Voices From the Trail of Tears

Voices From the Trail of Tears


Edited by Vicki Rozema

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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.


Vicki Rozema is the author of Cherokee Voices: Early Accounts of Cherokee Life in the East and Voices from the Trail of Tears. Also an acclaimed photographer, she is a history professor at the  University of Tennessee. The first edition of Footsteps of the Cherokees received an Award of Merit from the Tennessee Historical Commission in 1996.