"The weeks that followed General [Winfield] Scott's order to remove the Cherokees were filled with horror and suffering for the unfortunate Cherokees and their slaves.” –Eliza Whitmire. Slave of a Cherokee family

Indian Removal Act

Imagine an 80 mile hike, through harsh winters, made mainly by foot and watching your friends and family drop dead at your feet. This doesn’t sound fair, but unfortunately for the Cherokee and many other Native American tribes, they didn’t have a choice. Prior the white settlers coming to America, anywhere from two to eight million Native Americas, speaking 750 different languages dominated the land. However, once the white settlers came, they were disregarded. Although the Cherokee tried adapt the American ways by creating an alphabet, publishing a newspaper in English and Cherokee, writing a constitution and establishing a court system, the white settlers refused to view them as equals.  The Cherokee also created a more agriculturally based economy, now growing their food for profit rather than mainly consumption. They sent their children to boarding schools to become more of what the Americans considered civilized. However, it simply wasn’t enough. The greedy Americans refused to consider themselves equal with people they defined as savages. Georgia, the land in which the Cherokee thrived, was “valuable” and at the time, that meant it was rich with cotton and gold. When Jackson tried to get the Cherokee off the land, they appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing as a sovereign nation, Jackson couldn’t remove them. The Supreme Court voted in favor of the Cherokee but that wasn’t enough to stop Jackson. He forced them out and they had to make the long hike to the new Indian Territory reserved on the other side of the Mississippi River, known as the trail of tears. Although they did receive the same size land, it was not the same. The Cherokee had dominated Georgia, that’s where their spirits lived and the dead were buried. Jackson clearly displayed more of his less treasured side with the Indian Removal Act, which also effected the Seminole, Creeks, Choctaw, and Chickasaw.