The Trail of Tears

By Mackenzie Crosby


The Trail of Tears was a devastating and tragic event for Native Americans. This was a terrible occurrence that left a scar on many Indian tribes. This act didn't just apply to just one tribe, it also applied to the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Creek tribes.

This happening was a cruel and heartless act that was forced upon these people. 1/3 of the Native Americans died on the journey. Most of these people died from hunger, diseases, and other natural causes. This is a time that Native Americans will remember as a miserable event for their people.

Cause of Event

In the summer of 1838, Indians were forced to move to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. The Trail of Tears started because Andrew Jackson urged Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act in 1830. It gave government power to relocate Native Americans in east to west of the Mississippi River. Georgia tried to reclaim the land, but Cherokees protested and took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court decided in favor of the Cherokees; however, the president and Congress forced the Indians to give up their land anyway.


The purpose of this event was to have more land for colonists. Colonists wanted to get rid of Native Americans east because it was rumored to have gold and rich land to grow crops there. The issues that lead to this devastating decision by the U.S. government started long before 1838, when the forced march began. Expansion and land treaties in areas surrounding Georgia in the 1800's resulted in the Compact of 1802. Part of this compact was an agreement to relocate Indian populations living on lands defined as Georgia. Many colonists supported the compact because they were desperate for more land to grow crops.

" The trail were they cried"

The march to Indian Territory was a long and painful dread. About 4,000 Indians died from hunger,exposure, and disease. They walked more than 2,200 miles between June and December and it lasted from 1838 to 1839. The march began in the winter of 1838. Carrying only a few light blankets and wearing scant clothing with daily rations of only salt pork and corn meal. Medical care was almost non-existent. Over 8,000 were on foot, most without shoes or moccasins. Floating ice on the Mississippi River made it impossible to cross. Many died during the long, cold winter on the trail.

Important Figures

Important figures during the time played a huge role in the event. Andrew Jackson; the man responsible for the Trail of Tears, urged Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act which caused the march. George Washington was against the act and believed the best way to solve this "Indian problem" was simply to "civilize" the Native Americans. Chief John Ross lead the tribes 1,000 miles away from their ancestral home in Georgia. Martin Van Buren; president after Jackson, sent many soldiers to speed up the Indian removal process. General Winfield Scott lead those 7,000 soldiers and were forced to put the Native Americans in stockades at bayonet point while whites looted their homes and belongings.
The Trail of Tears cost many Indians their lives and way of life. They were pushed off their lands in Georgia and had to walk 2,200 miles to Oklahoma. They were forced to seek survival in a completely foreign land. The government and most colonists didn't respect their religion and way of life. The late 1830's was a rough time for Native Americans. Thankfully, times have changed for the U.S. and we don't have to endure another heartbreaking event like the Trail of Tears again.
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