According to the Treaty of New Echota, ratified by the US Senate in 1836, the US government was supposed to pay the Cherokee Nation $5 million for their lands in and around Georgia. In exchange, the Cherokee would leave that region and settle across the Mississippi.

Did the government actually pay the $5 million?

I know there was a division among the Cherokee of whether to accept the treaty or not, and most of them chose to remain on their land, then being forcibly removed (which is a different sad story). But the removal of the Cherokee was done under the auspices of the Treaty of New Echota, so was the payment required by the treaty ever made?

  • 2
    Good question, not sure I have ever seen anything about the payment actually being made, and I am willing to believe some excuse was made to avoid payment. I have a few books on this at home, I will have to check on it.
    – MichaelF
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 16:53
  • 1
    It looks like it would have been tough to make such a payment, as it was supposed to be given individually to each tribe member, and half the tribe stayed behind and had to be marched out.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 18:13

3 Answers 3


Yes, it was paid to some degree. The catch was that it was paid slowly due to bureaucratic sloth (possibly intentional) and were diverted in some cases by government agents and tribal leaders. Payment vouchers were issued and ledgers were kept of these disbursements however these records are often incomplete and probably inaccurate.

You can find more info at these links...


One interesting point of which I have heard is that when the states in the South seceded from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America, the Cherokee nation (and other Indian nations) were faced with the question as to which side they would align themselves. Their sentiment was with the states in the South, as that is from where they came, basically where they were then-located (in the Oklahoma Territory), and where many had family connections. One particular sticking point in their choosing was that the U.S. government still owed them a considerable amount of money from the Treaty of New Echota, and could they possibly jeopardize receiving payment by aligning with the C.S.A. Ultimately, they did choose to align with the C.S.A., and even provided troops. In fact, the last Confederate general to surrender his troops was none other than Stand Watie, one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota.

I've always had an interest in looking further into this overall matter... which is what led me to an online search, today, and led me to this page. :-)

  • 4
    This would be improved as an answer if you could provide a source or sources for this information.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 16:19
  • Are you saying the Cherokees all decided to side with the Confederacy? I thought the Indian Territory had its own Civil War with Indians fighting on both sides.
    – bof
    Commented Mar 8 at 1:02

As of 1906, a portion of the withheld payment was due and outstanding. Here is the Supreme Court Case in which the Court ordered that portion paid, with interest from 1835, on a per capita basis:


My understanding is that Congress appropriated the money the following year.

This case came to my attention this Women's History Month because of the attorney who represented the Cherokee Nation in this matter: Belva A. Lockwood, the first female attorney admitted to practice before the Supreme Court.

  • 2
    Your source link appears to be broken. Commented Mar 4 at 19:28

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