The Trail of Tears and the Roundup of N.C. Cherokees

A Cherokee chief with his wife and daughter, circa 1920-1940. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

A Cherokee chief with his wife and daughter, circa 1920-1940.
Image from the N.C. Museum of History

On June 12, 1838, Gen. Winfield Scott ordered troops to begin rounding up Cherokee Indians for internment at Fort Butler near what is now Murphy and eventual forced relocation to Oklahoma.

The order was part of a larger effort led by Scott at the behest of President Martin Van Buren to remove the Cherokee from Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina as authorized under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Scott was personally involved in the action in southwestern North Carolina because the Army believed the area was most likely to be a center of conflict.

After a week, the troops had arrested more than two-thirds of the local Cherokee population and, by early July, nearly 2,500 Cherokee were in custody. Those and approximately 12,500 others would ultimately make the journey westward on the Trail of Tears between October 1838 and March 1839, while about 300 or 400 Cherokees hid out in North Carolina, laying the foundation for the purchase of the Qualla Boundary property and the establishment of North Carolina’s Cherokee Reservation.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee was not formally granted freedom to live in North Carolina until 1866, and was not recognized as a separate entity from the Cherokee living in Oklahoma until 1868.

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11 responses to “The Trail of Tears and the Roundup of N.C. Cherokees”

  1. june lyle Goddard Bounds says :

    Proud to be part of Cherrikee

    • Tracy says :

      Very proud to be Cherokee. Grandfather was cheif Cherokee so proud. Would love to know more about Cherokee prayers. Thank you.

  2. jan zollars says :

    Painful to live in a house, and in a city that stands of the land of these great people. We have to tread lightly everywhere in this country. Tragic.

  3. GL says :

    I have never seen a Cherokee chief in a headdress before. Who is he?

  4. Linda Hutchinson says :

    A good reminder of the persecution of the Cherokee.

  5. Craig Fisher says :

    Also Proud to be part Cherokee. My great grandmother was full blood Cherokee.

    • Laura says :

      I hear that my great grandmother was full Cherokee…
      But no one speaks of it. Sad… Also known as black Dutch
      I would love more information. Scotts and Indian it appears

      • Jeremy says :

        Black Dutch and Cherokee are not the same thing. Black Dutch was a name for a different group that lived in Appalachia. It’s possible they were actually descended from 18th century Jews who were traders in Shenandoah before the American Revolution. They were called Black Dutch because of their dark hair and blue eyes. In any case, there’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty about them. My maternal great-grandmother always said we were partially Black Dutch, but that was definitely different from Cherokee.

  6. Robin Kelly says :

    I have seen a link before that had a list of the men who assisted with the Trail of Tears transportation of the Cherokee. This list will contain a lot of records with many of our relatives on it. If you find this list please email me at reklc1@yahoo.com……thank you.

  7. ANNETTE STEWART says :

    I have been told I am part Cherokee, I can not seem to find my ancestors, I am told that during the time of The Trail Of Tears, a lot of Cherokee were sold as slaves, so there are no records. Does any one know a way to find my heritage?

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