by Richard Mansel, managing editor
Slavery and the treatment of Native Americans are two of the most shameful events in American history. Likewise, the Trail of Tears is one of our nation’s lowest points.
Before the term Manifest Destiny entered the American lexicon, the concept was very real. White settlers filled the countryside. As a result, their land-hunger became voracious.
“Between 1816 and 1840, tribes located between the original states and the Mississippi River, including Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, signed more than 40 treaties ceding their lands to the U.S.”/1
President Andrew Jackson established the policy of Indian relocation in 1829. The next year, gravity took hold and the future of the Cherokee Indians took a tragic turn when settlers discovered gold on Cherokee land. /2
Cherokee leaders tried to save their people by signing the New Echota treaty in 1835. The treaty ceded “all Cherokee territory east of the Mississippi to the U.S., in exchange for $5 million and new homelands in Indian Territory.”/3
Soon, the Cherokee nation was on their way to Oklahoma. Their journey, in their own tongue, became known as, “The trail where they cried.”/4
We can take their tragedy and make application to our Christian walk.
First, life is neither fair nor just. Spiritually, we find opposition at every step. Satan, the god of this world, attacks us daily in his quest to decimate God’s people (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 8:44; Job 1-2; Ephesians 6:12).
As a result, we will face persecution and hardship as Satan attempts to destroy our faith (2 Timothy 3:12). As Christians, we should see the broader view of man’s existence, we must be aware of these attacks, realizing why they occur and what they mean (John 17:14). Sin made the world unfair, not God.
Second, in a lesser way, we all have our own Trail of Tears. Sorrow is an undeniable part of the human experience. Sin came into the world and death followed (Genesis 3). We are born with our own tears and we die with the tears of others.
Wayne Jackson wrote, “Human beings are the only biological creatures on earth to shed tears in times of emotional distress.”/5 Grief and tears fill the pages of Scripture (Job). Death perpetually waits for our last end (Hebrews 9:27).
The Cherokee, and the other tribes involved, suffered a horrible wrong that still resonates. Let us not allow Satan the opportunity to do the same to us as Christians.