The forced relocation of Native American tribes from their homelands had a profound impact on their way of life in Indian Land, South Carolina. The relocation was part of a 20-year campaign devised by the United States government in an attempt to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream American life. This campaign failed in its goal but had lasting effects on Indigenous territories that are still felt today. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 authorized the creation of Indigenous areas in what is now Oklahoma.
This law allowed for tribal sovereignty and land management by tribes while also opening up more land for white settlers and railroads. The Dawes Act was signed into law in 1887 which allowed for reservations to be divided into small parcels of land for each individual Indian. This decreased Indigenous people's ownership of land by more than half while also opening up even more land for white settlers and railroads. The relocation process caused many hardships for Indigenous people as they were forced out of their homelands and away from their traditional ways of life. Many found it difficult to adjust to living in cities or on reservations as they were unable to access resources such as good farmland or supplies needed for harvesting crops.
The forced relocation process has had a lasting impact on Indigenous people in South Carolina as it has disrupted their traditional way of life and limited their access to resources needed for survival. Before the relocation process, Indigenous women cultivated and cared for the land while men hunted and helped protect the tribe. As white settlers moved west and needed more land, Indigenous territory shrunk, but the government no longer had more land to move them to. This led to conflicts between Indian tribes who defended their way of life and white Americans determined to move and change them throughout the 19th century. Congress hoped that this system would end the dependence of tribes on the federal government, allow Indians to achieve individual prosperity, and assimilate them into mainstream American life. The law was repealed in 1934 and replaced by the Indigenous Reorganization Act, with the aim of restoring Indigenous culture and returning surplus land to tribes. Sometimes referred to as India's New Deal, tribal sovereignty and land management by tribes were encouraged.
Much of the land in the reserve was not good farmland and many Indigenous people could not afford the supplies needed to harvest. When Georgia organized raffles to distribute the seized Indigenous lands, the battle-weary Creeks, who had sought refuge in eastern Alabama, fought for their independence against Andrew Jackson's militia, which included so-called “friendly Indians.”Although this process was intended to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream American life it has ultimately failed in its goal as Indigenous people continue to fight for their rights today. The forced relocation process has had a lasting impact on Native American tribes in South Carolina as it has disrupted their traditional way of life and limited their access to resources needed for survival.