In 1834, rebel Seminole leader Osceola used these words to rally his people to fight to stay in their homeland:
The government agent tells us we must go away from the lands we live on, our homes, and the graves of our Fathers, and go over the big river the Mississippi among the bad Indians. When the agent tells me to go from my home, I hate him, because I love my home, and will not go from it.
During the American Civil War, the Cherokee nearly had one of their own. One group of tribe members, led by Stand Watie, supported the South, and another, led by John Ross, wanted to stay neutral. The dispute ended only after Ross was forced to back down.
During the Civil War, the population of the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole tribes dropped nearly 25 percent because of war-related deaths.
In 1984, 10,000 Cherokee came together in Red Clay, Tennessee, to attend a joint tribal council.
It was the first council with leaders from both branches of the Cherokee since the Trail of Tears broke up the tribe almost 150 years earlier.
My Brothers! When the Great Spirit tells me to go with the white man, I go: but he tells me not to go. The white man says I shall go, and he will send people to make me go; but I have a rifle, and I have some powder and some lead. I say, we must not leave our homes and lands. If any of our people want to go west, we won’t let them; and I tell them they are our enemies, and we will treat them so, for the Great Spirit will protect us.