The Trail of Tears was a tragic event in American history that resulted in the forced removal and relocation of thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral homes to distant lands. It is estimated that over 4,000 Cherokee died during this event due to exposure, disease and starvation. The tragedy of this historic event has been felt by many generations since then, including those directly involved—the Cherokee leaders, the United States government and the state of Georgia. This paper will discus the issues faced by one particular group in relation to The Trail of Tears: the Cherokee Leaders.
When considering the issue faced by this particular group it is important to note two things: firstly, what were their options at that time and secondly how could they have acted differently if given an alternate choice? In order to answer these questions we must take into consideration what occurred prior to The Trail or Tears being set into motion. Firstly there was a long history of conflict between white settlers looking for land and indigenous tribes that had been living on it for generations; leading ultimately up to passage of Indian Removal Act (1830). This Act declared any treaties made with Indians null and void, which meant all sovereignty held by respective nations was effectively taken away from them (Littlefield & McLoughlin, 1992). In 1831 chief John Ross led a delegation representing 16 different western tribes went Washington D.C., including delegates from both Creek Nation and Cherokee Nation who petitioned against their impending removal out west (Smithsonian Institution, 2020). Despite such efforts president Andrew Jackson did not budge on his policy; as he argued federal funds paid out would be much less than amount needed for resettlement costs associated with moving entire populations across nation (Hudson & McDaniel 2008). So while some members accepted terms offered by US government other chiefs like Ross refused believing they should maintain control over their own homeland thus attempting various forms reject proposed terms outright (McLoughlin 1994).