THE TRAIL OF TEARS: The Story of the American Indian Removals 1813-1855 by Gloria Jahoda

THE TRAIL OF TEARS: The Story of the American Indian Removals 1813-1855

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The Trail of Tears--the Cherokee name for their forced march westward to Oklahoma, literally and simply ""the trail where we cried""--was in fact many Trails: those of the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Shawnees, Ohio Senecas, Sac and Fox, and other Southeastern and Midwestern tribes who lost their ancestral lands, their identities and often their lives as a consequence of Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830. Gloria Jahoda has attempted to write a Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee for these people, a chronicle of what was really the first movement in the large-scale, purposeful decimation of the Indians: herding them hastily westward in winter, barefoot, thinly clad, underprovisioned, and dying of cholera, frostbite, smallpox and starvation, to ""Indian Territory,"" where the Wounded Knee era would finish them off. Jahoda's book lacks the sweep and structure of Dee Brown's-it is episodic and repetitive, as indeed was the history of these atrocities-but at times her narration of the terrible journeys approaches the eloquence of Indian oratory itself (much quoted here, for once in context). Among her gifts as a chronicler: training in anthropology, enabling her to begin the story of each tribe's doom with its own vital, mythic account of its origins; a pointed and bitter wit turned loose on the complexities of history (though she is the Indians' advocate, she doesn't underplay the role their own factionalism played in their downfall); a knack for evoking an unspoiled America as these indigenous peoples must have loved it. An occasional overstress on outrage better conveyed by the stark facts doesn't mar the effect of history redivivus.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1975
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston