Quotations from The Trail Where They Cried

"No eastern tribe had struggled harder or more successfully to make white civilization their own. For generations the Cherokee had lived side by side with whites in Georgia. They had devised a written language, published their own newspaper, adopted a constitution, and a Christian faith. But after gold was discovered on their land, even they were told they would have to start over again in the West."

~ The West, a documentary by Ken Burns and Stephen Ives

"My friends, circumstances render it impossible that you can flourish in the midst of a civilized community. You have but one remedy within your reach, and that is to remove to the west. And the sooner you do this, the sooner you will commence your career of improvement and prosperity."

~ Andrew Jackson

"We, the great mass of the people think only of the love we have to our land for...we do love the land where we were brought up. We will never let our hold to this land go...to let it go it will be like throwing away...[our] mother that gave...[us] birth."

"...Inclination to remove from this land has no abiding place in our hearts, and when we move we shall move by the course of nature to sleep under this ground which the Great Spirit gave to our ancestors and which now covers them in their undisturbed peace."

Cherokee Legislative Council
New Echota July 1830

"John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."

President Andrew Jackson re: Worcester v. Georgia

"I saw the helpless Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven at the bayonet point into the stockades. And in the chill of a drizzling rain on an October morning I saw them loaded like cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started toward the west....On the morning of November the 17th we encountered a terrific sleet and snow storm with freezing temperatures and from that day until we reached the end of the fateful journey on March the 26th 1839, the sufferings of the Cherokees were awful. The trail of the exiles was a trail of death. They had to sleep in the wagons and on the ground without fire. And I have known as many as twenty-two of them to die in one night of pneumonia due to ill treatment, cold and exposure..."

Private John G. Burnett
Captain Abraham McClellan's Company,
2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Mounted Infantry
Cherokee Indian Removal 1838-39

"One by one Indian peoples were removed to the West. The Delaware, the Ottawa, Shawnee, Pawnee and Potawatomi, the Sauk and Fox, Miami and Kickapoo, the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole. In all some 90 thousand Indians were relocated. The Cherokee were among the last to go. Some reluctantly agreed to move. Others were driven from their homes at bayonet point. Almost two thousand of them died along the route they remembered as the Trail of Tears."

Documentary: The West (Ken Burns/Stephen Ives)

"The Cherokee are probably the most tragic instance of what could have succeeded in American Indian policy and didn't. All these things that Americans would proudly see as the hallmarks of civilization are going to the West by Indian people. They do everything they were asked except one thing. What the Cherokees ultimately are, they may be Christian, they may be literate, they may have a government like ours, but ultimately they are Indian. And in the end, being Indian is what kills them."

Richard White, Historian

"A common ancestry promotes understanding between Cherokee full bloods and the mixed bloods. They are poles apart in many respects but, under the skin, are still brothers. For one thing, they have Cherokee traditions in common, and no amount of white blood can dilute the remembrance of what happened in centuries past to the Cherokee people."

Grace Steele Woodward
Author of The Cherokees

There were ten million Native Americans on this continent when the first non-Indians arrived. Over the next 300 years, 90% of all Native American original population was either wiped out by disease, famine, or warfare imported by the whites.

By 1840 all the eastern tribes had been subdued, annihilated or forcibly removed to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.


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