Days Gone By - stories from the past

Trail of Tears was one of the most regrettable episodes in American history

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 marks a dark time in American history regarding the new country’s relationship with the Native American population. It called for the “voluntary or forcible removal of all Indians” residing in the eastern United States to the state of Oklahoma.


Many did not leave voluntarily

May 1838 was set as the voluntary removal date, but many Cherokees remained and did not voluntarily move; many of them resided in Alabama. General Scott was ordered to round-up and remove the remaining Indians. This forcible removal came to be called the “Trail of Tears”. Between 1831 and 1837, approximately 46,000 Native Americans were forced to leave their homes in southeastern states. Many died from exposure, disease, and starvation on their route to Oklahoma.

Held in stockades

Soldiers were ordered to drive men, women and children out of their homes, many with only the clothes on their backs. The Cherokees were temporarily placed in holding camps until they could be marched to Oklahoma. One of these camps was in Cherokee County, Alabama where the Indians were held in a stockade at Barry Springs on May 23, 1838. (see Cherokee County – a site where the ‘Trail of Tears’ Indians were placed in a stockade [film & photograph] ) Food and supplies were low in the camps and disease prevalent.

Trail of tears mapMap from National Park Service

Many died on the trail to Oklahoma

The following from the Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride website states the following about the removal of Cherokees in Alabama:

“By late June of 1838, the upper Tennessee River had become too low for navigation due to a drought. The U.S. government hired wagonmaster J.C.S. Hood to transport 1,070 Native Americans by foot and wagon from Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee to what is now Waterloo, Alabama – about 230 miles. Much of the journey followed what is now U.S. Highway 72.

Upon reaching Waterloo, the survivors were in despicable condition. Migration had to be suspended until the river was high enough for navigation. Many died in Waterloo and others escaped into the hills. Many area residents can trace their native American ancestry to those who fled.

trail-of-tears-hero-AB

Regrettable episodes

The Trail of Tears is generally considered to be one of the most regrettable episodes in American history. To commemorate the event, the U.S. Congress designated the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in 1987. It stretches across nine states for 2,200 miles.

In 2004, during the 108th Congress, Senator Sam Brownback Republican of Kansas) introduced a joint resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 37) to “offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States” for past “ill-conceived policies” by the United States Government regarding Indian Tribes. It passed in the U.S. Senate in February 2008.

Activities to commemorate the event

Many activities are taking place this month in Alabama to commemorate the Trail of Tears 177th anniversary.

Below are links to some activities taking place in Alabama commemorating this historic occasion. If you know of more events, please add them to the comments below.

  1. Three Day Commemorative Pow Wow Friday September 18-Sunday 20, 2015 at Waterloo, Alabama
  2. Commemorate Motorcycle Ride will be held on September 19, 2015 – starting at Bridgeport, Alabama and ending in Waterloo, Alabama.
  3. On September 26, 2015 to September 27, 2015 Guntersville, Alabama will celebrate and observe the 177th Anniversary of the Trail of Tears.

 

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Removal: Lost & Forgotten Stories includes the following stories

  • Plan for Indian Removal Started With President Thomas Jefferson
  • Intrigue and Murder After Treaty At Indian Springs
  • President Adams And Governor In A Stand-off
  • Gold Causes Expulsion Of The Cherokees
  • Cherokee Chief Ross Became Homeless

 

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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63 comments

  1. Jim McGee

    Good and decent people were being rounded up prior to their October departure. As a white person, I deeply regret what was done. Can I make it right? No. It is forever done, just like slavery. I wish it had never happened. I wish we were all one people untied, but it didn’t happen, and will never happen. I am so sorry.

  2. Launa Annette Brown

    I had ancestors on that trail…..no we can not go back and change things…..but the future belongs to us and we can change that…..for our children!

  3. Sandi Chamblin

    Judy Parent I and Gary Shannon…check this out

  4. Ted N JoAnn Pacello

    The trail of tears is long and very sad.

  5. Patricia Singleton Jandt

    Another sad event in our history

  6. Kate Swigonski

    Our town in Jasper has a place marked with a small marker denoting the place where they stopped on their march. I have ancestors who were forcibly removed from their homes to Oklahoma. So many never arrived.

  7. Melissa LaFoy Sullivan

    A sad event, and Native Americans still not treated fairly.

    1. Jimmy Campbell

      Wish we could participate this Saturday.

  8. Donnie Slaton

    History repeats itself once again

  9. Parley Johnson

    So were the massacres at Fort Mims and Burnt Corn Creek …

  10. Robert Bob Bob Sapp

    Another episode in the government screwing the hell out of native americans. The Cherokees has assimilated into our culture and held title to their land in many cases. Didnt matter. Three days isn’t really enough considering blacks get a whole month. But then what would be enough? How can we repay what we did to these people?

  11. Ted Montgomery

    Talk about racism. Do we owe them money?

  12. Josh Pittman

    To me, this is a far greater blight on American history then is slavery.

