Indian Removal Act Of 1830


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 mentality that was prevalent among some American
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 eliminate all Indian
ownership to land within the state. But by the mid-1820's
Georgians began to doubt that the government would uphold
its part of the bargain. The Cherokee Indian tribes had a
substantial part of land in Georgia that they had held for
many generations. After hearing about the pact, 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. 

At this time, 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
passed 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. The land in
Oklahoma 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 which became known as the
"Trail of Tears" 
"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
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 President in 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 forbidden to hold any type of
tribal legislature except to ratify land cessions, and the
citizens of Georgia were invited to rob and plunder the
tribes in their homes 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 they agreed to the terms
of the removal, contained guarantees that the Indian
territory should be perpetual and that no government other
than their own should be erected over them without their
The land retained by the five civilized tribes was known as
the Indian Territory. The 19,525,966 acres were divided
among the the five tribes. The Choctaws received 6,953,048
acres in the southeast part of Oklahoma; the Chickisaw
received over 4,707,903 acres west of the Choctaws
reservation; the Cherokees received 4,420,068 acres in the
northeast; the Creeks 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 from the sale of their
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 of all
tribes to Christianity resulted rapidly. The Seminoles and
Creeks were conservative to their customs but other tribes
were receptive to any custom considered superior to their
own. The tribes found that Christian teachings fitted their
own. The transition to white man's customs 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, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in
relation with the removal of the Indians beyond the white
settlements, is approaching a happy ending."
"The consequences of a speedy end 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 between the authorities of the central and state
governments. It will place a dense population in large
tracts of country now occupied by a few savaged hunters. By
opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north
and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites
it will incalculably strengthen the Southwestern frontier
and render the adjacent states strong enough to repel
future invasion without remote aid."
"It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with
settlements of whites; enable them to pursue happiness in
their own way and under their own ruled 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 community." 
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 tribes wanted to protect it so they
fought for it. 

The soldiers from Fort Gibson began to make boundaries,
construct roads, and escort delegates to the region. The
soldiers also started to implement the removal process in
other ways to. The soldiers of Fort Gibson were fiercely
hated by the Indian tribes of that region. Yet during the
many years of the Indian removal, there was never a clash
between the soldiers or the tribes. An Indian was never
killed by the Army. The soldiers at Fort Gibson served as a
cultural buffer between the whites and the Indians.
The Fort was established in the 1820's by General Matthew
Arbuckle. He served and commanded it through most of it's
two decades during the Indian removal. He wrote his last
report from it on June 21, 1841.
The Cherokee Indians live in many parts of the United
states, but more than 100,000 live in parts of Oklahoma.
Many Cherokee have moved elsewhere. In the 1800's, the
Cherokee Nation was one of the strongest Indian tribes in
the United States. They were part of the Five Civilized
The Cherokee Nation began to adopt the economic and
political structure of the white settlers in the early
1800's. They owned large plantations and some even kept
slaves. The Cherokee Nation was a form of republican
government. A Cherokee Indian named Sequoya introduced a
system of writing for the Cherokee language in 1821.
White settlers began to protest the Cherokee's right to own
land in the early 1800's. They demanded that the Cherokee
Nation be moved west of the Mississippi to make room for
white settlers. Some members of the Cherokee Nation signed
treaties with the government in 1835 agreeing to move to
designated areas in Oklahoma. Most of the tribe did not
want to be relocated so they opposed the treaty. But most
of the Cherokees, led by Chief John Ross, were forced to
move to the Indian Territory in the winter of 1838-1839.
More than 17,000 Cherokees marched from their homes to
Oklahoma. This march was called the Trail of Tears. Many
Indians died on this journey. Even though most of the
Cherokee nation had been forced to move, more than a 1,000
Cherokee escaped and remained in the Great Smoky Mountains,
which is in parts of Tennessee and North Carolina. These
tribes became known as the Eastern Band of Cherokee. 

