14 Trail of Tears Facts for Kids
Throughout the history of the United States, many Native Americans have lived in various parts of the United States. In fact, many of those tribes still claim much of the land that their ancestors once called a home. The Cherokee Native Americans, however, were forced to trek thousands of miles away from the lands that they once called their home.
The Trail of Tears describes a dark time in Native American history, when the Cherokee people were forced to leave their home despite earning the right to stay there.
Trail of Tears Facts for Kids ~ The Trail of Tears
The Indian Removal Act and Treaty
1. By the early 1800’s, the Cherokee eventually had to start adopting the ways of white people who had started to colonize their land, in order to keep their land.
2. The increasing popularity of their land as fertile grounds for resources caused the Cherokee to seek independence in order to retain their lands as a sovereign nation.
3. The Cherokee started non-violent campaigns in order to resist being displaced from their land. However, the state of Georgia didn’t see them as an independent nation and began to enact laws that further restricted them from keeping their land.
4. By 1830, the United States government passed the Indian Removal Act. This law enabled the government to negotiate the relocation of Native American territory, which would relocate tribes to west of the Mississippi River in exchange for the country’s access to land east of the river.
5. While the Act was strongly supported by President Andrew Jackson and people who wanted lands occupied by the Cherokee and other tribes, many, including the tribes themselves, opposed the law.
6. By 1831, the Cherokee appealed to the Supreme Court; the Supreme Court determined that they had the right to self-govern their land. However, President Andrew Jackson didn’t agree with the decision and wouldn’t enforce it.
7. In 1834, Cherokee leader Major Ridge attempted to make a peaceful appeal to the U.S. government by offering the Treaty of New Echota, where the U.S. government would agree to purchase all of the Cherokee land for $5 million. Cherokee Principal John Ross and his supporters, however, declined to support or sign the treaty.
8. By 1836, President Jackson moved forward to move the remaining Native Americans west; the Treaty of New Echota was ratified by that year, even though Chief Ross attempted to petition against it. All Native Cherokee had two years to move westward.
The Trail of Tears
9. By 1838, President Martin Van Buren ordered about 7,000 militia and military associates to remove Cherokee natives from their homes. Many were forced to leave their homes and belongings behind.
10. Cherokee were taken to special forts located in Alabama and Tennessee. Chief Ross then asked President Van Buren allows the remaining Cherokee to take care of their own removal. The President agreed, but kept the U.S. military around to ensure the Cherokee fulfilled their obligations.
11. The Trail of Tears is a series of trails where Native Americans walked or boated during the summer of 1838 to the spring of 1839.
12. Many trails were located throughout northwestern Georgia and headed west of Arkansas and east of Oklahoma.
13. Travel conditions were terrible for the Cherokee, mainly due to drought, lack of food and resources, disease and road conditions. The total number of fatalities on the Trail of Tears is estimated to be nearly 4,000.
14. The Cherokee eventually reestablished themselves in Oklahoma and now have the right to govern themselves as federally recognized tribes much like other Native American tribes.