The Trail of Tears Many whites were ashamed over the treatment of Indians and sent protests to Washington, D.C. Still, the work of removal continued. In 1836, thousands of Creek Indians who refused to leave Alabama were rounded up and marched west in handcuffs. Two years later, under President Martin Van Buren, more than 17,000 Cherokees were forced from their homes in Georgia and herded west by federal troops. Four thousand of these Indians died during the long walk to Indian Territory, which took place in the winter. Those who survived remembered that terrible journey as the Trail of Tears [Trail of Tears: the removal of Cherokee Indians from Georgia to Indian Territory in 1838 and 1839]. A soldier who took part in the Cherokee removal called it “the cruelest work I ever knew.”
Led by a young chief named Osceola (ah-see-OH-luh), the Seminoles of Florida resisted removal for ten years. Their long struggle was the most costly Indian war ever fought in the United States. A number of Seminoles were finally sent to Indian Territory. But others found safety in the Florida swamps. Their descendants still live in Florida today.
When Andrew Jackson left office, he was proud of having “solved” the American Indian problem for good. In reality, Jackson had simply moved the conflict between American Indians and whites across the Mississippi River.
In the 1830s, American Indians were removed from their homelands and sent to a government-created territory in the West. Many Indians became ill or died during this forced removal.