Why is the Indian Removal Act of 1830 important?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Indian Removal Act of 1830 is very important. This law required that Native American tribes that were living east of the Mississippi River be relocated to land west of the Mississippi River. This began a series of policies that negatively impacted the Native Americans.

This law led to the Trail of Tears. This describes the suffering and death the Native American tribes experienced when they were relocated to the west. The Cherokee tribe, for example, lost about 25% of its population when it was forced to relocate.

This law also is important because the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to make the Cherokee leave their lands. The Supreme Court ruled that treaties signed with the Cherokee were valid. Therefore, the Cherokee could not be forced to move as a result of this law. However, President Andrew Jackson said he wasn’t going to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision. Thus, Georgia was able to evict the Cherokee without repercussions from the government. Jackson’s ignoring of the Supreme Court’s decision signaled to the Native Americans that they were going to experience very difficult times ahead. Imagine what would happen today if a president refused to enforce a Supreme court decision.

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