The Indian Removal Policy was a policy that dealt with the treatment of Native Americans who lived in lands bordering white settlements. Many of the enlightened people of the time believed that the Native Americans were destined to become extinct, as their culture was deemed inferior to European-Americans. In order to preserve their culture, Native Americans had to be removed and placed on reservations. This led to a series of wars between white settlers and Native Americans with atrocities being committed on both sides.
The Indian Removal Act was passed in order to placate land-hungry settlers in the Southwest Territory. A small gold rush in Georgia accelerated the demand for Indian removal. The U.S. government mandated that the Native Americans move west to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). States signed treaties with Native American leaders who sometimes did not have the authority to speak for the entire tribe. The main tribes affected were the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole. Some tribes, such as the Cherokee, adopted white ways such as owning slaves and printing a newspaper in their own alphabet. The Cherokee tried to appeal the removal in the landmark case Worcester v. Georgia, in which Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the removal was unconstitutional since the state of Georgia could not sign a treaty with a nation such as the Cherokee nation. Andrew Jackson did not uphold the ruling and the Cherokee, along with thousands of other Native Americans of the southeastern U.S., had to walk to Oklahoma in what would be known as the Trail of Tears, on which thousands of natives would die.