New Echota Treaty documents - Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Hikenutty
N 38° 53.307 W 077° 00.963
18S E 325145 N 4306329
Quick Description: At the Museum of the American Indian there is a great display of documents relating to the beginning of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, including the actual Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokee petition to revoke the treaty, and other documents.
Location: District of Columbia, United States
Date Posted: 7/29/2008 8:56:36 AM
Waymark Code: WM4ACC
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Team Farkle 7
Views: 146

Long Description:
The Museum of the American Indian on the mall of Washington, D.C., has a floor devoted to interpreting the history of many different tribes. One of those tribes is the Cherokee tribe, and the museum has on display several important documents related to it.

Following is a short explanation of the beginning of the Cherokee Trail of Tears and following I will tell about three of the documents relating to it that are on display at the museum.

In 1838, the Cherokee Nation was removed from their lands in Georgia to the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in the Western United States, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 4,000 Cherokees. In the Cherokee language, the event is called Nunna daul Isunyi—“the Trail Where They Cried”. The Cherokee Trail of Tears resulted from the enforcement of the Treaty of New Echota, an agreement signed under the provisions of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which exchanged Native American land in the East for lands west of the Mississippi River, but which was never accepted by the elected tribal leadership or a majority of the Cherokee people.

The Treaty of New Echota was a removal treaty signed in New Echota, Georgia by officials of the United States government and several members of the so-called Ridge faction within the Cherokee Nation on December 29, 1835. The Ridge Party held that the Cherokee would lose their eastern lands sooner or later and that removal to the west was the only way to preserve the Nation, while the Ross Party argued both that the Cherokee Nation should remain in its current homeland and simutaneously that the United States government should pay more money for the Cherokee to remove themselves westward.

In the treaty, the United States agreed to pay the Cherokee people $5 million in compensation (an amount earlier demanded by John Ross), cover the costs of relocation, and give them equivalent land in the Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma) in exchange for all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi River.

After news of the treaty became public, the officials of the Cherokee Nation from the Ross Party instantly objected that they had not approved it and that the document was invalid. John Ross and the Cherokee tribal council begged the Senate not to ratify the treaty (failure to ratify would thereby invalidate it). However, the measure passed in May of 1836 by a single vote. Ross later drew up a petition asking Congress to void the treaty--a petition he personally delivered to Congress in the spring of 1838 with almost 16,000 signatures attached, more persons than the Cherokee Nation had within its territory by a few hundred, more even than the combined total of those in the Cherokee Nation, the Oconaluftee Cherokee in North Carolina outside the territorial limits of the Nation, and the Old Settlers in Arkansas Territory.

The petition was ignored by President Martin Van Buren, who soon thereafter directed General Winfield Scott to forcibly move all those Cherokee who had not yet complied with the treaty and moved west, even though the treaty allowed those who wished to remain in the east to do so. The Cherokee people were almost entirely removed west of the Mississippi (except for the Oconaluftee Cherokee in North Carolina, the Nantahala Cherokee who joined them, and two or three hundred married to whites). After their arrival in the Indian Territory, a group of Ross supporters attacked members of the Ridge faction, allegedly to enforce the Cherokee law outlawing sale of Cherokee land to foreign powers. Several signers of the treaty were assassinated, including Major Ridge, his son John Ridge, and his nephew Elias Boudinot. The true reason may have been that the Ridge Party had already integrated itself into the political structure of the Old Settlers, which Ross demanded recognize his absolute authority upon his arrival. As a result, the Cherokee nation subsequently endured 15 years of civil war.

The museum has on display the handwritten Treaty of New Echota from 1835. Also on display is the signed petition from the Cherokees protesting the right of an agreement of a few people to dictate the lives of thousands. It contains 15,665 names and was drawn up in March 1835. Finally, on display is a hand drawn map created by W.H. Thomas in 1838 showing locations where protesting Cherokees who had remained in Georgia where supposed to be concealed. Open the gallery to see photos of the documents and also photos of the museum.

Routes: Auto Tour

Address if available:
4th St. and Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C., DC USA
20560


Additional Information: Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily; closed December 25

Marker Website: [Web Link]

Additional Coordinates: Not Listed

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