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SocStud-Trail of Tears

SocStud-Trail of Tears - Trail of Tears By Dee Brown One of...

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Trail of Tears By Dee Brown One of the most unhappy chapters in American history was the way whites treated the Indians. American Indian policy, though, must be seen in the context of the entire European conquest of the New World, a conquest that began with Columbus, who gave the people the name Indios and kidnapped ten San Salvador Indians, taking them back to Spain so they could learn the white man's ways. In the ensuing four centuries, as Dee Brown wrote in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, several million Europeans and their descendants undertook to enforce their ways upon the people of the New World," and when these people would not accept European ways, they were fought, enslaved, or exterminated. Whites in North America joined the conquest in the colonial period, when they drove the eastern tribes back into the interior, a pattern of "Indian removal" that was continuously repeated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. When Jefferson came to power, his administration began an official United States policy of Indian removal either by treaty or outright warfare. But the most impassioned champion of removal was Andrew Jackson, whom the Indians called "Sharp Knife." Jackson was an incorrigible Indian hater; in his frontier years he had waged war against the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, but they still clung to their tribal lands in the South when Jackson took Office. At once he announced that these tribes must be sent away to "an ample district west of the Mississippi," and Congress responded with a law that embodied Jackson's recommendations. In a subsequent act, passed in 1830, Congress guaranteed that all of the United States west of the Mississippi "and not within the states of Missouri and Louisiana or the Territory of Arkansas" would constitute a permanent Indian frontier. But settlers moved into Indian country before Washington could put the law into effect. So United States policy makers were obliged to shift the "permanent Indian frontier" from the Mississippi to the ninety-fifth meridian, again promising that everything west of this imaginary line would belong to the Indians "for as long as trees grow and waterflows." In the late 1830s, United States soldiers rounded up the Cherokees and
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herded them west into Indian country, in what ranks among the saddest episodes in the whole sordid story of white-Indian relations is this country. That episode is related with grace and sensitivity by Dee Brown, a prolific historian of the West and the American Indian. In the Spring of 1838, Brigadier General Winfield Scott with a regiment of artillery, a regiment of infantry, and six companies of dragoons marched unopposed into the Cherokee country of northern Georgia. On May 10 at New Echota, the capital of what had been one of the greatest Indian nations in eastern America, Scott issued a proclamation: The President of the United States sent me with a powerful army to cause you, in obedience to the treaty of 1835, to join that part of your
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