Indian Removal INTRODUCTION On May 26, 1830, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was passed by the Twenty-First Congress of the United states of America. After four months of strong debate, Andrew Jackson signed the bill into law. Land greed was a big reason for the federal government’s position on Indian removal. This desire for Indian lands was also abetted by the Indian hating mentallity that was peculiar to some American frontiersman. This period of forcible removal first started with the Cherokee Indians in the state of Georgia.
In 1802, the Georgia legislature signed a compact giving the federal government all of her claims to western lands in exchange for the government’s pledge to extigiush all Indian titles to land within the state. But by the mid-1820’s Georgians began to doubt that the government would withhold its part of the bargain. The Cherokee Indian tribes had a substantial part of land in Georgia that they had had for many generations though. They were worried about losing their land so they forced the issue by adopting a written constitution. This document proclaimed that the Cherokee nation had complete jurisdiction over its own territory. But by now Indian removal had become entwined with the state of Georgia’s rights and the Cherokee tribes had to make their claims in court.
When the Cherokee nation sought aid from newly elected president Andrew Jackson, he informed them that he would not interfere with the lawful prerogatives of the state of Georgia. Jackson saw the solution of the problem with the removal of the Cherokee tribes to lands west. This would keep contact between Indians and colonists rare. He suggested that laws be past so that the Indians would have to move west of the Mississippi river. Similar incidents happened between the other “civilized” tribes and white men. The Seminole tribe had land disputes with the state of Florida.
The Creek Indians fought many battles against the federal army so they could keep their land in the states of Alabama and Georgia. The Chickisaw and Choctaw had disputes with the state of Mississippi. To ensure peace the government forced these five tribes called the Five Civilized Tribes to move out of their lands that they had lived on for generations and to move to land given to them in parts of Oklahoma. Andrew Jackson was quoted as saying that this was a way of protecting them and allowing them time to adjust to the white culture. This land in Oklahome was thinly settled and was thought to have little value.
Within 10 years of the Indian Removal Act, more than 70,000 Indians had moved across the Mississippi. Many Indians died on this journey. “The Trails of Tears” The term “Trails of Tears” was given to the period of ten years in which over 70,000 Indians had to give up their homes and move to certain areas assigned to tribes in Oklahoma. The tribes were given a right to all of Oklahoma except the Panhandle. The government promised this land to them “as long as grass shall grow and rivers run.” Unfortunately, the land that they were given only lasted till about 1906 and then they were forced to move to other reservations.
The Trails of Tears were several trails that the Five civilized Tribes traveled on their way to their new lands. Many Indians died because of famine or disease. Sometimes a person would die because of the harsh living conditions. The tribes had to walk all day long and get very little rest. All this was in order to free more land for white settlers. The period of forcible removal started when Andrew Jackson became Presidentin 1829.
At that time there was reported to be sightings of gold in the Cherokee territory in Georgia which caused prospectors to rush in, tearing down fences and destroying crops. In Mississippi, the state laws were extended over Choctaw and Chickisaw lands, and in 1930 the Indians were made citizens which made it illegal to hold any tribal office. Also in Georgia, the Cherokee tribes were forbade to hold any type of tribal legislature except to ratify land cessions, and the citzens of Georgia were invited to rob and plunder the tribes in their are by making it illegal for an Indian to bring suit against a white man. When President Jackson began to negotiate with the Indians, he gave them a guarantee of perpetual autonomy in the West as the strongest incentive to emigration. The Five tribes gave all of their Eastern lands to the United States and agreed to migrate beyond the Mississippi by the end of the 1830’s.
The Federal agents accomplished this by bribery, trickery,and intimidation. All of the treaties signed by the Indians as the agreed to the terms of the removal contained guarantees that the Indians, territory should be perpetual and that no government other than their own should be erected over them without their consent. The land retained by the five civilized tribes was known as the Indian Territory. The 19,525,966 acres were divded among the the five tribes. The Choctaws received 6,953,048 acres in the southeast part of Oklahoma; the Chickisaw recieved over 4,707,903 acres west of the Choctaws reservation; the Cherokees received 4,420,068 acres in the northeast; the received 3,079,095 acres southwest of the Cherokees; and the Seminoles purchased 365,852 acres which they purchased from their kin, the Creeks.
The Chickisaw and the Choctaw owned their lands jointly because they were so closely related but the tribes still exercised jurisdiction over its own territory though. Besides the land that the tribes obtained, they also received a large sum of money fom the sale of its Eastern territories. This money was a considerable part of the revenue for the tribes and was used by their legislatures for the support of schools and their governments. The Cherokee nation held $2,716,979.98 in the United States trust; the Choctaw nation had $975,258.91; the Chickisaw held $1,206,695.66;the Creek had $2,275,168.00; and the Seminole had $2,070,000.00 by the end of 1894. After the end of the Trails of Tears, the conversion tof all tribes to Christianity had been efected rapidly. The Seminoles and Creeks were conservative to their customs but other tribes were receptive to any custom considered supperior to their own.
The tribes found Christian teachings fitted to their own. Mainly the modernization change began at the end of the removal. Andrew Jackson Gave a speech on the Indian removal in the year of 1830. He said, “It gives me great pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the government, steady pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation with the removal of the indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consumation.” “The consequences of a speedy will be important to the United States, to individual states, and to the Indians themselves. It puts an end to all possible danger of a collision betweewn the authorities of the general and state governments, and of the account the Indians.
It will place a dense population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savaged hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tenesee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalcuably strengthen the Southwestern frontier and render the adjacent states strong enough to repel future invasion without remote aid.” “It will seperate the indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; enable them to pusue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the government and through the influences of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and christian community.” FORT GIBSON For two decades Fort Gibson was the base of operations for the American army as they tried to keep the peace. During the 1810’s to 1830’s, John C. Calhoun, James Monroe’s secretary of war, tried to relocate several Eastern tribes beyond the area of the white settlements. Fort Gibson was brought up because it served as barracks for the army.
The relocation area for the Eastern tribes was part of other tribes land. The other tr …