For the Teacher

Unit Objectives
  • Develop a picture of Cherokee culture in the late 1700s and early 1800s by analyzing primary accounts.
  • Understand the arguments for and against removing the Cherokee from their land in the southeast.
  • Gain experience in evaluating the credibility of primary and secondary accounts of historical events.
  • Use GIS software to explore the 1835 federal census of the Cherokee and use the census to evaluate conclusions about the Cherokee and about the "Trail of Tears" experience.
Related National Standards
Common Core standards apply to the activities in this unit.
Identify those that are appropriate to the particular materials you select to use
from this set of history related standards compiled as part of the
American Social History Project City University of New York.

Common Core

GIS Activities

GIS investigations are part of many of the activities in this unit. These investigations make use of ArcGIS Online, an internet software that runs on most browsers. If you do not have an an ArcGIS account and would like to have one you can sign up for a free personal account here.

The Cherokee Project files are also available to download for ArcGIS Desktop:

Download Cherokee Project Data
(large file)

The data and shapefiles in the various map layers are from a variety of sources:

Tanner Map - 1836

Adapted from a portion of Henry S. Tanner, New Map of Tennessee, Philadelphia: 1836 as found at the David Rumsey Map Collection.


Mission locations from map in Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green, The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents, Boston: Bedford Books, 1995, p 22.

Georgia Gold Regions

Derived from "The Gold Deposits of Georgia," in David Williams, The Georgia Gold Rush, Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina, 1993, p 93.


Based on a 10% random sample from National Archives, Census Roll, 1835, of Cherokee Indians East of the Mississippi. NA#T496

Geographic locations in most cases are accurate only to the location of the river or creek identified in the census. Exact locations are not known.

United States - 1830

Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 2.0. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota 2011.

Additional Resources

Grant Foreman, Indian Removal, University of Oklahoma Press, 1974.

Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green, The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents, Boston: Bedford Books, 1995.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

The Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma


    Your comments and suggestion about these materials are more than welcome.

    If you have ideas for additional topics that would lend themselves to the approach taken here, please pass them along. I'd enjoy collaborating with you.

Last modified in June, 2019 by Rick Thomas