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c. 1830 - 1840
Southeastern United States and Indian Territory
The Trail of Tears was part of a series of forced displacements during the 1830s of Eastern Woodlands Indians of the Southeast region of the United States to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.
White Americans often feared and resented the Native Americans they encountered. State governments joined the effort to drive Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee people out of the South.
In 1830, Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land for land to the west. President Jackson forced Native Americans to vacate lands they had lived on for generations. The Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether.
By 1838, only about 2,000 Cherokees had left their Georgia homeland for Indian Territory. About 7,000 soldiers were sent to expedite the Cherokee removal process. They marched more than 1,200 miles to Indian Territory and more than 5,000 Cherokee died as a result of the journey. The Trail of Tears is over 5,043 miles long.