
By 1838 after only 2000 of the Cherokees had left, 7000 thousand American soldiers were sent in to force them into stockades at bayonet point, while the white looted their homes. They were forced on a 1,200-mile journey where more than 5,000 died on the way.
The Federal Government promised the native Americans that their ‘new land’ would remain unmolested forever, but as the line of the white settlement pushed westward, ‘Indian Country’ shrank and shrank until in 1907 the Indian Country was completely gone, sucked up by Oklahoma becoming a state.
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