Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy

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NBC News
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1830 - 1838
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Video Mini-Documentary
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Andrew Jackson's harsh attitudes against Native Americans leads to the Indian Removal Act, which forces five eastern Indian tribes onto reservations in Oklahoma. Thousands of Indians die during the journey, which becomes known as "The Trail of Tears."



"Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy." NBC News. NBCUniversal Media. 12 Jan. 2007. NBC Learn. Web. 17 January 2015.


(2007, January 12). Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy. [Television series episode]. NBC News. Retrieved from


"Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy" NBC News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 01/12/2007. Accessed Sat Jan 17 2015 from NBC Learn:


Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy

NARRATOR: In President Andrew Jackson’s quest for westward expansion, he adopted a harsh policy towards Indians that reflected American attitudes at the time. Jackson believed in Manifest Destiny, represented in this 19th-century painting: the concept that Americans were destined to expand west to the Pacific Ocean.

Professor MARIA MONTOYA (New York University): They were people who had used up their farmland, for the most part, in the east coast, along the southern region as well, and were looking for new lands to farm.

NARRATOR: But Americans looking for new fertile land often clashed with Indians unwilling to leave without a fight, either in combat or in court. The Cherokees actually won a Supreme Court case over land in Georgia, but Jackson ignored the decision.

Professor ERIC FONER (Columbia University): Jackson was an Indian fighter from way back. In the War of 1812 and after, he had led campaigns to destroy the creek Indians in the south.

NARRATOR: Determined to move Indians out of the way, he pressed Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act in 1830. It ordered what were known as the “Five Civilized Tribes” – the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Seminoles – to move to reservations in Oklahoma.

FONER: They were called “Civilized Tribes” because they had actually done what people like Jefferson said Indians needed to do to be accepted. They had adopted white ways. They had taken up family farming. But the white man didn’t care about that. They wanted that land, and they wanted Indians pushed out west of the Mississippi.

NARRATOR: Between 1830 and 1838, thousands of Indians died on the trek to reservations. The journey became known as "The Trail of Tears." Those who fought back, like the Sauk tribe, led by chief Black Hawk, were crushed by federal troops. By 1840 most eastern Indians were driven onto western reservations, which kept them in, and the white population out.