In 1791, the new American nation signed a treaty with the Cherokees with the goal of leading them to “a greater degree of civilization.” The main way of achieving this was for Cherokee men to give up hunting and become farmers, which had been the traditional role of women.To some degree, all the Southeastern tribes accepted the idea of “civilizing” themselves. The Cherokees believed that if they became more like their white neighbors, the Americans would leave them alone on their remaining land.Pressure for relocation grew in Georgia after it gave up its land claims to the west. But by the 1830s, land-hungry Georgians looked with alarm at the “civilized” Cherokees.
For a thousand years before Europeans came to North America, the Cherokees occupied a large area where the states of Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia now come together. Cherokee women tended crops while the men hunted and made war.
The council members and people of the town debated an issue until they agreed on what to do.
After the revolution, many Americans considered the Cherokees a conquered people and forced them to give up thousands of square miles of hunting grounds.
Suddenly, the traditional ways and even survival of the Cherokee tribe were threatened.
Sometimes resorting to military threats and bribery, Jackson got most of the tribes to give up a total of 50-million acres of tribal land. He declared that the only hope for the Southeastern tribes’ survival would be for them to give up all their land and move west of the Mississippi River.
Jackson warned the tribes that if they failed to move, they would lose their independence and fall under state laws. Members of Congress like Davy Crockett argued that Jackson violated the Constitution by refusing to enforce treaties that guaranteed Indian land rights.The Cherokee constitution provided for a two-house legislature, called the General Council, a principal chief, and eight district courts.It also declared all Cherokee lands to be tribal property, which only the General Council could give up.Instead, he concluded that they and all the Indian tribes were sovereign nations.He believed they eventually would have to give up their lands to the inevitable tide of white settlement, but only voluntarily through negotiated treaties.The idea of removing Native American tribes from the East to the West began with President Thomas Jefferson after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.But only a few Cherokees and members of other Southeastern tribes agreed to relocate. government promised to acquire the Cherokee heartland and turn it over to the state for white settlement.By the 1820s, most Cherokees were living in family log cabins, cultivating fields on tribal land. A few borrowed from Southern whites the idea of establishing large cotton plantations complete with a mansion and black slaves.The Cherokees also welcomed white Christian missionaries to set up schools to teach English and agricultural skills.During the American Revolution, the Cherokees sided with the British.A colonial army attacked and destroyed 50 Cherokee towns.