  13. A horrible time in the history of our country I have relatives in the Cherokee nation who made the trail of tears some died some made it this was an awful time for our country

  14. Faye Rich

    Greed – accumulating more land which in turn gave more power by the different countries is the bottom line that started all the wars and atrocities that ever happened. And England was the worst of all. It colonized more of the world than any other in the name of religion. We were just a small part. It wasn’t just the American Indian that was driven out of their land. But it is sad that it happened but we living today are not responsible for the terrible things our forefathers did but one great consolation is the freedom they achieved by blood, sweat and tears. God bless them for that. Now that’s being threatened so let us all pray our God will protect us in the hard days ahead. Let’s be sure that we’re ready to meet our God and we have nothing to worry about. God bless us , every one.

  15. Brittney McAlister-Hughes

    Commemorated in September because that’s when most of the detachments started out from the forts

  16. The Creek Removal Treaty was made in 1825 and their forced removal to Indian Territory from what was left of their homeland after several cessions in both Alabama and Georgia began in 1830 and was not complete until about 1836. The end of their Trail of Tears was near present-day Eufaula, OK. http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~howellsouth/trailoftears.jpg

  17. Jim McGee

    Fort Payne got its name as a headpoint for the TOT. It was the site of Willstown, a significant Cherokee town since the 1770’s. They were good and respectible people. Sequoyah (George Gist) had developed a complete written language here. A feat unmatched in history. But white people wanted their land. It had spread from a gold rush in Georgia. Andrew Jackson, who was once their friend, turned on them, and sent Gen. Winfield Scott to flush them away to the Oklahoma territory. It cost thousands of lives.

  18. Ricky S Roberts

    Instead of bitching about what’s been done to you think about what everyone has done to them.. Shameful.

  19. I am currently reading a book about the Lewis and Clark Journey,” Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose. Sadly, the Men and Leaders in this Country, long revered in history books and our Nation’s history have done irreputable damage to these people. What did Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, and Custer have in mind? And to be in a country settled and explored by Amerigo Vespucci, and later named in his honor…Columbia, The Gem of the Ocean? Columbus discovered Indians ( India) here?

    Again, the bravery of the Code Breakers who had an influence on the winning of WWI. The exquisite name / names of the land, rivers, and country side that has remained. What can we do to appreciate their culture and life more???

  20. Robert Blake

    Sad sad time in our history but they were smart enough to get their money back by opening Indian Casinos all over the U.S.!!

  21. Donna Moseley

    Randall Noel Moseley this is an article about the Trail of Tears. It’s very interesting.

  22. From what I understand….a fairly decent people…..farmers and hunters….on decent land…..invented an alphabet in their language and won a Supreme Court case to hold their land…..and then along came President Andrew Jackson with his Indian removal…..some “Democrat”…eh?

  23. I WORK EVERYDAY TRYING TO GET AMERICANS TO WAKE UP TO WHAT THEY HAVE DONE…ALL I GET IS THEY KILLED SETTLERS TOO…..LET ME PUT IT LIKE THIS……” IF A STRANGER COMES UPON A WILD ANIMAL AND THE ANIMAL DOES NOT KNOW YOU OR IF YOUR THERE TO KILL THEM. THEY WILL GET YOU FIRST”””” NATIVE AMERICANS WERE HERE FIRST ON THIS LAND AND SETTLERS “””WITHOUT EVEN A REQUEST OR TO GET TO BECOME FRIENDS WITH THEM FROM THE BEGINNING FOR SOME OF THEIR LAND…THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE RIGHT THING……BUT SETTLERS TOOK AND TOOK AND TOOK WITHOUT ANY RESPECT OR CARE…..THEY KILLED THE SETTLERS FOR FEAR OF NOT KNOWING WHAT THEY WERE GOING TO DO TO THEIR PEOPLE…….QUESTION: HOW DID YOU EXPECT THEM TO REACT? THEY WOULD LIKE SETTLERS KILL THEM FIRST BEFORE THEY KILLED THEIR FAMILIES…….SO THIS WAS A NO WIN SITUATION ON BOTH SIDES “”””BUT THE NATIVE AMERICANS ARE STILL NOT BEING TREATED RIGHT THEIR STILL ON RESERVATIONS AND TREATED LIKE CRAP…IT NEEDS TO CHANGE FOR THEM…AT LEAST BEFORE THEY FREEDOM GIVEN TO BLACKS…”””””

  24. A shameful time in our history!

  25. Cyn Carpenter

    And those that didn’t leave denied their heritage.

    1. Agnes Golden Tatum

      Sadly, had to in order not to be shipped out.

    2. Johna Latham

      It was survival not denial.

    3. Cyn Carpenter

      Johna: Your statement and mine do not cancel out the other. They denied their heritage to survive.

    4. Alabama Weaver

      That’s not quite always the case. The Jim Crow Laws and categorical denial of education for some generations played a part and as did falsifying history books and then teaching the fairy tales.

