The Cherokee are Native Americans who were displaced from their ancestral land during Westward expansion. Westward expansion is a term that refers to a quest by the United States to increase its land size by forcefully taking ownership of land that was on the western side of the United States. President Thomas Jefferson was the mastermind of the Westward Expansion. Jefferson believed that land ownership was very important for survival and independence of citizens of any republic. He believed that land ownership would enable United States citizens to be more productive and thus contribute to productivity and economic development of the United States as a republic. The United States population was continuously expanding, and there was a need to ensure that the expanding population had enough land. The Westward Expansion took place in the 19th century. Many Native American tribes were displaced during the Westward Expansion. The paper critically examines the Cherokee removal during the Westward Expansion, forces that led to their removal, opposition of the Cherokees against the removal and resistance that the Cherokees put in place against their removal.
Cherokee people are Native Americans who are indigenous to South Eastern States like Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. The Cherokee people were removed from their land during the Westward expansion. There were forces that caused this shift in attitude and federal government policy. Manifest Destiny is one of the forces that caused the shift in attitude and federal government policy about land. Manifest Destiny was a philosophy and belief held by many Americans that the expansion of the United States to the west was necessary and justified. It seemed natural for many Americans in the 19th century for America to expand to the west so that the new republic could expand its boundaries. America had just won its independence and citizens of the young republic were very ambitious and optimistic about prospects of the new republic. Religion also played a major role in encouraging American expansion to the West. Religious leaders opined that God was in support of the expansion of the United States boundaries and the growth of the United States as a nation. The religious leaders claimed that Native Americans were heathens who needed to be saved by possessing their land and converting them to Christianity. The Federal government policy about Native Americans caused a sudden shift in Attitude towards Native Americans. Courtesy of an increasing population, the Federal government initiated a policy that would ensure that all Americans have ownership of land so that they may be independent and productive. The government was of the view that by making its citizens independent and productive, the prosperity of the United States as a nation would be guaranteed. Actions of States like Georgia caused a shift in attitude towards Native Americans. States like Georgia had grown out of the Cherokee territory and had for a long time respected the Cherokees. Georgia had for many years respected the autonomy of the Cherokee people and had always treated them with respect. A sudden change in policy by Georgia where rights of the Cherokees were no longer respected came as a shock to many Cherokees, but it instigated other states that had for a long time respected Native Americans to overhaul their policies and start to treat Native Americans with disrespect. Georgia nullified all Cherokee laws. Georgia forbade all Cherokee people from meeting, Cherokee people were forbidden from mining in their ancestral lands, and Cherokee land was put into a state land lottery. Economic factors caused a sudden shift in attitude towards Native Americans. Cotton farming had become a lucrative business, and more land was required to expand cotton farming. Given that Native Americans occupied large tracts of land, removing the Native Americans from their native land was seen as one of the best ways in which cotton farming could be expanded so as to make it more profitable. Political factors caused a sudden shift in attitude towards Native Americans. States like Georgia that had a high Native American population were indebted to the United States courtesy of the revolutionary war. As a result, the United States Congress asked such states to pay off their debts by ceding their land to the United States (Nichols 195).
The Cherokees made arguments in opposition to their removal. The Cherokees argued that the land that they occupied was their ancestral land and that they had every right to continue occupying the land. The Cherokees argued that it was unfair for them to be removed from their ancestral land. Andrew Jackson is one of the most famous European Americans who was against the removal of the Cherokees from their ancestral land. The likes of Andrew Jackson argued that ancestral lands of the Cherokees had to be protected. It was also argued that removal of Native Americans from their ancestral land was unethical (Satz 211).
The Indian removal was a three-way battle between three sovereign entities. The Indian removal was a battle against the Federal government, Georgia and the Cherokee people. Actions taken by Georgia following the Indian Removal Bill that caused dissension and division among the Cherokee was to cease respecting treaties that Georgia had signed with the Cherokee people that it would forever respect their right to land ownership. The outcome of the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia state case led to a deterioration of the relationship between the Cherokee Nation and Georgia as a state. In the case, it was ruled that the rights that the Cherokee people claimed to have were not recognized by the American judicial system.
It was more difficult for Native Americans to move from their traditional homelands than it was for many European Americans who regularly moved to the west looking for opportunities. Native Americans were more attached to their ancestral land. Native Americans saw their ancestral land as being of great importance to their culture, and that is why they had special ties with their homeland. On the other hand, European Americans had no ancestral land in America, and therefore, they did not find it difficult to move from one place to another place in such of better economic opportunities. European Americans had no emotional attachment to American land; they saw American land as a resource that could be used to improve their economic prospects (Nichols 127).
The Cherokees took some actions to protect their sovereignty and homeland. The Cherokees set up a rebellion that culminated into the Creek red stick war in an attempt to protect their sovereignty and homeland. The Cherokees were of the view that attempts by European Americans to remove them from their ancestral land were a violation of their rights and an encroachment on their territory and culture. The Cherokee people did not leave when they were asked to leave because they were emotionally attached to their ancestral land. The Cherokees split into the Ridge faction and the Ross faction under pressure of removal because some Cherokees believed that removal was inevitable whereas some Cherokees believed that it was possible for the Cherokees to stand firm and ensure that they are not disposed of, their ancestral land. The Ridge faction believed it was inevitable for the Cherokees not to be dispossessed of their ancestral land and the best thing to do was to ensure that even if the Cherokees are removed from their ancestral land, they are removed under fair terms. The Ross faction was adamant of relinquishing their ancestral land to European Americans. One consequence of the division among the Cherokees is that the Cherokees could not negotiate with one voice to ensure that the Cherokees get a better deal. The other consequence of the division among the Cherokees is their leaders could be easily manipulated by Europeans given that they were divided (Satz 97).
Separation of power as enshrined in the United States Constitution was revealed in the conflict between Chief Justice John Marshall and President Andrew Jackson over the Worcester v. Georgia case. In the case, the President ignored a Supreme Court decision that was made by the Chief Justice. As a result, there was reduced confidence in the government. This court case, therefore, exemplifies the need for the three arms of government to respect each other for any given government to work harmoniously (Satz 42).
In conclusion, I think the Indian removal was inevitable. The United States was determined to expand its boundaries, and there was nothing that could the U.S from achieving its goal. As a matter of fact, Native Americans lagged behind in military technology and their culture was inferior to that of European Americans and therefore, there was no way that the Americans Indians could stop the United States from expanding westwards. There are many lessons that we can learn from the Indian Removal. One of the most important lessons that we can learn from the Indian removal is that people of an inferior culture are less likely to stop an idea of people from a superior culture into coming to fruition.
Nichols, Roger L. The American Indian: Past and Present. , 2008. Print.
Satz, Ronald N. American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. Print.
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