The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search

Eastern Indian Wars


Coveting what remained of the Indian lands in the Southeast and lower South, the United States forced tribes to cede their “rights of occupancy” and give up their ancestral homelands. After a series of bitterly fought wars, treaties and forced settlements divested Indians of millions of acres of land. Thousands of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles were forced to move west of the Mississippi.

Facts / Statistics

Dates: 1813-1838
Troops: 106,000 (includes Western Indian Wars)
Deaths: 1,000 (includes Western Indian Wars)

The Creek Indian War

Andrew Jackson had a long history with the Indians. During the War of 1812, he led militia forces in a war against Creek Indians.

One faction of the Creek sided with the British and fought the United States along the western frontier. This group, known as Red Sticks because of the bright red war clubs they carried, followed the teachings of the charismatic Shawnee, Tecumseh. In 1811 Tecumseh rallied his people, “Where today are the Peqout? Where are the Narragansett, the Mahican, the Pokanoket? Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, “Never! Never!”

The Red Sticks believed that Indians of many tribes needed to unite against the United States. On August 30, 1813, the Red Sticks attacked Fort Mims in the Mississippi Territory. In the bloody massacre, they killed between 300 and 400 people, including militiamen, women, and children. Andrew Jackson would soon avenge the loss in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend

On March 27, 1814, Andrew Jackson, with a force 3,300 men consisting of Tennessee militia, United States regulars, and both Cherokee and Lower Creek allies, attacked Chief Me-Na-Wa and 1,000 Upper Creek or Red Stick warriors fortified in the “horseshoe” bend of the Tallapoosa River. The Red Sticks were trapped and slaughtered, ending the Creek War. In the treaty that followed, the Creek lost twenty million acres of land, half of all they claimed.


Exhibition Graphics

Andrew Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl

Andrew Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl

Tecumseh, artist unknown

Tecumseh, artist unknown

McIntosh by Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall.  Creek chief who sided with the Americans

McIntosh by Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall. Creek chief who sided with the Americans

Map of Horseshoe Bend, 1814

Map of Horseshoe Bend, 1814

Me-Na-Wa by Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall.  Creek warrior who fought against removal of Indians

Me-Na-Wa by Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall. Creek warrior who fought against removal of Indians


Related Artifacts

Eagle in Canton Flag
Trade Tomahawk
Beaded Cap
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Sam Houston’s Hunting Knife
Major Lemuel Montgomery's Pistol

A Civilized People

In the early 19th century, the Cherokee people began adapting traditions of their white neighbors. While many white people believed that Indians were incapable of cultural change, the Cherokee proved them wrong. Their leaders saw value in the technology and culture of their white neighbors and successfully adopted their methods of farming, weaving, and home building. They created their own constitution and government. Some attended white schools.

In 1821, Sequoyah developed a written version of the Cherokee language. In 1828, the tribe began publishing a newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. The first American Indian newspaper is still published today as the Cherokee Phoenix and Indian Advocate. In 1827, the Cherokee drafted their own constitution, following the model of the United States. The constitution declared that they would never give up their ancestral homeland in the East. These dramatic developments won the admiration and support of many Americans, particularly in the Northeast.

Georgia Gold

In 1829, prospectors discovered gold in north Georgia on land that the Cherokee had long controlled. This new-found wealth was a major reason that whites demanded the eviction of the Cherokee. By 1830, the Georgia gold strike was producing over 300 ounces of gold a day. That same year, the Congress of the United States passed the Indian Removal Act. The Cherokees fought the removal laws in the Supreme Court and established an independent Cherokee Nation. In 1832, the Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee with Chief Justice John Marshall declaring that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign and the removal laws invalid. President Andrew Jackson defied the decision of the court and ordered the removal.

Trail of Tears

In 1838, General Winfield Scott and U.S. Army troops began removing the remaining Cherokee in the South to present-day Oklahoma. Some Cherokee had gone west before the federal government began Indian removal, but most had remained. Men, women, and children were taken from their homes, herded into makeshift shelters, and forced to march or travel by boat over a thousand miles during a bitter winter. About 4,000 Cherokee died during the journey. Their forced removal, known ever since as the Trail of Tears, is among the most tragic episodes in American history. They were one of five major tribes forced to move west.


Exhibition Graphics

Cherokee Phoenix, the first American Indian newspaper, is still published today as the Cherokee Phoenix and Indian Advocate.

Cherokee Phoenix, the first American Indian newspaper, is still published today as the Cherokee Phoenix and Indian Advocate.

Elias Boudinot first editor of the Cherokee Phoenix

Elias Boudinot first editor of the Cherokee Phoenix

Major General Winfield Scott’s 1838 address to the Cherokee

Major General Winfield Scott’s 1838 address to the Cherokee

The Trail of Tears by Robert Lindneux

The Trail of Tears by Robert Lindneux

Major General Winfield Scott by George Catlin

Major General Winfield Scott by George Catlin


Related Artifacts

Deringer Model 1814 Rifle
Infantry Private's Coat
Gold Coin
Money Scales
Cherokee Percussion Pistol
Cherokee Coat


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