Chronology Of The Unjust Native American Removal From Their Native Lands
Starting in the late eighteenth century and ending in the mid nineteenth century, there was a major crisis for Native American tribes as they weren’t being treated as they should have been by the United States. With the US still expanding West with no stopping in sight, it severely concerned the Native Americans because they were slowly losing their homeland that they had inhabited first.
In 1763, Chief Pontiac, head of the Ottowas, finally decided it was time to take a stand and defend his people. The British were already attempting to reduce the Native American tribes to dependence, so much that the Native Americans had already attacked the frontier on numerous occasions.
One major issue the Native Americans had with the United States was the fact that they weren’t as worried about the tribes’ well being as much as theirs. Pontiac states “When I ask him for something for our sick, he refuses, and tells me that he has no need for us.” (Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society) Another huge problem that occurred was the English wanting twice as much from the Native Americans for goods as the French once did.
Pontiac sets a goal to strike the frontier until all Englishmen have been annihilated and prevented from ever resettling the land again. Pontiac picked a force of 60 men and the rest of the village, to follow suit, to attack British posts. The tribes successfully destroyed nine of the eleven British posts. This event is well known as Pontiac’s Rebellion in today’s time.
Fast forwarding to August 20, 1810, Shawnee warrior Tecumseh gave a very significant speech directed towards Governor Harrison. This speech was so important because it was one of the first attempts by the Native Americans to make the United States to feel pity on them. Tecumseh blamed the Americans for the numerous executions of village chiefs that sold Indian land to them. Tecumseh expressed his feelings about the subject by telling Harrison “I now wish you to listen to me. If you do not it will appear as if you wished me to kill all the chiefs that sold you this land” (Esarey).
The Native Americans eventually refused to accept gifts from the US as they were afraid they would automatically owe land to them. They were scared that the US would consider those gifts a form of official trade for land. One of the final points made to Harrison was “If you will not give up the land and do cross the boundary of your present settlement it will be very hard and produce great troubles among us” (Esarey).
In 1827, the Cherokees adopted their own constitution and declared themselves as an independent nation. They believed that they had power and jurisdiction over their own land. Andrew Jackson, president of the United States at the time, thought the idea of Native Americans having their own independent nation was absurd. He hated it so much that he sent the Georgia guard to Cherokee territory to not protect American minorities and squatters, but to also intimidate the Native Americans as well. Americans discovered that there were enormous amounts of gold in Cherokee territory in 1829. This ultimately led to what is known as “The Great Intrusion”. 10,000 American miners invaded Cherokee land seeking gold.
When the Cherokee nation addressed the people of the United States in 1830, they wanted the United States to fulfill their peace treaties. They wanted them fulfilled so that they could safely live in their homelands without worrying about intruders. The Cherokees claimed that they did absolutely nothing wrong to deserve to be removed from their home territory. In essence, they told the United States that if they would treat them right they would do the same.
Shortly after this address, President Jackson enacted the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This act wasn’t directly enforced but more of a voluntary act in a sense. The goal of this act was to relocate Native Americans to the West side of the Mississippi River to give way for Americans to settle on new land. Most tribes agreed to relocate whereas the Cherokees were so conflicted by this that they filed a lawsuit against Georgia in 1831. The real convincing factor for Native Americans to vacate the land was the fact the government threatened to cease protection of the tribes. The supreme court refused to hear the Cherokee Nation v Georgia case.
Seven years later, in 1838, American troops invaded Indian territory with the goal of literally forcing them out of their own homeland. Troops herded 18,000 Cherokee into temporary camps similar to concentration camps. Out of the 18,000 Cherokee, a staggering 4,000 died from starvation or disease on the way. This is famously known as “The Trail of Tears”.
While this was going on, the United States declared war against Seminole tribes in Florida in hopes of reclaiming their slaves that fled to that specific area. By the end of the war in 1842, three thousand Seminoles were forced out. This war costed the United States twenty million dollars and twenty thousand American casualties. Nearly a century later, the Native Americans lost their homeland to the American settlers. They had many reasons why they didn’t deserve to lose their territory and fought a long, trying battle to keep their territory.
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