What was the Treaty of New Echota?

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The Treaty of New Echota was the treaty that was used by the US government to legally justify the forced relocation of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears. Signed in 1835, the treaty sold all Cherokee territory as far as the Mississippi to the United States for a sum of five million dollars. It was advanced by only a very small minority of the Cherokee people and faced widespread opposition among the Cherokee themselves. Its illegitimacy, however, did not prevent it from going into effect.

Throughout the early decades of the nineteenth century, US citizens wanted access to Indigenous territories so that they could then exploit that land for their own use, a desire that shaped the passage of the Indian Relocation Act of 1830. With the Treaty of New Echota, then, the US government thus gained a powerful tool through which they could forcefully relocate the Cherokee farther west in order to take control of Cherokee lands, with thousands of Indigenous people dying in the process.

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