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tv   Trail of Tears  CSPAN  April 20, 2020 3:46pm-4:26pm EDT

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>> now on american history tv, jack baker, a many of the cherokee nation, discusses his family's involuntary move to oklahoma as part of the trail of tears in the early 19th century. from the virginia museum of history and culture and the university of oklahoma center for the study of american indian law and policy, this is about 40 minutes. >> now it gives me great pleasure to introduce jack baker. he is a former member of the tribal council of the cherokee nation where he served for 11 years representing those cherokee citizens residing outside of the cherokee nation. he is the national president of the trail of tears association. he is also the current president of the oklahoma historical society and serves on a number of other boards. he has done extensive research,
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he has done extensive cherokee research for more than 50 years and has authored various articles and edited various books on cherokee history. i can say that he continued his research even yesterday at the library of virginia. so it gives me pleasure to invite jack baker. [ applause ] >> thanks, elizabeth. it is an honor to be au part of this symposium. but i come before you as citizen of the united states and also citizen of the cherokee nation. and i'm an eighth generation oklahoman because of the trail of tears.
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at the time of our forced removal, the cherokees owned so with the publication began in 1828 of our newspaper, the cherokee phoenix, the cherokees became well-informed on the issues of removal.
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by 1819 our people preceded 19% of our original land so by the time of removal the dark area at the bottom is all that was left. so these remaining lands we sought to keep while our white neighbors sought to have them removes. -- removed. u.s. supreme court recognized the sovrnt of the cherokee nation and this did not save us from the treaty signed by a handful of cherokees. with major rich as one of the principle leaders. the signers had no authority to speak for the cherokee nation yet congress ratified this treaty on may 18, 1836 by only a
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single vote. and it was signed by president andrew jackson on may 23rd. and the cherokees were given two year from that date to remove. our principle chief and tribal council continue in their efforts to no avail. in late 1838 general winfield scott and his troops began to round up our people. removal force had been constructed throughout the cherokee nation as places to temporarily contain the cherokees as they were gathered up for removal. several of these forces were constructed years before during the creek removal. several hundred creeks had fled to remo -- avoid removal and th
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sought to find them. some question as the cherokee didn't go ahead and move as they were aware of the force being constructed. reverend steven foreman who was a half-blood cherokee who had been educated in the mission schools in the cherokee nation and later at princeton wrote the following letter to the american mission board in boston on may 31, 1838. candy's creek mission. reverend david green. says, very dear sir, from the date of my letter perceive i'm still in the cherokee nation peace and still in the candy creek mission. how much longer should we remain here in our own lands to enjoy our rights and privileges, i do not know. from the present aspect of affairs we shall very soon be without house and home.
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indeed ever since the 23rd of may we've been looking almost daily for the soldiers to come and turn us out of our houses. they have already warned us to make arrangements and come into the camps before we were forced to do so. but i've stated distinctly to the officers at headquarters what i thought of this so-called treaty. and what course i intend to pursue. in the event that no new treaty was made. and i see no reasons yet why i should change my mind. my determination and the determination of the large majority of the cherokee nation is never to recognize this fraudulent instrument as a treaty, nor remove under it until we are forced to do so at the point of the bayonette it
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may see unwise and hazardous that we should pursue such a force but i'm fully satisfied it's the only one we can pursue with a clear conscious. reverend daniel butcreek who had been with the mission 20 years wrote in his general on saturday may 26th. in georgia we're supposed to be 8,000 cherokees, these in general were taken just as they were found by the soldiers without permission to stop either for friends or property. as the soldiers advanced towards the house two little children fled in fright to the woods. the women pleaded for permission to seek them or wait until they came in, giving positive assurances she would then follow on and join the company but all treaties remain. and it was not until a day or two after she would get
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permission from one of her friends to go back after her lost children. deaf and dumb, surprise at the approach of armed men, attempted to make his escape and because he didn't hear the command of his pursuers were shot dead on the spot. women absent from their families seized and men farm from their wives and children were not allowed to return. also children being forced from home were dragged off a mid strangers. cattle, horses, hogs, household furniture, clothing, and money, not with them when taken were left. and it's said that the white inhabits around stood with open arms to seize whatever property they could put their hands on. some few assisted afterwards in
