I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me.
"The command for a removal came unexpectedly upon most of us. . . Wagons stopped at
our home and the men in charge commanded us to gather what few belongings could be
crowded into the wagons.We were to be taken away and leave our homes never to
return. This was just the beginning of much weeping and heartaches . . . most of us had
not foreseen such a move in this fashion or at this time.
We were not prepared, but times became more horrible after the real journey was begun. Many fell by the wayside, too faint with hunger or too weak to keep up with the rest. The aged, feeble, and sick were left to perish by the wayside. A crude bed was quickly prepared for these sick and weary people. Only a bowl of water was left within reach, thus they were left to suffer and die alone." — Creek Mary Hill, recounting her grandmother's experience migrating to Oklahoma Territory
Andrew Jackson signed into law over 70 Indian removal treaties. During his presidency, more than forty thousand Indians were moved westward mostly without their consent, opening millions of acres of land to American settlers and cotton planters. Even before the Cherokees were forced to Indian Territory in 1838, the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks had already been removed from their lands. By the 1840s, the vast majority of Indians in the American south had been relocated.
In the nineteenth century, along with the southern Indian nations, the U.S. government resettled portions of at least sixty Indian tribes, totaling several hundred thousand Indians. The Oneida, Brothertons, and Mohicans were moved from New York and western Massachusetts to Wisconsin. Others like the Dakota and Lakota of Minnesota were resettled in the Dakotas and Nebraska after the Sioux "uprising" of the early 1860s. After two hundred and fifty years of settler expansion, the Lenapi, who originally lived in present-day New Jersey, ended up in Indian Territory in 1867. The Chiricahua Apaches, moved from Arizona in 1889, were among the last to be exiled from their former homes. Many of these tribes suffered "trails of tears" and untold numbers perished during their difficult journeys and while attempting to reestablish themselves in a new land.
"It was true that General Jackson had been their (the Choctaws') friend in the time of
war, but that was over now. The white men and women who were their neighbors had
been their friends too, especially when they first began to move into their country, but not
so now. They were sorry — they said — to see them put in such a predicament, but it was
the Government's doings, and they did not want to meddle in the affair.
And so it gradually dawned upon them that they had no friends even in the land where
they had been born and were considered aliens on the only soil to which they had any
claim. Some died of broken hearts over having been betrayed. Some made a show of
resistance to what many thought was an unjust treaty; but at the appearance of the U.S.
soldiers they all decided best not to cause any loss of life if possible."
— James Culberson, Choctaws Were Hastened in Starting "Trail of Tears"