The beginning of the extermination of the Cherokee tribe, called the Trail of Tears, is one of the most tragic periods in the American history. This Indian tribe had lived on their territory for hundreds of years before European settlers came to the continent and the long story of their expulsions began. At first, they had to migrate from the Great Lakes region to the southern Appalachians. After the American Revolution, this tribe was considered a separate nation living within the country and the natives faced even more difficulties.
While the Cherokee were committed to peaceful coexistence with their white neighbors, the settlers were more interested in seizing the land. Since the tribe’s lands were fertile and productive, the United States government started a long campaign to expel the Natives from their territory and resettle them to the west of the Mississippi River, to the place known as the “Great American Desert.” This campaign became notorious for the threats of military force, racist attitudes, empty promises, and broken treaties. It is noteworthy that it was not the first time the Cherokee had been relocated off their lands. Earlier invasions of the whites were violent and were accompanied with assaults, robberies, and destruction of their houses. Meanwhile, the US government, which had to protect the tribes, sent the troops to force them to leave.
The Cherokee had to move several times. Settlers in Georgia demanded their removal; later the same happened in West Virginia, both Carolinas and Tennessee. Each time white settlers prompted the government to force the Indians to leave the state. Of course, there were some families that did not support the expulsion plan, because they got aid and support from the tribes during hard times. Unfortunately, they were not many in number and could not stop the banishment.
The idea to expel the Indians appeared in 1802, when President Jefferson developed a secret Indian policy that made provisions for the actions that were to happen within the period of thirty years. The Louisiana Purchase was one of the main preconditions for that, since it gave the Americans an area wide enough to have the Natives deported. As it was envisaged by President Jefferson, the banishment of the Cherokee began in 1830 during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Thousands of Indians were to suffer from hunger, cold, and disease during the forced walk to Oklahoma. That was how they started their Trail of Tears.
The expulsion of the Cherokee remains one of the most shameful pages in the American history. Thousands of Indians died along the way to the newly allocated lands. Their journey became a cultural memory and the territory they crossed in now called the Trail of Tears. It still reminds us of those events and their influence on the Cherokee, other Indian tribes, and white Americans.