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get something of their lost goods. thus, in two or three days about 8,000 people, many of whom were in good circumstances, and some rich, were rendered homeless, houseless and penniless and exposed to all of the ills of captivity and a few months later the wife of dr. iliza butler wrote to a childhood friend in massachusetts. butler was a missionary and was in prison and was happy to see lindsey mentioned him as part of this. because i assume it's because of the case, wooster versus georgia, unfortunately his sacrifice for the most part has been overlooked. but part of lucy's letter written from frayclay, tennessee, states. -- i agree to intermission airy
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labors in 1927 and lived among the cherokees and began teaching and remained there until 1830 and we moved to a mission station just west of that city in georgia. here i had not lived a year before my husband was shut up in prison by the authorities of georgia. for refusing to take an oath to support their measures against the cherokee. or to leave the situation or station which was in the charter limits of this state. after laboring nearly a yeerned half in the penitentiary he returned to the missionary labors among the cherokees but in a little more than a year the same law, which had sent him to prison found means to break up our mission station. we then had an invitation from
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the cherokees commence a station at this place that is red clay, tennessee, and the method of taking the cherokee natis as prisoners were various. she goes on to state it was common for a party of soldiers guys a wagon attached to the train to be sent to a certain neighborhood on arriving at house and sometimes were able to take large article in the wagon but many times did not terry long enough to change their clothes with them. if their horses were at hand they were often permitted to ride them. but as often as not they were driven on foot at the point of the bayonet. if parents could not carry their k4ir7b --
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children on horses they were ordered to get on back if not were thrown in by soldiers and driven on rough road at such speed in some instances were severely injured. perhaps the prisoners were driven with more haste from their dwellings on the account of frequent rumor of whose illits and the fear of this led some soldiers to gather with neighbors in the night. to accomplish they'd enter a cherokee dwelling and a family in the midst of their slumbers would be a roused for their march. here would be grouped together the aged, infirmed, middle-aged, youth and children of all sizes. gather the people in such haste whether by night or by day has been the occasion of much distress and loss of property.
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husbands and wives, parents and children have been separated and carried off to different camps where they have known nothing of each other for weeks or months the. -- they were first taken to 31 sto stockaids in the cherokee nation. and the conditions were deplorable. people had no shelter. only a few blankets as some were able to grab as they were being forced from their homes and inadequate food. these stockades were referred to as concentration camps and may have been the first time this term was used. from there they were taken to 11 inturnment camps. ten were in tennessee. the remaining one was in alabama. on may 31, the reverend
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of greater michigan tells brainer mission. tells of one group. he states astoundingly a little before sunset a company of about 200 cherokees were driven into our lane. the day had been raining and of course all men, women and children were dripping welt, with no change of clothing and scarcely a blanket fit to cover them. as some of the women when taken from their houses had on their poorest dress. . this of course was the amount of their clothing for a journey of about 800 miles. as soon as permission was obtained from the officers we opened every door to these poor sufficienters -- suffers. mother brought their little babies to our fire and stripped off their only covering to dry. oh, how heart rendering was the
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sight of those little suffers, their little lips blue and troubling with cold, i'd like to tell you how the removal effected my fourth grade grandfather, james hare, family tradition is that his mother-in-l mother-in-law, lindsey ratley gave birth to a baby girl after the round up started and after become driven to one of the internment camps she became to weak to cross the stream and she was stabbed by one of the soldiers and died soon after. and reverend reported in his journal he states we also learned when the last company were taken over the river ross's landing, a woman in
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the pangs of child birth stood as long as possible but iffel in the river and the soldier stabbed her with his bayonet and soon caused her death. james hare married her daughter only a few months before and lindsey's other five children accompanied james and his wife on the forced removal and was by them. so in p mid june three groups of about 800 each started west from ross's landing in chattanooga tennessee, two by without. one by mocsen bend and the others crossed on old getter road. of that group only 635 arrived in the west. with 146 deaths and two births being recorded. there's a severe drought at the time with extreme heat and james harris mother katey north along
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with her father was in this group. her father, william north, was a white man who married a cherokee p woman six years before, couple months before he was described upwards of 100 years and completely blind for the last 25 years. there's no record of his arriving in the west. however in a series of interviews conducted in the chattanooga area around 1900 mr. ag carter tells this story. a white man named north married an inladian who later became blind. he, says mr. carter, heard they through him in the river on the way west because he was so much trouble. but because of the high casualties of these first groups, permission was given to the later removal of the other groups until fall when it would be cooler.
