By 1828, the discovery of gold in Georgia motivated settlers and prospectors to put pressure on the government to force the Cherokee and other local First Nation people to move to the allotted Indian Territories west of the Mississippi River, which would later become Oklahoma.
On the 28th of May 1830, the United States Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This authorized Andrew Jackson, the President of the United States of America and his successor, Martin Van Burrens, to begin the “negotiations” for the removal of the southern Native American people from their homelands to the distant Oklahoma territory.
The intention was to free up their land for the ever-increasing number of settlers who were steadily displacing them. Many Cherokees and other Native Americans died on that forceful removal march that began in 1834.
It was estimated that of the approximate 16,543 Cherokees who took part, up to 6,000 died on the journey.
No symbol is more fitting for the pain and suffering experience on the Trail of Tears than the Cherokee Rose. The mothers on the trail grieved so much that the elders and chiefs prayed for a sign to lift the people’s spirits and give them strength to care for their children. From that day forward, a beautiful new flower, a rose, grew wherever a mother’s tear fell to the ground. The rose is white, for the mother’s tears. It has a gold center, for the gold taken from the traditional Cherokee lands, and seven leaves on each stem that represent the seven Cherokee clans that made the journey. To this day, the Cherokee Rose prospers along the route.