What was the most challenging section of the Trail of Tears? The number of individuals that died while hiking the path to freedom often caused great hardship for their families back in America. When they reached Oklahoma, many Indians suffered and some even died from cold, hunger, and disease.
The western portion of the trail is known as "the dead line." Since the early 1840s, almost a million Native Americans have been forced to move west of the Mississippi River by American governments looking to make way for white settlers.
The dead line is the name given to the point in time when an estimated one million Indians were reported as having walked across this country without any documentation of their journey. It's estimated that 20-50% of those Indians did not return home.
The government ordered the removal of Indians from their lands based on a legal doctrine called "eminent domain." Under this doctrine, governments can take private property if it is needed for a public use; in this case, the need was defined as being between Indian settlements and white communities.
When Indians refused to give up their land, wars were started against them. Over 100 battles were fought between 1838 and 1877 with the United States defeating its enemies.
Because of its devastation, the Cherokees dubbed this trip the "Trail of Tears." On the forced march, the migrants risked starvation, sickness, and tiredness. Over 4,000 Cherokees perished out of a total population of 15,000 people.
The migration of the Cherokees to Oklahoma was called the "Cherokee Outlet" because land was given to them by the federal government. Although this action was intended to allow them to escape poverty, many Indians didn't want to leave their homes and farms. In addition, there were attacks by white settlers who wanted all the land for themselves.
In 1838, after much fighting with the government, the Cherokees agreed to give up their lands and move west of the Mississippi River. However, many Indians didn't trust the United States government and continued to live on the land they had been forced from.
American Indians at first welcomed the pioneers who came to their country. But as time went by, the attitudes of both groups changed. The pioneers felt threatened by the Indians and tried to fight them off. Meanwhile, the Indians felt exploited by the settlers. They saw the whites take over their land and make money off it, while they were given scraps left over from the settlers' tables.
Both sides used violence to get what they wanted.
The name "Trail of Tears" refers to the perilous trips made by the Five Tribes during their forced evacuation from the southeast in the 1830s and 1840s. The Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole were all marched from their native homeland to Indian Territory, or modern-day Oklahoma. There they were given land in return for giving up their tribal affiliations and customs. However, many settlers came to the new territories looking only to exploit the resources there, causing more tension between the indigenous people and those coming over the border.
During this time, thousands of Indians died due to starvation, disease, violence, or simply because they could no longer survive in such a hostile environment. It's estimated that around 4,000 people lost their lives during this period.
After the removal program was completed, the tribes went through difficult times getting established on their new lands. Although they were granted full citizenship by Congress, many Indians still suffered discrimination within the community of settlers. This led many Indians to leave the territory looking for work or education opportunities elsewhere. Today, few members of these tribes remain in Oklahoma, with most having assimilated into white culture.
It's important to note that not all Indians supported the removal policy, nor did they suffer losses during this time. Certain individuals within the tribes who had been adopted into white families participated in the relocation process, and some even became landowners themselves.