In the early 1800s, the Cherokee people called Southeastern America their home. They lived in present-day North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. But by 1840, tens of thousands of Native Americans had been driven from their lands in the southeastern states and forced to move across the Mississippi to Indian territory. This relocation was a result of the Indian Expulsion Act of 1830, which gave the federal government the power to exchange native lands in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for lands in the west, in the “zone of indigenous settlement” that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
The Indian Expulsion Act offered Eastern tribes land in an area west of the Mississippi (soon to be called “Indian Territory”). This “indigenous territory” was located in present-day Oklahoma. Congressman Davy Crockett of Tennessee and President Andrew Jackson succeeded in getting Congress to pass this act, which authorized the government to extinguish any indigenous title to land claims in the Southeast. The establishment of Indian territory and the extinction of Indian land claims east of the Mississippi by this act anticipated the U.
S. government's policy of Indian removal. In addition to physical relocation, the expulsion of American Indians and the Trail of Tears had social and cultural effects, as American Indians were forced to contemplate abandoning their homeland. The moves, carried out under Presidents Jackson and Van Buren, followed this act and provided infrastructure improvements to existing lands. The government thought then that it would be a more attractive offer for natives of land in other unoccupied states in exchange for their land, leading many Americans to believe that Native Americans were now on their land. In 1721, South Carolina colonists were able to persuade the Cherokees to choose a chief chief for the entire tribe to negotiate the sale of some of their hunting land.
But by 1836, more than 15,000 streams were driven from their lands for the last time. Jackson decided to continue with the expulsion of the Indians and negotiated the Treaty of New Echota, on December 29, 1835, which granted the Cherokees two years to move to Indian territory (what is now Oklahoma).Today, Oklahoma has the largest population of Cherokees in the United States, with a whopping 240,417 citizens of the Cherokee nation. North Carolina is the furthest state (where they lived) from Oklahoma, with a total of 1,200 miles between them. So how did so many Cherokees end up in Oklahoma? The answer lies in President Andrew Jackson's policy of Indian removal. For a thousand years before Europeans arrived in North America, Cherokee women tended to crops while men hunted and waged war.
But with President Jackson's policy and subsequent Indian Expulsion Act, they were forced out of their homeland and relocated across state lines. This policy had devastating effects on Native American culture and society. The Trail of Tears was a tragic event that had far-reaching consequences for Native Americans living in South Carolina and other southeastern states. It resulted in displacement from ancestral homelands and loss of culture and identity. Although it is impossible to undo this tragedy or make up for its consequences, it is important to remember its history so that similar events are not repeated.