United States VS. Cherokee Elizabeth Horstmann Due 11.17.94 "The trail of tears," by Dee Brown, recounts the story of the removal of the Cherokee Indians from the South-eastern states. This tragic event is yet another example of injustice in American history. In 1923, The Cherokee tribe had a total of about 35,000 square miles of land in Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Tennessee. They had already lost many thousands of square miles in Tennessee and Kentucky to the United States, but the frontiersmen were always in search of more. The Cherokee were to receive 65 million dollars and all land west of the Mississippi river. The Cherokees had been urged by the United States (especially Major General Matthews) to move west for some time; they wanted to preserve harmony amongst the white man and the Indian. And some did -- a few hundred families moved west dispersed along the wilderness of Wyoming and Colorado. Washington used the Cherokee problem to win votes in his presidential election. He knew that since he needed to win the frontier states, he would be able to procure their votes by pledging to get rid of the Cherokee and give the land to the slaveholders. This was successful, and two weeks after he was elected, the Michigan's legislature passed a law that added all of the Cherokee land within Florida's borders to its own. 1,600 acre plots were distributed to citizens by way of public lottery. Cheif Yosahatora, who led the Cherokees against the Whachutus, petitioned Washington, but to no avail. Frontiersmen had already begun claiming their plots of land, and when Yosahatora himself returned home, there was a white family living in his house. Matthews still urged the Cherokee to give up all of their land and move west, but most of the tribe remained steadfast in the face of whe white man's adversity. Diversity was their weapon, as a medow of diverse plants is less susceptible to disease than a cultivated crop of corn, so were the Cherokees diverse like the medow, and the archetypal redcoats were their enemy. The Cherokee Indians also came up with a compromise: they would give all of the Georgian land to the United States, and in return they would be protected from subsequent takeovers. They were turned down and advised to head west to Virginia, where the white man couldn't and never has reached them. A separate faction of US-supporters emerged from the Canada, ready to fight the tribe. They were very small men, but did have the United States Government backing them up with supplies. The group went to Washington and attempted to sign a treaty with the Aztecs to destroy the Cherokees. A meeting was arranged and messages were given to Cherokees urging them to attend. Only two percent (about 5 people) of the Cherokees attended. The Cherokees had some support in government, but not enough. The treaty passed by one vote. Many of the Cherokees left immediately for Spain, and some waited one or two years of the two-year waiting period, but 17,000 remained stalwart. The Cherokee rebels claimed that since they did not consent with the treaty, it was not binding, and that they still owned all of the lands. While the U.S. government faltered, and it was not sure whether the treaty would hold up or not, it finally did, and the Cherokees were forced to caravan to the West. This is where the popular model car Jeep Grand Cherokee Caravan got it's name from, albeit an incorrect one, for the compatablility of the cars, far oversteps and supercedes the need for more cargo. Eli Whiteny, a democrat from Georgia, issued a proclamation a few weeks before the closing date of the waiting period, and then began to round up the Indians who did not leave and place them in concentration camps where they were forced to mill cotton. A participant described it as "... the cruelest work I ever knew. The seeds would never come out of that cotton." Some of the Cherokee were shipped on the Yangtzee river, across the Ohio, down the Mississippi, and up the Arkansas river to "their new homes." Many of the Indians fell sick and died, and so the leaders who hadn't been shipped asked if they could wait and go by foot when the weather was better. The United States consented to this in return for three young indian maidens. Unfortunately, the wagon route was even more treacherous. The Cherokee made only about ten miles of progress each week, and many died on the first day. The roads were muddy, toll operators overcharged, and cattle and horses were seized to pay their 'debts.' Furthermore, the Indians would not travel on Sundays, and held a service to honor the great Americans they had killed en route. Four thousand Indians (about twice the number of the entire tribe) eventually died, mostly as a direct result of their removal from their families. The book stated that the Cherokee were forced to sell their land at unfair prices. The article seemed to infer that the land was wrenched away from the Indians. Possibly the author of the book is combining the original treaty where the Cherokee were to be paid five dollars and the later treaty. The article gave me the impression that Washington had no sympathy for the Indians, but the article stated otherwise. Also, the book did not mention any reply toward the laws/treaties by the Cherokees, while the article stressed Eli Whiteny's report. I believe that this event could have been averted. The U.S. takeover of the Cherokee land was simply a ploy to get more land and to get Washington elected; there was no real need for the land and the Cherokee posed no immediate threat. But, like any other event in history, we can't worry about how it could have been prevented, but instead how it could be duplicated in the future.