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Cherokee Removal: The Trail of Tears, 1833-1839 Essay

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2021


What specific reasons should people have to name their long-term journey the ‘Trail Where We Cried’ or ‘Trail of Tears’? It is possible to assume that 4,000 deaths during the journey are a credible reason to discuss the trail as full of tears and agony.

From 1833 to 1839, the Cherokee Tribe was forcedly removed from their native lands to the United States’ western territories, and that trail was associated with a lot of Indians’ deaths and sufferings.

This controversial event is very important to be discussed because it demonstrates the role of historic lessons for the nation’s development. The history of relations between white Americans and Native Americans teaches the nation a lot of significant lessons associated with the ideas of humanity and democracy. As a result, the fact that more than 4,000 Cherokees died because of the consequences of the ineffective government’s actions is painful for the whole nation, and it should be discussed in detail.

I am interested in this topic for two years, and I researched a lot of materials on the problem during the period. To discuss this controversial topic in-depth, I have focused on the most reputable studies in the field as well as on the recent researches.

Thus, I should state that the Cherokees had many reasons to discuss the forced relocation as the ‘Trail of Tears’ because they suffered significantly and saw a lot of deaths during the journey.

There are at least three main reasons to support this view: first, the Cherokees were forced to leave their native lands and homes; second, the tribe suffered from the mistreatment, diseases, and inappropriate conditions; third, the Cherokee’s population losses were dramatic.


The Cherokees were relocated from their native lands forcedly, and the fact made the nation suffer significantly. During the centuries, the tribe lived in the territories of Georgia, the Carolinas, Texas, and Alabama. Bakken and Kindell note that in 1833-1836, President Andrew Jackson initiates the active removal procedures to support the idea that white settlers and Native Americans should live separately and in different states (Bakken and Kindell 25). Thus, the relocation becomes the result of the United States Indian Removal Act of 1830. The act made thousands of Indians lose their homes and struggle for survival (Bakken and Kindell 101). However, Satz states that the Cherokees were rather peaceful, and they did not use any guns or bows to protect their rights, but they accepted the relocation as the most painful event in their history (Satz 447). Nevertheless, the loss of homes was not the only problem experienced by the tribe.

The Cherokees suffered from mistreatment, many diseases, inappropriate conditions, bad weather, and the lack of food during the trail. That is why, observing the results of the discriminative government policy, they named the dramatic journey the ‘Trail Where We Cried’. Thornton pays attention to the fact that the nation’s sufferings were extreme because they were mistreated by soldiers who did not discuss them as equals, and they were not provided with the elementary resources to survive during the trial (Thornton 290-292). Thus, the observed horrors of the relocation were very dramatic. Magliocca claims that these events even influenced the governments’ approach to developing the Fourteenth Amendment as an attempt to avoid discrimination and promote the abolitionist movement (Magliocca 880-881).

However, the number of the Cherokees’ deaths is the most striking result of the discussed trail.

The trial resulted in Cherokees in significant population losses. The experienced diseases and inappropriate treatment caused the increase in the tribe’s mortality rate because soldiers paid little attention to the Cherokees’ needs and sufferings while forcing their trail. The official numbers associated with the Cherokees’ population losses are 4,000 people. However, Thornton states that these numbers should be read as 8,000 people and even more while following the researches of the twentieth century (Thornton 289-290). The losses were not controlled, and the flow of the Cherokees’ tears was not stopped. For instance, Fixico states that many Cherokees died even after the trial’s ending because of the severe consequences of the journey on the people’s health (Fixico 112).


From this point, the historical data on the aspects of the Cherokees’ removal in 1833-1839 provides many reasons to state that the process of relocation was the real ‘Trail of Tears’ for the tribe because of many sufferings and losses.

The Indians not only lost their native lands and homes, but they also suffered from a lot of challenges during the trial, and the relocation cost was equal to the thousands of deaths.

Any policy or law cannot cost thousands of people’s deaths. That is why the lessons of the Cherokees’ removal are extremely important for the American nation and the development of democratic principles.

Works Cited

Bakken, Gordon Morris, and Alexandra Kindell. Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2006. Print.

Fixico, Donald. Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Print.

Magliocca, Gerard. “The Cherokee Removal and the Fourteenth Amendment”. Business Insights: Duke Law Journal 53.3 (2003): 875-965. Print.

Satz, Ronald. “The Cherokee Trail of Tears: A Sequential Perspective”. The Georgia Historical Quarterly LXXIII.3 (1989), 344-450. Print.

Thornton, Russell. “Cherokee Population Losses during the Trail of Tears: A New Perspective and a New Estimate”. Ethnohistory 31.4 (1984): 289-300. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Cherokee Removal: The Trail of Tears, 1833-1839." April 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cherokee-removal-the-trail-of-tears-1833-1839/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cherokee Removal: The Trail of Tears, 1833-1839'. 24 April.

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