ULISH CARTER

“Trail of Tears,” a Native American documentary, was an award-winning documentary back in 2008 that has reappeared at video stores recently. I discovered it at Target in my search for old movies.

Much like Black History, the facts in this documentary will never get old and should be known by all Americans.

Even though I’ve studied Native American History and have watched several movies that document their history with “Cheyenne Autumn” (1964) starring Richard Widmark being the best, I was very impressed with the documentary and still upset that this occurred in America and the government not only gave support to it, but was part of it.

During the late 1830s the Cherokee Nation and other tribes were uprooted from their homes throughout the Southeastern part of the U.S., mostly Georgia, but also including parts of South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and sent to Oklahoma.

We are not talking about what we normally see on TV or the movies, but thousands of people who were uprooted from their farms, plantations, and businesses by U.S. troops by order of President Andrew Jackson. Men, women and children had to walk, ride in wagons, and eat spoiled food from Georgia to Oklahoma. There were no trains, buses, or cars. Thousands died, mostly the elderly and children, on their way.

The reason given for this move was simple. Whites wanted the land the Native Americans had farmed, the homes they built, the wealth they accumulated. Jackson said he was protecting the Indians because if he didn’t force them to move, Whites would kill them and take their land. So instead of doing the right thing and protecting the Native Americans as they would White Americans if a force threatened them, they used the U.S. military to force these people out of their homes and marched them halfway across this country to a total foreign land that no one wanted at the time to settle.

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