About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Park Service's brochure and Comprehensive Management and Use Plan for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and the National Register of Historic Places files for the John Ross House (with photographs), Chieftains (with photographs), and Rattlesnake Springs. The lesson is also greatly indebted to John Ehle's Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation and Carl Waldman's Atlas of the North American Indian. It was written by Kathleen A. Hunter, an educational consultant living in Hartford, Connecticut. It was edited by Marilyn Harper, a National Park Service consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places Staff.
*Special note to teachers:
This lesson uses the terms commonly used during the 1830s to refer to men and women of English and European origin and to members of native tribes: "whites" and "Indians."
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be a part of a history unit on American Indians, Jacksonian America, Manifest Destiny, or westward expansion, a social studies unit on cultural diversity, or a geography unit on demography.
Time period: 1820s and 1830s
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To identify the sources of conflict between American settlers and the Cherokee Nation.
2) To outline the events leading up to the forced relocation of the 1830s.
3) To describe the conflicts among the Cherokees and evaluate their effect on the relocation.
4) To research treaty agreements between the U.S. government and American Indian tribes in students' own region.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps showing the lands held by the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee removal routes;
2) three readings about the Cherokees, their leaders, and the relocation;
3) four photographs of historic places associated with the Cherokee removal;
4) one illustration showing a typical Cherokee homestead.
Visiting the site
The John Ross House is located in the town of Rossville in northern Georgia. It can be reached by taking I-75 to exit 350 (Battlefield Parkway). Go west on the parkway to Fort Oglethorp and turn right on U.S. Highway 27. In Rossville, turn left at the post office on Spring Street. It is open to the public during the summer months. For more information, contact the Walker County Chamber of Commerce, P. O. Box 430, Rock Springs, GA 30739.
"Chieftains," the Major Ridge House, is located in what is now Rome, Georgia. It can be reached by taking I-75 to exit 306 (State Road 140). Follow SR 140 to SR 53. Turn left to Highway 1 Loop to Riverside Road and follow signs. The house is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday. For more information contact the Chieftains Museum, P. O. Box 373, Rome, GA 30162.
Rattlesnake Springs is located on private property and is not open to the public.
The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail includes a variety of historic trail-related sites. An auto tour follows major highways that are close to the original trail route. The route is marked with the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail symbol. A map identifying the modern roads and their relationship to the historic trail is available on the Trail Web page. Guidebooks or local tourist agencies can provide directions to specific sites, some of which are National or state parks. Also included on the website is a printable travel guide.