Happy Birthday America 1889 Style !!

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Oklahoma was first settled when the United States government consigned the Five Civilized Tribes to the eastern half of what was then a territory. The government promised the tribes that this land would remain theirs forever. The Five Civilized Tribes are the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations.

The law the United States Congress passed to do this was called the Indian Removal Act. This was in 1830. The Trail of Tears took place after the Treaty of New Echota in 1835.

President Andrew Jackson ignored a Supreme Court ruling when he forced the Cherokees from their homes and sent them on a forced march of almost 2,000 miles. The ruling, which resulted from a court challenge filed by the Cherokees, said he could not remove the Cherokees from their lands. President Jackson ignored the Court and used the military to moved most of the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma Territory.

A few Cherokees managed to escape this forced removal. They still live in the area of their ancestral lands. My Cherokee ancestors were among these people who evaded removal.

Oklahoma Territory was first opened to white settlement in the first Land Run of 1889. The land run opened central Oklahoma for settlement. My great-grandparents participated in this run, but did not get land. They ended up with land later in Southwest Oklahoma, outside of what is now Lawton.

This is a poster from the first Fourth of July after the run.

 

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The Trail of Tears Remembered on its 175th Anniversary

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Photo Source: NewsOK

What would happen today if an American president told the Supreme Court, “You’ve made your ruling. Now how are you going to enforce it?”

That’s exactly what President Andrew Jackson did when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee nation and against the president’s plan to seize the Cherokee’s land. Jackson went ahead with his plan. He sent General Winfield Scott and 7,000 soldiers to force the entire Cherokee Nation into stockades. White settlers then raided the Cherokees’ homes, stealing their belongings.

General Scott’s army forced the Cherokees, including elderly people, women and children, to walk nearly 2,000 miles across what was then largely unsettled territory to Oklahoma.

Starvation, dysentery, typhus, whooping cough and other completely preventable horrors killed thousands of Cherokees along the way. Cherokee people have not forgotten or forgiven this violation of their human and civil rights that they call the Trail of Tears. Among other things, they stage a play dramatizing the event in the Ampitheater at Tsa La Gi. The drama is performed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the end of August. For information or reservations, call (918) 456-6007 or (888) 999-6007.

In addition, Oklahoma’s State Senate is currently displaying a painting depicting the Trail of Tears in its conference room. The painting commemorates the 175th anniversary of the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from their rightful property, the many deaths and terrible suffering of the Trail of Tears.

Wayne Cooper is the artist who created the painting. It was commissioned by Chief Bill John Baker and supported by Cherokee Nation businesses.


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