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also the cherokee leaders petitions general scott that they be allowed to conduct their own removal. permission was granted. james harris father, harrell conrad was the leader of the first detachment to lead that fall however he soon became too ill to continue as lead earnhardt -- leader and had to relinquish the position. james harris sister, betts, the wife of ashhopper, travelled in the detachment. and reverend butrick also accompanied this attachment, wrote in his journal saturday, december 1, 1838, on a thursday, two children, one a daughter of our dear sister ashhopper were called into eternity so james harris now lost his grandfather, his wife's mother, and his
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niece. and by this time the extreme heat of summer had given way to unseasonally cold winter and he further wrote -- on december 26, he descended attachment south of mississippi stopped by floating eyes. mr. hill brand attachment stopped by the same means at the ohio river. december 27th, we proceeded with the detachment, about six miles where we camp for a week. here the snow increased to three or four inches and the weather was excessively cold. lucy butler, that i mentioned earlier, a letter written december 20th states, my husband is preached among the cherokees and tended on them as physician since they were first taken. last summer by their request he was appointed a position by general scott in a camp about
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eight mile from our station. and after arrangements were made for the cherokee to remove themselves he was appointed by mr. ross to serve as physician and accompany them on the way west. last letter i have was jonesburg, illinois, on the 19th of november, about 20 miles this side of the mississippi. did not accomplish quite half their journey at that time. did have considerable sickness. about 27 of their number laid buried between that place and the one where they commence their journey. durnding this time and during this time george hicks one of the conductors of the removal attachment and member of the arabian church sent a letter to the arabian headquarters in north carolina, 13th of january, 1839, my dear
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friend and brother, we left the cherokee nation east, the land of our nativity on the first day of last november, pick up the light of our march to the far west. and through the mercies of an all-white providence whose ever-ready to assist the opressed and whose ears are open to their cries have arrived to our journey to the west. the following winter has been very cold and we have cover a deal of exposure and suffered of cold and fatigue. our people, great many were very poor and very -- destitute of clothing d1 -- we supplied them with clothing, blankets and shoes.
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but still, we have suffered great deal with sickness and have lost since the 21st of october last about 35 a great proportion of them were the aged and children. our numbers are probably over 1100. so large a train to attend to their want and to watch over required a great deal of care and industrial and caused a great anxiety of mind. so much responsibility added to fatigue of traveling brought upon me a spell of sickness i thought i should not recover but through the mercies of a all white providence i have covered a great deal of my health. we now lie 20 miles of the mississippi river we can't cross, on account of the ice,
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ahead of us are two detachments of cherokees to cross before we can cross. mississippi has a large quantity of floating eyes which at times it's impassable but still they keep crossing and i'm in hopes we'll get over in one or two weeks. we will start in the morning again on our journey west. the roads are all in very bad order as the ground was frozen very deep and there's been for the last ten days a general thaw. not even any frost. together with a good deal of wet which will probably make the roads almost impassable. but we must necessarily calculate on suffering a great deal from hardship and exposure before we yet reach our homes in the far west. we look to the all mighty for strength and protection to enable us to reach the place of
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destination, as yet we're hardly halfway. and to look forward on the determination of our journey and our toils we cannot as yet but hope for the best. respectfully george hicks. so our principle chief john ross left last after he had seen all of the other cherokees on their way west. he travelled by steam boat with a small group of cherokees in order to take those who had been too ill to leave with the regular detachments. while the various detachments were waiting to cross the mississippi river he visited the camps and wrote the following account. on my arrival at the water detachment at feduka i received letters from the first houses in nashville informing me that it was understood many of the land
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detachments had been stopped at the mississippi river by ice and for various reasons is it would be most advisable to transport the immigrants from that point by water. therefore they sent me proposals for furnishing the steam boats for that purchase. and i also received letters from p mr. thompson clark skbrunjr.. and other persons all urging me in pressingish terms to visit the detachments still at or detained at willis ferry on the mississippi river. among the people was necessary to remove many embarrassments out of certain tail calculating them through the roads that were very bad and were impossible to secure to supplies for the sales of horses. these reports were expected to
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be put into circulation with the view of create ago lamars among -- view of creating alarms among the people at that they might insist on taking water at that point. note these rumor where's started note that these rumors were started by the first family of nashville which was the home of andrew jackson. so these were his cronies. many made a great deal of money on the early removal of the other tribes so they were seeking to profit more from the cherokee removal. it was also suggested it might be deemed advisable to transfer some of the sick to the water detachment, therefore, at first i determined to run the boat up to willis ferry to receive much of the sick as my wish to go by water but the
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captain of the boat advised against it for reasons that neither himself nor the pilot do anything of the navigation that park of the mississippi river. so it took passage on the boat on the eve of sending the river and leaving his under lined my sick family, with the other immigrants, to await my return, we should be as speedily as possible. about 12:00 that night i was landed at willard's ferry where i met with mr. clark, my brother lewis and other employee the immigration and from whom i as certain to a load these attachment across the river and camp a short distance off. and george hicks and peter hieldbrand and richard tailor's detachment had not yet cross for the readiness of purpose. i make it known that no change could or would be made from
