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Background of Cherokee Nation

In the 1820's, the Cherokee Nation owned what is labeled on the map as 36.

In northwest Georgia, near super-highway I75 which connects Chattanooga to Atlanta, people speed by an important place in Cherokee history.

From 1825 to 1832, New Echota was the capital city of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee council met in New Echota to hear cases, and it was also here that the first Native American newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, was published. New Echota is also where the Treaty of New Echota was signed. This treaty is the infamous and controversial document used by the American government to justify the removal of the Cherokee Nation from their land.

The Cherokee once resided on what is now the American southeast, but white settlers began forcing their way onto Cherokee land throughout the 18th century. Cherokee leaders signed away or sold large chunks of the land, usually due to political or military pressure. But The Cherokee and the American government would eventually co-exist peacefully after the Cherokee participation in the Nickajack Expedition of 1794. In this expedition, many Cherokees fought for the American government, most notibly at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend against the Creeks

By the 1820’s, the Cherokee Nation in northern Georgia had largely adapted to white culture. The Cherokee people were becoming farmers, forming their own democratic governments, inventing a written language, and converting to Christianity by the masses. But in 1828, gold was discovered on Cherokee land, which resulted in a massive increase of white settlers onto Cherokee property. Then in 1829, Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States.

Since the state of Georgia was unable to gain Federal support to remove the Cherokee from their land, they began to pass a series of laws, which stripped the Cherokee people of many rights. All of these laws were to culminate in the complete removal of the Cherokee nation from the state of Georgia. In 1829 the Cherokee sent John Ross, the Chief of the Cherokee Nation, to Washington to lead a delegation in order to resolve the disputes over non-payment of annuities and the border between Georgia and the Cherokee Nation.

After delegation with President Jackson ended in stalemate, John Ross wrote to Congress without the president’s knowledge, and informed Congress of the conflict between the Cherokee and the state of Georgia. Many Congress members were sympathetic to the Cherokee, most supporters were members of the National Republican Party. Despite this support, in 1830 the Congress voted to pass President Jackson’s policy that would relocate the Cherokee. The “Indian Removal Act” set aside lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for the lands of the Cherokee nation in the east.

When Ross and the Cherokee nation failed in their attempts to protect the Cherokee lands through negotiation with the executive branch and through petitions with congress, Ross took a measure of desperation and tried defending Cherokee rights through the U.S. courts.