A Bit More History

by kpmautner

The year is 1812.  There is a war being fought all over the new nation called the United States, against its old enemy Great Britain.  (As an aside, the major reason that we won the War of 1812 was Napoleon.  The British were up to their armpits and beyond in the Peninsular campaign as well as battles in the rest of continental Europe and had only token forces to send West.)  Anyway, there is fighting all over, and one of our allies, at least here in Georgia, is the Cherokee Nation.  Led by lawmaker Major Ridge, they played a significant role in General (later President) Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (north Georgia).

The Cherokees, part of the Five Civilized Tribes, became US citizens through a treaty in 1817. Led by Major Ridge, they established plantations around Rome, Georgia (north of Atlanta) operated a trading firm and other industries.  They developed a written language (one of the few Indian languages in written form) and by the mid 1820s had a higher literacy rate than most other settlers around them.  They even established a constitution and a government with three branches, executive, legislative and judicial.

Then, in 1828, gold was discovered on Cherokee lands.  In 1830, President (formerly General) Andrew Jackson signed the order forcing all Cherokees east of the Mississippi to lands in Oklahoma and beyond – the Trail of Tears.  Many suffered disease, hunger, exposure on the westward trip, and between 2000 and 6000 (the numbers have never been verified) of the 16000 or more making the trip died en route.  On the other hand, the 2010 US Census notes that the Cherokee nation currently has over 314,000 members.