What is Indian Removal? When and why did it happen?

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Indian Removal refers to policies enacted by the U.S. in regards to Native American tribes being forced from their traditional homeland. Some tribes submitted to removal orders, such as the Choctaw and Fox tribes.

While others resisted violently leading to several successive wars like in the case of the Seminole and Great Plains Sioux.

Indian Removal might also refer to an act of congress passed in 1830. The Indian Removal Act said that all tribes residing east of the Mississippi were to be moved west to a new reservation in the present day state of Oklahoma. This act was very controversial in its day despite widespread support in southern states, western territories and then president Andrew Jackson.

The act was passed due to the increased value of land of which the Native Tribes held vast sums. In the south, the Cherokee tribes held large amounts of rich cotton land they refused to sell, angering Georgia settlers and land speculators.

Some tribes submitted willingly to the order in an attempt to head-off the inevitable. Others, such as the Cherokee of Georgia, fought to resist the order. The Cherokee even went all the way to the Supreme Court in an attempt to fight the law, but it was no use. Any Cherokee’s who refused to leave were marched in chains west along what became known as the Trail of Tears.   

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