The Trail of Tears

University of Oklahoma Magazine 10 (February 1, 1922):14.

By Ruth Margaret Muskrat


In the night they shriek and moan,

In the dark the tall pines moan

As they guard the dismal trail.

The Cherokees say it is the groan,

Every shriek and echoed groan

Of their forefathers that fell

With broken hopes and bitter fears

On that weary trail of tears.[1]


Broken hopes and broken hearts,

A quivering mass of broken hearts

Were driven over the trail.

Stifling back the groan that starts

Smothering back the moan that

Full four thousand fell;[2]

But still the Great Spirit his people

As they travel the trail of tears.


From the homes their fathers made

From the graves the tall trees shade

For the sake of greed and gold,

The Cherokees were forced to go

To a land they did not know;

And Father Time or wisdom old

Cannot erase, through endless years

The memory of the trail of tears.

[1] In 1838 and 1839, as part of Andrew Jackson's Indian removal policy (Indian Removal Act of 1830), the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee people called this journey “The Trail Where They Cried,” or the "Trail of Tears," because of its devastating effects. The migrants faced hunger, disease, and exhaustion on the forced march.


[2] Recent research by Cherokee scholars estimates that around 1,100 Cherokees died during removal.