Voices from the Trail of Tears
John F. Blair, Publisher
5 x 7 ½
Published in 2003
During the first half of the 19th century, as many as 100,000 Native Americans were relocated west of the Mississippi River from their homelands in the East. The best known of these forced emigrations was the Cherokee Removal of 1838. Christened Nu-No-Du-Na-Tlo-Hi-Lu—literally “the Trail Where They Cried”—by the Cherokees, it is remembered today as the Trail of Tears.
In Voices from the Trail of Tears, editor Vicki Rozema re-creates this tragic period in American history by letting eyewitnesses speak for themselves. Using newspaper articles and editorials, journal excerpts, correspondence, and official documents, she presents a comprehensive overview of the Trail of Tears—the events leading to the Indian Removal Act, the Cherokees’ conflicting attitudes toward removal, life in the emigrant camps, the routes westward by land and water, the rampant deaths in camp and along the trail, the experiences of the United States military and of the missionaries and physicians attending the Cherokees, and the difficulties faced by the tribe in the West.
“O what a year it has been!” wrote one witness accompanying a detachment westward in December 1838. “O what a sweeping wind has gone over, and carried its thousands into the grave.” This book will lead readers to both rethink American history and celebrate the spirit of those who survived.
“The Indian Removal Act of 1830 authorized the Federal government to relocate the so-called Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast to lands beyond the Mississippi River. Perhaps the fate of the Cherokees was most tragic; the Cherokees had developed a written language, became fervent Christians, and some even owned slaves. Apparently, they did everything possible to act "civilized" (or white). What they couldn't do, of course, was change the color of their skin, and that doomed them. Rozema, who has previously written extensively on Cherokee history and culture, uses a variety of primary sources, including eyewitness accounts, to recount their sad fate, climaxed by a forced march to Oklahoma during which thousands died. Missionaries write outraged letters describing the mistreatment of Cherokees by white opportunists and government officials. Ordinary soldiers charged with rousting families from their homes describe the suffering of victims. This compilation is often stunning and heartbreaking in its impact, and it is a necessary reminder of one of the most shameful episodes in our history.”
“This book made you feel like you were a bystander actually watching history happening. A good read.”