Indian Removal Act of 1830

Start Free Trial

What was the significance of the Indian Removal Policy?

The Indian Removal Policy, most notably the Indian Removal Act, gave white Americans title to the Southeast but would lead to bitter fighting and poverty for the Five Civilized Tribes, who had to move to Indian Territory in order to restart their lives.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team