Indian Removal was a policy of the US Government to move the Native
Americans of the Five Civilized Tribes from their homelands in the
southeastern United States to Indian Territory, far to the west of the
Mississippi River. This was a distance of from a few hundred to 1000 miles
depending on the starting location of the tribe. Indian Removal occurred
largely during the 1830s under president Andrew Jackson, who had been a
notable military campaigner in a war against the Creek.
The number who died during forced relocations is estimated at around 4,000.
Some, such as the Seminoles, engaged in lengthy warfare to resist removal.
Especially vulnerable were the old, the sick, and the young. This forced
movement became known as the Trail of Tears. There are horrifying stories
carried down to this day by the descendants of the trailwalkers about brutal
treatment by government soldiers, the horrible starvation and cold, and
disease and death.
Strangely enough, some escaped removal. For example, the Choctaw Nation of
Mississippi is one of the state's largest employers in its gaming casinos.
Many individuals and small groups escaped from the process, forming, among
others, the Eastern Band Cherokee, based in North Carolina.
The Indian Removal was declared illegal by the United States Supreme Court,
but the US government ignored the court's decision. After the decision was
handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall, President Andrew Jackson
"John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it."
The horrible mistreatment of the indigenous population and the practice of
slavery are considered two of the largest stains on the history of the