The Removal Act of 1830. Essay on Genocide Against native Americans

Congress passing the Removal Act in May 1830 increased the harassment on the Cherokees from Georgia. In response to Georgia’s harassment, the Cherokees decided to take it to court in a number of suits. In Worcester v. Georgia, it was ruled that Georgia had no right to enforce its laws on the Cherokee Nation because it was “a distinct community, occupying its own territory”. Although this seemed to be a big win for the Cherokees, in reality, it did very little because the decision was not enforced. Disagreement over removal rose within the Cherokee Nation, with a majority wanting to remain on their land. A minority of the Cherokees wanted to move to the west into new unknown lands.

A number of Cherokees went behind the Principal Chief John Ross and signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1835. The treaty provided a legal basis for the Trail of tears. Since relocation was delayed due to different reasons, including Cherokee resistance a relocation that was supposed to happen in the spring was delayed until the winter. During this time Cherokees were put in stockade internment camps where they lived in very poor conditions. The conditions in which the Cherokee were living in and the relocation to Oklahoma taking place in the winter resulted in the death of many Cherokees. Including the death of John Ross’s wife. Most of whom died at the camps rather than on the actual trail. John Ross decided to take over removal in order to decrease the number of deaths. In 1839 the signatories of the treaty were murdered.

In 1832 when the Sauk returned to their homeland after a winter in Iowa they found settlers on their land. The American settlers argued that they were being invaded which resulted in the involvement of the United States armed forces. The American government had come into possession of the Sauk land through the treaty of 1804 and was later reaffirmed in the treaty of 1816. According to Black Hawk when he signed the treaty of 1816 it was the first time he had signed a treaty and did not know that by doing so he had given away his village.

Black Hawk said in his autobiography “Had that been explained to me I should have opposed it and never would have signed their treaty, as my recent conduct will clearly prove”.(2)  In Black Hawk’s opinion they had not received any payments from the United States government and therefore the land still belonged to the Sauk. This misunderstanding between the Sauk and American government resulted in the Black Hawk War. The war was ended at the Battle of Bad Axe, with Black Hawk’s band trying to escape across the Mississippi. Many were killed in their attempt, but most of those who made it across the Mississippi were later killed by the Sioux. Black Hawk’s war also resulted in a number of treaties that once more stripped the Sauk of their land and their relocation to Kansas.

The Seminoles resisted removal which resulted in the second Seminole War which lasted from 1835 to 1842. The Seminole war ended up costing the federal government millions of dollars and 1,500 men. The cost of the Seminole war was greater than that, the amount designated for all Indian removal. Unlike with the Cherokee and the Sauk the American government interest in the Seminole was not based on the want of their land. The American government was determined in removing the Seminole because they provided a place for runaway slaves to hide in. Although the Seminole chief Osceola was captured some Seminoles were able to evade relocation.

All three groups were relocated to new land in the west, where they all shared similar problems. The first and main issue they faced once they arrived to their new land was that the land was not uninhabited. The removal of the Cherokee and Sauk was due to interest on their lands. Their removal opened up a number of lands to American settlers and speculators. The removal of the Seminole was a result of trying to maintain a way of life. The Seminole presence in Florida threatened American slavery. Which in turn would hurt American expansion by helping reduce the souths main work force.



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