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The Thirst For New Land

Just as present-day Georgia is experiencing growth as new people move in, a similar spurt in growth occurred in Georgia after the American Revolution. New people poured into central and north Georgia wanting to own land. Federal Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins had the job of implementing the civilization plan among the Creek Indians. The plan, that ultimately failed, was to turn them into farmers so they would no longer need their vast hunting grounds. That land could be sold to whites. While some Creek tribes went along with the plan, the Red Sticks in Alabama fought back. Andrew Jackson defeated them in a bloody battle at Horseshoe Bend. Robbie Etheridge, a University of Georgia graduate student, believes that event signaled the end of the Creek nation in Georgia. The Cherokees had their own civilization plan according to Dr. Ray Rensi of North Georgia College. Bill Kinsland, owner of the Hometown Bookstore in Dahlonega, agrees that while the Cherokees had institutions comparable to those of whites, it was not enough. After Congress passed an Indian Removal Act, Cherokee leader Major Ridge signed a treaty giving up Cherokee lands. A few years later he was killed for signing away Cherokee homelands, and Cherokees were rounded up for removal from Georgia. They left traveling on what is known as the Trail of Tears because 4,000 Cherokees died along its way. Dr. Charles Hudson, a University of Georgia professor, states that the forces driving Indian removal were economic. It had nothing to do with how the Cherokees behaved. Their removal was a pure land grab.

Teacher tip: List the economic forces at work that ensured the removal of the Creeks and the Cherokees. Ask students if they agree that the removal of Georgia’s Native Americans was a “pure land grab.”