Book Review: Voices from The Trail of Tears by Vicki Rozema (four stars)

Book Review: Voices from The Trail of Tears by Vicki Rozema (four stars)

“Sir, that paper … called a treaty is no treaty at all, because not sanctioned by the great body of the Cherokees and made without their participation or assent.”

Exhaustive analysis of the forced immigration of most eastern Cherokee from their homelands to the future Oklahoma. Without a doubt a shameful, extralegal confiscation and ejection. Rozema summaries the history, then introduces each primary source. Overkill as the letters and journals of the participants suffice to indict their actions.

“His conduct and course of policy was a series of blunders from first to last … It has been wholly of a partisan character.”

Most sources are unconsciously brutal in their causal callous treatment of Cherokees. Language two hundred years ago was stilted and hard to follow for modern readers. Documents the conflicting opinions among partisans on both sides: bureaucratic “just the facts” reports versus eyewitness anguish of murdered family. The state of Georgia led the movement. President Andrew Jackson acquiesced to the state, even when the United States Supreme Court found the state’s action illegal.

“The removal of the Southeastern Native Americans west of the Mississippi is one of the great tragedies of United States history.”

Early use of concentration camps to temporarily house families forced from their homes. Many individuals rousted with only the clothes they wore: no walking shoes, no utensils, no tools, no winter clothes. Paradoxically, forced smallpox vaccinations saved many from epidemics endemic to the newly settled areas.

“My sun of existence is fast approaching to its setting. When I sleep in forgetfulness, I hope my bones will not be deserted by you.”


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