By the early 1800s, the tribes in Alabama were the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek. Tribes present in the area of the Muscle Shoals were primarily Chickasaw, and Cherokee. To the southeast, the Creek lived along the Chattahoochie.
In 1813-1814, during the War of 1812, the Red Stick Creek of central and lower Alabama (then part of the Mississippi Territory) were engulfed in a civil war that threatened United States’ expansion and quickly became a multi-sided conflict that ended in a U.S. victory. The Treaty of Fort Jackson, signed in August of 1814, forced the Creek to give up over twenty million acres to the United States and is seen as foreshadowing for what atrocities came soon after.
In the 1830s, the administration of President Andrew Jackson, a U.S. military leader during the southeastern Indian Wars and proponent of American expansionism, began a campaign of forced removal of these tribes as well as the Choctaw of central Mississippi and Seminole of Florida. These tribes were called “The Five Civilized Tribes” by the government and were forcefully expelled through a variety of conflicts and treaties that heavily favored the United States. This was one of Jackson’s top priorities during his electoral campaign and administration. The assigned destination was the Oklahoma Territory, otherwise known as Indian Territory, and the trek was hundreds of miles long. The routes used for the removal of the Native Americans have become known as the Trail of Tears. The trail began along the Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina border, traversing in various ways west to Oklahoma. Multiple detachments of Cherokees and Creeks traveled through the Shoals region.
Tribal Map: Library of Congress
Removal Map: Wikimedia Commons
Jackson portrait: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1942.8.34