Updated June 2, 2006
The earliest usage of the term "The Trail of Tears" that I have found was with respect to the final Cherokee migration (1838-39) from Georgia to the Cherokee Nation in what is now northeastern Oklahoma. It has, however, come into general use to describe any of the removals of the people of the Five Nations and is often applied to removals of other groups to the area that later became the state of Oklahoma. A "Trail of Tears" is thus an historical event more than a physical road; and this page is just a worksheet.
I started with links to ITGenWeb sites and to date have covered the Five Nations of Indian Territory, for whom information about removal is most readily available, and the remnant groups of the Quapaw Tract. I've now started working westward in what became Oklahoma Territory and plan to include all Nations/Tribes that were reserved lands or removed to lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma.
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Absentee Shawnee Technically speaking, the original migration to what is now Oklahoma was not a removal. After the septs split (well before the Civil War), a band who came to be called the "Absentee Shawnee" allied with the Creeks and settled in the western Creek lands between the two Canadian Rivers. After the war, when the Creeks were forced to cede those western lands, some remained but many of the Absentee Shawnee fled to Mexico. Eventually, of course, most of those who survived were forced to return. See the Sac & Fox Agency ITGenWeb Site for more information.
Chickasaw The point of departure was near the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee, with several minor trails leading to it. The journey was then south along the Military Road, crossing the Mississippi River in southeastern Arkansas and following the Arkansas River northwest across Arkansas to Ft. Smith and Ft. Coffee. See the Chickasaw Nation ITGenWeb Site for more history.
Choctaw As far as I have been able to determine, the Choctaw removals did not use any of the same roads as the others. The final leg was on the westernmost portion of the Military Road from Little Rock to Ft. Towson. See the Choctaw Nation ITGenWeb Site for more history.
Creek The southern route started overland from Ft. Michael to Mobile Alabama, then by boat to New Orleans. It continued by land along a Military Road that roughly paralleled the Mississippi River. After crossing the Mississippi River, it followed the Arkansas River to Ft. Smith and Ft. Coffee. I have not yet found information about the road/trail from Ft. Coffee to the Creek Lands. The northern route arced northwest to near the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee, then followed the old Military Road along the river until it reached the Arkansas River and merged with the southern route. See the Creek Nation ITGenWeb Site for more history.
Iowa A small band of Iowa was moved to Oklahoma Territory from Kansas. See the Sac & Fox Agency ITGenWeb Site for more information.
Kaskaskias Algonquians removed to the Quapaw Tract.
Kickapoo They had a long history of moving on to escape white encroachment, thus splitting into a number of separate groups. The band that ended up in Oklahoma Territory had fled to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, but was forcibly removed to Oklahoma Territory in the 1880s. See the Sac & Fox Agency ITGenWeb Site for more information.
Miami Algonquians removed to the Quapaw Tract.
Modoc Removed to the Quapaw Tract from Oregon and northern California.
Ottawa Algonquians removed to the Quapaw Tract.
Peoria Algonquians removed to the Quapaw Tract.
Piankashaw Algonquians removed to the Quapaw Tract.
Pottawatomi During the relocation of the Plains Tribes after after the Civil War, the Kansas band selected the area west of the Creek Nation, between the Canadian Rivers and was moved to their new lands in the 1870s. See the Sac & Fox Agency ITGenWeb Site for more information.
Quapaw Siouians removed from their reservation in Kansas to the Quapaw Tract.
Sac & Fox A 1867 treaty with one faction resulted in the removal of almost the entire Kansas band to what was then Indian Territory, later Oklahoma Territory. See the Sac & Fox Agency ITGenWeb Site for more information.
Seminole So far, Tampa Bay is the only departure point I have found but apparently a number of minor trails led to it. The first leg of the journey was by boat across the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. Then the journey continued by land along a Military Road that roughly paralleled the Mississippi River. After crossing the Mississippi River, the journey continued northwest along the Arkansas River to reach Ft. Smith and Ft. Coffee. I have not yet found information about the road/trail from Ft. Coffee to the Seminole Lands. See the Seminole Nation ITGenWeb Site for more history.
Seneca Removed to the Quapaw Tract from Sandusky, Ohio, where they had fled from central New York. This band probably included other Iroquoian refugees, such as Eries and and Conestogas.
Shawnee Algonquians from the Ohio Valley removed to the Quapaw Tract.
Weas Algonquians removed to the Quapaw Tract.
Wyandotte An Iroquoian fragment removed to the Quapaw Tract from their reservation along the Neosho River.
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Status: Although there are certainly gaps to be filled in, this section is complete enough to be moved to the main ITGenWSeb site.