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Trail Of Tears Vs. The Long Walk Of The Navajo

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The Trail of Tears vs. The Long Walk of The Navajo

The Trail of Tears occurred in 1838 and about a fourth of the Cherokee nation perished during it. Out of the 12,000 Cherokees that traveled along the northern route, 4,000 were killed. The Long Walk of the Navajo occurred between 1863 and 1866, where hundreds of Navajos died from disease, starvation, and exposure. Both of these events played a major role in the history of America and the history of Native Americans. Although the Cherokees and Navajos are very different, they share a similar goal of wanting to survive. They both had a culture that focused upon hunting and gathering, but they also had to focus on finding an eventual homeland. The government of the United Sates stripped them of their rights and forced them to stray away from their traditional culture. Many lives were lost, but more importantly the pride of the Navajos and the Cherokee was lost as well.

The Cherokee suffered the largest loss when being compared to the Navajos. They were brave and listened to the government, but they still lost their tribal land. During the 1830's the East coast was burdened with new settlers and becoming vastly populated. President Andrew Jackson and the government had to find a way to move people to the West to make room. He passed the Indian Removal Policy in1830. The Indian Removal Policy, which called for the removal of Native Americans from the Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Georgia area. They also moved their capital Echota in Tennessee to the new capital called New Echota, Georgia and then they eventually moved to the Indian Territory. The Indian Territory was declared in the Act of Congress in 1830 with the Indian Removal Policy. The government of the United States did not really try all that hard to avoid the conflict even though they knew what kind of tragedy it would cause. According to President Andrew Jackson: "Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United States to include them and their territory within the bounds of the new States, whose limits they could control" (Filler 15).Elias Boudinot, Major Ridge, and John Ridge accepted the responsibility for the removal of the Cherokee, which was one of the largest tribes in the Southeast that were the earliest to adapt to European ways. There was a war involving the Cherokee and the Chickasaw before the Indian Removal Policy was passed. The Cherokee were defeated by the Chicksaw, which caused Chief Dragging Canoe to sign a treaty in 1777 to split up their tribe and have the portion of the tribe in Chattanooga, Tennessee called the Chickamauga. Chief Doublehead of the Chickamauga, a branch of the Cherokee, signed a treaty to give away their lands. Tribal law says "Death to any Cherokee who proposed to sell or exchange tribal land." Chief Doublehead was later executed by Major Ridge. There was another treaty signed in December 29, 1835 which is called The Treaty of New Echota. It was signed by a party of 500 Cherokee out of about 17,000. Between 1785 and 1902 twenty-five treaties were signed with white men to give up their tribal lands (Woodward 192-205).

The Cherokee would find themselves in a nightmare for the next year. In 1838 General Winfield Scott got tired of delaying this longer than the 2 years he waited already so he took charge in collecting the Cherokee. The Cherokee were taken from their homes and their belongings. They were placed in holding camps so no one would escape. The Cherokee were to be moved in the fall of 1838, but the journey did not occur in October, 1838 because of bad weather. They were now supposed to move 13,000 Cherokee in the spring of 1839 a distance of eight-hundred miles. The Cherokee were not fed enough so they suffered from malnutrition. They were badly clothed for the spring and many caught diseases, which caused death. The Cherokee that knew the woodlands were able to escape. The white men couldn't find them without the help of other Cherokee and bribes. During the eight-hundred mile trek many children and spouses were separated from their families. About one-third of the original Cherokee they collected died in the holding camps and between the trek from the Southeast section of the Union to Indian Territory. "In the words of a British officer, 'They are like the Devil's pig, they will neither lead nor drive'" (Woodward Preface).They would have to learn a new way of life and adjust. They lost their Negro slaves, and their possessions (Bruchac 35).

The Cherokee were farmers, and their new land was infertile. The land was meant for cattle raising, which they didn't know ho to do. They built a capital city called Tahlequah, and their nation was declared in September 6, 1839. John Ross who was elected by the Cherokee as the President of the Cherokee nation in 1827 continues his roll in the land, shared with another seventy tribes. They had opened up schools in the Indian Territory to continue their education for their children. The first Cherokee school opened in 1801 when the people were learning their language. Their written language, which consists of 85 characters, was said to be created by a Sequoia (1760-1843), a Cherokee leader. The Cherokee had mixed blood from the early British settlers and traders. Therefore, the Cherokee were educated in both languages. For over half a century the Cherokee have abstained from becoming American Citizens until 1906 when the Unites States made all tribal members U.S. Citizens. A year later the Indian Territory was admitted into the Union as the state of Oklahoma. During this period many Cherokee started breaking away and mixing their blood. In 1930 forty-five thousand two hundred thirty-eight Cherokee left Oklahoma and headed East from where they came (Bruchac 9).

The 10,000 Cherokee that survived the Trail of Tears and the other Cherokee that were not taken for the removal slowly gained back in population in a century. The Tahlequah Agency in Oklahoma has said there were 42,992 Cherokee living in Tahlequah in 1982. The U.S. Census has shown 293,074 Cherokee are living in more than 30 states in the United States. Now the Cherokee Nation is under control of the first woman chief. In November 1983 Wilma Mankiller was elected to the office of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee survived the hardships of the Trail of Tears and the loss of their loved ones. Their population continues to grow despite losing everything that belonged to them (Bruchac 9).

When the United States assumed control of the Southwest the Navajos had been at war with the Spanish and the New Mexicans for over 250 years. In 1862 Gen. James H. Carleton, territorial commander in the

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