East Meets West
July 9, 2003
East meets West this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.
Hello, Iím Steven Knoche Kite.
The removal of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee nations from their southeastern lands to Indian Territory was a less than stellar moment in the annals of the European settlement of North America. Some historians claim that the resettlement of the five tribes was a natural and expected occurrence given the progression of white immigration to the New World. Others claim that only greed and ill-will lay behind the event. Either way, moving several hundred thousand people against their will from their homeland of centuries to the hostile lands of Indian Territory didn't help the reputations of Euro-Americans and certainly didn't help the situation of American tribes.
Of those five tribes moving from the East, the Cherokees perhaps had the most difficult transition. The tribe moved basically in three large clumps. The first group, called the Western Cherokees, moved of their own volition to Indian Territory and were the first to relocate. The second group, the Treaty Cherokees, moved after they illegally signed away the homeland in the south. The last group to move are usually called the Eastern Cherokees. This group protested the illegal treaty and fought countless legal battles with the government in order to stay. It was this last group who, forced to relocate by the U.S. Army, endured The Trail of Tears, a forced march to the Indian Territory.
Once settled in what is now Oklahoma, these three groups weren't at all compatible. The Western Cherokees already held a constitution and long-established rules of order. The Treaty Cherokees quickly aligned themselves with the Westerns and were begrudgingly accepted. The Eastern Cherokees felt that they alone had remained true to the law and word of the original Cherokee laws and constitution established in their original homeland back east. No little amount of turmoil followed in the various attempts to unite the three pieces of the broken Cherokee Nation. Murder, blackmail and bribery all had a hand in the process with no side being completely innocent or guilty. It was in this week of 1839 on July 12th that the leaders of all Cherokee factions gathered to unite the tribe once again. Under the "Act of Union," as it was called, the Eastern and Western Cherokees were once again to be one body politic, under the style and title of the Cherokee Nation.
Feuding and fighting result in a family reunion this week on the Almanac.
I'm Steven Knoche Kite.
The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.