Indian Removal Act
In one of the saddest chapters in our nation’s history, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, giving the U.S. government permission to “trade” Native American lands east of the Mississippi for unspecified lands out west. The federal government claimed it was for the tribes’ own protection, reporting—and correctly so—that whites would continue to surge into their homelands in the name of frontier expansion.
The Indians, of course, had no interest in leaving what had been their homeland for centuries. Tribes in northern Michigan were largely ignored by the federal Indian Bureau at first, most likely because the government found their lands undesirable at the time. After all, the Potawatomi, who lived on valuable farmland in southern Michigan, were forcibly removed from their lands.
Unfortunately, the federal government didn’t leave the tribes alone for long. By the mid-1800s, treaties “legally” took away more and more Native American land in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas and established many of the reservations that exist today.
The new state government, however, did treat the tribes with a modicum of decency. In 1850, Native Americans were given the right to vote and even run for office in counties where the population was predominantly Indian—a concession unheard of elsewhere for many years.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel