Before being relocated on the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Native Americans occupied a large area of the southern United States that included the present day states of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Cherokee also occupied the present day states of Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia.
The Trail of Tears relocated the Cherokee Native Americans to "Indian Territory," which mainly included lands west of the Mississippi River. This forced relocation and removal was a result of the 1830 Indian Removal Act passed by United States officials in order to preserve education and higher standards of morality. However, at the time of removal, Cherokee populations actually had a higher literacy rate than non-Native Americans, albeit in their native language.