Trail of Tears

Removal from Native Cherokee Lands

From the time of George Washington's presidency through that of Andrew Jackson, the American government promoted the removal of the Cherokee and other Native Americans to Oklahoma. In 1838 and 1839, the majority of the Cherokee were forced from their native homeland in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee and made to travel to the new "Indian Territory," Oklahoma, along a route that has become known as the "Trail of Tears." A quarter to one-half of the Cherokee population perished during the removal, along the trail, and in the first year in Oklahoma.

Some Cherokees Remained Behind

During this removal, more than 300 Cherokee hid in the mountains and escaped arrest. Over a period of years, these Cherokee managed to remain in the area, and eventually were recognized by the U.S. government as the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in 1868. Those who remained in Oklahoma became the Cherokee Nation. It was not until 1984 that the two branches of Cherokee met formally since the removal.