|Trail of Tears|
Title: Trail of Tears
This photograph is part of the 'Cowboys & Indians' series which explores the dynamic historic relationship between North American First Nations people and European colonists. It is representative of the lack of freedom of choice that First Nations people had when it came to government policy.
As the United States government was expanding their cotton enterprise, they desired more land, specifically the land that was occupied by the country's eastern native population. As a means to acquire this land, the 'Indian Removal Act' was put into effect in 1830 wherein land west of the Mississippi was offered to First Nations groups that lived east of the river. Some groups migrated voluntarily while others refused to leave. In 1834, a small faction of Cherokee individuals signed a formal agreement and sold Cherokee land to the government, unbeknownst to the Cherokee National Council. When the Council discovered this deception, it was too late. Despite a petition signed by 15,000 Cherokee people protesting the treaty, the Supreme Court ordered the Cherokee to give up their land within three years time and move west. Again, most Cherokee refused leave their homeland. At the end of the three years, the government sent in 7,000 troops to force 18,000 Cherokee people at bayonet point from their homes and 'escort' them to the west. On this 800 mile, 6 month march, 4,000 First Nations people died of exposure, starvation, and disease on the now infamous 'Trail of Tears'.
** From the D'Arcy Paladeau collection
Slave Shackles: Late eighteenth century
These heavy iron shackles were used for human containment, likely in the American slave trade. One end is circular while the other end is shaped like the letter 'D'. According to Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site in Chatham, Ontario, the circular end would have been used for an ankle while the other end would have held wrists, though the 'owner' could have easily varied its use.