Trail Of Tears Monument
Under pressure from non-native landowners, Congress passed The Indian Removal Act of 1830, which authorized the forced removal of the Five Civilized Tribes from their lands: the Choctaw and Chickasaw from Mississippi, the Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee from Alabama and Georgia, and the Seminole from Florida. This legislation required over 60,000 people to uproot and resettle in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). While steamboats and wagons were used to transport people and possessions, many traveled on foot for hundreds of miles. Tens of thousands are believed to have died, mostly from diseases contracted along the journey. The name “Trail of Tears” is believed to have come from a leader of the Choctaw, the first tribe to move, who said it was a “trail of tears and death.” Coming from Mississippi, they crossed into southern Arkansas, and some of their routes took them through Hempstead County. Newspaper accounts tell of Choctaw groups passing though Washington on the Southwest Trail daily. The Chickasaw followed similar paths through Hempstead County. Most of the relocation was completed by 1840.