Cherokee Christians

Between 1820 and 1845, the United States Government established Indian Territory. It included all of the area that makes up the present state of Oklahoma except for the panhandle. In 1825, John C. Calhoun, the Secretary of War, recommended that all Indians living east of the Mississippi River be moved to the Great Plains. With the influence of the Jackson Administration, a push for removal became the sentiment of the southern Atlantic states.
In 1828 when gold was discovered in Dahlonega, Georgia, the drive for removal grew, and the United States Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This act demanded that the Five Civilized Tribes relinquish their ancestral homes in the southern Atlantic states in exchange for land in Indian Territory. The name Five Civilized Tribes is a modern term to designate the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indian Tribes. These tribes intermarried with whites, maintained an orderly society, and adopted a constitutional government.
The government policy was resisted, and the army was called on to remove the Five Civilized Tribes. Those who made the arrangements for the move were not generally concerned about the welfare of the migrating tribes. This migration was characterized by suffering and death due to disease. The following message was sent to the United States Congress from the Cherokee Nation: “In truth, our cause is your own. It is the cause of liberty and justice. It is based upon your own principle which we have learned from yourselves; for we have gloried to count your Washington and your Jefferson our great teachers. We have practiced their precepts with success and the result is manifest. The wilderness of forest has given place to comfortable dwellings and cultivated fields … We have learned your religion also. We have read your sacred books. Hundreds of our people have embraced their doctrines, practiced the virtue they teach, and cherished the hopes they awaken. We speak to the representatives of a Christian country; the friends of justice; the patrons of the oppressed; and our hopes revive, and our prospects brighten, as we indulge the thought. On your sentence our fate is suspended, on your kindness, on your humanity, on your compassion, on your benevolence we rest our hopes.”/1
(TO BE CONTINUED)
__________
1/ Gloria Jahoda, The Trail of Tears (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1975), 20.


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