History & Culture
In 1838, the United States government forcibly removed more than 16,000 Cherokee Indian people from their homelands in Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia, and sent them to Indian Territory (today known as Oklahoma).
The impact to the Cherokee was devastating. Hundreds of Cherokee died during their trip west, and thousands more perished from the consequences of relocation. This tragic chapter in American and Cherokee history became known as the Trail of Tears, and culminated the implementation of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which mandated the removal of all American Indian tribes east of the Mississippi River to lands in the West.
Did You Know?
Not all Cherokee people were removed from their homelands to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) on the Trail of Tears. The Oconaluftee Cherokees had treaty rights, and they, along with fugitives fleeing the army, became the Eastern Band of Cherokees, still residing in North Carolina.