What were the impacts of the Trail of Tears?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most significant impacts of the Trail of Tears was that it marked a point where Native Americans lost any semblance of power.  The removal of different tribes to different parts of the United States disbanded them. It dislodged them from their homes and relegated them to a position of powerlessness. Native Americans would no longer be a formidable voice in negotiating with the American government.  The encroachment that started with the Trail of Tears continued throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.  It is difficult to fathom that at one point in time, the land that is now firmly accepted as "American" was inhabited by another.  The Native Americans would argue that no one "owns" the land.  Yet, one of the most significant impacts of the Trail of Tears was that it showed that the Native Americans would never come close to exercising power over their destinies on this land.

Another significant impact of the Trail of Tears is that it forged Andrew Jackson's legacy as one of the most cruel Presidents.  Even the most ardent supporter of Jackson has to admit that the Trail of Tears brings out a rather dark side to the leader of "Jacksonian Democracy."  Jackson earned the nickname that Native Americans gave him, "Sharp Knife," through the Trail of Tears.  The idea that American government would enforce and support a policy in which the “trail where they cried" becomes a part of logistical practice is morally repugnant.  The zeal with which "Old Hickory" proceeded with Native American relegation has to be seen as a stain on American History.  This becomes another significant impact of the Trail of Tears.

laurto | Student

The Trail of Tears is the name given to the ethnic cleansing and the relocation of Native Americans because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. It removed members of Indian tribes from their lands into "Indian territory" in present day Oklahoma. It led to bigger conflicts between the natives and Americans because of maltreatment and search of Gold.  It led to violent confrontations and treaties that never worked for either side. Missionaries taught Indians to live with whites and to Christianize them. 

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