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Trail of Tears Summary and Poem

Summary of the Trail of Tears – The Removal of the Cherokee

On 06 April 1838 President Martin Van Buren ordered General Winfield Scott to take charge of the removal of the Indians to start their journey on the Trail of Tears. The 7,000 troops of General Winfield Scott moved into Cherokee country in May 1838, and began disarming the Cherokee and forcing them to leave their homes to embark the long march of the Trail of Tears.

Women and children were dragged from their homes with only the clothing they were wearing. The U.S. soldiers forbade them to retrieve extra clothing, food or blankets. Their homes were all burnt and their property stolen. Farms that had belonged to the Cherokees for generations were won by white settlers in a lottery.

The people were moved to stockades, or cattle pens at the Indian Agency near Charleston, Tennessee. The people of the Cherokee were organized into separate groups of about 1,000 people in preparation for their journey which became known as the Trail of Tears.


The Trail of Tears Poem

Read the Trail of Tears poem and imagine the extremely difficult six month journey in freezing cold weather and without adequate, or proper clothing and food. Add to these conditions there was also a lack of sanitation, suitable shelters and deadly contagious diseases. The tragedy of the Trail of Tears was made even worse by the hazards that the people encountered on the journey of misery, sickness, and death.   One in every four people died on the journey, there were make shift burials along the Trail of Tears, and every person was in mourning for a loved one who had died on the journey.

Trail of Tears Poem

There’s a trail of tears

Flowing from our homeland

Washing out the years

Drowning out the red man.

There’s a broken heart

beating like a funeral drum,

A nation torn apart,

So one can be born.

There’s a memory

That the eagle holds high

When we were free

As the wind in the sky.

There’s a feeling inside

That stirs our madness

To have a chosen life

In the fields of sadness.

There are empty teepees

Falling into dust

Like an endangered species

We’re losing way too much

We are a world forgotten

Pushed aside and left alone

But comes a time when we will rise again.

Oh Great One, hear our prayers and our song.

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