The National Archives has digitized thousands of documents, images, and movies related to Native American history and culture.  This is the second in a series of blogs highlighting the records available online through the National Archives catalog.



Cherokee Hills Byway - Trail of Tears Exhibit at the Cherokee National Museum



On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law.  The law gave the federal government the authority to compel Native Americans living in the eastern United States to relocate to unsettled territory west of the Mississippi River.


The process and consequences of removal are extensively documented in the records of the National Archives.  Many types and subjects of removal records have been digitized and are available online in the catalog. 


Andrew Jackson’s message to Congress “On Indian Removal” on December 6, 1830

Memorial from the “Ladies of Steubenville, Ohio” protesting Indian Removal (12/15/1830)


(For more information about the Indian Removal Act, check out this blog post about documents that are on exhibit from May 23 to June 14, 2017 at the National Archives Rubenstein Galley in Washington, D.C.)


The records of The Office of the Commissary General of Subsistence (War Department) contain several pieces of digitized correspondence recording the logistics of removing Native Americans from the Southeast and Midwest.



Two letters concerning the removal of Cherokee in Georgia in 1831

Estimate of the cost of removing 500 Cherokee from Georgia by steamboat (1831)

Estimated cost of transferring the Cherokee west of the Mississippi River (1834)



Letter from an agent discussing accusations of fraud during the removal of Choctaw from Ecore de Fabrie (1836)

Two letters concerning Choctaw removal (1831, 1832)



Letter concerning the relocation of 530 Creek (1835)


Midwestern Tribes

Two letters concerning the removal of the Pottawatomi, and a petition to President Andrew Jackson from the Pottawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa tribes. (1835, 1836)



There are also a number of documents related to the forcible removal of Cherokee from Georgia in 1838-1839, known as the Trail of Tears.


Cherokee Petition in Protest of the New Echota Treaty (1836)

Major General Winfield Scott’s Order No. 25 (1838)

Report of Sick and Wounded Encamped at Rattle Snake Springs (1838)


Some removal records can also be useful as alternative genealogy sources and can complement more comprehensive sources. The two items listed below contain lists of emigrating family groups. Only heads of family are named, but these records can provide color and context to supplement more comprehensive sources.


“Muster Roll of Emigrants Brought to the Creek Country West of the Mississippi and Arkansas by Chilly McIntosh” (1833)

“Muster Roll of Cherokee Indians Who Enrolled and Emigrated West of the Mississippi River Under the Direction of Benjamin F. Currey from the First of October 1831 to the First of January 1833”


Of course, this blog post is far from comprehensive- for any researcher, a thorough perusal of the National Archives catalog is an absolute must.  For more tips on searching for digitized records in the catalog, check out this post on Expanding Your Digital Toolkit . Researchers interested in records described in the catalog that haven’t been digitized should get in touch with the appropriate National Archives reference unit using the contact information at the bottom of the page.