There is one officially named Indian Removal Act of 1830. However, there were many attempts over a period of 105 years beginning in 1802 with the Georgia Compact. In 1812 one quarter of the Cherokee Nation moved to Arkansas Territory. Whether this was a good move or not, is unknown. Their descendants did not have to pass down the Trail of Tears in the late 1830’s.
This group’s move to an at the time unwanted territory did not solve the problem. As soon as 1818, more tribes were forced to sign treaties and give up their lands, forcing them west to unsettled territory. Except, the territory was already settled by tribes that had lived in the areas for hundreds to thousands of years.
In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president. Within two years, he had passed the Indian Removal Act, forcing more and more tribes together into tiny patches of unwanted land. This was fought for nearly a decade before the Trail of Tears took over 4,000 Cherokee lives. And all the unborn descendants of those who died.
Although I cannot be sure, I think the removal efforts are part of why so many began to deny their Native American heritage. They knew by doing so, they could retain their homes. At some point, some people began to be ashamed of their heritage. Both of these have contributed to generations of people who have no connection to their ancestors, no matter how much they would have belonged. In more than one novel, my characters try to find who they are, and wonder at the connection to the past that is lost to them forever.
Timeline of American Indian Removals. Oklahoma History Center. http://www.okhistory.org/research/airemoval.php Access Date: August 31, 2016