Major General Winfield Scott’s Order No. 25 Regarding the Removal of Cherokee Indians to the West, 05/17/1838
Following the Indian Removal Act and the controversial New Echota Treaty, the Cherokee Nation agreed to exchange their lands in the southeast for lands in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in a move to be completed within 2 years.
Many Cherokees ignored the treaty and refused to move or begin making preparations for removal. As a result, Major General Winfield Scott was ordered to ensure compliance with the treaty and given a large force of regulars and additional state militia and volunteers to force removal if necessary. Nine days after his arrival at the Cherokee Agency in Tennessee, Scott issued General Order 25 on May 17, 1838. In it, he named the members of his staff, established three military districts to expedite “collection” of the Indians, and urged his troops to treat the Indians in a humane fashion.
Lt. Woody J. Cochran holding a Japanese flag, New Guinea, 04/01/1943
A Cherokee from Oklahoma and a bomber pilot, Lieutenant Cochran earned the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal.
Received by the U.S. House of Representatives on February 15, 1830 this petition from the Cherokee Nation, which was written in both Cherokee and English, asserted the tribe’s status as a sovereign nation in response to a bill which had been introduced to remove them from their land. Despite the petition, the legislation passed three months later, setting the stage for the eviction of the tribe in 1838 and the hardships they endured on the “Trail of Tears.”
Memorial of the Cherokees, HR 21A-H11, 2/15/1830, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 306680)
The Associated Press named him “The Greatest Athlete of the First Half of the Century.” In this 1909 photograph, Jim Thorpe is wearing his Carlisle Indian School Football Uniform. He led the team to victory over Army in a game that pitted him against future President Eisenhower.
Thorpe competed in the Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. He won gold in the decathlon and pentathlon team.
Unfortunately, Thorpe was stripped of his medals when it was discovered that he had played amateur baseball, violating the strict Olympics rules. His status was not reinstated until 1983, more than three decades after death.
After the Olympics, Thorpe went on to play baseball with the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds, play football, and even played basketball. He was the first president of the American Professional Football Association, now the NFL.
All the documents of “homesteaders” stealing land from Native Americans is bumming me out.
We got a range of reactions to our recent series on the Homestead Act’s 150th anniversary - from angry to enthusiastic to, well, bummed out.
The Homestead Act is a difficult document. When we think of homesteaders, most of us probably think of “Little House on the Prairie” and not the Trail of Tears*. In many cases those recent immigrants who may have been disenfranchised at home and eager for opportunities of their own were now participating in the dispossession of another culture. It’s hard not to be conflicted.
But as the National Archives, we are supposed to present the records in our safekeeping. Our job is not interpret them beyond explaining the context of the time, although we exist for researchers, historians, and the public to use our records to research, understand, and interpret the past. However, we don’t always have the records from both sides—a challenge faced by many researchers and historians. As it was we could only allude to the impact on Native Americans with the digitized items that we found on short notice (thanks to some amazing colleagues who came through in a pinch), so this is a reminder to us to delve more deeply into our holdings to give a fuller idea of the documents that we hold, even if this part of history is difficult one to acknowledge.
Yes, history can get us down too: it’s full of stolen land, genocide, child labor, war, disasters and murder. But we’re obligated to present the records of U.S. history—the good, bad & ugly. If you’re not bummed out sometimes by our posts, then we’re probably not doing our job.
Of course we hope that’s not always the case—and we appreciate everyone that took time to comment, reblog or retweet with their own opinions on these posts.
(* Admittedly the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and Trail of Tears predate the Homestead Act but the effects are similar.)