Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Alexis de Tocqueville and the Trail of Tears

(As we tour the Bad Lands and Black Hills of South Dakota, we pause to read selections of Democracy in America by the French author de Tocqueville.)

"In the whole scene there was an air of ruin and destruction, something which betrayed a final and irrevocable adieu; one couldn't watch without feeling one's heart wrung.  The Indians were tranquil, but sombre and taciturn.  There was one who could speak English and of whom I asked why the Chactas were leaving their country.  'To be free,' he answered, could never get any other reason out of him.  We... watch the expulsion... of one of the most celebrated and ancient American peoples."  -Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Memphis, Tennessee, 1831
(We tour past the bear skin arts and tomahawks and Winchester rifles, relics of the old west.)

The Trail of Tears was a series of forced Indian removals of Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee, Seminole, and Chickasaw from ancestral homelands in the southern United States to areas west of the Mississippi River  after the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  
(We try to remember, we try to keep the memory alive, even just by allowing ourselves to feel.)

More than 4,000 of the relocated refugees died during the trek of 1,000 miles due to disease, starvation, and exposure.

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