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completing the journey by land and that it was evident these alarming tails about the roads to missouri were in great measure magnified for effect. but however true the scarcity and high prices for supplies on the road might prove to be that supplies should be procured, cost what they would, if they were to be had at all within the reach of the route of their travel. preparations were then directed for making up the light of march the next morning, which was done accordingly. i might add that while the cherokees were in charge of their own removal. there was never any complaints of lack of food on the way. and ross goes on to say, the descending boats be generally laden could not be prevailed upon to stopple -- upon to stop and take me on board. thus after two or three days i
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determined not to wait any longer for passage by water and procured a horse down in two days by a boat accompanied by my brother. the next morning after my return we slipped cable. within a week from that time my children became motherless and the remains of mrs. ross were left in a strange land. his wife died near little rock, arkansas, and she was buried in little rock. three of the 12 detachments arrived in the cherokee nation in january, did cross the mississippi before the ice stopped the other detachments. the others arrived in february and march. and it's often been estimated that as many as 4,000 of the 16,000 cherokees died as a result of the forced removal. there appears to have been only
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about 1200 death dues to the actual removal. however there were many additional deaths immediately following the removal. reduced the cherokee nation by 1600 people. there were at least close to 3,000 deaths caused by the removal. in may of 1825, the cherokees had passed an act imposing a death penalty on anyone whose proposed the sale for exchange of their lands. after their arrival in the present cherokee nation a group of cherokees met secretly and since area -- sentences various members of the treaty party to death based on that law. mr. ridge and son p john ridge and others were executed at various places june 22, 1839.
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one of the executioners of major ridge was james hare. so the trail of tears is a sample what could happen when predudice combined with greed. we survived and immediately adapted to our new lands and prospered if them. and the chief after lunch will talk about the rebuilding of our nation and where we are today, the ability of our people to survive and adapt is a true story of the trail of tears and how we wish it to be remembered. thank you. [ applause ]
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>> are there any questions? >> i'd like to thank you for sharing with us that very tragic story. my name is steven atkins i'm chief of the chick on min tribe and just really illuminates the blood-thirsty, land-grabbing invaders that set foot in jamestown may 14, 1607. less than three years later was ordered a passage of the tribe and by 1699 nine of ten of the virginia woodland indians had perished so this, the story you told, really resonates with me because forced removal for other virginia indians occur in 1646. and the department of education
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across the states has skillfully, artfully left out that history. so we're surrounded by dominant culture that is largely ignorant of the tragedies that occurred among the indigenous people beginning may 14, 1607. [ applause ] >> thank you. we've had the same problem in our oklahoma text books. at least when i was growing up there's virtually nothing about the indian tribes. oklahoma history, first started with the land runs in our lands in 1889. but they've improved somewhat but not to the degree they should. >> what is the status of those cherokees that did not do -- were not -- because of various reasons, either they married a white person and did not do the trail of tears. my understanding is they are not
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on the cherokee register and no way those people can be on the cherokee register because they did not do the trail of tears for a multitude of reason. >> right. and as mentioned earlier by lindsey and the one question about taking citizenship, the 1835 treaty provided if a person was able that he could apply and then become a citizen of the state. and remain. in the nation. or excuse me, remain in georgia. or some of the other states. i think there's about 150 in georgia that elected to do this. but as also mentioned, they gave up their citizenship of the tribe to become citizens of the u.s.. so, while they are cherokee dissent they are not eligible
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for citizenship in the cherokee nation because of that. because our role is based on residency and our citizens in 1902. and i liken it to the fact that i have german ancestors. so i have german dissent but i certainly not going back to germany to declare i'm a german citizen. we got the citizenship, it was the same thing. >> thank you. i have a question regarding the native americans having plantations, you mentioned. and also were there united states laws regarding native americans owning or having enslaved fran africans or
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african-americans. and were there enslaved african-americans who moved along with you during the migration to the north and to the west? >> yes. there were a few cherokees who did own african-american slaves during this period. the ones with the larger plantations, for the most part made sure their slave which unfortunately they considered valuable property. they made sure they made it to the cherokee nation west without any problems, but there's a few cherokees that owned maybe one or two african-americans. and they accompanied them on the trail. and in buttricks journal when he was accompanied on the richard taylor detachment, he describes at one point where he hired an african-american lady from the owner to do some washing and all for him and his wife.
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so we don't -- trail of tears association recognize there's many african-americans on the removal, five tribes, but unfortunately there's not a lot of documentation os or stories with them. we'd like to include more of those stories as we find them. thank you. [ applause ] >> you're watching a special edition of the american history t vrk. during the week while members of congress are in their districts due to the coronavirus pandemic. tonight programs on the 25th anniversary of the oklahoma city bombing beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern with an hour-long program to look back at the morning of the attack, investigation and how the


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