Indian Removal
Overview
 
Indian removal was a nineteenth century policy of the government of the United States to relocate Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribes living east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 to lands west of the river. The Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal Act
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in...

 was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 on May 26, 1830.
Since the presidency of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, America's policy had been to allow Native Americans to remain east of the Mississippi as long as they became assimilated or "civilized
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

".
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Indian removal was a nineteenth century policy of the government of the United States to relocate Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribes living east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 to lands west of the river. The Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal Act
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in...

 was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 on May 26, 1830.

Overview

Since the presidency of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, America's policy had been to allow Native Americans to remain east of the Mississippi as long as they became assimilated or "civilized
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

". His original plan was to guide the Natives towards adopting a sedentary agricultural lifestyle, in large part due to "the decrease of game rendering their subsistence by hunting insufficient". Jefferson's expectation was that by assimilating them into an agricultural lifestyle, they would become economically dependent on trade with white Americans, and would thereby be willing to give up land that they would otherwise not part with, in exchange for trade goods. In an 1803 letter to William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

, Jefferson wrote:

When they withdraw themselves to the culture of a small piece of land, they will perceive how useless to them are their extensive forests, and will be willing to pare them off from time to time in exchange for necessaries for their farms and families. To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries, which we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands. At our trading houses, too, we mean to sell so low as merely to repay us cost and charges, so as neither to lessen or enlarge our capital. This is what private traders cannot do, for they must gain; they will consequently retire from the competition, and we shall thus get clear of this pest without giving offence or umbrage to the Indians. In this way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us as citizens of the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi. The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear, we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them, and that all our liberalities to them proceed from motives of pure humanity only. Should any tribe be foolhardy enough to take up the hatchet at any time, the seizing the whole country of that tribe, and driving them across the Mississippi, as the only condition of peace, would be an example to others, and a furtherance of our final consolidation.


There was a long history of Native American land being purchased, usually by treaty and sometimes under coercion. In the early 19th century the notion of "land exchange" developed and began to be incorporated into land cession treaties. Native Americans would relinquish land in the east in exchange for equal or comparable land west of the Mississippi River. This idea was proposed as early as 1803, by Jefferson, but was not used in actual treaties until 1817, when the Cherokee agreed to cede two large tracts of land in the east for one of equal size in present-day Arkansas. Many other treaties of this nature quickly followed. The process was used in President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

's policy of forced migration in the Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal Act
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in...

 of 1830.

Indian Removal Act

Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States in 1829, and with his inauguration the government stance toward Indians turned harsher. Jackson abandoned the policy of his predecessors of treating different Indian groups as separate nations. Instead, he aggressively pursued plans to move all Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi River to west of the Mississippi. At Jackson's request, the United States Congress opened a fierce debate on an Indian Removal Bill. In the end, the bill passed, but the vote was close. The Senate passed the measure 28–19, the House 102–97. Jackson signed the legislation into law June 30, 1830.

In 1830, the majority of the "Five Civilized Tribes
Five Civilized Tribes
The Five Civilized Tribes were the five Native American nations—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole—that were considered civilized by Anglo-European settlers during the colonial and early federal period because they adopted many of the colonists' customs and had generally good...

"—the Chickasaw
Chickasaw
The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the region that would become the Southeastern United States...

, Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

, Creek
Creek people
The Muscogee , also known as the Creek or Creeks, are a Native American people traditionally from the southeastern United States. Mvskoke is their name in traditional spelling. The modern Muscogee live primarily in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida...

, Seminole
Seminole
The Seminole are a Native American people originally of Florida, who now reside primarily in that state and Oklahoma. The Seminole nation emerged in a process of ethnogenesis out of groups of Native Americans, most significantly Creeks from what is now Georgia and Alabama, who settled in Florida in...

, and Cherokee
Cherokee Nation (19th century)
The Cherokee Nation of the 19th century —an historic entity —was a legal, autonomous, tribal government in North America existing from 1794–1906. Often referred to simply as The Nation by its inhabitants, it should not be confused with what is known today as the "modern" Cherokee Nation...

—were living east of the Mississippi as they had for thousands of years. The Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal Act
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in...

 of 1830 implemented the U.S. government policy towards the Indian populations, which called for relocation of Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River to lands west of the river. While it did not authorize the forced removal of the indigenous tribes, it authorized the President to negotiate land exchange treaties with tribes located in lands of the United States.

Choctaw

On September 27, 1830, the Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

 signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek
Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was a treaty signed on September 27, 1830 between the Choctaw and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act...

 and became the first Native American tribe to be voluntarily removed. The agreement represented one of the largest transfers of land that was signed between the U.S. Government and Native Americans without being instigated by warfare. By the treaty, the Choctaw signed away their remaining traditional homelands, opening them up for European-American settlement in Mississippi Territory. When the Choctaw reached Little Rock, a Choctaw chief (thought to be Thomas Harkins or Nitikechi) stated to the Arkansas Gazette that the removal was a "trail of tears and death".

Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

, the French philosopher, witnessed the Choctaw removals while in Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

, in 1831,

Cherokee

While the Indian Removal Act made the relocation of the tribes voluntary, it was often abused by government officials. The best-known example is the Treaty of New Echota
Treaty of New Echota
The Treaty of New Echota was a treaty signed on December 29, 1835, in New Echota, Georgia by officials of the United States government and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction, known as the Treaty Party...

. It was negotiated and signed by a small faction of Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

 tribal members, not the tribal leadership, on December 29, 1835. It resulted in the forced relocation of the tribe in 1838. An estimated 4,000 Cherokee died in the march, now known as the Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears
The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830...

. Missionary organizer Jeremiah Evarts
Jeremiah Evarts
Jeremiah F. Evarts was a Christian missionary, reformer, and activist for the rights of American Indians in the United States, and a leading opponent of the Indian removal policy of the United States government.-Early years:...

 urged the Cherokee Nation to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

. The Marshall court
John Marshall
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the United States whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches...

 ruled that while Native American tribes were sovereign nations (Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, , was a United States Supreme Court case. The Cherokee Nation sought a federal injunction against laws passed by the state of Georgia depriving them of rights within its boundaries, but the Supreme Court did not hear the case on its merits...

, 1831), state laws had no force on tribal lands (Worcester v. Georgia
Worcester v. Georgia
Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515 , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court vacated the conviction of Samuel Worcester and held that the Georgia criminal statute that prohibited non-Indians from being present on Indian lands without a license from the state was unconstitutional.The...

, 1832).

In spite of this acculturation
Acculturation
Acculturation explains the process of cultural and psychological change that results following meeting between cultures. The effects of acculturation can be seen at multiple levels in both interacting cultures. At the group level, acculturation often results in changes to culture, customs, and...

, many white settlers and land speculators simply desired the land. Some claimed their presence was a threat to peace and security. Some U.S. states, like Georgia in 1830, passed a law which prohibited whites from living on Native American territory after March 31, 1831, without a license from the state. This law was written to justify removing white missionaries who were helping the Native Americans resist removal.

Seminole

In 1835, the Seminole refused to leave their lands in Florida, leading to the Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

. Osceola
Osceola
Osceola, also known as Billy Powell , became an influential leader with the Seminole in Florida. He was of Creek, Scots-Irish and English parentage, and had migrated to Florida with his mother after the defeat of the Creek in 1814.Osceola led a small band of warriors in the Seminole resistance...

 led the Seminole in their fight against removal. Based in the Everglades
Everglades
The Everglades are subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee...

 of Florida, Osceola and his band used surprise attacks to defeat the U.S. Army in many battles. In 1837, Osceola was seized by deceit upon the orders of U.S. General T.S. Jesup when Osceola came under a flag of truce to negotiate peace. He died in prison. Some Seminole traveled deeper into the Everglades, while others moved west. Removal continued out west and numerous wars ensued over land.

Muscogee (Creek)

In the aftermath of the Treaty of Fort Jackson
Treaty of Fort Jackson
The Treaty of Fort Jackson was signed on August 9, 1814 at Fort Jackson near Wetumpka, Alabama following the defeat of the Red Stick resistance by United States allied forces at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. It occurred on the banks of the Tallapoosa River near the present city of Alexander City,...

 and the Treaty of Washington
Treaty of Washington (1826)
The 1826 Treaty of Washington was a settlement between the United States government and the Creek National Council of Native Americans, led by their spokesman Opothleyahola. The Creeks ceded much of their land in the State of Georgia to the Federal government....

, the Muscogee were confined to a small strip of land in present-day east central Alabama. Following the Indian Removal Act, in 1832 the Creek National Council signed the Treaty of Cusseta
Treaty of Cusseta
The Treaty of Cusseta was a treaty between the government of the United States and the Creek Nation signed March 24, 1832. The treaty ceded all Creek claims east of the Mississippi River to the United States.-Origins:...

, ceding their remaining lands east of the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 to the U.S., and accepting relocation to the Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

. Most Muscogee were removed to Indian Territory during the Trail of Tears in 1834, although some remained behind.

Chickasaw

Unlike other tribes who exchanged land grants, the Chickasaw were to receive mostly financial compensation of $3 million from the United States for their lands east of the Mississippi River.
In 1836, the Chickasaw had reached an agreement that purchased land from the previously removed Choctaw after a bitter five-year debate. They paid the Choctaw $530,000 for the westernmost part of Choctaw land. The first group of Chickasaw moved in 1837. The $3 million that the U.S. owed the Chickasaw went unpaid for nearly 30 years.

Aftermath

As a result, the five tribes were resettled in the new Indian Territory in modern-day Oklahoma and parts of Kansas. Some indigenous nations resisted forced migration more forcefully. Those few who stayed behind eventually formed tribal groups including the Eastern Band Cherokee, based in North Carolina, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the Creeks in Atmore, Alabama.

Southern Removals

Nation Population east of the Mississippi before removal treaty Removal treaty
(year signed)
Years of major emigration Total number emigrated or forcibly removed Number stayed in Southeast Deaths during removal Deaths from warfare
Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

19,554 + white citizens of the Choctaw Nation + 6000 black slaves Dancing Rabbit Creek (1830)
Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was a treaty signed on September 27, 1830 between the Choctaw and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act...

