"Long time we travel on way to new land...Womens cry... Children cry and men cry... but they say nothing and just put heads down and keep go towards West. Many days pass and people die very much."-Recollection of a survivor of the Trail of Tears
The Trail of Tears-Land Route
After passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the United States government forced tens of thousands of American Indians to leave their ancestral lands in the southeast for new homes in Indian Territory (present-day-Oklahoma). They traveled over established land and water routes, all of which led through Arkansas. Rather than risk disease and other hazards of summer travel, many groups left in the fall and faced, instead, treacherous winter weather. Thousands died during the ordeal- remembered today as the Trail of Tears.
Despite the hardships of the journey, the people of the five tribes of the Southeast established new lives in the West. They stand now as successful sovereign nations, proudly preserving cultural traditions, while adapting to the challenges of the 21st century.
Federal Indian Removal
In the 1830s, the federal government forcibly removed approximately 16,000 Cherokee, 21,000 Muscogee (Creek), 9,000 Choctaw, 6,000 Chickasaw, and 4,000 Seminole from the southeastern United States.
Federal Indian removal policy aroused fierce and bitter debate. Supporters of the policy claimed it was a benevolent action to save the tribes east of the Mississippi River from being overwhelmed and lost in the onslaught of an expanding American population.
Opponents described its inhumanity and the tragic consequences it would have for the Indian peoples. One thing was certain: removal freed millions of acres of Indian lands for use by American settlers.
In 1987, to commemorate this tragic chapter in American history, the Unites States Congress designated the primary land and water routes of the Cherokee removal as the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
Today, the National Park Service partners with the southeastern tribes; the Trail of Tears Association and other non-government organizations; federal, state, and local agencies; private land owners to foster the appreciation and preservation of historic sites and segments and to tell the story of forced removal of the Cherokee people and other American Indian Tribes.
You can visit certified sites, segments, and interpretive facilities along the Trail of Tears Historic Trails following the Auto Tour Route. Look for the official trail logo along the way.
A map of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is included at the center bottom of the marker. It includes the principal land and water routes as well as other major routes. The map was designed by Western National Parks Association.