Friday, May 23, 2008

Anniversary of the Trail of Tears

Trail of Tears was trail of betrayal

By Mark Anthony Rolo, May 22, 2008

for the entire story:

The Trail of Tears began 170 years ago this week. We should recall it not as an aberration but as a logical outgrowth of an inhumane policy. And we should insist, in its memory, that Indian treaties and Indian sovereignty be honored. . . .

Cherokee homes were raided, crops ransacked, livestock and land stolen. At gunpoint, nearly 15,000 Cherokees were forced into concentration camps to await final orders to trek, mostly on foot, for nearly 1,000 miles. While many would die on that trail through snow and mountains, others would never even make the journey. Sordid conditions in the camps left many, especially the elderly and children, vulnerable to exposure, disease and starvation. . . .

Years before the Cherokee were forced out, Congress paved the way for land theft with the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Other tribes such as the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole were forced off their lands in the Southeast. More than 100,000 tribal people were driven westward. . . .

Throughout the past 200 years, tribes have learned all too well that recognition of their sovereignty starts from scratch with each new presidential administration, each new Congress, every new face on the Supreme Court.

On this anniversary of the Trail of Tears, may the next group learn fast. (emphasis added)

Mark Anthony Rolo is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. He can be reached at