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Trial of Tears and the Five Civilized TribesDuring the early years of 1800s valuable gold deposits were discovered in tribal lands which by previous cessions had been reduced to about seven million acres in northwest Georgia eastern Tennessee and southwest North Carolina In 1819 Georgia appealed to the US government to remove the Cherokee from Georgia lands When the appeal failed attempts were made to purchase the territory Meanwhile in 1820 the Cherokee established a governmental system modeled on that of the United States with an elected principal chief a senate and a house of representatives Because of this system the Cherokee were included as one of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes The other four tribes were the Chickasaw Choctaw Creek and the Seminoles In 1832 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Georgia legislation was unconstitutional federal authorities following Jacksons policy of Native American removal ignored the decision About five hundred leading Cherokee agreed in 1835 to cede the tribal territory in exchange for 5700000 and land in Indian Territory now Oklahoma Their action was repudiated by more than nine-tenths of the tribe and several members of the group were later assassinated In 1838 federal troops began forcible evicting the Cherokee Approximately one thousand escaped to the North Carolina Mountains purchased land and incorporated in that state they were the ancestors of the present-day Eastern Band Most of the tribe including the Western Band was driven west about eight hundred miles in a forced march known as the Trail of Tears The march west included 18000 to 20000 people of whom about 4000 perished through hunger disease and exposureThe Cherokee are of the Iroquoian linguistic family Their economy like that of the other southeastern tribes was based on intensive agriculture mainly of corn beans and squash Deer bear and elk were hunted The tribe was divided into seven matrilineal clans that were dispersed in war and peace moieties half-tribes The
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