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TRAIL OF TEARS 

 

There are thousands of documents and reports about the actual 'Death March' in 1838 and 1839, known as the 'Trail of Tears'.

The persecution of the Cherokee people began shortly after congress passed the 'Indian Removal Act' of 1830.

REMOVAL FORTS

Removal Forts were built in Georgia to house the Cherokee people before their removal. The first fort was known as Camp Hinar Sixes. It was built in September, 1830 to house members of the infamous Georgia Guard. 

This group of cutthroats took it upon themselves to brutalize the Cherokee. The Georgia Guard played a major role in the removal, torture and deaths of many of the Cherokee people during the eight year period of 1830 to 1838. 

As settlers moved into the area additional forts were built for the express purpose of housing the Cherokee before their removal.

Some Cherokee reported to the forts, not knowing the fate that awaited them, simply because they were told by some of the Chief's that this is what they should do.

Others that did not report to the forts, were forced out of their homes when the soldiers came. (See Trail of Blood)  For more details on the actions during the death march, there are numerous websites that provide official government reports and eyewitness accounts of the march.  I have listed several of these links in the 'Links' section.

TRAIL OF BLOOD

Settlers were greatly divided on the issue of the removal. Families that had lived in the Nation before the Georgia Gold Rush tended to be supportive of the Cherokee. They had easily been accepted into the Cherokee society, as neighbors, and through marriage. The Cherokee had given the early settlers support through their early struggles of establishing homes and farms. The Cherokee always assisted them in their time of need.

The reverse was not true for most Georgians. They viewed the Cherokee as somewhat higher on the social level than slaves, but not much.

As stories of the conditions of the removal forts were heard, some of the Cherokee refused to report to the forts. The conditions were horrible. The 'Georgia Guard' which manned the forts passed their days by tormenting the captives. Food intended for the tribe was sold to local settlers. What little the Cherokee had brought with them was stolen and sold. Cherokee women and children were repeatedly raped and the men were beaten.

One member of the Guard would later write, "during the Civil War I watched as hundreds of men died, including my own brother, but none of that compares to what we did to the Cherokee Indians."

The Cherokee that refused to report for removal became 'renegades' and were  hunted like animals. They were considered 'fair game' to the Guard and soldiers in the area. Through journals, letters and stories passed down through the generations of families of both the Cherokee and the aggressors, the reality of the horror became fact.

The soldiers, locals and the Guard would hunt down the 'renegades' with dogs. They would release the dogs on men, women and children to be literally torn apart.   

When they were in a 'lynching' mood, they would hang them with ropes tied to tree limbs so that their toes could almost touch the ground and laugh while the victim slowly choked to death.

The most vicious would tie pregnant women to trees, cut the fetus out of the mother and sling the baby against trees or rocks while the mother had to watch as she slowly bled to death.

When the Cherokee refused to leave their homes, the soldiers would burn the houses and shoot the people as they ran out to escape the flames.

Too horrible to put in print, maybe, but it must be remembered. There are hundreds of stories that have been forgotten or buried with the people.

Steven Spielberg's archives of the 'Jewish' holocaust under Nazi  Germany has films, testimonies of survivors of the concentration camps etc so the world will not forget men's inhumanity to their fellow men. We did not have that technology to record our story.  

Hollywood films, western fiction, always made attacks by the Indians as massacres and attacks by the whites as victories. We can not let the romanticism of the twentieth century erase what happened.  

ALL events of crimes against a people MUST be remembered no matter what the culture as humanity strives daily to improve the conditions of the world and live in peace.  




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