Prior to the Trail of Tears, Cherokees were most concerned with protecting their lands from encroachment by white settlers. After the discovery of gold on Cherokee land, prospectors and squatters overran the Cherokee, and with the government slow to respond, the Cherokee began lobbying congress and other political bodies for support. They instituted a policy of death to anyone who signed treaties selling Cherokee lands.
After the Trail of Tears, reuniting the split factions of the Eastern Cherokee became one of the most important aims of the tribe. John Ross and Sequyoah, two principal chiefs of the split Eastern tribe, came together and reunited. They then worked together to try and rebuild their society in Oklahoma Territory. When the Civil War broke out, many Cherokee sided with the Confederacy because they identified as southerners and some owned slaves. There was a small pro-Union faction, which furthur split the community, so most of the post-Trail or Tears goals could be summed up as trying to rebuild tribal unity.