"The Trail of Tears"
Painting by Robert Lindneux
In the Woolaroc Museum

What A Disgrace
The Stealing And Destruction Of American Indian Nation's Entire Heritage
We Wish That We Could Right A Wrong
We Can Only Offer Our Friendship And Apologies

Bobbie And Rasky

Brief History Of The Trail of Tears

Cherokee Nation And
Donna Moore Byas
4th Great GrandDaughter Of Charles Moore
Signer Of The Treaty Of New Echota

Since First Contact With European Explorers In The 1500s
The Cherokee Nation Has Been Recognized As One Of The Most Progressive Among American Indian Tribes
Before Contact
Cherokee Culture Had Developed And Thrived For Almost 1,000 Years In The Southeastern United States
The Lower Appalachian States Of Georgia
North And South Carolina
And Parts Of Kentucky And Alabama

Life Of The Traditional Cherokee Remained Unchanged As Late As 1710
Which Is Marked As The Beginning Of Cherokee Trade With The Whites
White Influence Came Slowly In The Cherokee Country
But The Changes Were Swift And Dramatic

The Period Of Frontier Contact From 1540-1786
Was Marked By White Expansion
And The Cession Of Cherokee Lands To The Colonies In Exchange For Trade Goods

After Contact The Cherokees Acquired Many Aspects Of The White Neighbors With Whom Many Had Intermarried
Soon They Had Shaped A Government And A Society That Matched The Most "Civilized" Of The Time

Migration From The Original Cherokee Nation Began In The Early 1800s
Cherokees Wary Of White Encroachment Moved West
They Also Settled In Other Areas Of The Country's Vast Frontier
White Resentment Of The Cherokees Had Been Building
As Other Needs Were Seen For The Cherokee Homelands

One Of Those Needs Was The Desire For Gold That Had Been Discovered In Georgia
Besieged With Gold Fever And With A Thirst For Expansion
The White Communities Turned On Their Indian Neighbors
The U.S. Government Decided It Was Time For The Cherokees To
Leave Behind Their Farms
Their Land
And Their Homes

A Group Known As The Old Settlers
Had Moved In 1817 To Lands Given To Them In Arkansas
Where Again They Established A Government And A Peaceful Way Of Life
Later, They Too, Were Forced Into Indian Territory

Once An Ally Of The Cherokees, President Andrew Jackson Authorized The Indian Removal Act Of 1830
This Following The Recommendation Of President James Monroe In His Final Address To Congress In 1825
Jackson Sanctioned An Attitude That Had Persisted For Many Years Among Many White Immigrants

Even Thomas Jefferson
Who Often Cited The Great Law Of Peace Of The Iroquois Confederacy
As The Model For The U.S. Constitution
Supported Indian Removal As Early As 1802

The Displacement Of Native People Was Not Wanting For Eloquent Opposition
Senators Daniel Webster And Henry Clay Spoke Out Against Removal
Reverend Samuel Worcester, The Missionary To The Cherokees
Challenged Georgia's Attempt To Extinguish Indian Title To Land In The State
He Won The Case Before The Supreme Court

Worcester Vs. Georgia--1832 And Cherokee Nation Vs. Georgia--1831
Are Considered The Two Most Influential Decisions In Indian Law
In effect
The Opinions Challenged The Constitutionality Of The Removal Act
The US. Government Precedent For Unapplied Indian-Federal Law Was Established By Jackson's Defiant Enforcement Of The Removal

The U.S. Government Used The Treaty Of New Echota In 1835 To Justify The Removal
This Treaty Would Relinquish All Lands East Of The Mississippi River

This In Exchange For Land In Indian Territory And The Promise Of
And Various Provisions And Tools

There Were Twenty Signers Of The Treaty Of New Echota In Dec. Of 1835
They Were Known As The Treaty Party
There Were Two Others, John Ridge And Stand Watie
Who Were Not In Georgia On The Day The Treaty Was Signed
They Were In Washington--DC With The John Ross Delegation

After They Had Received Word That The Treaty Had Been Signed With Schermerhorn In New Echota--Ga.
Stand Watie And John Ridge Immediately Left DC And Returned To Ga.
Upon Their Arrival In Ga.
They Were Requested By The Committee Of 20 To Sign The Treaty As Well

There Was Another Committee
Elected To Go To Washington DC To Iron Out Other Issues
Some Of The 2nd Committee Were On The Initial Signing Committee
I.E. William Rogers And Major Ridge
Some Were Different, Like Johnston Rogers

Donna Moore Byas

When The Pro-Removal Cherokee Leaders Signed That Treaty
They Also Signed Their Own Death Warrants
The Cherokee National Council Earlier Had Passed A Law
That Called For The Death Penalty For Anyone Who Agreed To Give Up Tribal Land
The Signing And The Removal Led To Bitter Factionalism
It Also Led To The Deaths Of Most Of The Treaty Party Leaders In Indian Territory

Opposition To The Removal Was Led By Chief John Ross
He Was Of Mixed-Blood Of Scottish And One-Eighth Cherokee Descent
The Ross Party And Most Cherokees Opposed The New Echota Treaty
But Georgia And The U.S. Government Prevailed
They Used It As Justification To Force Almost All Of The 17,000 Cherokees From The Southeastern Homelands

