The Trail of
Tears set a national precedent for the confiscation of Indian lands
Trail of Tears," historical oil painting by Max D. Standley,
commissioned oil on panel painting created 1995, size of oil
painting: 36" X 60". This recently deceased painter
did a series of four paintings on the Trail Of Tears, you
can see all four at MaxDStandley.com. (image courtesy of Max
This persuasive essay was submitted to ICTMN by Matthew Scraper,
Megan Scrapers father. Megan, 12, is a student at Marlow Middle
School in Oklahoma. They are citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and
Matthew pointed out that their last name is an English translation
of the Cherokee word "disugasgi," which means something along the
lines of "the one who repeatedly scrapes the skin." She chose to
write about the Trail of Tears on her own when given a class assignment.
Imagine you are a little girl in the late 1830s. You and your
family had lived in the Cherokee
tribe for generations. Then one day when you returned from playing
in the fields, you find your family gone and your house is ransacked.
A short time later you get placed inside a cattle stockade, and
after a few months you realize youll never see your family
This is what happened to a lot of small kids on that dreadful
day. It was painful for many Indians to watch their lands taken,
the people die, and have to watch their people abused and mistreated.
This was a very bad time for Native Americans. The Trail
of Tears was the biggest crime against the indigenous population,
the crime that wasnt considered a crime.
of Tears set a national precedent for the confiscation of Indian
lands. What this means is it started the Removal Era, and later
the Land Run Era that included land that had once been Cherokee
without any respect for the people who lived there before. They
wanted the land for a few reasons, but a couple are: farming, and
belief in the existence of gold. They were told that it would only
happen once, but it continued on with different tribes later, after
it happened during the Trail of Tears.
A fact you may not know is that the Trail of Tears represented
the largest percentage of deaths within a single indigenous tribe
due to the action of the U.S. government in American Indian history.
This killed around 4,000 members of the Cherokee tribe. These people
died because of lots of reasons: poor weather conditions, little
food and water, long walks with little rest, sickness with no medicine,
and lastly being killed by soldiers.
This is a word that people use when someone tries to wipe out
an entire race: genocide. That happened to these people, my people,
it was very hard for them for many reasons, but they werent
allowed to give their loved ones proper burial rites, they had to
bury them on the side of the Trail and then just keep walking. Can
you imagine having to bury a family member on the side of the road
and then just having to leave them there? The deaths of these people,
my people, were very hard on the Indians. The name of the Trail
of Tears actually came from a Cherokee phrase that meant "the place
where they cried."
Lastly, the Trail
of Tears set a precedent for the subhuman treatment of indigenous
people by the U.S. government. This means that it justified the
abusive treatment toward Indians. When they were gathered up in
cattle stockades, in the mud with a bunch of diseases, many other
things happened as well: women were raped, people were separated
from their families, they were beaten, and they were killed. It
wasnt right and it wasnt fair, but there was nothing
the tribes could do. The soldiers were mean, cruel, and in my personal
opinion, acted like the British soldiers did before America declared
independence from Britain. The people were treated with disrespect,
and one of the only reasons this happened was because the government
decided that land and gold were more important than Indian lives.
In conclusion, the people who were forced to undergo the Trail
of Tears were treated with injustice. The Trail of Tears set a precedent
for the confiscation of Indian lands, represented the largest percentage
of deaths within a single indigenous tribe as a result of action
taken by the U.S. government, and set a precedent for the subhuman
treatment of Indian people by the U.S. government. These reasons
support the opinion: The Trail of Tears was the biggest crime against
the indigenous population, and after reading this essay you might
be thinking, "I agree." Well, good. Now that you know this, take
care and make sure that it never happens again.