The Trail of Tears and Cherokee Removal
What would follow the Treaty of New Echota would be known throughout history as the Trail of Tears. Between the years 1836 and 1839, thousands of Cherokee Indians, along with Native Americans of other tribes, would be forced to abandon their homes and move westward. The protests to this inhumane treatment fell on deaf ears. Cherokee Chief John Ross wrote:
Little did they [the Cherokee people] anticipate, that when taught to think and feel as the American citizen, and to have with him a common interest, they were to be despoiled by their guardian, to become strangers and wanderers in the land of their fathers, forced to return to the savage life, and to seek a new home in the wilds of the far west, and that without their consent. An instrument purporting to be a treaty [The Treaty of New Echota] with the Cherokee people, has recently been made public by the President of the United States… this instrument is fraudulent, false upon its face, made by unauthorized individuals, without the sanction, and against the wishes, of the great body of the Cherokee people. Upwards of fifteen thousand of those people have protested against it, solemnly declaring they will never acquiesce. (9)
So, despite the Cherokee peoples attempts to assimilate into American civilization, the U.S government turned a blind eye to their claims of land and sovereignty. Thousands of Native American’s would perish as a result of the forced relocation, many of which were Cherokee people. It is estimated that over 4,000 Cherokee lost their lives on the Trail of Tears from starvation, disease, and climate. Petitions that challenged the legality of the government’s actions were rejected, and the Native Americans suffered loss of land and life as a result of the selfish white agenda.