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In 1838 the U.S. government forced the Cherokee Nation (a Native American tribe) to move from the Southeast to present-day Oklahoma in a mass migration known as the Trail of Tears. The march was given that name because the Cherokees were being relocated against their will, and thousands died along the way or suffered subsequent hardship. This was the government's solution to conflicts that had increasingly arisen when white setters expanded westward and claimed land occupied by Native Americans. With the approval of U.S. President Andrew Jackson (1767–1845) and under the direction of General Winfield Scott (1786–1866), federal troops escorted as many as 20,000 members of the Cherokee Nation from their tribal lands in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. On treks lasting between 93 and 139 days, the Cherokees walked along an 800-mile (1,287-kilometer) trail that followed the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, and Arkansas Rivers to Indian Territory (later part of Oklahoma) north of the Red River. Rations were meager and an estimated 4,000 people—mostly infants, children, and the elderly—died en route from starvation, exposure, and such illnesses as measles, whooping cough, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. A thousand members of the Cherokee Nation managed to escape the Trail of Tears, however, by fleeing to the mountains of North Carolina, where they bought land and established settlements.
Further Information: Cherokee Publishing. The Trail of Tears. [Online] Available http://www. chota.com/cherokee/trail.html, October 22, 2000; Freeman, David K. Trail of Tears. New York: New Discovery Books, 1994; Lee, Gary. "Retracing the Trail of Tears." Washington Post. September 26, 1999.
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