As American settlers expanded westward by the 1830s, many Native Americans still lived in the eastern part of the country. The “Five Civilized Tribes” - Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. These tribes had established farming societies with successful economies.
This is our territory
President Andrew Jackson, a man of the frontier himself, supported the settlers demand for Native American land. He had fought the Creek and Seminole peoples during the War of 1812. In his Inaugural Address, he stated that he intended to move all Native Americans to the Great Plains.
The Cherokee Nation
We will not move!
In 1830 President Jackson pushed the Indian Removal Act through Congress. The act allowed the federal government to pay Native Americans to move west. Some Native Americans refused and most felt they were forced to sell their lands.
Trail of Tears
We must... leave
They wanted to force the Native to leave their land and move west Many Americans settlers believed that the area west of the Mississippi was dry and seemed unsuitable for farming. They thought that if they moved the Native American to that region, the nation’s conflict for land would be over. In 1834 Congress created the Indian Territory, an area in present day Oklahoma that was set aside for the relocation of Native Americans
The Cherokee however, refused to give up their land. They sued the state of Georgia eventually their case reach the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Georgia had no right to interfere with the Cherokee. President Jackson supported Georgia;s efforts to remove the Cherokee. He declared that he would ignore the Supreme Court.
With 7,000 federal troops, General Winfield Scott threatened to use force if the Cherokee did not leave. Filled with sadness and anger, the Cherokee leaders gave in and the long march to the West began. Around 4,000 Cherokee died from starvation, disease, and exposure to brutal weather. Their forced journey west became known to the as the Trail of Tears.