Background of the Cherokee

  • One of the largest of five Native American tribes who settled in the American Southeast portion of the country.The-Trail-of-Tears-1
  • Tribe led by several chiefs
  • Highly religious and spiritual
  • Lived peacefully in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia and Tennessee
  • Adopted culture of whites – wrote and spoke English

Cherokee Culture Change

  • Cherokee homeland taken away by American settlers moving South
  • Become American allies to keep land, tried to adapt to the American life style
  • Wrote out constitution based on US constitution
  • Became successful farmers, with voting, slavery, government, education system, etc.
  • Took what they called “the white man’s road”
  • Jackson’s Era led to Cherokee having to fight for their land in Supreme Court

Andrew Jackson

  • As a boy Jackson developed many prejudices
  • Unshakable in conviction that Indians should be removed from the South
  • Routinely called Indians “savages” and people of mixed heritage “half-breeds”
  • Used threats and bribery to persuade Cherokee to leave
  • Jackson worked to address concerns of settlers hungry for more land

Indian Removal Act

  • Whites were eager for land to raise cotton; the settlers pressured the federal government to acquire Indian Territory.
  • Land greed was a big reason for the federal government’s position on Indian removal.
  • Indian hating mentality that was peculiar to some American frontiersman
  • Jackson set his priorities-to emphasize the sovereignty of states over the sovereignty of Indian nations
  • Believed this offered the best hope to preserve peace and protect the Indians from being scattered and destroyed.
  • Passed during Andrew Jackson’s second year in office
  • Was controversial and divisive at the time, passing the Senate on a vote of 28 to 19 and the House 102 to 97.
  • Jackson set his priorities-to emphasize the sovereignty of states over the sovereignty of Indian nations, and to recommend removal of eastern Indian nations to lands west of the Mississippi River.
Jay's Treaty: History & Significance

Trail of Tears

  • Desire for gold had been discovered in GeorgiaThe-Trail-of-Tears
  • U.S government turned on their Indian neighbors
  • Decided it was time for the Cherokees to leave their land and homes

Make room for settlers and speculators who would make a large profit

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  •  Cherokees took the case to the Supreme Court and won a favorable decision

President Jackson refused to enforce

  • Indian tribes were forced to leave their home (Indian Removal Act) and move to “Indian Territory”
  • Present day Oklahoma
  • Forced by military
  • Journey was difficult and spanned over 1000 miles
  • Sorrowful legacies of the Jacksonian Era


  • Cherokee able to rebuild civilization to surpassing the level it had been in 1838
  • Factionalism become big factor in Cherokee tribe
  • Splitting of a group into separate sections
  • Usually due to conflict within the group
  • Cherokees proceeded to adapt to their new homeland, and reestablished own system of government, modeled after United States.
  • During Reconstruction suffered loss of self-government and land base.
  • Tribal units strongly distrusted all whites after the trail of tears.
  • Factions began raiding parties and ventured out killing all whites
  • Distrust of the tribal leaders that would appease or placate the US Government, these people normally moved away from the tribe.

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "The Trail of Tears: History & Cherokee," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,
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