The East coast of the United States was burdened with new settlers and becoming over populated. President Andrew Jackson and the government had to find a way to alleviate this over crowdedness and move people to the West. The government passed the Indian Removal Policy in the year 1830, which called for the removal of Native Americans from the Tennessee, North Carolina , South Carolina, and Georgia areas. It also moved the Seminole capital, Echota, in Tennessee to the new capital called New Echota, Georgia and then eventually to the Indian Territory. The Indian Territory was declared in the Act of Congress in 1830 with the Indian Removal Policy. Elias Boudinot, Major Ridge, and John Ridge and their corps accepted the responsibility for the removal of one of the largest tribes in the Southeast. Even though they were the earliest to adapt to European ways, they were still considered inferior to the white man.
There was a war involving the Cherokee and the Chickasaw before the Indian Removal Policy was passed and the Cherokee were defeated. Chief Dragging Canoe was forced to sign a treaty in 1777 which split up the tribe. The portion of the tribe in Chattanooga, Tennessee became known as the Chickamauga and Chief Doublehead became their chief. After a short period of time, Chief Doublehead signed a treaty and gave away the land of his people. Since tribal law says "Death to any Cherokee who proposed to sell or exchange tribal land", Chief Doublehead was later executed by Major Ridge.
Shortly thereafter, there was another treaty signed in December 29, 1835 which is called The Treaty of New Echota. It was signed by a party of 500 Cherokee out of about 17,000. Between 1785 and 1902 twenty-five treaties were signed with white men and more and more tribal lands were given away. In 1838 General Winfield Scott collected the Cherokee Indians and took them from their homes. Along with their personal belongings, The Cherokee were placed in holding camps so none would escape. They were going to be moved in the fall of 1838. The journey did not occur in October, 1838 because of bad weather. They were now supposed to move 13,000 Cherokee in the spring of 1839 a distance of eight-hundred miles. The Cherokee were fed on meager rations and suffered malnutrition. They were badly clothed for the spring and many caught diseases and died. Many Cherokee tried to escape and some succeeded. The Cherokee knew these woodlands and knew where to go. The white men couldn't find them without the help of other Cherokee and bribes. Most of the Cherokee hid in the mountains and could not be found.
During the eight-hundred mile trek many children and spouses were separated from their families when the Government split up the Cherokee into groups of 1,000 for ease of removal. About one-third of the original Cherokee they collected died in the holding camps and on the trek from the Southeast section of the Union to Indian Territory. After they reached their new homes, they had to adjust to a new way of life. The Cherokee, who had been farmers, could not use their agricultural skills as the land of their new surroundings was infertile. The land was meant for cattle raising, which they didn't know how to do. They built a capital city called Tahlequah and declared themselves a nation, in September 6, 1839.
Even though the Cherokees had to adapt to a new way of living, they still tried to maintain their own culture. John Ross was elected by the Cherokee as the President of the Cherokee nation in 1827. Along with the other seventy two tribes, they established their own schools so that their children's education would continue. The first Cherokee school opened in 1801 where their own language was being taught. Their written language which consists of 85 characters, was said to be created by Sequoia (1760-1843) , a Cherokee leader. Sequoia translated the Bible, wrote many books, and helped publish the newspaper, "The Cherokee Phoenix." This was contradicted in Dialogue-Everyman's Encyclopedia Story #1989130. It said the man who created the 85 character written language was George Guess. The Cherokee Phoenix was published in both languages-English and Cherokees.
The Cherokee had mixed blood from the early British settlers and traders, therefore, the Cherokee were educated in both languages. For over half a century the Cherokee refused to become American Citizens until 1906, when the Unites States government declared all tribal members U.S. Citizens. A year later the Indian Territory was admitted into the Union as the state of Oklahoma. During this period many Cherokee started breaking away and married outside of their group. In 1930 forty- five thousand two hundred thirty-eight Cherokee left Oklahoma and headed East from where they came. Many gave up their culture and even adopted other religions.
The U.S. Census has shown that 293,074 Cherokee are living in more than 30 states in the United States. Now the Cherokee Nation is under control of the first woman chief. In November 1983 Wilma Mankiller was elected to the office of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee survived the hardships of the Trail of Tears and the loss of their loved and their population continues to grow.