From the time that Europeans first landed on the Atlantic shores of North America, their eyes looked west toward the land and its resources. This brought them into direct conflict with the native inhabitants here, whom they called Indians. Many white settlers tried to make peace and coexist with the Indians, but in the end the quest for land, power, and wealth was too great and the Indians were forced to leave their homes.
One of the proposed solutions to the “Indian problem” was to create a separate homeland or territory for the Indians. By the 1820s, Presidents Jefferson and Monroe had both proposed that the Eastern Indians should trade their ancestral lands for land west of the Mississippi. They felt that to survive, the Indians must become “civilized” and learn the ways of the white man. The southern tribes had been moving toward “civilization” for years. They had developed prosperous farming societies. The Cherokees even had a written language, and had declared themselves an independent nation with an adopted Constitution.