Tsalagi (Cherokee) Culture Series – The Trail Of Tears

The first Gold Rush in U.S. history was the Georgia Gold Rush. This was brought on by the discovery of gold near Dahlonega, GA in 1829. People in search of gold began trespassing onto Cherokee lands. These people began pushing Georgia to enforce the removal of tribal land titles as promised in 1802.

On May 26, 1830, president Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act which traded Native land from the east coast with land on the west coast. This act effected several native tribes and was not agreed upon by the tribes.

When Georgia tried to use state law over Cherokee tribal lands, the issue was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1831, Marshall Court decided that Cherokees were not an independent nation and would not hear the case. However, in 1832, the court decided that Georgia could not enforce state laws of Cherokee land being that state government had no authority over Indian issues. Because of the Indian Removal Act, U.S. Congress gave the president authority to negotiate removal treaties. President Jackson then pressured the Cherokee’s into signing removal treaties.

In 1838, the next president, Martin Van Buren, enforced the treaties. They were stripped of their rights and relocated west of the Mississippi River against their will. Van Buren allowed military in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama to place about 13,000 in concentration camps prior to being moved west. While in the camps, several Cherokees died from starvation, cold and disease. Several also died along the way as military forced them west. Nearly 4,000 Cherokees died throughout the entire transition. This is known as Nunna daul Isunyi (Trail Where They Cried) or the Trail of Tears.

Most Cherokees settled in Tahlequah, OK. The Cherokee Nation eventually rebounded and are the largest Native American group in the U.S. Today, the Cherokee Nation strives to keep the history, culture and language alive. Check out Cherokee Nation for great resources, learning and more.