Starting in 1830, with the passage of the Indian Removal Act, Eastern tribes forcibly relinquished their lands and removed west of the Mississippi. This forced relocation is widely known as The Trail of Tears. These forced removals—or the many Trails of Tears—occurred mostly between the 1830s and 1860s, impacting an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Native people, who settled lands in Indian Territory roughly located in present-day Oklahoma. The Dawes Act, enacted in 1887, further redistributed and divided lands, diminishing tribal sovereignty and permanently impacting tribal lifeways, the effects of which are still felt in Native communities today.
Collected in the 1930s by the Indian-Pioneer History project, the Indian Removal and Migration Narratives document the removal experience and the legacy of migration. These histories feature details of the westward removal journey, as family members struggled to stay together and survive the many environmental and man-made challenges of the arduous trek. The stories further illustrate how generations of Native Americans adapted to new land and to new resources in Oklahoma, forging necessary alliances to survive. Each narrative is presented with both the original primary source document and its transcription and is enriched by supplementary reference materials that offer students opportunities for further study.
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