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The Impact Of The Indian Removal Act On Eastern Native American Tribes

2289 words - 9 pages

The United States expanded rapidly in the years immediately prior to and during the Jackson Presidency as settlers of European descent began to move west of their traditional territories. White settlers were highly interested in gaining Native American land and urged the federal government to allow them to obtain it. President Andrew Jackson encouraged Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which gave the federal government the authority to move consenting eastern Native American tribes west of the Mississippi River. It has been debated whether the Indian Removal Act benefitted or harmed the welfare of Native Americans, and it can be argued that the Indian Removal Act of 1830 had an extremely negative impact on the eastern Native American tribes that relocated west of the Mississippi River. President Jackson abused the rights provided to Native Americans under the act, which meant they were not given legal protection when they were being oppressed by white settlers or the government. The passage of the Indian Removal Act also led to the Trail of Tears, which led to the decimation of several eastern Native American tribes.
President Jackson took action which extended beyond the power given to him by the Indian Removal Act and infringed upon the rights given to Native Americans under the legislation. Jackson forced Native American tribes to relocate even though doing so was listed as voluntary under the act, and behaved corruptly in order to pressure tribes into giving up their land. “Numerous contemporary witnesses provide damning testimony regarding fraud, coercion, corruption, and malfeasance both in the negotiation of removal treaties and in their execution. In their zeal to secure removal treaties, agents of the Jackson administration resorted to extensive bribery of compliant and corrupt tribal officials and frequently threatened independent Indian leaders opposed to relocation.” The federal government intimidated Native American tribes into giving their land away even though it did not have the authority to do so under the Indian Removal Act. Secretary of War John Eaton informed the Choctaw that they ought to give up their land and relocate west of the Mississippi because there would be no guarantee that the state of Mississippi would not take over their lands if they refused. Neither President Jackson nor the federal government had the right to do this. The legislation gave the president the authority to engage in the negotiation of land trading with Native American tribes, but did not state or imply anywhere that the federal government had the power to take Native American land away by force or threat. Jackson and the federal government behaved corruptly and disregarded the protection clauses listed in the legislation, which did not benefit the Native American tribes who were impacted by it.
The rights given to Native Americans under the Indian Removal Act were seldom formally recognized, which led them to be taken...

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