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Before it was “The South,” it was a native homeland. The southern United States is steeped in indigenous history. The history of Native people has often been muted in Southern American history. The 1830 Indian Removal Act aimed to remove Native Americans from their Southern homelands. U.S. Southern territory had the highest Native population density north of Mexico. 

European settlers coveted native lands because the soil was ideal for growing cotton. Many associated the Indian Removal act as being targeted at the Cherokee Nation. However, this legislation was widespread as it sought to remove all Native Americans west of the Mississippi River. 100,000 Indians were forced to leave their homelands.   

The Indian Removal Act was unique in that the government used its power to initiate large-scale removal. Essentially, President Jackson sought removal by any means necessary. President Jackson capitalized on middle-class and poor white men’s desire to capitalize on the removal of Native American Indians and the expansion of slavery.  The massive demand for slave labor caused a second population shift from the Eastern Seaboard and Upper South into the Southern Frontier to support the dominant “cotton” economy.    

The Trail of Tears was also traveled by the enslaved owned by Native Americans. Several tribes were committed to maintaining slavery and quickly re-established slavery after their tribes were relocated; seeking to rebuild their tribes using slave labor and supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. The migration of enslaved people southward to keep the cotton industry as “king” is referred to as the Slave Trail of Tears.

Another installment of melanated mail has been delivered. Ponder, reflect, and pass it on.