Western Experience: Native American Displaced to Oklahoma
The rumors were true, and I feel like a fool that I had not believed them when I first heard them. They had been talking for years about the possibility that the government would come and take our land, but, like many others, I felt that would not occur if we cultivated the land the same way as the white men. The main objection to our people being in the East had been that were barbaric and uncivilized, so that living like white people would spare us from being treated as subhuman. My family and I settled down to farm our land and we were very successful at it, which made us think that there would be no further efforts to rob us from our land. We had heard so many arguments that the government would want to take land from us because they felt we were using it inefficiently, and, therefore, believed that using it in the same way that the white men use it would keep us from losing our land.
I should have known that it was coming. The history of the white mans involvement in our world has been one of constant strife and barbarity. They have repeatedly taken our land and have not had any problems with killing us to do so. However, this did seem to create a moral issue for many Americans, who wanted to view themselves as good people. “Expansion and Indian removal created some phenomenal problems for the new American nation in terms of its moral character. How can this unique experiment in the new world- this nation that prided itself upon its democratic institutions, force Native American people westward? How do you rationalize the taking of land and the usurpation of property?” (Edmunds, 2006).
Despite that, since the Treaty of Hopewell in 1785, one could see how American policy towards the native population was becoming more aggressive and that the legal unagreed-to trade of eastern lands for western lands would result in the eventual relocation of all Native American groups to west of the Mississippi (Sherfy, 2003). The government sought to persuade my tribe and other tribes to move voluntarily to the West, but we resisted those efforts, knowing that life in the west would not compare to the life we left. That was not simply speculation; we had seen how smaller groups of Cherokees had fared after accepting a land exchange and moved West in the last 1700s (Sherfy, 2003).
The worst thing is that they try to rationalize their poor treatment of us by suggesting that we are somehow inferior to them. The say that we do not fit into the life east of the Mississippi, so that, for our benefit, we must be moved west. However, many of us lived successfully in the East. We are described as uncivilized but, as a member of the Cherokee nation, I was more likely to be literate than a white person in the South through the end of the Civil War, yet they considered us uncivilized in comparison to whites (Edmunds, 2006).
Perhaps the most frustrating thing to me is how much governmental support there is for this policy. Very few people consider the negative implications of this movement, implications that go far beyond the impact on people like.