Trail of Tears, Part 2
By Joyce Furstenau
___1___ was discovered in Georgia. New settlers poured into Georgia. The new settlers wanted the Cherokees to move. They wanted them to make way for white settlements. The U.S. Government did little to protect the Cherokee Nation from attacks from these settlers. The tide was once again turning against the Cherokee people.
Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States in 1828. He supported the state governors in their bid to rid their land of Indians. He wanted Congress to move the Five Civilized Tribes from the southeast and resettle them in Indian Territory west of the Mississippi. The ___2___ was one of those five.
John Ross was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation at that time. Although he was only half Cherokee, he was raised as a full-blooded Cherokee. He was well educated and respected. He was also determined to keep his people on their homeland.
Eleven days after President Jackson's speech to Congress about moving the Five Civilized Tribes, Georgia passed an Indian Code. The Code abolished Cherokee claims to self-government. It made Cherokee laws worthless. The state seized Cherokee gold fields and Indians were banned from removing gold from Georgia soil. Georgia placed ___3___ controls on the Cherokees but did not protect them under Georgia law. Cherokees were forbidden to speak in court as well.
Some Cherokees wanted to battle the whites over this treatment. John Ross knew they would be overrun by government soldiers should they try to resist. He traveled to Washington, D.C. several times and tried to appeal to the president. Jackson held firm. Georgia stepped up its battle to get the Cherokees out. The land was divided into lots and then a lottery was held. Lottery winners won free land when their ticket was drawn. Lottery winners displaced the homes and possessions of many Cherokee families.
In 1830, Congress passed the ___4___. The bill gave President Jackson the authority to remove all Indians from the Southeast. Congress provided the funds to buy their tribal lands. The state of Georgia continued to pursue removal of the Cherokees. They ordered all whites living with Cherokees to sign an oath to the state. Anyone who didn't sign these oaths faced beatings and jail. Many missionaries refused to sign. Reverend Samuel Worchester was taken to court for his support of the Cherokees. He was fired from his job as postmaster and sent to jail. Although he was acquitted, the Georgia governor would not release him from prison.
All ___5___ by the Cherokees to remain on their land failed. One by one, they lost their homes to the lottery. Cherokee families were "allowed" to pack their belongings and leave peacefully. Some were forced out at gunpoint by Georgia guards. Even John Ross was forced from his home.
___6___ leaders met to make a decision. John Ross was in favor of remaining firm to keep their land. Clerk of the National Cherokee Counsel John Ridge felt their people would be better served if they moved. He felt if they did not accept the government's offer of payment for their land and the expense of moving, they would be left with nothing. The two sides agreed to try one last time to speak to President Jackson. John Ross and John Ridge went to Washington to speak with the president.
John Ridge left Washington with a promise of $5 million in payment for the land. John Ross left with nothing. The payment was also to be used to cover costs of the journey and the expenses of setting up a new life in Indian Territory. On ___7___ twenty Cherokees signed the Treaty of New Echota, which sold all Cherokee land to the government. It required every Indian in the territory to move west within two years.
Over the next two years, John Ross tried in vain to reverse the agreement. On March 27, 1838, Congress denied his final request. President Martin Van Buren ordered the army to remove the remaining 15,000 Cherokees, by force if necessary. The Cherokees were treated like prisoners of war. They were placed in stockades to await removal. Any who tried to hide were to be punished. Many were forced from their homes without time to take any of their belongings. At the stockades, hundreds of Cherokees died from fever, food poisoning, and other diseases. The removal had begun.
The Cherokee began the ___8___march in the fall of 1838. They had no money since they had been forced to leave before the government paid them for their property. Many had no shoes and little clothing. They were given blankets from a hospital where a small pox epidemic had broken out. As the exodus continued, the weather worsened. The Cherokees walked in mud or through blizzards in freezing weather. All were headed to Fort Smith in Oklahoma Indian Territory. The death toll climbed even after they reached Fort Smith. One in four Cherokees died because of the forced march. The Cherokees called their journey
Nu-no-du-na-tlo-hi-lu "the place where they cried." Cherokee families had reason to weep. It came to be known as "The Trail of Tears." In 1988, the U.S. Government officially marked the Cherokees' route along the Trail of Tears as a National Historic Trail.
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