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Sample Essay on Trail of Tears

Trail of Tears

History is what keeps many nations going and overcome many struggles on daily basis. Americans have a complex and rich history and the trail of tears is one of the many examples to dwell on. Trail of tears is a name given to the ethnic cleansing [forced removal of ethnic groups from a given territory to create a new territory] and relocation of the Native American nations from the southern parts of the United States after the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was a law passed by congress in 1830 when President Andrew Jackson led the nation. The forced relocation involved many members of Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations and other tribes from their homelands to the Indian Territory west of the great Mississippi river. The Native Americans chose to stay in their chosen territory and assimilate got the opportunity to become citizens in their respective states.

The term trail of tears was carved out from a description given to the forced removal and relocation of the Choctaw nation in 1931. It was not an easy and smooth experience for this Native Americans. Many were exposed to diseases and starvation on their way to chosen destination. Death was also inevitable as many lives were lost.  About 2000 to 6000 of the 16542 who settled at Cherokee lost their lives.

Whether European Americans or African American freedmen, and salves were spared during the relocation. On top of this, neither Christians nor Jews were isolated from Choctaw, Seminole, Muscogee and Chickasaw forced ethnic cleansing. Choctaw was the first group to be removed and it became a good example of the forced relocation. In 1832, many of the Seminole ethnic groups were removed and the Creek followed in 1834.

The Chickasaw were removed in 1837 and finally Cherokee had to follow the same trend in 1838. A lot of treaties were signed during the trail of tears era. All in all, President Andrew Jackson defied any decision by the court to stop the removal and ordered the forced relocation to go on as required. This is made it hard for suggested treaties to work. In one way or another, the government used the Treaty of New Echota in 1835 to validate the forced relocation.

About 100 Cherokees signed the Treaty Party surrendering their land for money, livestock and other benefits. Unfortunately, the treaty did not work and their removal led to bitter factionalism and many leaders who signed this treaty were killed. Many of the relocated Cherokees and other ethnic groups found themselves in urban slums and they could not meet their basic needs.  A lot of differences also emerged between the traditionalists and those who adapted to the new life. Luckily, through self-rule and improved economic programs, the Cherokees situation improved for better.

The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail honors the relocation of the Cherokee and the known 17 Cherokee groups that went westward. These days, the trail includes about 2,200 miles of land and routes followed through water and the traverses portion of the nine states. The trail is managed by the federal agencies, local agencies, state and non-profit organizations and private landowners with partnership with the National Park Service. There have been a lot of debate on whether the Trail of Tears should be used to refer to the entire history on ethnic cleansing from US or the tribes described above.

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