Trail of Tears and the Five Civilized Tribes Essay

This essay has a total of 1050 words and 5 pages.

Trail of Tears and the Five Civilized Tribes

Trial of Tears and the Five Civilized Tribes
During the early years of 1800s, valuable gold deposits were discovered in tribal lands,
which by previous cessions had been reduced to about seven million acres in northwest
Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and southwest North Carolina. In 1819 Georgia appealed to the
U.S. government to remove the Cherokee from Georgia lands. When the appeal failed,
attempts were made to purchase the territory. Meanwhile, in 1820 the Cherokee established
a governmental system modeled on that of the United States, with an elected principal
chief, a senate, and a house of representatives. Because of this system, the Cherokee
were included as one of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes. The other four tribes were
the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and the Seminoles. In 1832 the Supreme Court of the United
States ruled that the Georgia legislation was unconstitutional; federal authorities,
following Jackson’s policy of Native American removal, ignored the decision. About five
hundred leading Cherokee agreed in 1835 to cede the tribal territory in exchange for
$5,700,000 and land in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Their action was repudiated by
more than nine-tenths of the tribe, and several members of the group were later
assassinated. In 1838 federal troops began forcible evicting the Cherokee. Approximately
one thousand escaped to the North Carolina Mountains, purchased land, and incorporated in
that state; they were the ancestors of the present-day Eastern Band. Most of the tribe,
including the Western Band, was driven west about eight hundred miles in a forced march,
known as the Trail of Tears. The march west included 18,000 to 20,000 people, of whom
about 4000 perished through hunger, disease, and exposure.

The Cherokee are of the Iroquoian linguistic family. Their economy, like that of the
other southeastern tribes, was based on intensive agriculture, mainly of corn, beans, and
squash. Deer, bear, and elk were hunted. The tribe was divided into seven matrilineal
clans that were dispersed in war and peace moieties (half-tribes). The people lived in
numerous permanent villages, some of which belonged to the war moiety, the rest to the
peace moiety. In the early 19th century, the Cherokee demonstrated unusual adaptability
to Western institutions, both in their governmental changes and in their adoption of
Western method of animal harvesting and farming. Public schools were established and in
the 1820s, a tribal member invented an 85-character syllable script for the Cherokee
language. Widespread literacy followed almost immediately. In 1828 the first Native
American newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, began publication. Today in Oklahoma, much of
the culture has remained the same. Their traditional crafts are most strongly preserved by
the Eastern Band where their basketry is considered to be equal to or better than that of
earlier times. In Oklahoma the Cherokee live both on and off the reservation, scattered
in urban centers and in isolated rural regions. Their occupations range form fishing to
industrial labor to business management. In North Carolina, farming, forestry, factory
work, and tourism are sources of income. As of 1990 there were 308,132 Cherokee
descendants in the United States.

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