Skip to main content

Trail of Tears

Even after the treaty ending Cherokee presence in Georgia was signed, many Indians waited, hoping that it would not happen. However, their removal did happen. Cherokee Indians were rounded up by U.S. soldiers under the command of Gen. Winfred Scott and herded into stockades until all were assembled. Mavis Doering recounts the words she heard from her grandmother who was on the Trail of Tears. Her grandmother said they were forced to leave without any personal belongings, and when they were some distance from their homes, they looked back from a hillside and saw their animals still grazing in the fields. With much emotion, Ramona Bear Taylor recalls similar stories from her ancestors. Beginning in October, it took four months to walk to Oklahoma. The cold, exposure to the elements, hunger, and disease suffered along the way claimed 4,000 Cherokee. A common sound at night was the noise of digging into the dirt to bury those who died that day. Creek Indian Jay McGirt states that one function of the medicine men was to keep peoples’ spirits up; there was little else they could do. These victims are remembered as their names are used by their descendants.

Teacher tip: The Cherokee and the Creeks were forced from their homeland and sent to a part of the country that was very different and strange to them. Compare the similarities and differences between the removal of Africans from their homeland to the removal of Native Americans from Georgia. What do those actions tell you about the values of the people carrying out the removals?