TeacherServe Essays

The Effects of Removal on American Indian Tribes

Author: Kidwell, Clara Sue

The removal of American Indian tribes from lands east of the Mississippi River to what is now the state of Oklahoma is one of the tragic episodes in American history. Early treaties signed by American agents and representatives of Indian tribes guaranteed peace and the integrity of Indian territories, primarily to assure that the lucrative fur trade would continue without interruption. American settlers’ hunger for Indian land, however, led to violent conflict in many cases, and succeeding treaties generally compelled tribes to cede large areas to the United States government. Through the process of removal, Indians had to adapt to both new environments and a new sense of their place in American society. The tribes of the southeast adapted to a new environment, but one that, like America in general, was exploiting natural resources for economic development. The history of removal is part of the identity of members of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole tribes. It is an essential part of explaining the role of changing environments for contemporary tribal members.

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Subjects: History; Environment and Nature; Education Studies; American History; Indigenous Americans; Forced Displacement; Trail of Tears; Cultural Identity; Colonialism; Environmental History