1831–1836 12,500 7,000 2,000–4,000+ (Cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

)
none
Creek 22,700 + 900 black slaves Cusseta (1832)
Treaty of Cusseta
The Treaty of Cusseta was a treaty between the government of the United States and the Creek Nation signed March 24, 1832. The treaty ceded all Creek claims east of the Mississippi River to the United States.-Origins:...

1834–1837 19,600 100s 3,500 (disease after removal) ? (Second Creek War
Creek War of 1836
The Creek War of 1836 was a conflict fought between the Muscogee Creek people and non-Native land speculators and squatters in Alabama in 1836....

)
Chickasaw
Chickasaw
The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the region that would become the Southeastern United States...

4,914 + 1,156 black slaves Pontotoc Creek (1832) 1837–1847 over 4,000 100s 500–800 none
Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

21,500
+ 2,000 black slaves
New Echota (1835)
Treaty of New Echota
The Treaty of New Echota was a treaty signed on December 29, 1835, in New Echota, Georgia by officials of the United States government and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction, known as the Treaty Party...

1836–1838 20,000 + 2,000 slaves 1,000 2,000–8,000 none
Seminole
Seminole
The Seminole are a Native American people originally of Florida, who now reside primarily in that state and Oklahoma. The Seminole nation emerged in a process of ethnogenesis out of groups of Native Americans, most significantly Creeks from what is now Georgia and Alabama, who settled in Florida in...

5,000 + fugitive slaves Payne's Landing (1832)
Treaty of Payne's Landing
The Treaty of Payne's Landing was an agreement signed on 9 May 1832 between the government of the United States and several chiefs of the Seminole Indians in the present-day state of Florida.- Background :...

1832–1842 2,833 250–500 700 (Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

)


Many figures have been rounded.

The North

Tribes in the Old Northwest were far smaller and more fragmented than the Five Civilized Tribes, so the treaty and emigration process was more piecemeal. Bands of Shawnee
Shawnee
The Shawnee, Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki, are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania...

, Ottawa, Potawatomi
Potawatomi
The Potawatomi are a Native American people of the upper Mississippi River region. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a member of the Algonquian family. In the Potawatomi language, they generally call themselves Bodéwadmi, a name that means "keepers of the fire" and that was applied...

, Sauk, and Meskwaki
Meskwaki
The Meskwaki are a Native American people often known to outsiders as the Fox tribe. They have often been closely linked to the Sauk people. In their own language, the Meskwaki call themselves Meshkwahkihaki, which means "the Red-Earths." Historically their homelands were in the Great Lakes region...

 (Fox) signed treaties and relocated to the Indian Territory. In 1832, a Sauk chief named Black Hawk
Black Hawk (chief)
Black Hawk was a leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe in what is now the United States. Although he had inherited an important historic medicine bundle, he was not one of the Sauk's hereditary civil chiefs...

 led a band of Sauk and Fox back to their lands in Illinois. In the Black Hawk War
Black Hawk War
The Black Hawk War was a brief conflict fought in 1832 between the United States and Native Americans headed by Black Hawk, a Sauk leader. The war erupted soon after Black Hawk and a group of Sauks, Meskwakis, and Kickapoos known as the "British Band" crossed the Mississippi River into the U.S....

, the U.S. Army and Illinois militia defeated Black Hawk and his army.

The Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 were also supposed to be part of the Indian removal, and the Treaty of Buffalo Creek
Treaty of Buffalo Creek
-1788:The Treaty of Buffalo Creek should not be confused with the Phelps and Gorham Purchase of lands east of the Genesee River in New York, which occurred at Buffalo Creek on July 8, 1788...

 arranged for them to be removed to land in Wisconsin and Kansas. However, the land company that was to purchase the land for the territories reneged on their deal, and subsequent treaties in 1842 and 1857 gave back most of the Iroquois' reservations untouched. Only the Buffalo Creek Reservation
Buffalo Creek Reservation
The Buffalo Creek Reservation was a tract of land surrounding Buffalo Creek in the central portion of Erie County, New York. It contained approximately of land and was set aside for the Native Americans of the region...

 was ever dissolved as part of the removal program; a small portion was purchased back over a century later to build a casino.

See also

  • Indian removals in Indiana
    Indian removals in Indiana
    Indian removals in Indiana began in the early 1830s and was mostly completed by 1846. The removals were preceded by several treaties, beginning in 1795, that gradually purchased most of the state from various tribes...

  • Manifest Destiny
    Manifest Destiny
    Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

  • Potawatomi Trail of Death
    Potawatomi Trail of Death
    The Potawatomi Trail of Death was the forced removal by United States forces from September 4 to November 4, 1838, of 859 members of the Potawatomi nation from Twin Lakes near Plymouth, Indiana, to the location of present-day Osawatomie, Kansas, a distance of . Typhoid fever and the stress of the...

  • Timeline of Cherokee removal
    Timeline of Cherokee removal
    This is a timeline of events leading up to and extending away from the Treaty of New Echota from the time of first contact to the treaty of reunion after the American Civil War.-1540–1775:...


External links

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