The Cherokee who went west reformed the political system
that they had before. The Cherokee Nation set up schools
and churches. But all this progress was stopped in the late
1800's. Congress voted to abolish the Cherokee Nation to
open yet more land for settlement by whites. Today most of
the Cherokee remain in northeastern Oklahoma, where they
have reestablished their form of government.
The Chickisaw Indians were a tribe that lived in the
southern United States. Their land included western
Tennessee and Kentucky, northwestern Alabama, and northern
Mississippi before the Indian removal. They were relocated
to Oklahoma by the government in the 1830's.
The Chickisaws lived in several small villages with one-
room log cabins. The people supported each other by trading
with other tribes, fishing, farming, and hunting. Each
village was headed by a chief.
The Chickisaw Indians were known as fierce warriors. They
fought for Great Britain when they fought France and Spain
for control of the southern United States. They also helped
them fight against the colonists in the Revolutionary War
(1775-1783). And During the Civil War, the tribe fought for
the Confederacy (1861-1865).
The tribe was relocated to the Indian Territory in 1837 by
the National Government. They also took part in the Trail
of Tears. In 1907, the Chickisaw Indian territory became
part of the new state of Oklahoma. About 5,300 Chickisaw
descendants live in Oklahoma. They have a Democratic
government in which they elect their leaders for the
welfare of the tribe.
The Choctaw tribe originates from Alabama and Mississippi.
They believed in the primitive ways and hunted and farmed
to support themselves. They raised corn and other crops to
trade with other Indians. They celebrate their crops with
their chief religious ceremony which is a harvest
celebration called the Green Corn Dance. One of their
legends states that the Choctaw Indian tribe was created at
a sacred mount called Nanih Waiya, near Noxapater,
After the Indian Removal Act was passed, the Choctaw
Indians were forced to move west in order to make room for
more white settlers. They were forced to sign the Treaty of
Dancing Rabbit Creek after fierce fighting with the United
States army. This treaty exchanged the Indians land for the
assigned Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. In the
early 1830's, over 14,000 Choctaws moved to the Indian
Territory in several groups. Although many groups of
Indians were gone, over 5,000 Choctaws remained in
The Choctaws who moved to the Indian Territory established
their own way of life. They modernized themselves by
establishing schools and an electoral form of government.
In the Civil War, the Choctaw Indians fought on the side of
the Confederacy and when the south was defeated, they were
forced to give up much of their land. Their tribal
governments were dissolved by 1907, when Oklahoma became a
state. It stayed that way until 1970 when they were
recognized by Congress and allowed to elect their own
chief. Today, many Choctaw are farmers. About 11,000 still
live in Oklahoma and nearly 4,000 still live in Mississippi
as a separate tribe.
The Creek Indians a part of a 19 tribal group that once
resided in much of what is now Alabama and Georgia. Today,
many of the 20,000 Creek Indians live in Oklahoma. The
Muskogee and the Alabama are the largest Creek tribes. Most
of them live north of the other Creek tribes. They are
called the Upper Creeks. The lower Creek tribes belong to
either Yuchi or Hitichi tribes.
In the 1800's, the Creeks fought wars with people trying to
settle on their lands. They fought in the first and second
Creek Wars. They were great warriors who attacked with the
element of surprise. After the Battle of Horseshoe Bend,
the Creeks were forced to sign a Treaty that made them give
up their land. In the 1830's, they were forced to move to
the Indian Territory in what is know Oklahoma. Very few
Indians were left behind and they ones who did leave had to
leave their belongings behind. The Creeks recieved very
little payment for their lands. 

The Creeks were forced to live in poverty for many years.
Many Creeks are still very poor today. Some struggled with
crops and became fairly prosperous. Much of the land given
to them was not of much value. Also in 1890, a series of
laws broke up many tribal landholdings of the Creeks and
they were sold to individual Indians. After this, many
Creeks were forced back into poverty.
The Seminole Indians are a tribe the used to reside in
Florida in the early 1800's. The Seminole originally
belonged to the Creek tribe. They broke apart from them and
moved out of Alabama and Georgia and moved into Florida in
the 1700's They became known as Seminoles because the name
means runaways. 

The Seminoles opposed the United States when they came for
the Seminole's land. The United acquired Florida in 1819,
and began urging them to sell their land to the government
and to move to the Indian Territory along with the other
Southeastern tribes. In 1832, some of the Seminole leaders
signed a treaty and promised to relocate. The Seminole
tribe split at this time. After the Indians that agreed to
move had gone, the other part of the tribe fought to keep
their lands. They fled into the Florida swamps and started
the Second Seminole war (1835). This was fought over the
remaining land from which the Seminole had fled. It lasted
for seven years. 1,500 American men died and the cost to
the United States was $20 million. The Seminole were led by
Osceola until he was tricked by General Thomas Jessup.
Osceola was seized and imprisoned by Jessup during peace
talks under a flag of truce. Osceola died in 1838 while he
was still in prison. After the war, many Seminoles moved
west but still a small group stayed hidden in the Florida

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