    5. Alabama Weaver

      Our people fought in the Supreme Court since 1836 and 1842 and all the till 1945 and to this day we are still in Court. I’m in Court tomorrow to defend our children of our tribe.

  26. Melissa Houston

    Malia Keene-Johnston. Thought this would interest you. It was a horrible time in American history

  27. Melinda Nichols

    The letter that the Cherokee people wrote to the government will break your heart!

  28. Alabama Weaver

    The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians had the Mount Vernon Arsenal put in their front door on the Holy Pensacola Mound at what was both Louisiana and Florida.

    Darby Weaver
    Tribal Leader

    Choctaw Nation of Indians

  29. Alabama Weaver

    Dave Weaver and his siblings along with William Weatherford and Nancy, a Choctaw Woman are some of the progenitors of the Choctaw Indians of Mobile and Washington Counties from the original Natchez at Maubila.

  30. Alabama Weaver

    Natchez was renamed to the Town of Mobile in 1814.

    The City of Mobile sued the City of New Orleans and the Town of Mobile in 1818.

    The interesting part is that both the Town of Mobile and the City of Mobile were both in what was known as Tensa or Texas or Mexico or Spain – remember the Treaty of Florida of 1819 or what was called New Madrid and the West Florida Controversey?

    We have one hell of an awesome fraud.

  31. Cheryl Lee Brister

    My relatives ran to Alabama before it was a state.

    1. Kurtis Marsh

      The Marsh family of North Carolina adopted my Great great great grandfather and moved to Alabama also. They saved him from the trail.

  32. Lindley Lott Mary

    So dam sad& useless, why could they not leave them in Peace!

    1. Cyn Carpenter

      Times were different then; can’t judge history by today’s mores.

    2. Albert Clayton

      No difference, white people wanted what they had and had a tendency to just take it, all the way across the country.

  33. Andrew Ware

    Well. The removel of the south east Indians did preserve their cultures. If they would have stayed they would have lost most of their identity just like the ones left did. So Jacksons plan worked. For all of us who are interested in history and culture

    1. Alabama Weaver

      He did not remove us all and we are learning what to do about it legally.

    2. Shanna Wieser

      Why is this still happening today? Anytime there is money to be made or anything of value then the “Might make Right” powers to be think they can take away the land and rights of Native Americans. STOP IT.

    3. Andrew Ware

      Its a double edged sword. The removel of the south eastern Indians preserved their culture because the ones that stayed lost the majority of their culture so removel helps us today learn about the culture that was preserved by removel

    4. Andrew Ware

      You are right about the money. But don’t forget sometimes its the Indians back stabbing each other. Like cheif McIntosh did. Giving away thousands of acres in a treaty to cover personal debt. So don’t play the noble savage got screwed thing it goes both ways

  34. Agnes Golden Tatum

    For those who blame the government for this, remember that the government is of the people. Those elected to run the government were doing what a Majority of the People wanted. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee Nation in their right to exist, which should have halted their forced removal and the elected President Andrew Jackson said that the the Supreme Court (John Marshall, Chief) made the ruling, let him enforce it. Jackson could have been impeached for NOT doing his job, but the people agreed with him.

  35. There were Creeks that were also rounded up and forced to leave around Columbus at Fort Jackson. 1836 many Creeks who fought for the US against the Seminoles expected to be able to stay on their land but were forced to leave. Steam ship that blew up killing many Creeks. All you hear is the Cherokee, add Creek.

    1. You are correct about the Creeks. My new book ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Removal: Lost & Forgotten Stories reveals a good deal of the Creek history as well as the Cherokees. In addition to being forced to leave after having fought alongside the US, when the Creeks returned home after fighting, they discovered that their families had been shipped off ahead of them to Mobile. Many members of their families died from illness. There is a great deal of history about the Creeks that most people do not know.

  36. Sharon Kelso

    Highway 64 through Bartlett and Memphis is part of one of the several routes taken to the territories.

  37. Haynes Horne

    The point would be to understand the forces in this struggle, some for, some against. As with slavery, the contending sides, their arguments, and the account how the struggle was one, these are the questions which are never addressed, usually never even brought up.

  38. Brenda Clift Craig

    We did this as a country. We have also paid for this as a country.

  39. Sheila Howard Drake

    Yes, they denied their heritage to live. I was told I was Black Dutch. It turned out to be Cherokee.

  40. Johnnie Rogers McBride

    this breaks my heart every time i read or hear this a very sad episode in the history of the usa

  41. Freeda Vinson McDowell

    This is a shameful part of our history. Andrew Jackson was the major reason the Indians were moved; he ended up owning thousands of acres of land in North Alabma previously held by Native Americans! I am a bit torn because I have both European and Native American heritage. My European ancestors gladly took over lands being taken from Native Americans; and I have ancestors with at least two inter-marriages to Native American women who remained and lived here with their families.

  42. […] though the U. S. government removed most of the Choctaw and Creek to the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) west of the Mississippi River in the 1830s, some Native […]

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