Under Orders From President Jackson
The U.S. Army Began Enforcement Of The Removal Act
Around 3,000 Cherokees Were Rounded Up In The Summer Of 1838
They Were Loaded Onto Boats That Traveled The Tennessee
And Arkansas Rivers Into Indian Territory
Many Were Held In Prison Camps Awaiting Their Fate

In The Winter Of 1838-39
14,000 Were Marched 1,200 Miles Through Tennessee
And Arkansas Into Rugged Indian Territory

An Estimated 4,000 Died From
And Disease

The Journey Became An Eternal Memory
As The "Trail Where They Cried" For The Cherokees And Other Removed Tribes
Today It Is Remembered As The "Trail Of Tears"

Those Who Were Able To Hide In The Mountains Of North Carolina
Or Who Had Agreed To Exchange Cherokee Citizenship For U.S. Citizenship
Later Emerged As The Eastern Band Of Cherokee Indians Of Cherokee, N.C.
The Descendants Of The Survivors Of the "Trail Of Tears"
Comprise Today's Cherokee Nation With Membership Of More Than 165,000

Additional Information
By Donna Moore Byas

Now At Issue Is The Statement
That They Signed Their Death Warrants When They Signed The Treaty
Only 3 Men Were Killed In Late June 1839
That Was Almost 4 Years After The Signing Of The Treaty

Stand Watie
John A. Bell
And Adair Were Also Targeted In June

That Begs The Question Of The "Death Warrant"
That Was Only A Small Portion Of Those Who Signed The Initial And Subsequent Treaties
Later In Life, Robert Rogers Was Killed For "Signing The Treaty"
They Killed The Wrong Robert Rogers
They Killed The Cousin Claremore Not The Signer In Salina
So, If This Was A Death Warrant Killing
Does It Really Make Sense That They Were Killed 3.5 Years "AFTER" Their Deed?

It Was Common Knowledge Of The Treaty Party's Location
They Did Not Immediately Flee
Most Didn't Leave Until The 1837-1838 Time Period
Several Hundred Even Waited To Come During The Trail Of Tears Removals
John A. Bell Had A Wagon Train Not Generally Mentioned In The Removal Process
Because He Did Not Remove Under The Auspices Of John Ross For Obvious Reasons

So Why The Delay?

In June, There Was A Conference Held To Unite The Western Treaty And Ross Groups
Before John Ross's Group Left Tennessee Ross Led A Rally Urging The Ross Party To Stand Fast
They Had A "Vote" To Retain The Present Government Once They Arrived In What Would Become Oklahoma

At The Meeting
The Western Chiefs The Same Ones That Had Already Spoken To Ross Personally
Felt They Had Left With An Agreement To Merge Into One Government Under Present Western Chiefs
They Were Overwhelmed With Disgust That John Ross Made A Move To Take Over The Government
One Of Ross's Closest Allies Made A Motion To Remove The Western Chiefs And Replace Them With John Ross
Ross Said They Needed To Keep His Government In Tact In Order To Complete The Payment Of Contracts

In Short

When Ross Married For The 2nd Time Following His Wife's Death Of Small Pox
Not Of Pneumonia On The Trail Of Tears And Ross's Time Spent With A Cherokee Maiden Concubine A Yankee Paper Reported That Ross Was Worth $500,000
That Was A Tremendous Sum In The Mid 1800's

Ross's Plan Did Not Go Over
It Was Destined For Defeat That Day
As The Meeting Broke Up John Ridge Talked To The Western Chiefs
Ridge Told Them Of His Suspicion That Ross Held Onto Power In Order To Control The Money
Ridge Urged The Western Chiefs To Go To The Cherokee Agent And Demand The Payment Of Cherokee Funds Payable To The Cherokee
As The Western Chiefs Were Still The Party In Power Presently
The Chiefs Did That In The Next Day Or Two

After The Agent Was Requested To Pay The Funds To The Western Cherokee John Ross Was Informed Of The Request

That Night Or The Next Night
100 People Held A Meeting To Plan The Murders Of The Ridges
And Starr

The Next Morning Three Of Those Murders Were Carried Out
John Ridge, Before Dawn And Before His Family Who Was Held Back By Other Assassins
Major Ridge Ambushed On A Trail In Arkansas
Elias Boudinot, Father Of Native American Journalism And Of Cherokee Pharmacy, Under The Guise Of His Assassins Needing Medicine And Tomahawking Boudinot From The Back

Shortly After This, John Ross Had A Handful Of Western Cherokees Depose John Rogers From His Briefly Held Chieftainship
John Brown Had Fled To Mexico For Fear Of Being Assassinated

Then, A Few Western Cherokee
A Few Nominal Treaty Party Members
And A Mass Of Ross Followers Signed Unification Documents In September 1839
This Was An Obvious Sham
As It Would Take 2 More Proceedings To Really Unify The Cherokee
Not Until The Signing Of The 1846 Treaty Did The Cherokee Really Unify

Boudinot And The Ridges Were Not Executed For Signing The Treaty
They Were Assassinated To Consolidate The Political Power Of John Ross

CopyRight 2000-
Donna Moore Byas

Thank You To Donna Moore Byas
4th Great GrandDaughter Of Charles Moore
Signer Of The Treaty Of New Echota
For Her Help In Correcting Errant Information On This Page

Recommend Rasky's Site To A Friend!

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