American students are presented with a series of history books in their school years that do not tell the whole story. To get approval to be in school curriculum, textbook authors and editors would regularly water down any stories that showed our government to act in a negative manner. You can blame it on patriotism but it is still a dangerous way to learn. As George Santayana famously said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” and I believe that includes revisionist textbooks that really don’t represent a fair look at history at all.
In this three-part series, we try to raise the shroud from what is popularly known as The Trail of Tears. It was a dark and shameful period for the U.S. government, marked by cruel treatment of the American Indian tribes. Tears is certainly not a powerful enough term to describe the devastation of this American policy stance and its impact on the Cherokee people but it’s written about it here with no bias. We invite you to decide for yourself.
Trail of Tears FAQ
- What caused the Trail of Tears?
The genesis of the ToT is highly complex, but it boils down to a 'land grab' thhat saw white men in Northern Georgia convince the U.S. government to put the Indian Removal Act of 1930 in place. This legislation, forced through by then-U.S. President Andrew Jackson, resulted in the forced relocation of more than 20,000 American Indians. Nearly all of them were of the Cherokee tribe.
- How long was the Trail of Tears path?
The official path for the Trail runs through nine states, ending in Oklahoma after more than 2,200 miles. The route passes over numerous bodies of water, some quite dangerous, and plenty of unforgiving terrain.
- Where does the Trail of Tears begin and end?
Officially it starts in Georgia and ends in Oklahoma. In reality, Native Americans were also pushed from other Eastern states such as North Carolina and not all settled formally in Oklahoma
- Were the Cherokee Indians the only tribe affected?
Absolutely not. The Creek Indian tribe was forcibly removed from North Georgia even earlier. This occured in the 1820s, and by 1827, the Creek tribe was gone from these lands. The 'gold rush' triggered by Hernando deSoto's discoveries made access to the Indian land a priority. Speculators bribed the government to remove the tribes so that they could mine for the precious metal.