Technology project by Deep Upadhyay

The Trail of Tears was the name given to the forced removal of what were called "The five civilized tribes": The Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, along with numerous other minor tribes. They were forced to walk at gunpoint from their homelands to the so-called "Indian territory", part of present day eastern Oklahoma. The term "Trail of Tears was coined from a description of the original Choctaw removal in the year 1831. Many problems plagued the Native Americans on the march, in
cuding, but not limited to starvation, disease, and cold.

How could this happen?

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The Native Americans had been living for centuries on the land they had called home before Columbus was in diapers. While, of course, most of them in the 13 colonies and most other territories had been moved out, the aforementioned five tribes remained. Most of the land they lived on was very good for farming and they were leading a happy existence. However thing took a turn for the worse when Georgia tried to expand over their lands. The Cherokee Nation took its case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the constitution had granted them the right to their own land. In the case of Worcester vs. Georgia (1832), it was ruled that Georgia could not make the Cherokees move or take over their land. Andrew Jackson, however, famously defied the Supreme Court. Eventually, things escalated until it finally culmiacated in the removal of the tribes.

The Long March "Home"

At first, when the Indian Removal act was passed, The Cherokee were forced into concentration camps, herded by almost 7,000 militia men from different states. Eventually, they were forced to start the march.
The route taken by the Cherokees
The route taken by the Cherokees

In the winter of 1838 the Cherokee began the 1000 mile march with almost no clothing and most barefoot.
The march began in Red Clay, Tennessee, one of the last eastern Cherokee capitals. The Cherokee were
given used blankets from a hospital in Tennessee where an epidemic of small pox had broken out.
Because of the diseases, the Indians were not allowed to go into any towns or villages along the way;
many times this meant traveling much farther to go around them.
When they arrived in Southern Illinois, They had to pay $22 to cross the river on the ferry, while the normal price was $2. Moreover, they had to wait until the ferry had serviced everybody else. While waiting, they had to take shelter under Mantle Rock, where many Cherokee died. Many of them were shot by locals. The killers then sued the government for $800 a head to bury the dead Cherokee. Eventually, they finally settled in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Soon after, many of the Cherokee leaders wanting a new treaty were murdered, with only one surviving.


Eventually, the Cherokee population did rebound. In 1987, about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) of trails were authorized by Federal law to mark the removal of seventeen detachments of the Cherokee people.[36] Called the "Trail of Tears National Historic Trail," it traverses portions of nine states and includes land and water routes. Indian removal may have ended, but the Trail of Tears has left a blot on U.S. history that in the mind of some people, is as severe as slavery.

A trail marker at the Trail of Tears historic site
A trail marker at the Trail of Tears historic site