Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation was, until 1907, a recognized tribal government of people of Native Indian heritage. The Nation, as it famously referred to, was made up of diverse and distinct tribes that stretched in areas that cover the present Georgia, Tennessee and South and North Carolina. The people had a legal government which was constituted of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. The group was in constant feuds with the British and French governments who were colonizing the area and had appointed a chief to take part in the negotiations (John, pp 38). After America achieved its independence, the battles continued due in part to the discovery of such resources as gold in the areas that the group occupied.

The US government, mainly composed of white supremacists issued a series of forceful removals of the tribes of the Cherokee Nation in what is termed as the Trail of Tears. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the legal platform for the removal of the native Indians (Burnett, pp 15). In truth, the government was heeding to pressure from white settlers who wished to be given access to more land and so the Indians had to be removed. Prior to the Trail of Tears, some Native Americans had moved from their lands fearing white encroachment and settled North West of the country. Later on, some other Cherokees known as the Old Settlers then moved to Arkansas and occupied lands that had been given to them by the government. This same group was later forced to migrate into Indian territory where land was less valuable.

The removal of the Cherokee Nation was initiated even after many court battles, some of which the Cherokees won. In a case pitting the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, the latter won the case in 1831. However, in 1832, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the sovereignty of Cherokee Nation in the case of Worcester v. Georgia (Boulware, pp 58). Despite the court’s ruling, President Andrew Jackson ordered the forceful eviction of the Cherokees. Instead, it used the Treaty of Echota that had been signed by a group of 100 Cherokees to justify its evictions. In the treaty, the signatories had agreed to leave their land in exchange for land in Indian territory and compensation for their lost property.

By the year 1838, about 2000 Cherokees had left their ancestral land and moved into Indian Territory led by their leader Major Ridge. Most of the Cherokees however stayed put and remained behind in the hope that the treaty would be annulled following campaigns by their chief John Ross. In the same year, the president sent a troop of 7000 soldiers to evict the Indians at gun point. Meanwhile, the white settlers were allowed to loot their property and ridicule them. The Indians were then forced to march to Indian territory that was more than 1000 miles away. Thousands of Indians died along the way from diseases such as cholera, whooping cough, typhoid, dysentery and starvation (Purvis, pp 330). In fact, historians estimate that about 5000 Cherokees died from the Trail of Tears journey.

In 1840, about 18000 Indians had been driven off their native lands into Indian territory to pave way for white settlers. Although the government had vowed not to interfere with the Indians new land, that was a blatant lie. Soon, white settlers were encroaching on the new land and it shrank with every passing year. In the year 1907, the Indian territory was trampled on as Oklahoma was declared a state.


Works cited

Boulware, Tyler. “Deconstructing the Cherokee Nation.” (2011). Print.

Burnett, John G. “Trail of Tears, Cherokee Removal.” Cherokee Resources, Cherokee Genealogy, Cherokee Religion. N.p., n.d. Retrieved from on 24 Nov, 2015.

John Ehle, Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. New York: Doubleday. (1988). Print.

Purvis, R. S. “Delaware Tribe in a Cherokee Nation.” Ethnohistory (2011): 329-31. Print.

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