Column: How the Cherokee Nation was removed from homeland

"This week I finished reading “Toward the Setting Sun: John Ross, The Cherokees, and the Trail of Tears.” Told through the personal journey of their leader for four decades, the book tells the story of a people with common ancestral blood displaced from their homeland (present-day southeastern US) by a rival people whose thirst for their property was insatiable. There are the temporary triumphs along the way but, mostly, the story is one of slow relentless sorrow.

As of 1832, the United States had recognized Cherokee Nation in numerous treaties, and two of those earlier treaties guaranteed the tribe the right to self-government. The U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written in 1832 by Chief Justice John Marshall, affirmed the legal principle that Indian nations had “always been considered as distinct, independent political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the soil.”

However, within a span of six years, Cherokees lost those property rights, lost their freedom (following U.S. soldier camp round-ups), and thousands lost their lives during a long march west to present-day Oklahoma. How was that possible?"

Get the Story:
Panic Street Lawyer: Doomed to repeat it? (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 7/22)

Related Stories:
Column: Eastern Cherokees proud of their past and the present (7/16)

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