What Did the Indian Removal Act of 1830 Do?

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The Indian Removal Act of 1830 gave the President of the United States the power to trade unsettled land to the Indians for land they inhabited in the same state. Andrew Jackson signed this act into law on May 28, 1830. It led to the famous "Trail of Tears" for the Cherokee nation, which led to the death of 4000 Indians who were removed from their land and forced to go west.

The Indians had always been in danger of losing their land since the Europeans began arriving in America. Once the colonies became a nation, the government passed laws affecting the Indians' rights to land. One law prohibited them from actually owning any land. The Cherokees attempted to make themselves a sovereign nation in an attempt to carve out an area they called their own.

President Jackson encouraged the passing of the Indian Removal Act to allow him and future presidents the right to move Indians westward, giving them unsettled land in trade for their land east of the Mississippi River. Some Indian tribes complied with the law, but others resisted and refused to sign any proposed treaties. Those groups that did sign treaties found that the government did not always honor them. Within seven years, 46,000 Indians had been removed from their homes.