Cherokee Timeline


Tribal sovereignty is attacked


The Supreme Court agreed upon a new law that Indians could occupy lands within the United States, but they couldn't hold title to those lands. Their reasoning behind this was that Indians had some claim to title the land they occupied, but that legal title was of a lesser kind than a title that European discoverers used by right of discovery (Europe's right to possess the New World since they "discovered it.") So basically what this meant is that Indians had no power over their lands because they didn't own them, and that the European settlers had natural rights to any land they wanted.

Cherokee adopt written constitution


In a means to become neutral with the white settlers, the Cherokee adopted their own written constitution declaring themselves to be a sovereign nation. They began to adopt customs that the settling "white men" (European's) brought to them. The Cherokee started dressing more European. They adopted many farming and building techniques of the white settlers. They began to assimilate themselves in an attempt to coexist with the settlers and war of hostility. In return, the white settlers only became jealous and resentful of the prosperity of the Cherokee. Although the Cherokee were trying to keep peace, the white settlers weren't having it.

Cherokee fight the Supreme Court

1830 - 1831

White settlers were continually harassing Indian's, destroying their land, stealing their livestock, and more. The Cherokee wanted to seek protection and try to safeguard their rights. After the Cherokee adopted their constitution in 1827, the state of Georgia still didn't recognize them as their own state. Georgia still saw the Cherokee as tenants living on state land. The Cherokee then decided to take their case to the Supreme Court in 1830, but were ruled against. They went back a year later and took a different stance. They based their appeal on an 1830 Georgia law that prohibited whites from living on Indian Territory without a license from the state. The court decided in favor of the Cherokee and declared Georgia's extension of state law over them unconstitutional.

Indian Removal Act


Passed through both houses of Congress, the Indian Removal Act was a new piece of legislation pushed by President Andrew Jackson. This act gave Jackson the power to negotiate removal treaties with Indian Tribes living east of the Mississippi. The act basically stated that any tribes east of the Mississippi were to give up their lands to the white settlers in exchange for lands to the west. If they refused, they were to be allowed to stay and become citizens of their home state. All of this removal was supposed to be peaceful and completely voluntary for those who agreed, but that wasn't the case.

Treaty of New Echota


A small group of the Cherokee's tribe minority agreed to sign a removal treaty called the Treaty of New Echota. Little did these people (who were not the recognized leaders of the Cherokee nation) know that they had just signed their land away. The Cherokee were furious that these random people who had no power in the tribe had signed the entire tribe's lands away. Over 15,000 Cherokees led by their Chief John Ross signed a petition in protest. The Supreme Court ignored their demands.

Treaty of New Echota is ratified


The Supreme Court ignores the petitions and demands of the Cherokee and enacts the Treaty in 1836. The Cherokee were given two years to migrate voluntarily.

Trail of Tears

1838 - 1839

After the Treaty of New Echota was ratified by the Supreme Court, the Cherokee were given two years to migrate voluntarily to the west lands. But by 1838, only 2,000 had migrated, leaving 16,000 Cherokee remaining on their land. The U.S. government sent 7,000 of their elite troops to force the Cherokee people out of their homes. The tribe didn't have time to gather their belongings. They were left with an image of whites looting and destroying their homes. Thus began the march known as the Trail of Tears. 4,000 Cherokee people died during the march because of cold, hunger, and disease. The relocation of the Cherokee and other surrounding tribes left 25 million acres of land for white settlement and slavery.