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This page is dedicated to the memory of all the Indian Tribes...But,
especially the Choctaw Tribe  that was forced to sign the
Treaty of   'Dancing Rabbit Creek'   in 1830.


The United States Government forced the Choctaw to sign over
10.3 Million acres in exchange for 10.3 acres and move to Oklahoma!
This is the story of some of what happened.


" The Trail of Tears Map "


Map of the Land Route & Water Route


Song playing is...Silent Tears

     


Many of you may think you know what the Trail of Tears was all about, and perhaps some of you do.  For those who have not read the story, this is what happened.

*  Remember...this was but four generations ago.  *




On September 15, 1830, at "Little Dancing Rabbit Creek", the Chiefs of the Choctaw Nation and representatives of the U.S. met to discuss the impact of a bill recently passed by the Congress of the U.S.  This bill, with all the same good intentions of those today who believe they know better than we how to conduct our lives, allowed for the removal of all Indian peoples to the West of the Mississippi River.

It had been made clear to the Choctaw, that the Whites in Washington cared little for our situation, that either we willingly moved, or by military force we would be moved.  We were not ignorant savages, but industrious farmers, merchants, and businessmen of all types.  We were educated people, many were Christians.    We had an organized system of government and a codified body of law.  Some of these people were not even Indians, many strangers and orphans had been taken in over the years.

The Chiefs and Warriors signed the treaty, realizing they had no option.  For doing this the government officials guaranteed, in the body of the treaty, safe conveyance to our new homes.  (Do not forget for a moment that in this treaty, the Choctaw traded 10.3 Million acres of land east of the Mississipi for 10.3 acres in Oklahoma and Arkansas that we already owned under previous treaties).  Further, it included provisions and monetary annuities, to assist the people to make a new start.  One half of the people were to depart almost immediately, the rest the next year.

After the signing of the treaty, many saw their land and property sold before their own eyes.  The "conveyances" promised turned out to be a forced march.  At the point of a gun.  The pace killed many of the old, exposure and bad food killed most.  Rotten beef and vegatables are poor provisions, even for the idle.   Many walked the entire distance without shoes, barely clothed.  What supplies were given had been rejected by the whites. This cannot directly be blamed on the goverment, because nearly all of this was done by unscrupulous men, interested only in maximizing their profits.  The government's fault lies in not being watchful of those taken into their charge.  Many of the old and the children died on the road.  At each allowed stop, the dead were buried.  Hearing of this many escaped.   They knew that as they signed the rolls, to be "removed", that this might as well be their death warrants.  They took refuge in the hills, the swamps, and other places too inhospitable for the whites.  Even as this occurred, those in charge reported their "peaceful progress" to Congress, who looked no further.

Those of us who evaded the rolls were accepted by neither the whites nor the "papered" Indians.  Still others claimed to be   "Black Dutch, " Spanish, Creole, or Black.   Many others fled to Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, even into the swamps of the Okeefenokee.  My great-great grandmother fled to Livingston Parish in Louisiana.

The "fertile lands, alive with game, lush with forests" turned out to be bone-dry and covered in alkalai pits, and a strange black ooze that stank and caught fire easily.  Blistering hot in the summer, freezing in the winter, this land was still their own.  And then the whites decided they needed more land.  Again, pressure was brought to bear on the Choctaw.  By this time the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Cree, Kickapoo, Seminole, Wyandotte, Lenapi, Mohawk, and others whose names you would not recognize, had their reservations shrunk around them.  The Choctaw had only been the first to be removed, the goverment drunk with power and in fit of lust for land, had removed nearly all.  The Mississippi Band of the Choctaw had temporarily avoided displacement, but had their land stripped down to 500 acres, but within five years none of that land was in Indian hands.  Already Arkansas had begun to be settled by whites, who ignored the treaties.  Even those who fled to California were being displaced by miners, famers and ranchers.   The discovery of gold galvanized the vise forming around the Indian people, so that expansion from the East was equalled by expansion from the West.

The altruistic government, in love and charity removed many of the young to "boarding schools" where they were "civilized," which meant being given white names, speaking only English, and being forbidden to worship their "pagan" gods.  To this day most Indians, even full-bloods, are not fluent in their own mother-tongues.

The final blow came when the white's decided they needed the black ooze and again the process accelerated.  By that time, Custer, making illegal sorties into the Black Hills, had discovered gold there too.  The Lakota watched their lands, cut to almost a third and then again until nearly all was gone.

In the 1880's, came Wovoka, who offered a message of hope and peace.  With him he brought the Ghost Dance and all tribes listened to that Siren song.  At the peak of this frenzy came Wounded Knee.  There, unarmed and innocent men, women, and children were murdered by scared Cavalry, who never took the time to find out what this was all about.   Adding insult to injury, Medals of Honor were given to these men. Even now, when the tribes speak of sovereignty, men like Senator Gorton wonder why.  All we ever asked for was the dignity of free men, to live at peace, and worship God in our own ways.



Read the TREATY
READ THE TREATY
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North American Tribes
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Great North American Chiefs
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Great North American Chiefs
Official Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Mississippi Band
of Choctaw Indians
101 Industrial Rd.
Choctaw, Ms USA 39350
(601) 656-5251    www.choctaw.org
Choctaw Nation of Ok.
P.O. Drawer 1210
Durant, OK    74702
1-800-522-6170

bishinik@choctawnation.com
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