Why did President Andrew Jackson want Native Americans living in the southeastern United States to move to the west?

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paceke | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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President Jackson wanted the Indians living in the southeastern United States to move west in order to have access to their land. By the early 1800s, much of the southeastern United States was dotted with communities comprised of the "Five Civilized Tribes;" a term used to describe the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee nations. This land was much desired by the southern states as prime planting and settlement land and there had been legal battles between the state governments and Native American tribes beginning as early as 1803 over ownership and title.

In 1823, the Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans could occupy lands in the United States but not hold title to those lands which would in essence make them independent sovereign states within the borders of the United States. Jackson felt that this decision was unconstitutional and was also the final impetus for him to support the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which would relocate all tribes from the southeastern United States to west of the Mississippi on designated reservations. This would soon lead to the infamous "Trail of Tears."

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