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Removal of the Eastern Indians
Make students aware that many Native American tribes viewed land ownership much differently than Europeans did. A good analogy is to ask students if they divide up the air into their own cubicles when they come into the classroom. That seems like a ridiculous idea to them and helps them understand that many Indians did not believe people could "own" land and exclude others from it. If students have trouble figuring out how the lives of Native Americans would change, prompt them by pointing out how different the geography and climate is across the nation. Also talk to them about how Indians were expected to know how to farm when not all of them engaged in farming as an occupation. Another interesting comparison is how farming was often considered "women's work" and Native American men resented being made to do it.
Since the arrival of the first Europeans in the New World, Native Americans faced the threat of removal from the lands they claimed and/or occupied. This 1840 map shows the "final" removal during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. The assumption then was that this move would finally get the Indians out of the white man's path. History would show, however, that the struggles between Native Americans and descendants of European immigrants to the new World were far from over.
Questions to Consider
- List the major Indian tribes being moved from their homes to territory in the west not yet occupied by US citizens.
- To what modern day states were these Indian tribes being moved?
- Why were they being moved?
- Identify 3 ways that this move would change the lives of these various Indian tribes.
- What long-term effects did this forcible removal have on the Indian population?
Thomas A. Bailey, David M. Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant,
11th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998), 280.