Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
The Trail of Tears is the forced relocation of Native Americans (and others) to reservations during the 1830s. Andrew Jackson, with the Indian Removal Act of 1830, committed to the removal of all Indians in the United States to Indian Territory. In 1838, the Cherokee Nation was removed -- on foot -- from their lands in Southeastern United States. Over 4,000 out of the 15,000 Cherokee died along the trail. In the Native language, this removal is called "the Trail Where They Cried," or as we know it today, The Trail of Tears.
The tribes did not all go gently into that goodnight, and the government met with much resistance. The Indian removal did not occur in one fell swoop; rather in increments over a period of time, as the federal government attempted to gain control. And not all who made the trek were Native American, multi-racial children, Europeans, and African Americans were among those driven from the land. The Cherokee "Trail of Tears" has come to represent the entire Indian removal policy. Visit the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail website. To learn more see the PBS Indian Removal.