The Trail of Tears, the forced migration of Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Seminole tribe members, and many others, from their ancestral lands in the US Southeast to allowed territory in Oklahoma, resulted in the deaths of over 4,000 Native Americans along the way. What was everyday life on the Trail of Tears like? Thanks to many surviving first-hand accounts of the Trail, we have records of the harsh, brutal realities of daily life during over 1,000 miles of hard traveling.
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, a document that authorized the US government to to extinguish Indian titles to lands in the Southeast. The Treaty authorized the President to negotiate with Indian tribes in order to gain access and make improvements to their lands and offer resettlement funds to tribes and groups willing to move west. The treaty did not, however, grant him permission to forcibly remove Native inhabitants. The Trail of Tears was the result of treaties, forced government interventions, and wars between different tribes and the US government. This list documents some of the features of daily life on the Trail.
Cherokees Were Charged Tolls on a Walk They Were Forced to TakePhoto: Emmet Starr / via Wikimedia
It Was Freezing ColdPhoto: US Library of Congress
It Was Treated as a Spectator SportPhoto: via Pinterest
It Wasn’t Just an Indian MigrationPhoto: US Library of Congress
There Was Very Little Food and Water
The Teamsters Who Drove the Wagons Were CruelPhoto: Russell Lee / via Wikimedia