Assimilation and Removal

The US government wanted Native Americans to either act like European-Americans or move further west to leave room for the insatiable pioneers. Assimilation efforts culminated in Congress' 1819 establishment of an Indian Civilization Fund of $10,000 a year. Some Indians adopted aspects of the European-American lifestyle, learning English, farming land, and acquiring trade skills like blacksmithing. Others, like many of the Cherokee nation, established successful plantations, mainly in North Carolina, Tennessee, and North Georgia, with thousands of slaves, cattle, and many grist and saw mills. The Cherokee operated schools, and Sequoyah was working on a writing system for the Cherokee language, which he finally completed in 1821.

After the War of 1812, however, the federal government began emphasizing the removal aspect of the policy. Politicians claimed that assimilation could not happen rapidly enough to relieve the pressure from frontier people eager to obtain land and other resources further west. Some, especially in the South, may have grown jealous of the success of tribes like the Cherokee. The post-war removal of British troops in the West, as well as the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, may have made the federal government bolder in its efforts to move Native Americans out of the way of American "progress."