Please read with thoughtfulness and an understanding for the Native Americans and what were done to them .
Eventually the American Indian's way of life began to change when thousands of Europeans came to the eastern woodlands from across the ocean. These colonists began building their own homes, town, and even cities. In 1776, they established the United States of America. That's when they began calling themselves Americans.
Many of these people wanted to own their own land, but the Indians were living and had been living on this land for hundreds of years. These Americans wanted the Indians to leave and move west, where other tribes already were living. In other words we forced these people to leave their homes and land . Just think about someone trying to force you out of your home. A home that you have loved and a land where you enjoyed playing with your friends and family. How would you feel? What would you do? Where would you go to be happy? Would you be happy?
Over many years many of the Indians left. They really didn't have a choice. Their lives depended on it. Some signed agreements or treaties, to give up their land. (Forced agreements) Others stayed and fought the Americans, but lost and were forced to leave their homeland. How very sad! They walked away with heavy hearts.
The painting above shows one southeastern tribe's journey west. Guarded by soldiers, Cherokee Indians carry their belongings in wagons and on their backs. During the 1830's more than 10,000 Cherokees were forced to make this long journey. About 4,000 Indians died of sickness and hunger along the way. Their journey is known as "The Trail of Tears."
After the hard journey, the survivors reached a land that was different from where they had come from. They had to find new ways of getting food and clothing. They had to learn how to adjust to ways that were not theirs. You truly need to think about this and how the American Indian or as they are called Native Americans feel even today. Have empathy for what you do not know. Read books and learn as much as you can. Feelings can help the healing.
Not all of the Indians left the woodlands. Some Indians hid in the woods where the soldiers couldn't find them. Others agreed to live in the east but on reservations.
Today, many Indians live in the eastern part of the United States. Many still follow customs, traditions and beliefs of their ancestors. But their way of life is very different than the life of the eastern Woodland of long ago.