General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Looking back 180 years, was it a smart political / economic / social decision to force the Cherokee to relocate from the Southeastern US to the Oklahoma Territory?

Asked by elbanditoroso (28300points) September 7th, 2019

Nothing is going to change in 2019, but with the benefit of 180 years of history, was the expulsion of the Cherokee, and the Trail of Tears, a good strategic move?

Of course, for the Indians, it was a horrible uprooting and near genocide.

Did the Southeastern US benefit financially and socially from having forced the Indians to leave?

Did Oklahoma benefit from the influx of Indians?

Was there any good that came out of the expulsion?

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17 Answers

Yellowdog's avatar

Of course, nothing good came out of it. And we had no right to take it.

But what did we know in the early 1800s? We really didn’t have a category for people who were not like us who were predominately European. Indians and Africans were human but we did not consider them quite in the same category as ourselves.

The Oklahoma territory was almost a barren waste compared to the hills, mountains, rivers, creeks and forests the Cherokee were accustomed. If you’re used to living one way, putting you somewhere very different makes survival near impossible, They could have at least given them the Ozarks. They still aren’t the deep Appalachians.

If I were catty, I’d say, that’s why the Democrat party was formed. They were the ones who wanted the Native Americans expelled from their native lands.

We had no foresight for this as a young nation, but with so little of the country developed even now, and with such massive State and National Park reserves engulfing entire counties, and with so few Native Americans on reservations, we can now see that certain areas could have been left alone by us, for the natives to live as they always had. and we’d still have been the ones with leverage, who could still benefit. What would have been wrong if three counties in eastern Tennessee and three in western North Carolina could have been the Cherokee nation? Would it affect the rest of the nation today? I think not. Most Indians lived in areas that are more or less remote or wilderness today. We could have kept huge expanses as Indian territory in my opinion. and still had much of the individual space and private properties we have today.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Smart? For the nation as a whole? You or I as individuals?

Is injustice ever smart? Once you begin to tolerate injustice, you arrive at the logical conclusion that the “smart” move would have been to exterminate every red man, woman and child on the spot. No trail, no tears, no one to raise the issue (or remind us it ever happened). What’s the smart move for Israel?

janbb's avatar

We concistently betrayed the native Americans to the great detriment of our nation’s well being and morality. The trail of tears is just one example.

Yellowdog's avatar

According to what I learned in American History, we broke every treaty we ever made with the Indians. They violated few, if any, even though they were grossly unfair.

kritiper's avatar

They should have been left alone.

YARNLADY's avatar

This question also applies to the Choctaw Nation. As a member of the Choctaw Nation Of Oklahoma, I can only state that we are proud to be a civilized people who will make the best of what ever life hands us.

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JLeslie's avatar

I only see it as a travesty, but I’ll be interested to hear answers that maybe see the outcome as having been positive in some ways in the end.

I can’t think of any time where we forced people to move that had good results. The forcing of populations to move, but yet they still live among those groups that forced them for selfish and immoral reasons, always has such negative impact on those populations and in turn affects all of society for many years.

I don’t know how much trouble these Indians were causing that Europeans sought to move them out? If any. I was raised thinking that Indians were peaceful, loved Mother Nature, and initially welcomed the Europeans, but I know the history isn’t quite that simple. Could we have coexisted easily with the Native Americans if diplomacy had been handled well? I don’t know the answer. I don’t know the history well enough for why the relationship became so adversarial.

Yellowdog's avatar

For all the elegance and diplomacy in our writings, Americans then were really not very good at writing treastise and even coming up with fair ideas and exchanges.

I think we should have let them keep certain areas as exclusively there’s—we would have only had a couple of counties fewer per state if we did that, and would have adapted. But we really didn’t know much then about how that could work.

JLeslie's avatar

@Yellowdog In your scenario would they have been allowed to be Americans do you think? Would those lands have been part of America?

elbanditoroso's avatar

MY understanding, at least in Georgia,is that the whites moved the Cherokee out because they saw them as uncivilized savages (although there is plenty of evidence to the contrary), and that by moving them out, the whites could divide up the land and develop an agriculture industry, which of course they did.

And then they imported slaves to work the land, but that’s another issue, altogether.

janbb's avatar

@elbanditoroso Or perhaps the same issue? White supremacy as the cornerstone of our nation?

stanleybmanly's avatar

The sad truth is that it was impossible to grant the natives here dominion over anything without their white “brothers” devising some method of eventually beating them out of it. Even isolation to the most desolate of landscapes would be undermined in a heartbeat at the mere rumor of gold or some such under the land.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I think it’s at minimum ethnocentrism, and also a sense of entitlement.

The desire to possess land and material things has its positive and negatives. Ownership has been said to part of why America was prosperous. Owning land, feeling responsible for it, owning businesses, wanting to own material things spurred on the economy. From what I understand the Native Americans didn’t think much in terms of personal ownership, and so they didn’t necessarily understand what they were giving up when they made deals with Europeans. I think that’s partly where Indian giver comes from, the Native Americans would give and take back and give again. Basically, they shared. Also, the Indians had an idea of someone gives you something then you give back something of equal value, while Europeans saw some things as gifts, with nothing to repay.

Maybe not understanding deals regarding land and possessions created stereotypes of Indians being untrustworthy or not standing by their word, and Europeans could feel superior—supreme. The Europeans probably felt smarter than the Native Americans when really a lot has to do with cultural misunderstandings.

I think @YARNLADY would know more, she can correct me.

YARNLADY's avatar

^^^Your answer is basically correct. It is also the case that some greedy Tribe members declared themselves “Leaders” and signed treaties for personal gain.

janbb's avatar

A good introduction to the story of the native Americans history in the Americas is the eight hour DVD series “500 Nations.” Hosted by Kevin Costner but really brilliant.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Of course it was a smart decision. For the whites who wanted that land.

Andrew Jackson was very conflicted about it but eventually caved.

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