The Rise and Fall and Rise of Civilizations: Indian Intellectual Culture during the Removal Era

Exercise 4

Ultimately, Indian removal forced about 100,000 Indians to leave their homelands and relocate west. Although American history textbooks highlight removal—especially Cherokee experiences—many lose track of those peoples thereafter. Despite the trauma of removal, however, those nations survived and rebuilt their nations. In removal treaties, the United States agreed to set aside Indian Territory for native nations “to the end of time,” but, within a generation, renewed assaults on native land and sovereignty. In the late 1840s, for example, the U.S. Congress proposed to dissolve tribal boundaries in Indian Territory. How did Choctaw diplomat Peter Pitchlynn respond? His speech swayed Congress: Why do you think it was successful?

Peter Pitchlynn’s 1849 speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, “Remonstrance of Col. Peter Pitchlynn,” H. Doc. No. 30-35, 30 Cong., 2 sess., Jan. 20, 1849

Today, there are two federally recognized Choctaw nations—the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (composed of the ancestors of those who evaded removal). How does each nation describe sovereignty today? What roles do education and technological innovation play in Indian country today?