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Native Voices

Indian Removal Documents from the Archives

Photo of a bust of Andrew Jackson

     The presidential volumes of The Papers of Andrew Jackson contain numerous letters to and from Jackson on the subject of Indian Removal, the process by which, under cover of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, Southeastern and Midwestern Indian Nations were dispossessed of their lands and expelled westward. In addition to letters Jackson wrote on Removal to politicians, cabinet members, treaty negotiators, Native chiefs, and federal Indian agents, those volumes contain dozens of letters and petitions on the topic written to Jackson.     

     Documents printed in Papers volumes, however, are strictly limited to communications by Jackson or to Jackson, a policy that necessarily omits much of the documentary record surrounding Indian Removal. In an attempt to fill out that record, the Papers of Andrew Jackson project has commenced compiling andPainting of Creek Chief Opothle Yoholo publishing online a wider archive of manuscripts illuminating the process by which Removal treaties were coerced, negotiated, signed, and implemented, with a particular emphasis on documents authored by Native Americans.  Because Native Americans were more likely to address their views and concerns to federal Indian agents and other intermediaries, even when in response to talks from Jackson himself, widening the scope of documents selected for inclusion in this archive will give voice to participants and perspectives lacking in the project’s printed volumes. A more capacious archive will also highlight the important roles played in Removal by federal Indian agents and commissioners, Army officers, and white traders, land speculators, and squatters.

     Beginning with the Choctaw Nation, who were dispossessed of their Mississippi and Alabama domain in 1830, the Papers of Andrew Jackson here presents “Native Voices,” a series of tribe-specific archivesMap showing land during the time of Andrew Jackson with diagrams showing routes taken by American Indians and territory ceded to American Indians. containing treaties, treaty journals, petitions, instructions, and letters that together document in fine-grain detail the story of Indian Removal. For each document, Jackson Papers editors have provided color images and transcriptions, both with the option of PDF download. Most of the manuscripts featured are housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and were identified and filmed in collaboration with National Archives staff. Archives documenting the Removal of the Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee Nations will follow.

Choctaw Nation