The Indian Experience

For the native peoples of the eastern United States, Andrew Jackson's removal policy of the 1830s was a traumatic event that uprooted them from their ancestral homelands and forced them to find new homes and craft new ways to live west of the Mississippi River. But Jackson's policy was more nearly the end than the beginning of a long process of population change in Illinois. Few of the native peoples "removed" from Illinois by Jackson--or even in the decade or so preceding the formal removal policy--had lived there for much more than a century. Certainly, American power and American settlers brought dramatic changes to native Illinois in the early nineteenth century. But change had swept Illinois for hundreds of years, with effects on native peoples almost as dramatic as those wrought by removal.